Last Updated on 27/08/2023
In this guide to the best women’s rock climbing shoes, we share the grippiest and comfiest footwear for women rock climbers. You will learn about the different materials and why you should use different types of shoes for rock climbing vs climbing walls.
Buying a pair of climbing shoes can be a challenge, to say the least. With so many different climbing shoes to choose from, it can be tricky to find the pair that’s right for your needs.
Whether you’re a trad climbing junkie, a gym climber, a bouldering fanatic, or a complete beginner, there’s a pair of climbing shoes out there for you. To help you find your next new pair of climbing kicks, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to buying the best women’s rock climbing shoes on the market today.
If you are new to the sport or don’t have much experience shopping for climbing shoes, then it would be a good idea to read our guide and FAQ section at the bottom of the page before you go any further. If you already have a grasp on the basics and are here to replace or upgrade your old rock climbing footwear, then check out our recommendations below:
8 Best Women’s Rock Climbing Shoes List
There are so many great women’s climbing shoes out there that it’s tricky to choose just a handful of our favorites to review. But, to help you get started on your search, we’ve reviewed the best rock climbing shoes for women. Here we go!
Five Ten Anasazi LV Women’s
- MATERIALS: Rubber sole, Cowdura upper (synthetic suede)
- WEIGHT: 13.4 oz / 380 g per pair (Size 7)
- CLOSURE: Velcro strap
The Five Ten Anasazi LV is a women’s specific climbing shoe designed for all-around performance on a variety of rock types. Built to address the unique needs of people with low-volume feet (that’s what the LV stands for), the Anasazi LV features a finely tuned heel cup and an asymmetrical toe shape to help keep a slender foot in place as you climb.
Thanks to the Anasazi LV’s Stealth C4 rubber and high heel tension, these shoes stick well to nearly any surface, providing the utmost in traction for those tricky climbs. Although we wouldn’t consider these to be super aggressive shoes, their lined synthetic upper provides minimal stretch. These features allow for a snug fit and impeccable control on steep terrain, making the Anasazi LV one of the best women’s climbing shoes for narrow feet.
La Sportiva Solution Women’s
- MATERIALS: Vibram XS Grip2 (4mm) rubber sole, 80% Leather / 20% Lorica synthetic leather upper, LaspoFlex (0.9mm) midsole,
- WEIGHT: 15.9 oz / 450 g per pair (average)
- CLOSURE: Hook-and-loop, Face Lacing System
The La Sportiva Solution is a super high-performance sport and bouldering climbing shoe that’s designed to gracefully glide over some of the steepest terrains in the world. With a crazy aggressive downturn and a molded 3D heel cup for extra tension, the Solutions are one of the best women’s climbing shoes for steep terrain.
Built for power with La Sportiva’s patented P3 power platform, the Solutions maintain their downturned shape, even after weeks and months of abuse. Plus, the Solutions have a Lock Harness System and a Fast Lacing System that keep the foot in place for a highly personalized fit on any climb. Ideal for steep, overhanging sport and bouldering routes, the Solutions are here to help you push those grades.
Scarpa Vapor V Women’s Climbing Shoes
- MATERIALS: VibramAr XS Edge rubber soles, 100% Synthetic microfibre upper
- WEIGHT: 14.8 oz / 420 g per pair (Size 9)
- CLOSURE: Dual velcro powerstrap
Made for precision, the Scarpa Vapor V are a women’s climbing shoe for anyone who can’t settle for less than the best. The Scarpa Vapor V are designed to combine the best of comfort with steep climbing performance to help you climb at your peak, day in and day out.
With a stylish microfiber upper and a Bi-Tension active rand, the Scarpa Vapor V allows for unparalleled control on any terrain. Plus, the super-sensitive Vibram rubber on these shoes allows you to feel out those impossibly small foot chips for sending hard-on sport and bouldering routes.
