“What climbing shoes should I buy?” is the most common question new climbers ask, often followed by “What shoes do pro climbers wear?“. There are a tonne of articles and an infinite amount of opinions out there – today we’ll be focusing solely on what climbing shoes the pros use and what types of climbs they use those shoes on.
While it’s great to have one pair of all-rounders that can take on many types of routes, it’s common for people to have a couple or more pairs to use in different situations. Also a lot of professional climbers will be sponsored by a brand and exclusively use their shoes. It has also been said that some climbers will climb a route in one pair and then switch to a sponsor’s pair for the winning shots…
Remember: No pair of shoes is going to turn you into Ondra. This article is just an exercise in seeing what works for different people. It also saves you the experience of googling feet in a public café and trying to explain what you are doing. So, here are the shoes that today’s top boulderers and professional climbers use.
What rock climbing shoes does X wear?
Read our full article on Alex Honnold’s climbing shoes. Alex Honnold often wears La Sportiva TC Pros, the Tommy Caldwell signature shoes. In the “Free Solo” documentary, Honnold climbed the Freerider on El Cap in TC Pros. He also wears the La Sportiva Miura, a popular shoe with a slight downturn that does good as a mix between comfort on long routes and performance, a good all in one, as well as Solutions.
Tommy Caldwell has his own signature shoes, the La Sportiva TC Pros which he designed for all-day performance on long routes. The TC Pros were the shoes he wore on the Dawn Wall. With Vibram XS Edge rubber, a flat toe box, and a little padding above the toes and around the ankle these are great for tiny edges and cracks. He also uses La Sportiva Solutions when training at home and when bouldering.
Tomoa Narasaki – the winner of the Combined and Bouldering events of the IFSC Climbing World Championships 2019 used to be sponsored by Five Ten and wear their Hiangles. He is now sponsored by Unparalleled Climbing and used their shoes in Hachioji 2019. In Lead and Bouldering Tomoa Narasaki used the Unparallel Regulus climbing shoes. They are a very stiff, downturned, and aggressive shoe for steep and challenging bouldering and sport climbing. In Speed climbing, Tomoa used the Unparallel Up Mocc. You can get these in the EU/UK from EpicTV and the US EpicTV site also sells them.
A word on Unparallel shoes – When the Five Ten brand got bought by Adidas, the designs didn’t. Also known as UP, this new company was formed by Five Ten engineers who took a lot of the old styles from Five Ten and fixed small issues with them. The new shoes are very similar in design to the old Five Ten ones with small improvements. The Regulus seem to be an updated version of the Hiangle with a less stretchy/baggy toe box.
Ashima Shiraishi has her own shoe, the Evolv Ashima – an aggressive laced style with a snug heel and a sensitive sole made in a smaller size for children/smaller feet. She also used to wear a few different pairs of custom made shoes as a younger climber, crushing at the age of 8.
Adam Ondra has worn a large amount of different shoes. At times he used the “No-Edge” technology of La Sportiva Speedsters(now replaced with the new Futuras which use the fast lace style of Solutions). Previously he wore Five Ten shoes, doing “Dreamcatcher” in the Anasazi VCS and Moccasyms, and has of course worn Solutions.
Very commonly Adam Ondra will use La Sportiva Miuras, taking down some some of his hardest routes in these – including the world’s first 9c “Silence” in a prototype pair called the Miura XX. There was a limited release of the Miura XX with his signature as well as changes that actually help – like modified lacing that runs around the heel and extra rubber on the midsole that keeps the downturn.
Pamela Shanti Pack aka the “Offwidth Oddysey” wears TC Pros for their high tops and padding, as well as the stiffness that helps support the fight up big off-width chimneys.
Alex Puccio has worn the Five Ten Dragon in competition and in bouldering, as well as being a very big fan of the Scarpa Instinct VS and Instinct VSR. The Instinct range are very popular as indoor competition shoes with a very aggressive profile.
Chris Sharma worked with Evolv on the Shaman – and an updated Shaman 2 release – a great edging and hooking shoe with a very sticky rubber, as well as the Pontas. Sharma is now sponsored by Tenaya and seems to be working with them on a new line of shoes. Chris was also the climbing stuntman for the remake of the Point Break movie wearing Evolv Nexxos. Just in case you wanted to know.
Shauna Coxsey has worn Five Ten Blackwings but worked with Five Ten on the Anasazi Pro, a version of the Anasazis that were her first shoe and the Anasazi LV (low volume) which she often wore. The Pros have a Stealth Mi6 toe cap as well as the Stealth C4 on the bottom.
Jonathan Siegrist uses the La Sportiva Testarossa lace ups as his favourite shoe, Skwama as a softer shoe for better surface area contact, and the Otaki for edging and precise footwork. He has also used the TC Pro and Solutions.
Emily Harrington wears the Women’s Miura VS for their versatility for edges and slabs.
Nonaka Miho is sponsored by Tenaya and wears their Oasi shoes.
Daniel Woods has used the Elvolv Agro alot, as well as at climbing national championships and said they are his favourite heel on a shoe ever. They are an aggressive and down turned shoes great for hooking on to edges, with a very well designed and tight heel.
Margot Hayes is sponsored by La Sportiva and often wears the Women’s Solutions.
Nalle Hukkataival pretty much exclusively uses Solutions and these were the shoes he used on the 9a / V17 “Burden of Dreams”.
Sierra Blair Coyle also wears Solutions in the Women’s version, as well as the ClimbX E-Motion Slipper.
Where to Buy Pro Rock Climber shoes
Pythons – $136 at Amazon
Mago – $195 at Backcountry –
If you have a question on what shoes other professional boulderers or rock climbers wear, get in touch on social media and ask us – we’ll do a bit of scouting and find out! Facebook – Instagram – Twitter