"What climbing shoes should I buy?" is the most common question new climbers ask - often followed by "What shoes do the pros 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 wear.
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...
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 Alex Honnold Use?
Alex Honnold often wears La Sportiva TC Pros which are the Tommy Caldwell signature shoes. In the "Free Solo" documentary, Honnold climbed the Freerider on El Cap wearing TC Pros the entire way. These shoes were designed specifically for Yosemite style, granite, big wall climbing by Tommy Caldwell.
He used to wear the La Sportiva Miura a lot - including on his free solo of the Half Dome in Yosemite. The Miura is a popular shoe with a slight downturn that does good as a mix between comfort and performance. It's good all in one we'd suggest if you are newer to climbing, instead of getting the TC Pros which are more specific to big walls.
Honnold is a big fan of the La Sportiva Solutions for harder sport climbing. He wore them for his hardest sport
Read our full article on Alex Honnold's climbing shoes, approach shoes, and harness ...when he wears one.
What Climbing Shoes Does Tommy Caldwell Wear?
Tommy Caldwell has his own pro shoes - the La Sportiva TC Pros - which he designed for all-day performance specifically for Yosemite style big wall climbs on granite. 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. Tommy Caldwell wore La Sportiva TC Pros when he climbed the Dawn Wall.
He also uses La Sportiva Solutions when training at home and bouldering. The Solutions are a very popular climbing shoe for hard routes and are very down-turned and aggressive for the smallest foot holds and smears.
Tomoa Narasaki's Climbing Shoes
Tomoa Narasaki wears his own signature shoe from Unparallel called the TN Pro. They are a slightly stiffer version of the Regulus. He's Japan's biggest hope for Olympic Gold, especially after he won both the Combined and Bouldering events at the IFSC Climbing World Championships 2019. This puts him in a prime position for Sport Climbing at the
2020 2021 Olympics.
In Lead and Bouldering at Hachioji, Tomoa Narasaki's climbing shoes were Unparallel Regulus climbing shoes. They are a stiff, down-turned, and aggressive shoe for steep and challenging bouldering and sport climbing. In Speed climbing Tomoa used the Unparallel Up Mocc.
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 Regulus seem to be an updated version of the Five Ten Hiangle with a less stretchy/baggy toe box.
Adam Ondra's Climbing Shoes
Adam Ondra's climbing shoe choice varies depending on what he's climbing. He most often wears the La Sportiva Solutions and says this is his favorite shoe. This is a very popular shoe among high level climbers as they are aggressively down-turned. It gives an ultra precise edge on the big toe for the smallest holds, as well as power through the foot when pushing up.
He is sponsored by La Sportiva so tends to wear their shoes. In Hachioji and Toulouse, Adam Ondra wore the La Sportiva Solutions for most of the Bouldering and Lead rounds. He also wore the Women's Solutions too.
Low Volume Climbing Shoes
- Women's version of shoes are often called Low Volume (LV). Essentially the same design with a slimmer middle and heel. Getting the right climbing shoe is more about the fit than anything else.
Ondra used to wear the La Sportiva Miura VS very often, taking down some some of his hardest routes in these - including the world's first 9c "Silence" in a prototype called the Miura XX that had a very limited release. He wore the XX on his left foot and the Solutions on the right. He also pulled the same two shoes trick when he wore a La Sportiva Miura VS on his right foot and a La Sportiva Futura on his left while climbing "Terranova".
What Climbing Shoes Chris Sharma Wears
Over the years Chris Sharma's climbing shoe choice has changed depending on sponsors, what route he is trying, and because in his long climbing career the technology has changed so much. He is currently sponsored by Tenaya and wears a few different shoes from them.
Chris Sharma's climbing shoe of choice right now is the Tenaya Mastia. He uses it as an all rounder for bouldering and hard sports routes. It's a great shoe that fits different foot shapes fairly well, has a moderate downturn and aggression, and has a very molded heel cup. Tenaya are putting out some very good shoes right now and this is their latest and greatest.
Other shoes he uses from Tenaya include the Oasi and the Iati. Both are aggressive, down-turned shoes that he uses for hard sport climbing. The Oasi is more suited to overhangs and the Iati is a little stiffer and supportive on face/vertical climbs.
Sharma used to wear Evolv shoes when he was sponsored by them. He 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. Chris was also the climbing stuntman for the remake of the Point Break movie, and wore the Evolv Nexxo in the climbing scene.
What Climbing Shoes Does Janja Garnbret Wear?
