Looking for some vegan climbing shoes? This guide will show you exactly what to look for and the best climbing shoes that are 100% vegan friendly!
Climbing is awesome on a lot of different levels but particularly because it’s one of the most inclusive sports for us vegan adventurers. Not only do some of the best climbers in the world have meat-free lifestyles (Steph Davis, Alex Honnold, Adam Ondra…) but it’s also pretty easy to find vegan climbing gear.
Yes, you guys will be happy to hear that unlike many other bits of outdoor equipment, vegan climbing shoes are in their plenty!
Whilst this is brilliant for climbers and animals alike, it also means that you’ve got quite a wide selection to choose from. Particularly if you’re just starting out, this can leave your mind a bit boggled.
Climbing shoes are something you really need to get right and get the best pair for you. How much you enjoy your time on the wall will really depend on what you’ve got on your feet. AND though it’s easy to find synthetic or leather-free shoes, finding 100% vegan ones is slightly more complicated.
We reached out to all the top climbing companies to find out exactly which of their products were completely vegan and have put together these 29 of awesome options from…
Evolv // Boreal // Scarpa // Mad Rock // Tenaya // So Ill // Black Diamond // Red Chili
This vegan climbing shoe guide will help you find the perfect vegan-friendly options so you can make the most of every shred!
Jump ahead to…
- What makes shoes non-vegan
- How to tell if shoes are vegan
- Microfiber… synthetic… the problem with vegan climbing shoes
- Best places to find vegan options
- Different types of climbing shoes + useful climbing terminology
- Picking the right shoes for you
- Climbing shoe size guide
- Shoes for new climbers
- Beginners/ intermediate/ advanced shoes
- Best budget climbing shoe
- Best indoor/ sport/ trad shoe
- Best shoe for wide/ narrow feet
- Shoes by brand
This blog features affiliate links. Buying through these links will never cost you more money but will support Veggie Vagabonds and allow us to keep making content like this – thanks for your help!
1. Finding Vegan Climbing Shoes
Yes, there are a lot of vegan options but things still ain’t perfect…
1.1 What makes climbing shoes non-vegan?
Unfortunately, leather climbing shoes are the most common on the market, even with more cruelty-free options becoming available each season. And it’s more than just the leather, these are some other bits you should look out for:
Upper (the main body of the shoe) – the material used in a lot of climbing shoes is leather or a leather variety, like suede.
Glue and dye – surprisingly, many types of glue and adhesives used in footwear is not vegan-friendly. Sometimes it is made from fish products but it can also be derived from other animals too. Occasionally dyes will also be animal-derived.
Shoe lining – as well as the upper part of the shoe, companies may use leather products in the lining too.
1.2 How to find vegan climbing shoes
To check if they’re vegan-friendly climbing shoes, check the label in-store or the product information online. On the material section, look out for leather or suede. Some shoes may also say something like ‘contains non-textile parts of animal’ which means they might not use leather but other ingredients, like the glue or dye, might not be vegan.
Instead, look for microfiber, vegan leather or synthetic climbing shoes. This will be listed in the shoe materials and are all vegan friendly. However, it doesn’t mean the whole shoe is vegan. Keep reading below.
IN SUMMARY: Leather and suede materials are NOT vegan friendly. Synthetic and microfiber materials ARE vegan friendly but also might be labelled as ‘synthetic leather’.
In need of inspiration? Check out these rock climbing documentaries!
1.2 Are all microfiber or synthetic climbing shoes vegan? The problem with finding vegan outdoor gear…
Whilst microfiber and synthetic materials are vegan, there may be other parts of the climbing shoe which are not vegan or cannot be confirmed vegan. This makes things a bit harder.
For many outdoor brands, having products confirmed as 100% vegan can be quite costly and time-consuming. This means, whilst many shoes are synthetic or microfiber, climbing brands might not be able to guarantee all materials are completely free of animal products (often the case for outdoor gear).
The solution is: contact the brands directly to double-check. It’s time-consuming but all the vegan rock climbing shoes in this article have been confirmed by the manufacturers.
At Veggie Vagabonds, we want to make the outdoors more ethical. If you like what we’re doing, find out how you can help us create more content!
1.3 Easier places to buy vegan climbing shoes
Some online outdoor stores are making it easier to find vegan shoes and even have a search option to look for only vegan-friendly options.
On the stores below, you can click on the vegan option in the search tab and can be sure the climbing shoes are safe.
Do you know of any other places that make it easy finding vegan climbing shoes or outdoor gear? Tell us in the comments and we’ll get it added in!
2. Picking Climbing Shoes – What’s Best for You?
2.1 Different types of climbing shoes
With many different types of climbing, you’ll find a crazy variety of different shoes to suit them. Below are some of the different styles and features to think about when you’re picking new shoes.