Five Ten Rogue VCS Climbing Shoe
- MATERIALS: Stealth® C4™ rubber outsole (4.2mm), Split-Grain Leather upper
- WEIGHT: 15.9 oz / 448 g per pair (Size 9)
- CLOSURE: Dual velcro
Designed specifically with the gym climber in mind, the Five Ten Rogue VCS is an affordable climbing shoe for novice and intermediate climbers, alike. Featuring a supportive midsole that helps you work on your precision as you develop your balance and control, the Rogue VCS is a sensitive yet durable shoe for long training sessions in the gym.
With a split-grain leather upper and Stealth C4 rubber, the Rogue VCS is made with some of the best materials around, though you can expect up to 1/2 size of stretch as you break these shoes in. Perfect for a newer climber looking for a shoe that will help them tackle more difficult climbs, the Five Ten Rogue VCS is one of the best women’s climbing shoes for the gym.
La Sportiva Futura Women’s
- MATERIALS: Vibram XS Grip2 (3mm) rubber sole, Patented No-Edge Technology, all-synthetic upper does not stretch out
- WEIGHT: 16 oz / 450 g per pair (average)
- CLOSURE: Fast Lacing System
Built for climbers that don’t take no for an answer, the La Sportiva Futura is a futuristic new climbing shoe that excels in nearly any context. The Futura features La Sportiva’s patented No-Edge technology, which does away with the traditional concept of rubber edges for a more precise and natural connection with the rock.
These shoes have an all-synthetic upper, so you can wave bye-bye to that dreaded shoe stretch for a lasting, comfortable fit. Plus, with La Sportiva’s P3 platform, the Futura has plenty of downturned aggressiveness for that steep terrain. Super sensitive yet unbelievably durable, the La Sportiva Futura is an all-around climber’s best friend.
Scarpa Maestro Eco Women’s
- MATERIALS: Vibram XS Edge outsole (4mm), 2.0mm Eco Leather upper, Talyn 1.2mm midsole
- WEIGHT: 16 oz / 454 g per pair (EU 38)
- CLOSURE: Classic Lacing
When it was first introduced, the Scarpa Maestro Eco rocked the climbing world by being the first mid-top climbing shoe designed specifically for women. Thanks to this mid-top design, the Maestro provides unprecedented levels of protection and support for female crack climbing friends.
Built with IPC Tension active rand technology, the Maestro Eco offers plenty of support for all-day performance on long, wandering trad routes. Plus, the uppers feature a unique fabric pattern that moves the shoes’ stitching away from high-impact zone for better durability and comfort over the toe area. If all of that wasn’t good enough, the Maestro Eco are made using an environmentally friendly leather production process that helps lessen the impact of these shoes on the environment. Way to go, Scarpa!
Evolv Elektra Women’s Rock Climbing Shoe
- MATERIALS: 4.2mm TRAX® SAS rubber outsole, Synthratek VX synthetic upper. Agion® Antimicrobial lining, MX-P: 1.4mm Sensitive full-length midsole
- WEIGHT: 13.6 oz / 386 g per pair (Size 7)
- CLOSURE: Dual velcro
Affordable, comfortable, and super trendy, the Evolv Elektra are a beginner-friendly women’s climbing shoe that’s specifically designed for those of us with low-volume feet. Thanks to the Elektra’s anatomical fit, the shoe fits well on feet that often slosh around in wider shoes.
Plus, the Elektra feature a Synthratek VX synthetic upper with an Agion Antimicrobial lining that’s vegan-friendly and smell-free. Oh, and with a full-length midsole and outsole design, the Evolv Elektra helps support the foot throughout a day of climbing. What’s not to love?
La Sportiva Miura Women’s
- MATERIALS: Vibram XS Grip 2 (4mm) rubber outsole, Slip lasted Suede leather, LaspoFlex (1.1mm) midsole
- WEIGHT: 15.5 oz / 440 g per pair (EU 39)
- CLOSURE: Lace
As one of the world’s first women’s specific high-performance climbing shoes, the La Sportiva Miuras have come a long way since their humble beginnings. With over a decade of technology behind them, the Miuras are a great shoe for precision footwork on steep terrain.
