The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

The official newspaper of Chamblee High School, preserving the past for the future today!

The Blue & Gold

These Shoes Were Made For Climbing

And That’s Just What They’ll Do
Some of the recommended shoes in this article. Photo by Miles Forshay

Climbing is a rapidly growing sport, and people around the world are going to climbing gyms for the first time. Although you can get pretty good at it using rental equipment, there’s a point at which you need to phase out of terrible rental shoes and look to buy your first pair of REAL climbing shoes.

All climbers remember the first pair of shoes they had for themselves, and every climber gets an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when they get a new pair, whether it’s their first, fifth, or tenth. But, there’s one question that lies: which pair is the best?

Well, that’s hard to say. There’s many different types of climbing shoes from different brands, with different purposes and specialties. There’s an uncountable amount of brands that sell climbing shoes, but there’s a few that come to mind, such as La Sportiva, Scarpa, Black Diamond, Five Ten, and Evolv. Although Evolv does produce some good climbing shoes, and Black Diamond produces great climbing equipment, there aren’t many shoes they have that are up to the standards of other shoe companies, and even those shoes probably aren’t better than the shoes they compete with. It’s generally accepted that the Italian brands, such as Scarpa and La Sportiva, produce the most consistent climbing shoes, although many American companies have found their success in this world.

For this listing, I’ll be giving the best pair of climbing shoes (in my opinion) for five different categories. Category one is the best bouldering shoe, two is the best sport climbing shoe, three is the best for beginners, four is best speed climbing shoe, and five is best overall. Although these are not 100% objective rankings, climbing for over five years gives me some knowledge. Another important thing to mention is that this list is for indoor climbing, as it tends to be the most accessible form of climbing to most people, and it’s where my experience is.

Best Bouldering Shoe: La Sportiva Solution Comps

When it came to making this ranking, I immediately thought of two shoes, the La Sportiva Solution Comps and the Scarpa Dragos. They are both very aggressive shoes with incredibly precise toes, which make them perfect for bouldering. Because aggressive shoes are better for overhung climbs, they generally make a better bouldering shoe, as overhung boulders are a common occurrence. Another reason to choose an aggressive shoe for bouldering is because climbs are shorter, in time and length, so you won’t be as uncomfortable using aggressive shoes on a boulder than a pair on sport climbing. 

When it came down to the shoes, their prices were relatively the same, with the Solution Comps only $10 cheaper. Both of them suck when breaking in the leathers and rubbers, so there’s not much contest there. The one thing that sets them apart though is the durability. Solution Comps last far longer than the Dragos. It’s common that Dragos wear out in less than six months, while my Solution Comps are still going strong. In terms of performance, their tapered heels and toe patches give them somewhat equal performance, but the sustainability of the Solution Comps give them the edge, making them (in my opinion), the best bouldering shoe out there.

Best Sport Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Theory

Although this may be a very contested decision, I thought that the La Sportiva Theory was the best sport climbing shoe for a few reasons. First of all, the technology in them is incredibly unique, but practical. They’re probably the most sensitive climbing shoes on the market. The Theory has NOEDGE technology, where the sole is wrapped to where there are no sharp edges, allowing for less distance from your foot to the rock (increasing sensitivity), while also allowing the foot to distribute pressure equally, which increases the lifespan of the shoes. Besides NOEDGE, the Theory has a sideways sole wrap that completely eliminates side edges, allowing for support on nearly any hold type. The last part is the randing system, which connects the front and back of the foot, allowing the shoe to keep its shape. This technology allows them to be one of the most durable aggressive shoes out there, making them a strong choice for Sport Climbing, as the increased sensitivity decreases foot slips, and the durability makes it perfect for many high intensity sessions on the sport wall. Alex Honnald, a free-solo climber and the first to free solo El Capitan in 2017, is seen climbing with the Theory fairly often, so if you don’t trust me, trust him.

Best for Beginners: Scarpa Origins

Now, there’s plenty of shoes that would be great for beginners, though I chose the Scarpa Origins for a few reasons. Your first pair of climbing shoes would be the best if they were neutral, as they don’t throw you into too much discomfort, although if you want, get a pair of moderates. Origins are neutral, which means they’re flat, with not much downward curve. This allows them to be very comfortable, but not impractical. In a beginner shoe, you’d want the pair to show you what more quality on the toes and heels gets you, and the Origins do it well. The Origins aren’t stiff, which means they’re great for smearing, a tool not very usable in rental shoes. One other thing is that when you get new shoes, they aren’t worn out like rentals, so you’re going to get power you wouldn’t get otherwise, which is the main point of them, to introduce you to the techniques rentals can’t get you. Also, they aren’t too expensive, so it’s a great introductory shoe.

Best Speed Climbing Shoe: La Sportiva Cobra 4:99

Although it’s a very niche section of climbing, there’s a large amount of mystery behind it, as it isn’t a well documented part of climbing. What I mean by this is that besides videos of people speed climbing, there isn’t anything online about the discipline. Generally, for speed climbing, you want a more soft shoe where you can smear easily, but with enough stiffness to not slip your feet. If you want to succeed in speed climbing, you’re going to be pushing from your legs, not as much pulling from your arms, so they need to sustain this pressure. This is where the 4:99’s come in. The Cobra 4:99’s are the first ever shoe specifically designed for speed climbing, and its toe is specifically structured to provide (and sustain) the most upward momentum possible. The toe is also perfect for quickly smearing to move up the IFSC route, while staying minimalistic and light in the less important parts. The microfiber uppers are built to smooth things out and reduce friction. Also, they’re slip-on, as well as being only $159, pretty cheap for a pair of climbing shoes! But don’t forget that they’re used by nearly every professional speed-climber around the world, so they have no contest.

Best Overall: Scarpa Instinct VSR

Now, this may be the hardest decision of all, as it’s hard to decide what’s the most important part to you, and which part is more valuable to the overall effectiveness. I ranked this off of comfort, sport climbing, bouldering, and general technique, which is the effectiveness it has using general techniques (edging, smearing, toe hooks, heel hooks, etc.). Although the Instinct VSR’s are not particularly known for being a great all around shoe, I believe they’re an incredible hidden gem for those types of shoes. The VSR’s are a softer version of the VS, which makes them more suited for indoor climbing. The special bi-tension rand included in the Instincts is incredible, and it gives a lot more power on things like toe hooks.

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About the Contributor
Miles Forshay
Miles Forshay, Staff Writer
Miles Forshay (‘26) is a sophomore and Staff Writer in the Blue & Gold. In five years, he hopes to be at either a fancy school or living in Colorado. His three favorite things are rock climbing, his dog, and music.

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