Neutral/flat climbing shoes – flatter and often wider shoes which are more comfortable.
Best for beginner climbers or people want to wear shoes for longer periods of time.
Moderate climbing shoes – middle ground between neutral and aggressive options. A good compromise between comfort and performance, with moderately down-turned sole and heel tension.
Best for intermediate climbers
Aggressive climbing shoes – shoes with a down-turned shape, often a pointed toe and a higher heel tension. These shoes are designed for performance and may not be so comfortable if worn for prolonged periods of time.
Best for more advanced climbers or for overhung and more precise climbing
Heel tension – a higher heel tension will drive your foot forwards to the front of the shoe. This is good for precision and sensitivity but will not add to comfort.
Good for technical footwork and crimpy footholds
Want more vegan adventure content and outdoor gear? Sign up to our newsletter!
High/low volume climbing shoes – this is typically how wide or narrow a climbing shoe is. high volume = wide, low volume = narrow. Women’s climbing shoes often have a narrower, or lower volume, fit compared to men’s.
Low volume shoes are good for people with narrow feet, high volume are good for people with wider feet
Lacing options – the three common options are laced climbing shoes, velcro (which maybe have 1,2 or 3 straps) and slip-on climbing shoes/slippers.
Lacing offers the tightest shoe (better for performance), slippers are better for comfort and ease of use, whilst velcro offers a middle ground
Stiffness – some climbing shoe soles are much stiffer or more flexible than others.
Stiff soles are better for beginners with less-trained foot muscles and it’s also good for edging and precise footwork. More flexibility is better for smearing, slabs and stronger feet.
Asymmetrical climbing shoes – this is where the toe is turned more to the inside of your foot. It increases the power going through a small point allowing for precision and is found on more aggressive shoes.
Asymmetrical shoes are better for more advanced climbers or people aiming for performance
2.2 What are the best climbing shoes for YOU?
To get the best shoe, ask yourself…
What are your feet like? Narrow? Big heel arches? Long toes? Weak or strong?
Where are you climbing? Indoor or outdoor? Crimpy slabs? Overhangs? Long trad routes? Boulder problems with toe and heel hooks?
What are your priorities? Do you want something aimed at comfort or performance? Do you want something quick and easy to take off or tight and precise?
What level of climber are you? Are you a first-timer or are you climbing harder routes with stronger feet?
Nowadays, you’ll find loads of great product information which will help you get the perfect shoes for your feet and styles of climbing. Think about the perfect shoe for you and we’ll bet you’ll find a good option below!
Planning a climbing trip to Fontainebleau? Here’s our guide!
2.3 How to pick the right climbing shoe sizes
Every different pair of climbing shoes has a slightly different build and size so it will depend on the shoes you go for.
Traditionally, climbers will go for smaller sized shoes for higher performance but this is optional. Each shoe model will recommend sizing and suggest how much smaller to go if you’re wanting a tighter fit.
Trying climbing shoes on can be invaluable and help stop wasted time from ordering the wrong pair.
OUR ADVICE: If you’re unsure, go to a store to try a pair on!
2.4 What are the best beginner rock climbing shoes?
Whilst there’s no ‘perfect beginner shoe’, comfort should be your priority. Opting for more neutral climbing shoes with stiffer soles and less heal tension will give you much more comfort, accommodate for weaker feet and allow the shoes to be worn for longer. You could also go for velcro or slippers as they’ll be easier to get on and off.
2.5 Extra climbing questions answered
Q. Can a man wear women’s climbing shoes and vice versa? Yes, definitely. Men’s climbing shoes have more volume, typically at the top of the foot but they’re sometimes wider too. If it fits and it’s comfortable that’s all that matters.
Q. I’ve got two different sized feet… It’s not a great idea to cram your feet into the wrong sized shoes. You could consider buying two pairs of different shoes or even speaking to the climbing stores and seeing if they’ll let you buy one pair in different sizes.
Q. Can you return climbing shoes if they’re the wrong size? Typically, no. This is why it’s really important to get the right pair. Make sure to wear the shoes around the house for a while to make sure they’re comfortable enough, before you head to the crag or the gym. Using stairs and soft edges can be a good way to test them out without marking the rubber!
Q. Can you stretch climbing shoes if they’re too small? You can try using a hair dryer to warm up the materials and then wearing the shoes at home with extra pairs of socks to stretch them.
Q. Where can you find discount rock climbing shoes? Normally you’ll find cheaper prices online and so that’s the best way to hunt around. Many stores also price match which is useful. Summer and winter sales will often have good deals and older season models get price cuts.
READ MORE: Want to Make a Home Climbing Wall?