Thanks to their slingshot rand construction, the Miuras offer plenty of support underfoot to help you stick to small edges with ease. Plus, their speed lacing system helps you get kitted up quickly and efficiently, so you can spend less time gearing up and more time on the rock.
What Are Women’s Climbing Shoes?
A climbing shoe is a specialized type of footwear designed for rock climbing. Typical climbing shoes have a close fit, little if any padding, and a smooth, sticky rubber sole with an extended rubber rand. Unsuited to walking and hiking, climbing shoes are typically donned at the base of a climb. The difference between rock climbing shoes for women and for men basically comes down to the average shape of our feet and subsequent fit and sizing.
How Do I Choose Between Lace-Up, Velcro, and Slip-On Climbing Shoes?
The decision between lace-up, velcro and slip-on climbing shoes is a purely personal one, though there are certain kinds of climbers that tend to prefer particular kinds of climbing shoe closure systems. For example, sport climbers, boulderers, and gym climbers tend to enjoy velcro and slip-on climbing shoes more than the lace-up variety as these shoes are easier to take on and off in between single-pitch climbs.
On the other hand, lace-up shoes allow for a more secure fit around the foot, which is often preferred by trad climbers. Thus, regardless of what kind of rock climbing shoe system you choose, there will always be a trade-off between a secure fit and ease of taking the shoe on and off.
Are Leather or Synthetic Climbing Shoes Better?
As with many things in the world of climbing shoes, there’s no definitive answer to the age-old question of whether leather shoes are better than their synthetic counterparts. Really, it all comes down to personal preference.
Many people prefer leather climbing shoes because their ability to stretch means that they end up with a more secure, customized fit. However, this same stretchiness is often annoying for unsuspecting climbers who buy leather shoes only to realize that they’re too big after a few weeks of use.
On the flip side, synthetic shoes tend to be cheaper, lighter, and more breathable than leather alternatives. But, since synthetic shoes don’t really stretch, they can feel clunkier to people who are used to that customizable fit.
How Do I Size Climbing Shoes?
Sizing climbing shoes can be a tricky task, especially since there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Back in the day, people used to size their climbing shoes to be way too small for their feet in the hopes that this would provide a more secure fit, especially as the leather shoes stretched.
These days, however, with improvements in climbing shoe technology, there’s really little reason to size your shoe to be smaller than what feels comfortable when you try it on (with the exception of leather shoes, which we’ll talk about later). Instead, we recommend trying your shoes on and sticking with the pair that you can feel comfortable wearing for 15-20 minutes. Any longer and your shoes are probably too big, while any smaller, and you’ll probably regret your decision before long.
Women’s Guide to Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoes are notoriously tricky to buy because there are so many different kinds of climbing shoes out there, each made for a specific type of climber. Thus, to help you out, we’ve put together a list of the most important features to consider when buying women’s climbing shoes. Let’s take a look at them here:
Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a pair of climbing shoes is the fit. Even if you think you’ve found the best shoes in the world, if they don’t fit you well, then you’re not going to climb at the top of your game. This is especially important for people with particularly narrow or wide feet, as you don’t want to feel like your feet are being squished or that you’re swimming in your climbing shoes.
Thus, when you try on climbing shoes, you should always do so at the end of the day, when your feet are swollen from walking around and being active. When trying on climbing shoes, put the shoes on, stand up, and walk around for a bit. Try to place your feet on small ledges or anything else that can simulate a tiny foot chip to test how the shoes feel when you’re edging or smearing on a surface.
While the fit of a climbing shoe is a highly personal choice, we can tell you this: if climbing shoes don’t feel at least slightly comfortable when you try them on, it’s not going to get any better after a few dozen pitches of climbing.
Although some people believe you should size your climbing shoes much smaller than your street shoes, the vast majority of us would find no true benefit to this tactic. Instead, look for climbing shoes that are snug – but not too tight – when you try them on. The only exception to this rule is with unlined leather shoes (more on that later), but for the most part, you want a snug climbing shoe that doesn’t make you want to cry because it’s too tight.
