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Climbing Shoes Review – Sticky Shoes for Spring

Every year at about this time, climbing shoe companies release their latest crop of sticky-soled shoes. Here are some of the top picks guaranteed to help climbers tick their latest projects.

Every year at about this time, climbing shoe companies release their latest crop of sticky-soled shoes.

Here are some of the top picks guaranteed to help climbers tick their latest projects.

Boostic – $79

With its powerful glove-like fit and thin midsole, the Boostic delivers incredible performance on difficult rock climbs. Like all Scarpas, the Boostic’s construction is impeccable, ensuring consistent fit during the life of the shoe and further enhancing the Boostic’s performance. Scarpa wisely employs the Vibram XS Edge rubber which excels on small holds and complements the Boostic’s edging performance. On the rock, the Boostic’s supercharged fit allows climbers to exploit the tiniest footholds, while the slightly pointy toe-shape easily slipped into small pocket and thin cracks. When toe hooking, climbers will appreciate the large swath of rubber over the forefoot while secure fitting heel performs admirably during heel hooks. For challenging routes on vertical and gently overhanging terrain, these shoes are unparalleled. Highly recommended.

Reflex – $109
The flat lasted and lightly tensioned Reflex is the perfect shoe for new climbers. The shoe’s sensitive and supportive midsole provides good edging without compromising the flex and feel required on friction oriented climbing. Two Velcro-style straps allow for easy fit adjustments while the leather upper and padded tongue ensure a comfortable and conforming fit. Construction quality is top notch for such a reasonably priced shoe and must be a result of the Italian craftsmanship. A top choice for beginner and intermediate climbers.

Futura – $170
La Sportiva

By merging the forefoot of the minimalist Speedster and the closure of the popular Solution, Sportiva has created an excellent shoe for steeper routes and plastic-pulling. But unlike the super-soft Speedster, the Futura has a thin 1.1mm midsole under the toe that improves its versatility on less-than-cave-like terrain. Much of the Futura’s climbing performance stems from the No Edge sole construction which has the outsole wrapping up onto the rand. This prevents the edge of the sole from rolling off of small holds and help position the foot closer to the rock. To maintain this performance, Sportiva uses a synthetic upper which minimizes stretch and maintains the fit. Speaking of fit, the Futuras seem to run towards the narrow/low-volume end of the fit spectrum – climbers with hoof shaped feet might want to look elsewhere. Narrow fit notwithstanding, the Futuras are surprisingly versatile considering their exceptional climbing performance. Another great offering from Sportiva.

Kintaro – $ 145

Featuring many of Boreal’s innovative new construction features, the Kintaro emerges as one of this season’s top new shoes. The biggest change for most climbers is the new proprietary Zenith rubber, a formula that delivers exceptional grip on rock and plastic while still being sufficiently firm for edging on small holds. This stuff really works and addresses the concern some climbers had with previous Boreal rubbers lacking grip on certain polished plastic holds. The other change many climbers will appreciate is the new lower volume heel cup and V-tensioned rand, which provide incredible security during heel hooks. As an added bonus, the new rand also creates a more a powerful fit and in conjunction with the cambered last, creates a supportive platform for standing on micro-edges. But thanks to the shoe’s soft, hollow-centre midsole, the Kintaro also excels on steeper stone where pulling with the feet is a required technique. Some climbers might prefer a slightly thinner outsole for even greater sensitivity (easily achieved in a few seconds with belt sander), but otherwise this is a excellent, well-made and highly versatile high-performance shoe. Highly recommended.

Coyote VCS Canvas – $110
Five Ten

Built on supportive flat last and sporting lightly tensioned rand, the new Coyote VCS Canvas good choice for new climbers seeking a versatile shoe for plastic and rock. The lined and highly-breathable canvas uppers allow heat and perspiration to escape resulting in increased foot comfort during warm conditions. Thanks to Five Ten’s sticky Stealth C4 rubber, this shoe is surprisingly capable at edging and smearing. Sized comfortably Coyote VCS Canvas will easily handle multi-pitch climbs while a tighter fit delivers surprising bouldering or sport climbing performance.

Prime SC – $ 139

The season Evolve brings some interesting performance updates to its new Prime SC. The most noticeable change for the majority of climbers is the addition of a third Velcro-style closure across the middle of the foot. This significantly improves the locked-in feel of the shoe and seems to increase the edging performance of this already turbo-charged steep edging machine. On the forefoot upper, Evolv has updated the rubber toe patch for increased comfort and improved hooking. The fit of the Prime SC however, remains unchanged with a cambered last and rounded toe box. On the rock, the Prime SC excelled on steeper, small-hold routes that required precise footwork. The shoe was also surprisingly capable on cave-like terrain that required pulling on larger features with the feet. At the back of the shoe, a new molded heel cup provides improved fit and heel hooking performance. Finally, the Variable Thickness Rand puts more rubber in the high wear toe rand area for greater durability. This is a great update and should ensure that the Prime SC remains a solid choice for steeper technical climbing.

Defy Lace – $ 92
The lace-up version of the popular Defy offers climbers similar all-around performance but also delivers more precision and control thanks to the full-length lacing. This comfortable and supportive flat lasted shoe is at home on any moderate climb and also capable of holding its own in longer multi-pitch routes. Evolv employs its Variable Thickness Rand technology which minimized rand blow-outs at the toe – a feature that’s particularly useful for new climbers.

Women’s Shoes

After many year of cramming their feet in shoes designed for men’s feet, women are now able to get climbing shoes for all performance levels specifically built to fit women’s feet. Here are some top options for

Miura VS Women’s – $ 170
La Sportiva
This high performance Velcro-style closure shoe offers exceptional control on small edges while still being soft and sensitive enough for steeper terrain.



Vapor Women’s – $ 159

This immaculately constructed lace-up offers women unsurpassed control and precision of thin, gently overhanging terrain.



Kintaro – $145
This is a shockingly versatile high-performance shoe that that excels on small edges and steep climbing. 




Elektra – $92

With its comfortable flat lasted construction and gently tensioned rand, the Elektra offers women comfort and performance on plastic and rock. Ideally suited for vertical to slightly overhanging climbs.



Blackwing Women’s – $ 160
Five Ten

Aggressively downturned and wrapped in sticky High Friction Stealth rubber, the Blackwing is a top choice for women pushing standards on hard boulder problems and difficulty sport routes.

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