Currently the favorite to take gold at the
2020 2021 debut of Climbing at the Olympics, the Slovenian powerhouse has a clear favorite shoe. Janja Garnbret's climbing shoe is the Five Ten Hiangle Women's version. She uses this for basically everything in the past few years. From bouldering and sport climbing indoors and out, to even speed climbing. Not many climbers keep the same shoe for speed and most opt for a lighter slip on like the Cobra.
The Hiangle is a popular shoe that most climbers use for hard bouldering. They are aggressively down-turned and have the Stealth C4 rubber that Five Ten were famous for. As a bouldering shoe they are fairly sensitive and malleable but they have a stiffness that is evident when you push on to tiny edges. The Women's version is just a Low Volume (LV) version with a slimmer foot and heel.
The version Janja wears is the second version of the shoe - the red/grey upper version with a red velcro strap. A newer third version is being released by adidas so it's possible to get the older one on sale pretty cheap. Still an amazing shoe that some would argue is better than the newer one.
Read more about Janja Garnbret
- Janja Garnbret Profile - Best Comps, Training, Diet, Stats and more
Miho Nonaka Climbing Shoes
Miho Nonaka's climbing shoe is the Tenaya Oasi for most lead and bouldering competitions. She is sponsored by Tenaya and Adidas (who now make climbing shoes under the Five Ten brand) but mainly wears Tenaya shoes. Miho also sometimes wears the Women's version of the classic La Sportiva Solution.
Miho Nonaka qualified to climb at the Olympics in
2020 2021 so we're looking forward to seeing some Pro shoes from her. In recent competitions it looks like she is wearing an unreleased demo version of some new Five Ten shoes...
Daniel Woods Climbing Shoes
Daniel Woods climbing shoes are his new pro model - the Evolv Phantom. The Phantoms were designed by Evolv with input and testing by Daniel himself. In the last weeks testing the latest release model he managed to climb three 8C+ boulders!
The Phantoms are designed for the hardest overhanging boulders with a bunch of design features tunes to the task. The toe is very down-turned and tight with a lot of power going into the big toe hook, with a strap system that's perfect for dialing in the fit. These were our choice for the best bouldering shoes in this year's best climbing shoes round up.
Daniel Woods is sponsored by Evolv and has used a lot of their shoes. The Evolv Agro used to be one of his go-to shoes. He said it had his "favorite heel on a shoe ever". They are an aggressive and down turned shoe that aregreat for hooking on to edges, with a very well designed and tight heel.
What Climbing Shoes Does Ashima Shiraishi Wear
The main climbing shoe that Ashima Shiraishi wears is the Evolv Shakra. It's a version of the Evolv Shaman designed to fit Women's lower volume feet a little better. Ashima wears Shakras on outdoors sport and bouldering, as well as for indoor competitions including the IFSC World Championships in Hachioji.
Ashima Shiraishi also has her own shoe, the Evolv Ashima. It's an aggressive laced shoe 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.
What Climbing Shoes Shauna Coxsey Wears
Shauna Coxsey wears the Five Ten Anasazi LV Pro climbing shoe for most of her climbing. Shauna actually helped designed these shoes as she used to wear the classic Anasazis. The Pro version has more heel tension for heel hooks and a larger rubber toe patch for toe hooks. Overall it's slightly more aggressive and suited for modern competitions and hard sport climbing.
She sometimes wears the standard Anasazi LV in comps and in speed climbing. Shauna also wears the Five Ten Hiangle Women's. This is another aggressive shoe aimed at boulderers and for overhung sports climbs.
What Climbing Shoes Does Magnus Midtbø Wear
The Norwegian youtube star and former high level competitor definitely has a favorite. Magnus Midtbø's climbing shoe is the Scarpa Drago for most of his bouldering and lead climbing. They are an aggressive shoe that fit tight, with a downturn and asymmetry to match.
Lately he's been wearing the new Scarpa Furia S, which is a similar rand (shoe shape) to the Drago. It is more flexible and has Scarpa's newer closure system that allows it to fit different foot shapes better. He is currently sponsored by Scarpa and previously by Five Ten.
What Climbing Shoes Does Sasha DiGiulian Use?
Sasha DiGiulian wears the Women's La Sportiva Solutions often. They're a very popular performance climbing shoe with a sharp down-turn and precise toe. She also sometimes wears Five Ten shoes like the Hiangle and the Anasazi LV Pro, both in the Women's or Low Volume (LV) versions.
