man putting on mad rock climbing shoes at crag with person belay in background

On a budget? We’ve reviewed the best rock climbing shoes under $100 to find you that perfect starter pair!

Rock climbing is a great way to stay fit, enjoy the outdoors and meet new and interesting people from all walks of life.  

Many people are flocking to the sport as it increases in popularity, and subsequently a great range of budget friendly climbing shoes under $100 have entered the market.

It can be quite daunting, at first, getting into rock climbing and trying to learn what all the gear is for, but if you’ve got bitten by the bug then the first purchase you are likely to make will be a pair of rock climbing shoes.  

Even this can seem to be a minefield, with a saturation of advice on the internet.  To simplify things, we have included in this article all the basics you’ll need to know when you start looking to buy a great pair of affordable shoes under $100.

We’ll cover useful tips on sizing shoes for different kinds of feet, and which brands are better for which foot shape.  

Also we’ll include useful information on shoe styles and features, from the fastening systems used to the types of rubber.  

We even include all the information you’ll need on how to buy the best climbing shoes online, including the best places to buy cheap climbing shoes.

So let’s dive straight in and look at the best climbing shoe available for under $100!

*Note: Prices of climbing shoes change periodically, the price range of “under $100” USD was accurate per price listed on Amazon.com at time of writing. Other factors such as size, colors, women vs mens models, etc can effect the price.

Hey! By the way… this page contains affiliate links. So if you make a purchase after clicking one at no cost to you we may earn a small commission. Thanks for your support!

Our Top Pick

#1 – La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoes

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Quick Look

  • Price – $58.91 – $107.62 
  • Closure System – Lace-up
  • Upper – Leather / Synthetic Leather
  • Lining – None
  • Type – Neutral
  •  Fit – Wide

La Sportiva has a long and renowned history as a company that makes top end climbing shoes.  For their budget friendly, affordable option this is no different.  Their Tarantulace was therefore an easy choice for our top pick thanks to the quality that is often reserved for a shoe with a much higher price.

A quick look at the features confirm this – including a precise lacing system that regulates the inner fit, support and comfort, all round performance thanks to the hard wearing yet sticky FriXion RS rubber and combination of 1.8mm LaspoFlex at the midsole and 5mm at the sole making them stable and durable.

La Sportiva says this is a great shoe for entry to mid level climbers and we agree.  Only the La Sportiva finale really compares.  The asymmetric shape gives advanced performance without hurting the toes, something a more aggressive advanced shoe can be found to do.  

Built to last, it will also be a shoe to stay with you throughout your progression and it’s no surprise that we see so many people wearing these out at the crag or in the gym.

For climbers looking for a great introductory climbing shoe with as many high end features as more expensive models, or even a quality intermediate shoe at a great price then look no further than the La Sportiva Tarantulace.

Best Budget Pick

#2 – Evolv Nighthawk/Skyhawk

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Quick Look

  • Price – $51.71 – $79.00 
  • Closure System – Lace-up
  • Upper – Leather
  • Lining – Agion anti-odor formula
  • Type – Flat
  •  Fit – Standard

Out of all the shoes in this guide the Evolve Nighthawk and the lower volume companion Skyhawk would be our go to pick for those on a tight budget looking for the best beginner shoes.

Featuring a soft leather upper and an Agion anti-odor formulated lining these shoes would be comfortable to wear for extended periods in the gym without your feet turning into a festering mess, a bonus not only for you, but also your belayer and anyone in close enough proximity!

The laces offer a tight, snug fit that can be precisely tuned depending on what climb you’re attempting.  The flat shape is good for long multi pitch climbs, and would benefit a beginner just getting into climbing.  

Keep in mind that they are not super aggressive either or asymmetrically shaped like others in our guide and therefore lack the precision of a more expensive shoe.  For a more performance based shoe for sending your harder technical projects we would look elsewhere, for example the Evolv Defy.

If you’re in need of a high quality, super comfortable sub $100 climbing shoe and are on a tight budget then Evolve has what you need, perfect for beginner climbers and more advanced alike.

Best All Round 

#3 – Black Diamond Momentum Lace Climbing Shoes

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Quick Look

  • Price – $62.99 – $116.94
  • Closure System – Lace-up
  • Upper – Engineered Knit Technology
  • Lining – Hemp
  • Type – Flat / Neutral
  •  Fit – Wide / Narrow Options Available

Black Diamond is a well known and admired brand in the climbing world.  Their traditional climbing cams, the Camalots, are legendary and without doubt some of the best protection on the market.  They have sponsored the top athletes in the world and even invented a new kind of climbing chalk! 