3. The Best Vegan Climbing Shoes
As mentioned, we contacted all the top climbing brands to find out which of their shoes were 100% vegan. Below you’ll find 29 awesome options for every type of vegan climber!
Jump to our top climbing shoe recommendations:
- Best climbing shoe for beginners – Evolv Defy
- Best intermediate climbing shoe – Scarpa Vapour Lace
- Best advanced climbing shoe – Tenaya Terifa
- Best budget climbing shoe – La Sportiva Oxygym
- Best indoor climbing shoe – Mad Rock Shark (Adv) OR Scarpa Veloce (beginner/int)
- Best sport climbing shoe – So Ill Free Range
- Best trad climbing shoe/comfort – Tenaya Tanta
- Best climbing shoe for wide feet – Mad Rock Drone
- Best climbing shoe for narrow feet – Evolv Elektra
Or keep scrolling to find more shoes by brand
Price key: £ = £50-£75 // ££ = £75-£100 // £££ = £100-£125 // ££££ £125-£150+
Evolv vegan climbing shoes
Evolv Agro (Unisex)
Cost – £££
Style – sensitive and aggressive shoe with asymmetrical shape
Best for – hard bouldering and sport climbs, overhangs, smearing toe hooks
Features – velcro closure, 4.2mm TRAX rubber
“A serious shoe for serious climbers, designed for sensitivity and precision on overhangs that are short, powerful and technical”
Cost – £££
Style – Aggressive, downturned but comfortable
Best for – intermediate to advanced climbers, sport or bouldering, technical footwork
Features – 3x velcro closure, 4.2mm TRAX rubber sole, additional ‘toe bump’ for heel hooks
“Chris Sharma’s signature high-end climbing shoe, moulded for difficult footwork and hooks but with impressive comfort”
Evolv Kronos (Unisex)
Cost – ££
Style – supportive and comfortable with moderate downturn
Best for – confident beginners or people looking for comfort, also good indoors
Features – 2x velcro straps, 4.2mm TRAX sole, firm midsole for added support
“The perfect all-round beginner to intermediate shoe – comfortable plenty of room for progression!”
Evolv Elektra (Women’s/narrow feet)
Cost – ££
Style – flat shoe, low volume
Best for – climbers with narrow feet, comfort for harder problems, all-rounder, longer sessions
Features – 2x velcro strap, split tongue, anti-odour lining and 4.2mm TRAX SAS sole
“A seriously popular women’s climbing shoe designed for all-round performance whilst staying comfortable and good for longer sessions”
Evolv Defy (Unisex)
Cost – £
Style – flat and high volume
Best for – first-timers, people with wider feet or wanting all-day comfort
Features – 2x velcro straps, hard-wearing TRAX SAS sole, full-length mid & out sole for added support
“One of the most popular climbing shoes around, great for beginners with heaps of support, comfort and durability”
More Evolv climbing shoes that are vegan
- Evolv Shakra – high-end aggressive velcro shoe best for narrow feet – Ellis Brigham (UK) // REI (USA)
- Evolv X1 – sensitive, down-turned and ace for gym climbing (it’s a good price too!) – Alpine Trek (UK) // Gear X (USA)
- Evolv Kira – comfortable beginners shoe with supportive midsole, good for edging – Alpine Trek (UK) // REI (USA)
- Evolv Supra – the perfective balance between comfort and performance (check out the full review here!) – EpicTV (UK) // Backcountry (USA)
Scarpa Vegan Climbing Shoes
Scarpa Velocity (Men’s and Women’s)
Cost – £
Style – flat, wide and comfortable with medium stiffness
Best for – new climbers and comfort-seekers, wide feet, indoors
Features – Vision rubber, velcro closure
“A solid choice for starting out, really comfortable and the first pair of shoes I owned!”
Scarpa Veloce (Men’s and Women’s)
Cost – £££
Style – moderate downturn, soft support
Best for – beginner to intermediate climbing indoors
Features – soft design for indoor climbing, S-72 super sticky rubber sole, velcro closure
“Starting out indoors? Specifically designed for progressing climbers at the gym”
Scarpa Vapour Lace (Men’s and Women’s)
Cost – £££
Style – slight downturn with stiff midsole and narrow fit
Best for – technical outdoor routes, edging, intermediate climbers
Features – lacing closure, Vibram XS Edge sole
“Want your first more advanced shoe? Or you’re intermediate climber wanting control and comfort? Go for this!”
Scarpa Furia Air (Unisex)
Cost – ££££
Style – lightweight, aggressive, narrow feet
Best for – advanced indoor climbing and short sport routes
Features – seriously lightweight (150g), soft M-50 rubber, MLT tension to drive power through big toe
“Looking for a lightweight and performance-driven indoor climbing shoe? Look no further!”
