Bouldering involves climbing boulders and other smaller rock faces without ropes or harnesses, using only a pad (perhaps) to protect against falls. Thus, for a safe and successful bouldering experience, shoes play a major role. Bouldering shoes are perhaps the only essential piece of gear when bouldering, so don’t skimp.
The best bouldering shoes are designed to help you tackle a variety of rock. These shoes are built with superior friction and edging, an important design to help navigate the rock faces. Additionally, bouldering shoes are also built with the ultimate sensitivity and flexibility to make your vertical progression easy.
Listed below are the 10 best bouldering shoes in 2021. The choice is all yours to go for a pair that fits your style and goals best.
How To Choose Bouldering Shoes – Buying Guide
Indoor vs Outdoor
When choosing the best bouldering climbing shoes, you must examine whether they are designed for indoor, outdoor, or both uses. Due to the nature of the terrain and environment, outdoor bouldering shoes are built to be more rugged, durable, and protective. When choosing the best bouldering climbing shoes, you must first determine where you will be using the shoes, then choose accordingly.
The size of your bouldering shoes is also an important feature to consider. The size is highly important because it directly affects your performance when climbing. Unlike hiking shoes, the size of the best bouldering climbing shoes tends to be a little smaller than your traditional shoe size, and often even tighter and more aggressive than traditional climbing shoes, since boulder problems are much more technical and difficult than longer sport lines, albeit less sustained. Depending on the manufacturer, different shoes will have a slight variation in their sizes.
Although you will pick your actual shoe size when choosing the bouldering shoes, you must employ several tactics to know that you have picked the right size. For example, you can go through the sizing guide as they will offer a detailed table on the length and width of the foot size. This means that you can physically measure your feet to match that specific manufacturer’s size.
You may also go through real-life customer reviews to understand the true size and fit of the shoes. It also doesn’t hurt to go for a seller with a flexible return or exchange policy, so in case the shoe doesn’t fit you can easily send it back.
Related Post: Climbing Shoe Sizing
The best bouldering climbing shoes are made with leather or synthetic fabric uppers. Leather, especially unlined leather, is a favored upper material because it offers ample stretching. Over time, this feature helps to provide a natural fit. Additionally, unlined leather is also breathable and offers ample air circulation.
Synthetic fabrics on the other end are ideal if you don’t want your shoes to stretch. Additionally, the material offers long-lasting durability. The majority of synthetic bouldering shoes are also treated with moisture-wicking and odor eliminating abilities.
Traction is an important feature of bouldering shoes. The best bouldering climbing shoes should be fitted with rubber outsoles that provide high friction and edging power when vertical climbing which in turn means good traction. Some manufacturers even use high-quality patented rubber outsole systems, such as the Vibram outsoles used by Scarpa bouldering shoes, to ensure they achieve great traction.
Toe power and edging are also high determinants of climbing performance. Thus, your shoes must be designed to maximize these two key features. Many manufacturers incorporate creative and ingenious engineering to help bring out these features.
High traction rubber outsoles help to supplement the features. Manufacturers such as Scarpa feature a special slingshot like rand system, the Bi-Tension system, which helps to maximize tow power and edging. To determine power, always observe the heel rand and outsoles of the shoes.
The best bouldering climbing shoes should be adjustable to allow for a personalized fit. Hook and loop closure systems or lace-up systems are commonly used. Lace-up systems allow for even more adjustability according to your comfort level. Both allow for quick and easy on and off as well as ample secure closure. Hook and loop systems, however, are much faster to slip off and on, as well as easier to adjust. Full slip-on shoes are also available, however their adjustability is essentially none, so technical performance is often lacking unless you get the perfect size.
When choosing the best bouldering climbing shoes to purchase, you must also ensure you find the right fit. When you wear your climbing shoes, you must ensure you achieve a snug and glove-like fit. This ensures your shoes are secure whilst offering ample inner volume for flexibility, breathability, and comfort. Again, the best way to gauge fit is just like how you gauge the right size. Read through real-life customer reviews and go for a seller with a flexible return or exchange policy.
The type of bouldering shoes you go for is also an important factor to consider. There are three common types of bouldering shoes: neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Neutral bouldering shoes are ideal for beginners and focus their design on comfort. With neutral shoes, your toes are less bound together whilst the footbed is rather flat. These are excellent for slabbier problems, or for climbers less focused on performance who want to spend more time in their shoes. Moderate bouldering lay between neutral and aggressive ones. They have a slightly more downtuned shape and thinner soles, giving your feet more power and sensitivity.
Because of their design, moderate shoes are ideal for trickier routes and technical climbing. Aggressive bouldering shoes are extremely downturned and boast high-tension heels. They are perfect for overhanging climbing and extremely tough routes. However, due to their technical design, they may not be very comfortable, despite being quite powerful and high performing.
As mentioned above, you must ensure that your bouldering shoes offer a secure closure system. You don’t want to struggle with shoes that may slip around mid-climb. The most common closure systems are hook and loop closure, as well as the classic lace-up system.
Both closure systems offer convenience, though hook and loop closures are easier to put on and off.
Q: How Long Should Bouldering Shoes Last?
It depends on your usage and where you use them. Typically, bouldering shoes will last you up to 2 years with occasional to moderate climbing. But if you are a frequent climber or pursue trickier techniques in rougher terrains, your bouldering shoes will last you anywhere from 6 months to a year.
Q: How Do I Clean Bouldering Shoes?
To clean your bouldering shoes, fill a tub with lukewarm water and add a mild detergent. Then use a soft brush to gently dust off dust and debris, then scrub the shoes inside the tub on the interior and exterior. Rinse the shoes with clean water and lay them to dry.
Related Post: How To Clean Climbing Shoes
Q: How To Break In Bouldering Shoes?
You can break in your bouldering shoes at home by removing them from their packaging, stuffing them with newspaper, or walking around with them inside your home. This process will help accelerate the stretching process.
Related Post: Break In Climbing Shoes
Globo Surf Overview
The bouldering shoe reviews outline how handy they are on the field and how they help enhance your performance in climbing. The reviews also showcase how bouldering shoes are ideally designed for specific types of bouldering. The buying guide above helps to guide you on what to look for when choosing the best bouldering shoes to invest in, and the list of the 10 best bouldering shoes above is an ideal place to begin that search.
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