Surprisingly, however, they have only recently begun to make climbing shoes, something they acknowledge on their website with the lyrical quote from Streetlife, Wu-Tang Clan – “I’m sorry it took so long, didn’t mean to make y’all wait.  Good things take time to create.”

And they are right – by the looks of their shoes they have created something good.  The Momentums are their budget offering coming in at under $100 in a wide range of styles and sizes to suit any discerning climber, and this is why they take our best all round pick.

We looked closer at the lace-up shoe, but it’s good to note they also offer it with a velcro closure at a similar price.  All the Momentums have a choice of wide or narrow fit, meaning that you should easily find a pair of these that fit you well.  

This is a great range of choices not often found with a budget climbing shoe, but delving deeper into the Black Diamond website we can see they took a relatively new approach to designing their shoes.

An Engineered Knit Technology on the upper and hemp lining are two of the most obvious innovations Black Diamond are making here -less obvious is molded rubber inspired by the way their carabiners are formed.  With designers with backgrounds from General Motors to Nike, expect to see plenty more high quality innovative features from this company in the future.

Best Rubber

#4 – Scarpa Women’s Helix Climbing Shoes

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Quick Look

  • Price – $69.26 – $109.00 
  • Closure System – Lace-up
  • Upper – Suede
  • Lining – Padded Tongue
  • Type – Flat / Neutral
  •  Fit – Wide / Narrow Options Available

We love the retro look of these climbing shoes, in a design that has unseemingly changed in years.  Despite their look, these shoes are actually extremely innovative, and take the podium for having the best rubber in all the shoes we looked at in this guide.

If you haven’t heard of Scarpa before then you must have been living in a cave in the Southernmost Andes.  Founded in 1938 their headquarters and manufacturing facilities are still located in the same Northern Italian region as they have been since inception.  Also a multi generational family owned business, Scarpa has been making high quality footwear for multiple disciplines for years – even the name of the brand means shoe in Italian!  So if anyone knows anything about shoes and rubber these are the guys!

So, to get back to the rubber – they use a slightly thinner 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge rubber on these compared to the more expensive 4mm found on a professional shoe.  Although this means they are slightly faster wearing, keep in mind they do have the same performance as the top end models and are even more sensitive.  

These shoes wouldn’t be out of place on any 5.12 technical face climbs, and thanks to their flat / neutral shape are perfect for long multi pitch adventures or all day outings.  However, we would probably leave them out of the gym and save that super sticky rubber for your harder projects, instead opting for the Mad Rock Drifters seen below.

Best Gym Shoes

#5 – Mad Rock Drifter

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Quick Look

  • Price – $59.97 – $82.93 
  • Closure System – Velcro Strap
  • Upper – Leather
  • Lining – Polyester
  • Type – Flat Profile
  •  Fit – Regular

Whilst these might not be the best looking beginner shoe in our guide, don’t think they can’t send hard routes – the Mad Rock Drifter has been used to climb bouldering grades of up to V15!

Mad Rock have done away with some of their more technical features to provide a wallet friendly classic shoe that “puts competition on its wake.”  We think this makes the perfect gym climbing shoe, whether you like to run laps on the auto belay or project hard boulder routes.

The full grain leather uppers stretch out over time providing a comfortable custom fit and the split neoprene tongue helps take these on and off with no trouble.

The 3D moulded heel also provides for a good fit and the slightly asymmetric last and flat profile add to the comfort without detracting too much from performance.

The Science Friction 3.0 rubber sole claims to give the best friction, but if you need a more precise technical shoe then we wouldn’t hesitate to try on a pair the Scarpa Helix mentioned above instead. 

Overall these shoes are not going to win any great awards for high quality, but they do fit a required niche and are not an uncommon sight in gyms all over the country.  If you spend most of your time on plastic rather than real rock these could be just what you’re looking for.  

Like these but the fit isn’t perfect?  Then we recommend trying the Butora Endeavor instead.

Best Technical and Crack Climbing

#6 – Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym Climbing Shoe

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Quick Look

  • Price – $84.88 – $125.00 
  • Closure System – Slip On
  • Upper – Leather
  • Lining – None
  • Type – Flat
  •  Fit – Wide

The Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym are some of the comfiest climbing shoes I’ve ever worn, yet are also surprisingly competent on technical climbs, as well as excelling on cracks.

The first thing you’ll notice when trying these shoes on is the comforting feel of the leather uppers against your skin.  Compared to stiffer or more aggressive shoes these feel good from the first moment you put them on – no arduous break in period required!

