Bouldering involves you rock climbing through larger rocks and boulders without the support of any other climbing equipment. Thus, for a safe and successful bouldering experience, you must ensure you have the right clothing and gear. Bouldering shoes are essential gear for you to have.

The best bouldering shoes are designed to help you tackle the rocky terrains. These shoes are built with superior friction and edging, an important design to help navigate the rocky terrains. Additionally, bouldering shoes are also built with the ultimate sensitivity and flexibility to make your movements effortless. In general, you don’t want to be struggling with your gear mid-climb.

Listed below are the 10 best bouldering shoes in 2021. Each pair shows their unique features and why they are not just merely running or athletic shoes. The choice is all yours to go for a pair that fits your intended experience.

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. 

This is not to say that indoor bouldering shoes are not durable and protective enough. Thus, 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. In fact, 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. And depending on the manufacturer, different shoes will have a slight variation to their sizes. 

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Thus, although you will pick you actual she 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 do the needful.

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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 wen vertical climbing which in turn means good traction. Some manufacturers even use high quality patented rubber outsole systems such as Vibram outsoles used by Scarpa bouldering shoes, to ensure they achieve great traction. 

Ground Feel

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 incorporated creative and ingenious engineering to help bring out these features.  

High traction rubber outsoles for one helps 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 the two allow for quick and easy on and off as well as ample secure closure. Hook and loop systems even prevent the risk posed by lace up closure as they don’t have laces that may weaken as you climb.


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 namely neutral, common 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. Moderate bouldering lay between neutral and aggressive ones. They have a slight camper shape and thinner soles giving your feet more power and sensitivity. 

Because of their design, moderate shoes are ideal 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, yet, extremely 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 fall off 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. Some newer bouldering shoes also feature Velcro closures which are also very safe, neat and easy to operate. 


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 an easy climb or less consistency in 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 clan you 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 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. You can even break in your bouldering shoes similar to how you break in boots.

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Globo Surf Overview

The bouldering shoes 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 the sport thus, they not only enhance your performance but also help to keep you safer during the sport. 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 in an ideal place to begin that search.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!