It really does matter which bouldering shoes you get.
I’m sure you’ve tried horrible rental shoes before. When they don’t fit right, it’s like you’re fighting against the shape of them. They’re either clunky, uncomfortable, or just plain bad at keeping you on the wall.
Good bouldering shoes fit you like a second skin. You won’t even notice that they’re there. It’s like they’re a completely natural extension of your body that’s always been there.
Oh, and they’re pretty darn good at letting you pull off those crazy heel hooks and toe hooks without wrecking your feet.
In this post, I’m going to throw all the usual wishy-washy considerations right out the window. Let’s just get right to the point: You’re here because you want the absolute best bouldering shoes you can get.
Well, here they are, but I warn you: they’re not for the faint of heart…
…or, err… the faint of foot?
Look how aggressive they are.
That’s what I’m talking about. These shoes turn your feet into an extra pair of hands.
You’ll be actively gripping with your feet while using these shoes. Gone are the days of “human-level” climbing where your feet are best kept static – motionless.
With these beauties, you’ll be heel hooking and toe hooking like the true primate you are.
Let’s face it, all climbers are like this at heart. We want to climb raw and unfiltered, grapping hold of whatever we can and clambering our way up the route as if we were born for this.
Not that we weren’t…
Anyway, speaking of which, these shoes allow you to specialize in advanced footwork in a way which no other climbing shoe can.
“What do you mean by that?”
Well, let’s take a look at:
What Alex Honnold Says About Them
Yep. The legend / madman himself.
He says that there are two aspects of the La Sportiva Solution that make them his go-to climbing shoe, other than the high performance fit that I’ve been talking about.
First of all, is the downturned toe.
The Downturned Toe
The amount of support that this gives your big toe is just incredible.
You’ll be able to actually have some strength and precision with your big toe itself. This is a game changer, because rather than trying to get the shoe to grip onto tiny holds, you can just hold onto them naturally without thinking about it.
The aggressive fit and downturned toe make these shoes pretty much the closest you can get to climbing barefoot – except that these shoes won’t destroy your feet like a rock wall will.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, these shoes won’t protect your feet as much on tough climbs that tend to eat your shoes away. Look here for the guide I wrote to getting the mega durable shoes that pros favor for climbs like that.
However, that being said, these shoes are so well made. They’ll stay strong for a long time. It’s more your feet that’ll be less protected than the shoes on really rough climbs.
Like I said at the start though, I’m only showing you these because they’re the absolute best bouldering shoes out there. In bouldering, you don’t do multi-pitch climbs or anything that’d chew your shoes up.
Besides, you get plenty of time to rest between climbs if you’re not used to the aggressive shape of these shoes. You’ll get used to them without issue, because you won’t be overdoing it like you would if you were trad climbing with them.
I’d say even lead climbing on moderate routes wouldn’t be a problem with these if you’re not used to aggressive climbing shoes. There are so many poorly fitting aggressive shoes out there that make aggressive shoes have a bad rep. These ones fit like a dream.
Anyway, we’re not done yet. Let’s take a look at the second, and most unique feature of these shoes that Alex Honnold loves them for.
They Specialize in Both Toe Hooking and Heel Hooking
And that’s a pretty rare thing in climbing shoes.
I think by now you’re getting the idea of what these shoes were designed to be. They’re practically foot gloves which turn your lowly human feet into climbing-adapted monkey feet, capable of crazy grip no matter which part of the foot you use.
Having a well-supported heel in climbing shoes is important, because, as you may well know, heel hooking too hard can wreak havoc upon your tendons, hamstrings, and, well… your heels.
Usually, you’d have to choose between shoes which help with toe hooking or with heel hooking, but with these, you can do both.
The great thing about this is that both toe hooking and heel hooking are equally viable with these shoes. You’ll be able to use whichever suits the situation best, and that just makes climbing easier, which is exactly what good climbing shoes should do.
After all, that’s the very reason we use climbing shoes instead of sneakers or something.