Compared to the rest of the affordable climbing shoes in this article the Five Ten’s stand out as they are the only slip-on variety.  This has its pros and cons like most things, but we love the ease of taking these on and off, and the lack of features add to comfort when climbing cracks.  

Although they may not have the same level of adjustability as others with laces, the performance isn’t that different, especially compared to other beginner shoes under $100.

The rubber is also noteworthy too.  Five Ten has a reputation for their Stealth Rubber which seemingly has magical properties, allowing you to stick to the smallest of edges.  

All this makes them the perfect companion for long trad and crack climbs where you need a reassuring shoe that will also remain comfortable throughout the day.  

The only reason these shoes don’t take the top spot for the best rock climbing shoe under $100 is the decline in quality that some climbers have noticed since the company was taken over by Adidas a few years ago.  Oh, and the notorious red feet – but it’s not really such a big deal.

Best Aggressive Shoes

#7 – Tenaya Tanta Climbing Shoes

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Quick Look

  • Price – $99.95 
  • Closure System – Strap
  • Upper – Microfiber
  • Lining – Cotton
  • Type – Moderate Downturn / Aggression
  •  Fit – Wide / Narrow Options Available

These offerings from Tenaya are punching way above their weight for the price they are, and are a no-brainer to take the podium for best aggressive shoe with their moderate downturn and solid heel.

Tenaya, a Spanish brand with a history dating back to a first ascent in Yosemite, are the brainchild of legendary shoe designer Jose Luis Garci Gallego.  He still supervises the production in Spain of these handcrafted shoes that have an impressive resume of notable ascents.

Josune Bereziartu, the first woman in the world to break through the 9a barrier, was wearing Tenaya’s.  Legendary Spanish climber Ramon Julian reached a staggering 43 podium places in the Climbing Championships and World Cup with the use of SXR Dynamics and RBRX Technologies patented by Tenaya.  The first ascent of Perfecto Mundo 9B+ (5.15) and Canada’s first 9B Fightclub were both climbed by Alex Megos with the help of Tenaya’s Aerial Plus line.

If all these endorsements from the top professional climbers are not enough (did we mention Chris Sharma also wears Tenayas?!), then just take a closer look at the technical features of the Tanta.

The wide open bellows tongue creates ease putting on and removing the shoes, and the reinforced rubber toe box increases abrasive resistance and superior edging capabilities.  Also four micro-layer insoles (with M4 technology) aid perfect distribution of force.

If all this sounds too much like techno mumbo jumbo then take pleasure in the fact that no animals were harmed in the making of these shoes – they are completely and 100% vegan!

Where Is The Best Place To Get Cheap Climbing Shoes

Shoes

The best place to get cheap climbing shoes is always your friendly local climbing or outdoor gear store.  Not only can you try on a variety of shoes here – the most important thing to remember when buying the best climbing shoes is that they fit properly – but you can get some great personal advice from other climbers whose job it is to know about these products.

Also, by supporting local business in this way, we are encouraging the growth of a community of like minded climbers who can support each other when needed.  

Often stores like this offer discounts for shoes from previous seasons that they couldn’t sell that year, especially if you have a larger or smaller than average foot size.  

Check out this podcast by the awesome team at Dirtbag Diaries to find out what’s so important about the local gear shop.

Alternatively, more and more people are turning to shopping online for the best climbing shoes, where larger corporations can offer cheaper prices than small local businesses.  Here you can often find the best prices and cheapest offers if you only put in the time to find them.  

How To Buy Climbing Shoes Online

Laptop

Buying climbing shoes online may not be as convenient or as community minded as going to your local outdoor store, but sometimes this is just not practical. 

So if you have to buy climbing shoes online, how do you do it?

Firstly, work out your requirements.  For instance, how new to climbing are you?  How often do you climb a week?  What style of climbing do you prefer?  Once you have asked yourself these questions and gathered the appropriate responses then can you begin to research the best product for you.

Thankfully, for the research, you’re in the right place.  By reading our guides and gathering as much information as you can about different shoes, you can work out an idea of what may work best for your needs.  

Once you know which shoes you want it’s a good idea, if buying online, to see that the website you are buying from offers a good return policy.  This way if the shoes don’t properly fit it is easy to return them.  In fact, some sites even send you a selection of sizes so you can try them on at home, then return the ones that don’t fit.

Things to Consider When Buying Climbing Shoes

man climbing

Finally, we are going to take a look at several of the things to consider when buying climbing shoes.