Scarpa Booster (Unisex)
Cost – ££££
Style – asymmetrical, downturned, sensitive
Best for – all-round outdoor power for advanced climbers wanting performance
Features – 2x velcro lacing, flexible fit for natural feel and powerful heel to drive foot forwards
“A classic shoe designed for outdoor hard climbs on small footholds, with a heel system that puts all power through your toes”
La Sportiva Oxy climbing shoes
Cost – £
Style – flat shoe with wide build
Best for – all day comfort and climbing in hot weather due to breathable materials
Features – machine washable materials and fast lacing system
“If you want fresh feeling and comfortable feet, this is the shoe for you – it’s machine washable!”
Mad Rock vegan climbing shoes
Mad Rock Haywire
Cost – ££
Style – downturned, soft, sensitive, comfortable
Best for – steep climbs, indoors, sport and bouldering, intermediate+ climbers
Features – slip-on design with velcro fastening, Science Friction 3.0 rubber
“Super soft with a natural feel but still giving lots of power through your toes and with a handy slip-on design”
Mad Rock Drone
Cost – £££
Style – aggressive, powerful heel but for wider feet
Best for – high level sport and bouldering for people with big feet
Features – velcro closure with soft tongue, strong heel band to drive foot forwards, Science Friction R2 rubber
“The perfect shoe for climbing serious routes for people with wide feet”
Mad Rock Shark
Cost – ££
Style – aggressive, asymmetrical, strong heel tension
Best for – sport, indoor, bouldering, overhangs, advanced climbers
Features – hook and look closure, Science Friction 3.0 rubber, large rubber area for increased traction
“Power performer on steep overhangs, with a large rubber sole and toe for unrivalled stickiness!”
Boreal vegan climbing shoes
Boreal Alpha and Alpha Wmns
Cost – £
Style – synthetic leather, flat, comfortable
Best for – beginners indoors, sport climbing and bouldering
Features – 2x velcro strap, comfortable heel system
“Supremely comfortable beginners shoe for starting at the gym”
Tenaya vegan climbing shoes
Cost – ££££
Style – downturned, flexible, for wider feet
Best for – bouldering and sport climbing, advanced climbers with wide feet
Features – Velcro closure, breathable tongue, Vibram XS rubber
“High-end performance climbing shoe with high volume for wider feet”
Cost – £
Style – straight and flat, comfortable design, high volume
Best for – beginners to intermediate, bouldering, sport or trad climbing, people with wide feet
Features – 2x velcro closure, reinforced toe-box, wide-opening tongue for ease of use
“The perfect balance between performance and comfort for a bargain price!”
Cost – ££
Style – flat, straight, comfort
Best for – all-round comfort on slab and vertical climbs
Features – 2x velcro closure, Vibram XS grip
“A strong heel and neutral design gives sweet comfort all around without compromising on performance”
Cost – £££
Style – aggressive, slight curve, quite rigid, medium heel tension
Best for – sport climbing, indoor, bouldering, intermediate/advanced
Features – velcro closure, arched heel for tighter fit, Vibram XS 3.5 rubber
“Amazing precision and power with a glove-like fit”
Cost – £££
Style – moderate downturn with slight curve, moderately stiff
Best for – sport climbing, small foothold, intermediate-advanced climbers
Features – fast-lacing system, stiff midsole, Vibram XS 3.5 rubber
“Great for tackling crimpy holds and difficult placements on sport and boulder routes. A personal favourite!”
More Tenaya climbing shoes that are vegan
So Ill vegan climbing shoes – Free Range
Cost – ££
Style – tight-fitting downturned shoe with high heel tension
Best for – advanced climbers, precision climbing on overhangs
Features – velcro closure, Dark Matter rubber, stiff toe box
“Beautifully designed beast with Dark Matter rubber, for serious power through your toes and unrivalled traction!”
Black Diamond vegan climbing shoes – Momentum
Cost – ££
Style – flat, wide and comfortable
Best for – vertical climbing, trad, all-day comfort, beginners
Features – velcro close, medium flex, thick and durable rubber
“Indoor and outdoor comfort, good for adventurous beginners”
Red Chilli vegan climbing shoes – Ventic Air
Style – flat shoe with loose heel, comfortable
Best for – vertical, indoor and outdoor beginner shoe
Features – 2x velcro closure, RX 2 sole
“Top choice for comfortable beginners climbing shoes”
Five Ten vegan climbing shoes *
Though Five Ten have been known to produce some awesome leather-free climbing shoes, they can’t confirm the glue and dye 100% vegan-friendly. This post will be updated once we hear any changes from them!
Need more climbing shoe advice, or know of any other sweet climbing shoes for vegans? Hit us up in the comments at the bottom!