Cheap Climbing Shoes and Where to Find Them

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Tired of wearing rental shoes at the climbing gym? Getting a little more serious about climbing and want your very own pair of shoes? Want to make the life of your more expensive shoes last a little longer? Not sure what do you do when your shoes are out for a resole? These are questions every climber has had to address at some point. There always seems to be something going on with those pesky shoes. You might want consider a pair of cheap climbing shoes to keep your mind at ease.

Climbing shoes are expensive and they tend wear out quickly. A slight cringe comes over us at the thought of dropping more than $100 on a new pair of shoes before we are ready. Even when we are ready it is still a bit of an investment. Then there are the questions about getting the right pair or the right size. It can be downright stressful. In the end, we climb because it is quite the opposite of stressful.

How to Find Cheap Climbing Shoes

These are some things to take advantage of when shopping around for your next pair of cheap climbing shoes:

  • Sales are happening all the time on the web and at local gyms. Do some digging and you will find some great deals.
  • Most online retailers have free shipping for orders over $50. You should never have to pay for shipping when you buy a pair of rock shoes.
  • Check out previous models of existing shoes. These are usually offered at 40% off and sometimes more than that.
  • If you ever hear about a shoe demo, go check it out. There is likely to be some sort of sale on the shoes that are being demoed.

Cheap Climbing Shoes Online

Climbing Shoes at Amazon.com – Amazon offers some of the most choice on the internet for climbing shoes. It’s going to be hit or miss on some of the good deals and you’ll be lucky if the right size shoe is available. Amazon Prime members get free 2-day shipping. I use it and love it. (Hint: If you aren’t a member, start a free 30 day trial and get your shoes right away.)

Rockcreek.com - This online store has a decent selection of climbing shoes with plenty of sizes available. Prices are good, shipping is free for orders over $49, and they are usually promoting special deals. Still tax free for GA customers!

Climbing Shoes at REI.com – REI’s online selection of shoes is limited, but growing. They offer a decent selection of climbing shoes under $100. They also offer free shipping on orders over $50.

What Do You Get?

Most of the shoes that fit into the category of “cheap climbing shoes” are going to be excellent all around performers. That means these shoes are going to be a good choice whether you are going to bo outside, inside, bouldering, or climbing walls. They are not made for specific types and styles of climbing like some of the more expensive shoes out there, meaning they lack features like aggresive downturns and asymmetry in the toe boxes. Which brings up the next point.

A cheap climbing shoe is likely to be comfortable and durable. You are going to get a shoe that will be comfortable when worn over long periods of time. Also, the shoe itself will probably last longer than some of the shoes out there designed for one type of climbing. Just like anything, there are pluses and minuses when it comes to cheap climbing shoes. It’s important to always remember that the most expensive pair of shoes may not always be the best. It’s the climber who wears them that really makes the difference.

The following is a short list of shoes that are normally marked under the $100 range or have been seen on sale with some steep discounts.

My Favorite Cheap Climbing Shoes: La Sportiva Tarantula

La Sportiva is spot on when they call this climbing shoes “highly adjustable.” The hook and loop velcro enclosure makes sure any foot, wide, narrow, big, or small can find a comfortable fit. The Tarantula is a really stellar offering from La Sportiva for the price. When it comes to durability this shoe is going to out last many of the other cheap climbing shoes out there thanks to the Vibram rubber. This is a perfect entry level shoe that will meet all climbing situations, whether in the gym or outdoors.

Why are these my favorite cheap shoes? Well, I would pick this pair over any other pair on the list. There are a two reasons why, and durability is first. These shoes sell for around $90 and last much longer than some others I’ve tried out. It’s that hard Vibram rubber with a little more thickness that really makes the difference. I wore out my first pair in about a year of solid gym climbing. I may have been a little easy on them, but they really did last that long. I got them resoled with the same rubber and they are good as new. That being said, the velcro straps are beginning to show their age as well and are sure to wear out very soon. Keep that in mind. The second point is comfort. The toebox is rounded and open and there is no downturn to wreak havoc on the toes. This is a big plus for those who need a comfortable shoe for long sessions or beginning climbers who aren’t looking for a terribly tight fitting shoe.

Evolv Defy VTR

Evolv says the Defy VTR is the number one selling rock shoe in the country because “it offers a combination of comfort, performance, and value.” All of this is very true. Value is probably one of the first things that brings many people to this shoe. This is a pair of shoes you are going to see at the climbing gym or your favorite climbing spot time and time again. Performance and comfort are just as important as the value in this cheap climbing shoe. You get a double hook-and-loop enclosure for a great fit every time. Evolv also packed in features like the synthetic upper, side vents, and perforated tongue for added comfort. This is a great beginner to intermediate level climbing shoe.



Mad Rock Drifter

Mad Rock only offers the basics with this model. You can pick this shoe up for pretty much half the price of most of the shoes out there. So what does half the price get you? A dual hook-and-loop enclosure for a great fit with easy on and off. The Drifter is also equipped with Mad Rock’s ultra-sticky Science Friction rubber soles that will get you to the top of any problem. It’s a pretty bare bones shoe, but the best you are going to do at this price range unless you find something else on clearance.



Mad Rock Flash 2.0

Mad Rock calls this shoe a “blend of comfort, durability, and performance.” Don’t forget, Mad Rock has also put the Flash 2.0 in the sweet spot for price. They are just far enough under the $100 point to make the purchase a little easier. All of those things combined indeed make the Flash 2.0 an excellent all-around performer. This shoe is great if you are looking for your first pair of rock shoes or a solid backup pair. The shoe’s hook-and-loop enclosure system makes it easy to find a snug fit, Mad Rock’s sticky Formula #5 rubber, and the 3D modeled heel all work together to make this a great shoe in all sorts of situations.




Scarpa Reflex

The Reflex is Scarpa’s all-around climbing shoe for all day comfort at an affordable price. This model is pretty much identical to the Helix, but features a hook-and-loop enclosure system for those who want to get their shoes on and off more often and quickly. This shoe is perfect for any serious beginner thirsting to get themselves further in the gym or outdoors. The Reflex may be a budget model, but Scarpa doesn’t skimp where it matters. Mainly the suede uppers for comfort and sticky TAC 100 rubber soles make this a solid shoe. If you are on the fence about buying your first pair of rock shoes, the Reflex would be a good choice.

As you can see, there are plenty of choices out there if you are looking for a pair of cheap climbing shoes. Take some time to look around and you will surely find a pair of shoes bound to do the trick for troublesome problems.

Image by Jürgen Stemper // Bloemche on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.


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