Cost

Climbers are notorious dirtbags – the legendary Fred Beckey would “steal” sauce sachets and bread rolls from restaurants to live off during his daring first ascent all over the Western States and Canada and would balk at having to spend more than $100 for climbing shoes.

While cost will still be a factor in the shoes you buy, depending on your income and budget, what is actually more important is the fit and feel of the shoe. Additionally, how much you climb and your level will affect the cost – a pro climber will undoubtedly need a more expensive (and therefore more technical shoe) than someone just looking to get out for the weekends.

Fit

As mentioned above, perhaps the most important thing to consider when buying climbing shoes is the fit.  This can be a daunting hurdle, and one that still haunts many climbers looking to buy new shoes.  

A good place to start is with your street shoe size, but it’s important to bear in mind that all brands size their shoes differently.  So whilst one size may be perfect for you with Scarpa, the same size will be impossible to even get on your feet with La Sportiva, for example.  

Brands often state how their shoes will fit, giving you an idea of whether to size up or down, but another good source of further information is the reviews left by people on sites such as Amazon.

Once you have found a size and a brand that fits well make sure you note it down!  

I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve seen a good deal online on a favourite pair of shoes only to realize I’ve forgotten which size I used to wear for that particular make or model.

Shape

Shoes

The shape of climbing shoes vary depending on a range of factors.  Each shape will affect not only how the shoe fits (see above) but also how it performs.  

Flat / Neutral

Generally speaking, the flatter and more neutral shaped a climbing shoe is, the better it is going to be for wearing for longer periods of time climbing gently inclined rock.  

A neutral or flat shoe will most often perform better on technical face or slab climbs than an aggressive gym shoe.

Aggressive

Aggressively shaped climbing shoes, those that appear to curve like a banana, are better for steeper, overhanging routes.  Their downturned shape helps the climber grip to the rock and edges with their toes whilst inverted.  

The heels on these shaped shoes are also often more snugly fitted allowing for greater tension and stability whilst performing moves such as heel hooks.

Rubber

The only thing between your naked toes and the cold hard rock is a layer of durable rubber.  This layer will come in many forms, hard or soft, thick or thin, each trait contributing to the overall performance of the shoes.

Choose a thicker, stronger rubbered shoe if you are spending a lot of time in the gym, or a thinner, more sensitive shoe for delicate slab and technical face climbs.  

The rubber also has degrees of stiffness that will either help keep your foot in position on small edges or, alternatively, bend with the shape of your foot (better for longer, easy climbs).

Not all rubber is created equal either – much time and research has gone into the development of rubber for climbing shoes that grips the rock more effectively.  

One of the biggest differences between a cheaply made pair and more expensive ones is the quality of the rubber.  Brands even have their own patents on their rubber and clever names to match – Stealth Rubber, Science Friction and Fuse are just a few examples.

Closure

Closures on climbing shoes are generally not much different from that of any regular sporting footwear.  We can broadly separate them into three categories, laces, velcro and slip-on.  

Consider the benefits of each system below when you come to make that new purchase.

Laces

Laces are the most traditional form of securely attaching a shoe to one’s foot.  The benefit of a laces, or “lace-ups” is that you can finely tune the fit over different parts of your foot.  

Pull them tight for a snug, sensitive fit for hard boulder problems or tie them looser when just warming up.  Although they can take longer to put on and take off than other systems, they are a firm favourite amongst most sport climbers.

Velcro

Velcro is also a firm favourite amongst a wide range of climbers, but in particular boulderers, thanks to the ease of putting them on and taking them off, and the security they give.  

For overall performance and ease of use velcro is a good way to go, especially if you are bouldering a lot, indoors or outside.

Slip-ons

Slip-ons, although once very popular, are not seen as much these days.  The only slip-ons in our guide, the Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym, have been around for years and have cemented their place in the climbing world.  

The benefits of slip-ons, apart from being easy to put on and take off, are seen in crack climbing where the smooth outer surface of the shoe doesn’t interfere when you jam your feet into the crevices.  With laces or velcro shoes the fastening can often uncomfortably get in between your foot and the rock, causing untold amounts of pain.

Further Reading

So now you’re all clued up about the best cheap rock climbing shoes on the market, but maybe you’ve decided you don’t mind spending a bit more money, or perhaps are looking for something a little more specific.  

Or maybe you’ve found the perfect pair but need help breaking them in?  Well don’t fret, we have a handy few links to all the other information you may need below! “Best Trad Climbing Shoes”  “Best Bouldering Shoes For Beginners

Published by Neil Skilton