Type of Climbing
The type of climbing you do has a huge impact on the kind of climbing shoes you’ll want to get. Here’s what you should be looking for in a climbing shoe based on each climbing discipline:
Trad climbers often find themselves climbing cracks or slabs, so you’ll want to find a climbing shoe that can handle this kind of terrain. The best trad climbing shoes for women feature ample rubber and padding around the toe and top of the foot to help protect your feet from the harshness of crack climbing. Additionally, they often are flatter and less aggressive to help with smearing on slabby surfaces.
Sport climbers often prefer to have a more aggressive shoe that can edge well on small foot chips. Many of the best sports climbing shoes feature velcro closure systems, which make it easy to take your shoes off in between climbs at the crag.
Boulderers generally like to stick with shoes that are good at edging (much like a sport climbing shoe). Many popular bouldering climbing shoes feature a “slipper” design, which means they’re incredibly easy to take off and put on in between problems. Boulderers often like to size their shoes tightly to help with those super burly overhangs and sit starts.
People who spend the vast majority of their time climbing in the gym opt for shoes that are more comfortable than the kind you find on sports climbers and boulderers. Since many gym climbers keep their shoes on in between climbs, comfort is usually king. However, for those gym climbers that like to push grades, snug shoes with velcro straps that edge well are a huge plus.
The materials you find on a pair of climbing shoes make a huge difference in the performance of the shoe. Let’s look at the two main kinds of materials you might find on a climbing shoe “upper”:
Back in the day, nearly all climbing shoes were made of leather. Leather is a super durable material that tends to mold to the shape of your feet, providing you with a more customized fit. However, leather climbing shoes tend to not breathe as well as their synthetic counterparts and tend to be a bit heavier, too. Plus, leather shoes stretch out over time, so you’ll want to size these shoes to be a half to a whole size smaller than you would normally buy.
Synthetic uppers are new-ish development in the climbing shoe world, allowing climbing shoes to be lighter than they would be if made with leather. Additionally, synthetic climbing shoes have the added bonus of not stretching out over time, which means that they maintain the size you bought them at for the lifetime of the shoe. Plus, synthetic climbing shoes tend not to smell as badly as leather shoes do after a year or two of intense climbing.
The rubber on the Best Women’s Rock Climbing Shoes can drastically affect one’s climbing performance. These days, there are two main companies producing the highest-quality climbing rubber: Five Ten and Vibram.
Vibram is known as one of the original producers of rubber lug soles for mountaineering boots in the mid-1900s. Since then, Vibram has cemented itself as one of the leaders in the rubber industry, creating the vast majority of the rubber outsoles you see on outdoor footwear. There are many climbers who swear by Vibram rubber, which is known for being durable and stick.
Five Ten rubber is almost exclusively found in the climbing industry and is often seen as the gold standard for climbing shoe rubber. Rubber from Five Ten is some of the stickiest in the world, which is perfect for anyone pushing their personal limits on slick rock. However, sticky rubber tends to wear out quickly, so you’ll probably find that you’ll need to re-sole some of Five Ten’s high-performance rubber more often than you’d initially expect.
The “aggressiveness” of a climbing shoe is effectively a measure of the shoe’s ability to handle steep terrain. The more aggressive or “downturned” the toe of the shoe, the better the shoe is at latching on to small foot chips on steep climbs.
While this steep terrain capability is a great benefit of an aggressive shoe, downturned shoes are not as proficient at crack and slab climbing, so they’re generally preferred by sport climbers, gym climbers, and boulderers. Plus, they’re not terribly comfortable, so trad climbers tend to steer clear of them and opt for a less aggressive shoe instead.
Thus, if you’re looking to push grades while clipping bolts or pebble wrestling, an aggressive climbing shoe might be for you. Otherwise, if slabby climbs or cracks are your thing, then you might want to stick with a moderately aggressive shoe that’s more versatile and well-rounded for a variety of different kinds of terrain.
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