When you’re first starting out, choosing a rock climbing shoe can be an overwhelming task. There are so many shapes, colors, and closures to choose from. Lucky for you, when you’re a beginner, you don’t need to get too fancy with the shoes. Your focus when starting out should primarily be on technique. Once you’ve got your technique down with a pair of ‘meh’ shoes, your true inner climbing nerd can come out and choose a slightly fancier pair of shoes.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best climbing shoes for beginner climbers.
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Best Beginner Women’s Climbing Shoes
Tarantulas – La Sportiva
Coming in at under $100 (as of January 2023), these are the perfect shoes for beginner climbers. They have a slight arch, which helps with toe hooks and really getting on your toes when you’re dealing with a tiny foot chip. They’re comfortable, and have a good grip on the wall. The only con with these is that you have to lace them up, though that could be a pro for some. I just prefer velcro.
These were my first ever pair of climbing shoes (after the rentals they give you at the gym, of course). I loved them and they served me well – I wore a hole into the toe after a year and a half! While you could outgrow the other shoes on this list as you progress to more complex problems, the Tarantulas really grow with you. This is a great pair of shoes to learn to climb in, and one that doesn’t detract from your progress as you go from ‘beginner’ to ‘intermediate’.
Origin – Scarpa
Scarpa Origins are slightly pricier than the La Sportiva Tarantulas.
If there’s one thing Scarpa is known for, though, it’s comfort. Fortunately, that comfort that doesn’t come at the cost of performance.
The Scarpa Origins are well-made and will stick on the wall as well as any shoe. These are slightly more flat-footed, which isn’t a huge deal if you’re just sticking to climbing gyms. You will likely eventually want to upgrade from these as your skill grows. This is a solid beginner shoe for climbers who don’t want to sacrifice comfort. Plus, I like the nice turquoise and grey colors on these!
Ashima – Evolv
The Evolv Ashimas are pretty similar to the Scarpa Origins, although they are slightly more affordable.
With velcro closure, a comfortable flat foot, and solid rubber, these are a great beginner climbing shoe. They’ll do their job well as you start to gain confidence in your climbing abilities!
This may seem silly – but I don’t care. These will go with most of your workout clothes, which can be surprisingly hard to find with climbing shoes. No, the climbing gym isn’t a fashion show, but a lot of shoes come in pretty crazy colors. These are a perfectly neutral grey and black. 🙂
How to Choose the Right Size for Your Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoe sizing can get a little tricky. Some climbers will tell you your shoe needs to be as tight as possible to function properly, with your toes curling around each other. Others will tell you to prioritize comfort above all else. There is no wrong answer, it really comes down to personal preference. But either way, your shoe should be pretty snug. It doesn’t have to curl your toes, because frankly, that way hurts and will probably result in shorter training sessions if you’re a big ‘ol baby like me.
A general rule of thumb for choosing a climbing shoe size is to go one size smaller than your street shoes. This generally works, but it really just depends on the brand. I would recommend going to your nearest sporting goods store, like REI, and trying on a few pairs in the store to see what feels right. Then, hop on over to Amazon and buy the same pair of shoes for (usually) a little bit cheaper.