Sasha is sponsored by La Sportiva and Five Ten so wears a mix of their shoes. She also runs in the adidas Adizero running shoe. Its a shoe made out of 95% recycled material taken out of oceans.
Margo Hayes' Climbing Shoes
At the top level of hard sport climbing - shoes do make a difference. Margo Hayes almost always wears the La Sportiva Solutions Women's climbing shoes. Probably the single most popular climbing shoe used at a high level for their precision and downturn. These were the shoes Margo wore when she climbed Papichulo 9a+
What Climbing Shoes Does Alex Puccio Wear?
Alex Puccio mainly wears Scarpa Instinct VS Women's. These are a brilliant shoe that are very popular among indoor boulderers - especially in competition. She has worn the Five Ten Dragon in competition and in bouldering, as well as the Instinct VSR.
Reza Alipour Shenazandifard Climbing Shoes
Current Men’s Speed Climbing World Record holder Reza Alipour wears the La Sportiva Cobra. A minimal down-turned shoe that slips on and off. It is designed to be light and streamlined - built perfectly for indoor walls and the plastic holds used in Speed Climbing or gym climbing.
Jonathan Siegrist's Climbing Shoes
Jonathan Siegrist uses the La Sportiva Testarossa lace ups as his favorite 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. He's a bit of a climbing shoe nerd - and we appreciate that.
Jimmy Webb's Favorite Climbing Shoes
Jimmy Webb wears Tenaya Oasi shoes for most of his bouldering. He is newly sponsored by Tenaya - a newer brand with a reputation for high quality and amazing performance shoes.
YiLing Song Climbing Shoes
YiLing Song - the previous Women's Speed Climbing World Record holder also wears the same La Sportiva Cobra's that many speed climbers wear. They are lightweight, aggressive and tuned to indoors walls and plastic holds.
What Climbing Shoes Does Paul Robinson Wear?
Paul Robinson wears the Evolv Oracle for most of his bouldering and climbing. The Oracles are a rare laced aggressive shoe. They have the down turn, pointed toe hook, and rubber over the top that you'd expect from a hard bouldering shoe - but with a comfy and adjustable lacing system.
Nalle Hukkataival's Bouldering Shoes
Nalle Hukkataival uses La Sportiva Solutions for literally everything. They were the shoes he used on the hardest boulder problem in the world - the 9A / V17 "Burden of Dreams". The only time it seems he's ever used other shoes was when Nalle attempted the Dawn Wall and used - of course - the TC Pros.
Beth Rodden's Climbing Shoes Of Choice
Futaba Ito Climbing Shoes
Futaba Ito wears the Women's version of the La Sportiva Skwama. They're a great, versatile climbing with a down turned front foot and a flexible mid-sole. For Speed climbing she wears the light and fast Cobras. Occasionally she wears the Women's Solutions that many others choose.
Brooke Raboutou's Climbing Shoes
Brooke Rabatou wears the La Sportiva Solution in the Women's version for most of her bouldering and ldead climbing. Brooke will be competing in the 2021 Olympics alongside teammates Kyra Condie, Nathaniel Coleman, and Colin Duffy.
What Climbing Shoes Does Ai Mori Wear?
Ai Mori tends to wear the La Sportiva Futura shoe. The Futura is one of La Sportiva's "No-Edge" technology shoes, in which there is no sharp edge at the toe. This allows for a little more leeway when placing your foot on indistinct holds or when smearing. It also has other benefits like your toe being closer to the front of the shoe and more feel when adding pressure.
Mawem Brothers Climbing Shoes - Mickael + Bassa Mawem
Both Mickael and Mawem Bassa wear Mad Rock climbing shoes and are sponsored by the company. They wear a few different models, including the Shark, Red Line, Remora, and the Drone. Mad Rock aren't the most popular brand but they put out some top of the line shoes - and personally we'd say their designs and models are really under-rated.
The Shark is a performance shoe with an aggressive downturn and a concave front foot. This allows for great power through the toe while also fitting different foot shapes well. A suction cup heel design and rubber all over the top of the toe means this is bouldering and sport climbing beast.
Mad Rock Shark - Worn by Mickael and Mawem Bassa
Akiyo Noguchi's Climbing Shoes
Akiyo Noguchi tends to wear the La Sportiva Skwama Women's for most of her climbing. For Lead and Bouldering these are a popular, performance oriented shoe with a good toe rubber wrap around. When competing in Speed, Akiyo wears the La Sportiva Cobra as do many others.
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!