Indoor rock climbing is a great way to learn the basics and practice climbing before heading outside or while avoiding uncooperative weather. Indoor climbing walls offer the opportunity for varied courses, features, and course complexity.
Before exploring all that indoor rock climbing offers, you’ll need to invest in a good pair of indoor rock climbing shoes.
Though they share a few similarities, indoor rock climbing is very different from outdoor climbing. Because each wall is man-made, each wall may come with varying degrees of difficulty, making for a thoroughly challenging experience and the opportunity to use different techniques. Not only are the techniques varied, but the equipment will be much different, too.
When visiting an indoor climbing course, there are three different types of indoor climbing to consider:
Rather than rely upon ropes or harnesses, climbers use routes that are close to the ground. Most indoor climbing walls will have a protective crash pad and spotters for protection.
Bouldering is meant to focus on strength and balance, meaning that climbers will need high-traction, sticky indoor rock climbing shoes.
👟 Top-Rope Climbing
For newbies, top-rope climbing is an ideal way to begin learning how to rock climb. As the name suggests, climbers are attached to a harness and rope system, held up by the ceiling and by a trained spotter down below.
Beginners who start top-rope climbing should invest in a pair of comfortable and durable indoor rock climbing shoes. Traction will also be important, as new climbers tend to be more cautious as they learn varied feet placements.
👟 Lead Climbing
This type of indoor rock climbing is the best way to mimic climbing outdoors. Climbers are attached to a lead and harness like with top-rope climbing, though progression in lead climbing requires clipping the rope into quickdraws to guide you upwards.
Experienced rock climbers tend to focus on lead climbing, meaning that indoor rock climbing shoes are usually aggressive to accommodate varying degrees of difficulty.
Having the right equipment is crucial for any rock climbing adventure, whether indoors or outdoors. Climbing shoes are what connects a climber to the rock, and having the wrong equipment can impede progress and make climbing much more difficult—and even more dangerous.
Understanding the difference between neutral, moderate, and aggressive indoor climbing shoes is a crucial part of aligning the right equipment with the right kind of indoor rock climbing.
👟 Neutral Climbing Shoes
While climbing shoes should fit snugly, these types of climbing shoes tend to come with a looser, more relaxed fit. They usually feature thicker soles for added grip and comfort, and a flat profile to make it easier to fit feet into cracks.
Neutral indoor climbing shoes are a great option for beginners who are looking to start rock climbing through top-rope climbing.
👟 Moderate Climbing Shoes
This type of shoe has a slight downward angle, which makes technical climbing a little bit easier. As a mixture of neutral and aggressive, these indoor climbing shoes are fairly versatile, suited for more complicated climbs like slab routes, crack climbs, and long multi-pitch climbs.
Moderate shoes tend to have thinner, stickier rubber to enhance sensitivity. As climbing skill and range progresses, these shoes are great options for top-rope climbing and lead climbing.
👟 Aggressive Climbing Shoes
Rather than a flat or slightly downturned sole, aggressive climbing shoes will come with noticeably angled toes and solid heel tension to provide maximum power and positioning when tackling challenging climbs.
These types of shoes tend to be very popular choices for indoor rock climbing shoes, as they provide the most amount of control, stickier rubber, and thinner soles to enhance sensitivity. If you’re planning on tackling a bouldering or sports course, aggressive indoor climbing shoes are the best option.
Even when knowing what to look for, finding the best indoor rock climbing shoes can be a complicated process. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. Below is a list of the top-rated indoor rock climbing shoes to consider investing in for your next indoor climbing adventure.
👞 La Sportiva Miura VS
Enhanced sensitivity on micro edges & smears
XS edge sticky rubber outsole
Convenient hook & loop fastening closures
For those who want to try a variety of different climbing styles, the Miura VS from La Sportiva is a dynamic and versatile option. Designed for indoor and outdoor use, the slight downturn and unlined sole make this moderate rock climbing shoe into a highly effective piece of equipment. With enhanced sensitivity and comfortable fit, this climbing shoe is perfect for nearly every type of climbing.
👞 Five Ten Anasazi VCS
Double Velcro closure system
Asymmetric toe box
The Five Ten Anasazi VCS is one of the most popular sport climbing shoes available, and with good reason. The asymmetrical toe box not only makes gripping easier, but it also provides extra room. As an additional benefit, the flat sole makes climbing much more comfortable, particularly for beginners. For those who prefer to stick with top-rope climbing, this shoe consistently provides optimum performance and durability.
👞 La Sportiva Solution
Molded 3-D heel cup
Fast lacing system
Patented power platform to retain shape over time
This climbing shoe has been used by professional indoor and outdoor climbers alike, as the downward shape and aggressive nature makes them perfect for bouldering or climbing overhung faces. Its downturned shape makes it an ideal shoe for hooking your toes into tight spaces. For lead climbing and bouldering, this is one of the best indoor rock climbing shoes to invest in.
👞 Evolv Defy
Asymmetrical toe profile
TRAX rubber for increased durability & grip
For beginners, the Evolv Defy VTR is a great shoe to consider. Not only is it effective and comfortable, but it comes at an extremely affordable price. The rubber sole is both soft and sticky, enhancing comfort and making it much easier to learn climbing techniques in an indoor setting. Made with comfort and performance in mind, the Evolv Defy is a great option for indoor top-rope climbing.
There is no doubt that indoor rock climbing is a great way to stay active, hone climbing skills, and learn the basics of rock climbing before adventuring outdoors.
As with any extreme sport, having the correct equipment can make a world of difference. Finding the best indoor rock climbing shoes can ensure that each climbing adventure is as productive, enjoyable, and as safe as possible.