Best rock climbing shoes for women
Women are the fastest growing demographic in the rock climbing world. Rock climbing has traditionally been a male and macho dominated sport, but over the last few years women like Sasha Digiulian, Margo Hayes, Ashima Shiraishi, Beth Rodden, and Steph Davis have proven that you don’t need to be a big beefy dude to climb or establish some of the hardest climbs in the world.
Point blank, the women of rock climbing send hard and are not to be underestimated.
As such, equipment manufacturers are coming out with lines of gear, including climbing shoes, that are tailor-made for women. They’re in smaller sizes and maybe brighter colors than most men’s shoes, but they do not lack one bit for performance.
So if you’re a woman and you’re looking for a new pair of climbing shoes, here are our recommendations.
Best women’s bouldering shoes
There are a lot of amazing woman boulderers out there today – the likes of Alex Puccio, Ashima Shiraishi, Margo Hayes, and Sierra Blair-Coyle come to mind.
Climbing companies are now making amazing women’s bouldering shoes. Here are the top three for you to consider.
La Sportiva Solution
The La Sportiva Solution is a high end shoe with a soft sole that grips on anything, fits tightly with just one velcro strap, and is preferred by many of the top women boulderers today. The women’s version comes in pink, black, and white. The heel holds solid thanks to the cross-foot loop closure that can be adjusted to your personal needs, and the roomy toe box both doesn’t crush your toes and allow you freedom to toe-hook and smear with ease. The Vibram XS Grip 2 sole stands on the smallest toe holds with ease, though it does wear down quicker than some other shoes out there with a harder sole. We should note that the Solution has a relatively high heel which feels strange to some, but overall does not hinder your climbing one bit. You will probably just have sweaty ankles.
Best for: steep bouldering and climbing.
Worn by: Sashia Digiulian, Sierra Blair-Coyle
Price: $180 MSRP
Five Ten Blackwing
The Five Ten Blackwing is an aggressive downturned women’s shoe that thrives on technical bouldering and hard sport routes. It has a sticky and aggressive sole (3.5mm Stealth HF) that help you stay on what you need to. The Blackwing has a double velcro closure, which is more traditional than the Solution’s one closure system. As such, the Blackwing can fit strangely for some people and is not quite as comfortable as the Solution. It sizes quite small, so it may fit more true to your foot than other shoes. The heel cup is also a bit loose (something I have always disliked about Five Ten shoes), and they are as expensive if not moreso than the Solution.
Best for: aggressive bouldering, the people whose feet they fit perfectly.
Worn by: Shauna Coxsey, Colette Mcinerney
Price: $175 MSRP
The Evolv Ashima is the newest of Evolv’s women’s line. It is named after Ashima Shiraishi, who is at the same time the youngest, oldest, and only woman to have ever climbed V15. I used to climb at the same as her at Brooklyn Boulders, and it has been awesome to see her mature into the climber she is today in the last number of years. This shoe is aggressive in the toe (reminiscent of the Solution), but is a lace shoe so it can be customized to your specific foot each day. Evolv manufactures their own sole rubber, but you can be sure that this shoe can stand on the smallest of toe holds. Its heel is skinny, but knowing Ashima’s love of heel hooks it holds on anything you can imagine.
Best for: aggressive bouldering
Worn by: Ashima Shiraishi (its namesake and developer)
Price: $119.95 MSRP
The Scarpa Origin is not often seen in the Instagram and Facebook photos of the best women climbers in the world, but it should not be underestimated as a fantastic entry level women’s shoe. Scarpa, based out of Italy, has long been known for their high quality mountaineering and climbing gear, and this shoe is no exception. The Origin is not overly-aggressive, and in fact it has a relatively flat sole. It has a dual-closure system, which is standard, and a rounded toe. You might not be able to hit the tiniest of toe holds, but if you’re just getting started then you don’t need to anyways.
Best for: beginner woman boulderers who are learning to love the sport.
Price: $89 MSRP
Best women’s all-around shoes
La Sportiva Otaki Women’s
We’ve written a full review of the men’s Otaki, and the women’s Otaki shoe is no different. This shoe is precise, comfortable, and excels on a high level across anything you can throw at it from sport to crack to bouldering. With a slight downturn (not as much as the Solution) and a lower profile, the Otaki is one of our favorite shoes ever. It has the same Vibram XSGrip 2 sole as the Solution, so it sticks into anything.
Best for: all around aggressive sport and bouldering.
Price: $175 MSRP
La Sportiva Turantulace
The La Sportiva Turantulace is a super popular all-around women’s shoe. It’s a lace shoe, but La Sportiva’s technology allows you to get it on easily and take it off almost as quickly. The Turantulace is not as downturned as the Otaki, which means it will be a bit more comfortable for long climbs and days at the crag. It uses La Sportiva’s own FriXion RS sole, which is sticky yet doesn’t wear down too quickly. This is a great shoe for the woman looking for an economical shoe made by a great brand that will last a long time.
Best for: all around climbing, longer days, smaller budgets.
Price: $80 MSRP
Welcome to the future of women’s climbing, the Shakra. Made from very similar materials to Sharma’s Shaman (the shoe he used to send Es Pontas), the Shakra is downturned but lower volume than the Shaman to optimize for lower volume feet (read: most women’s feet). There’s a bump at the toe for more precision than lace shoes, and the softer (than the Shaman) midsole means the shoe is a bit more versatile. All in all, a solid solid shoe.
Best for: all around, more aggressive than the Tarantulace
Price: $159.95 MSRP
Best women’s trad shoes
La Sportiva Miura
The La Sportiva Miura is a well known and well loved shoe by women who crush the outdoors and long climbs. Made for a woman’s foot, the Miura is built to edge hard, grip on anything, and remain comfortable all day. Like all other trad shoes, they’re made to lace and made with a leather upper so they break in and stay comfortable. They’re not too aggressive, but can be used when things get steep.
Best for: long routes with some steeper technical pieces.
Price: $165 MSRP
Five Ten Siren
Five Ten makes a wicked climbing shoe, and the Siren is no exception. Made in the USA with a synthetic upper and Stealth Onyxx rubber on the sole, the Siren holds its edge well on all types of rock and stays comfortable all day. As with most Five Ten shoes, they can fit strangely so make sure they work for your foot. But if they do, they are a great choice.
Best for: all day on technical faces.
Price: $59 MSRP
Scarpa Techno X
The Scarpa Techno X has the Vibram XS Edge sole, which means it has the same sole as the top end bouldering and all around shoes. A lace up trad shoe like the other two here, it’s made for a skinnier foot that the enclosure system wraps nicely. The Techno X also has a comfortable heel that you can wear all day while out edging around high on a project.
Best for: skinnier feet and lots of edging.
Price: $155 MSRP