A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Bouldering Shoes for Beginners

As a beginner, navigating the vast array of bouldering shoes on the market can be overwhelming. This guide aims to simplify the process and help you choose the bouldering shoes for your needs. A summary of the best beginner shoes is below.

Climbing ShoeStrapWeightScore
La Sportiva Tarantulace Lace-up245g94
Scarpa HelixLace-up430g92
Millet Easy UpDouble Velcro550g90
Evolv DefyDouble Velcro280g88

One of the most crucial pieces of gear for bouldering is your shoes. The right pair can significantly enhance your climbing experience, aiding in grip, stability, and overall performance.

Recommended Bouldering Shoes for Beginners

1. La Sportiva Tarantulace

La Sportiva Tarantulace climbing shoe

Essential Info:

  • Fit: Comfortable for extended wear.
  • Closure System: Lace-up for a comfy fit.
  • Sole: FriXion RS rubber provides a good balance between grip and durability.
  • Downturn: Moderate, suitable for various terrains.
  • Sensitivity: Decent sensitivity for beginners to feel the rock.
  • Material: Synthetic.
  • Testing Size: To size.
  • Women’s Version: La Sportiva – Women’s Tarantulace Climbing Shoes

Get La Sportiva Tarantulace!

Our Verdict:
The La Sportiva Tarantulace stands out as an excellent choice for beginner boulderers due to its combination of comfort, versatility, and performance. The moderate downturn of the shoe means it is a balanced shape, suitable for various styles, making it an ideal choice for beginners looking to explore different kinds of climbing.

2. Scarpa Helix

Scarpa Helix Men's beginner bouldering shoes

Essential Info:

  • Fit: Neutral and comfortable for all-day wear.
  • Closure System: Lace-up for a personalised fit.
  • Sole: Vibram XS Edge rubber offers excellent durability.
  • Downturn: Minimal, suitable for beginners focusing on technique.
  • Sensitivity: Provides good sensitivity for precise foot placements.
  • Material: Synthetic.
  • Testing Size: To size.
  • Women’s Version: Scarpa – Women’s Helix – Climbing Shoes

Get Scarpa Helix!

Our Verdict:
Designed with a neutral and comfortable fit, the Helix is well-suited for extended wear, ensuring you can focus on honing your skills without discomfort. We found these shoes offer stability and support for those new to bouldering and still mastering fundamental techniques.

3. Millet Easy Up

Millet Easy Up beginner climbing shoes

Essential Info:

  • Fit: Comfortable fit for extended climbing.
  • Closure System: Double Velcro, these shoes are easy to put on and take off.
  • Sole: 4PointsGrip™ rubber sole, offering reliable traction.
  • Downturn: Neutral, designed for beginners.
  • Sensitivity: These shoes offer a good level of sensitivity.
  • Material: Synthetic.
  • Testing Size: To size.
  • Women’s Version: Millet – Women’s Easy Up – Climbing Shoes

Get Millet Easy Up!

Our Verdict:
It’s clear these shoes are designed with the beginner boulderer in mind. They are easy to take on and off, but you can comfortably wear them for hours at a time. They are a great option whilst you are still learning the ropes, and still provide enough grip and traction to improve your performance over time.

4. Evolv Defy

Evolv Defy beginner bouldering shoes

Essential Info:

  • Fit: Comfortable with a neutral shape.
  • Closure System: Double Velcro for easy on/off.
  • Sole: Trax XT-5 rubber provides a good blend of grip and durability.
  • Downturn: Slight downturn for easy climbing.
  • Sensitivity: These shoes offer a good level of sensitivity.
  • Material: Synthetic.
  • Testing Size: To size.
  • Women’s Version: Evolv- Women’s Elektra – Climbing Shoes

Get Evolv Defy!

Our Verdict:
These shoes provide a decent level of sensitivity, aiding beginners in developing precise footwork. They are also pretty comfortable, but we definitely do not recommend going lower in the sizing options. Otherwise, they may hurt. The Evolv Defy is a reliable and user-friendly choice if your are taking first steps in bouldering.

Understanding Bouldering Shoes for Beginners Basics

It’s essential to understand the key features that make a good beginner bouldering shoe. These may be different from the best bouldering shoes, as they serve a different purpose.


  • Bouldering shoes should fit snugly but not painfully tight. A snug fit ensures better sensitivity and control.
  • Look for shoes with a a neutral or slight downturned shape, as this helps with comfort.

Closure System:

  • Bouldering shoes typically come with three closure systems: lace-up, velcro, or slip-on. Beginners often find velcro closures more convenient as they are easy to put on and take off.

Sole Type:

  • The type of rubber used in the sole greatly affects grip. Stickier rubber provides better traction.
  • Choose between softer rubber for better grip on holds and harder rubber for durability.


  • A downturned shape enhances toe precision and allows for better performance on overhangs. Beginners may prefer a moderate downturn for comfort and versatility.


  • More sensitive shoes allow you to feel the plastic or rock better, aiding in precise foot placement. This is especially important for beginners learning technique.

Tips for Trying and Buying Beginner Bouldering Shoes:

As a beginner, it is essential to try before you buy. Whether you order online or go to a store, is up to you. We always find it easier to compare a few models in person.

Try Before You Buy:

  • Visit a local climbing gear store and try on different brands and models. Pay attention to how your toes feel in different positions and ensure a snug fit without painful pressure points.

Consider Your Climbing Style:

  • As a beginner, you will not be climbing overhangs where a more aggressive downturn might be beneficial. Therefore, a flatter shoe with good edging capabilities and durability will be preferable.

Understand Shoe Materials:

  • Leather shoes tend to stretch over time, while synthetic shoes maintain their shape. Consider how much stretch you’re comfortable with when selecting the material.


  • While it’s tempting to go for the most advanced and expensive shoes, as a beginner, focus on finding a pair that meets your immediate needs. You can upgrade as your skills progress.

How We Tested These Shoes

We, well Jim, tested these shoes whilst bouldering in Manchester at Depot climbing centre. Specifically he spent a full weekend testing these four pairs of shoes on a variety of climbs over a few sessions. He tried a variety of climbing styles, from basic climbs, to overhangs and slabs. Even so, as these shoes are for rookies, he focused on how they felt on the easier climbs.

Naturally, ranking bouldering shoes for beginners is subjective. What works for Jim, may not work for you. Even so, he graded them based on their fit, comfort, durability, and sensitivity. The results of which you have seen on this page.


Selecting the best bouldering shoes for beginners involves considering various factors such as fit, closure system, sole type, downturn, and sensitivity. The recommended shoes mentioned in this guide are just a starting point; personal preference and individual foot shape play significant roles in the decision-making process.

Remember to try on multiple pairs, seek advice from experienced climbers, and consider your bouldering style to make an informed choice. As you progress in your bouldering journey, your preferences may evolve, and you can explore more specialised options. The right pair of bouldering shoes can make a significant difference in your experience, enhancing both comfort and performance.


What are the best bouldering shoes for beginners?

Our preferred bouldering shoes for beginners is the La Sportiva Tarantulace. Even so, we recommend any that are comfortable, durable, and sensitive.

What kind of shoes are good for beginners?

We recommend flatter shoes, that are durable with a secure heel. This will allow you to keep the shoes on whilst you a practicing on easier routes.

Where can you buy bouldering shoes for beginners?

Simply put, you have two options. Online or in the shop. It is perhaps a good idea to try before you buy, sometimes you can get better deals and prices online. But it is up to you.