Barefoot Climbing Shoes – 11 Things To Consider

Climbing is a sport that keeps things simple. It’s a sibling to bouldering in terms of equipment required. When people first start climbing, they frequently ask if they genuinely need climbing shoes.

We want to clarify these and other questions here once and for all.

1. Can You Climb With Regular Street Shoes?

a climber with normal sport shoes

First and foremost, we must discuss your footwear. Some folks go climbing in their everyday street shoes. Others use running sneakers, although neither option is excellent.

So instead, you’ll need to put on some climbing shoes. They’re customized climbing shoes that are meant to help you hold the rocks and footholds.

Sneakers aren’t allowed because they don’t have adequate grip and are generally the wrong shape for a climbing wall. In addition, you’ll have a hard time getting a solid base from your feet up, which will influence your climbing technique.

2. Climbing Barefoot

There was a time when shoes were not invented. As a result, people used to walk around barefoot. And they most likely climbed up and down trees, mountains, and whatever else they could find… all barefoot.

On the other hand, Shoes are available these days and created for a variety of purposes. Some shoes are made to be worn when running.

Depending on how you look at strappy high heel shoes, they might be made for style or pure agony. Some are designed for crunching through snow and ice without slipping and falling on your behind in the frigid winter air.

And, of course, there’s a whole category of shoes made just for rock climbing.

While it is possible to rock climb barefoot, it is not recommended. People created shoes to protect their feet while also assisting them in working together, which is extremely important when rock climbing.

It’s like having an extra tool at your disposal to help you reach new heights, and isn’t that what you want?

3. What Are The Advantages Of Barefoot-Style Climbing?

climbing shoes on wall

Although climbing barefoot has its disadvantages, it also doesn’t come without perks.

Physical Benefits

Climbing barefoot provides your feet and toes with many of the same benefits that traditional climbing does for your hands and fingers.

  • The strengthening of your toes and foot’s ligaments and tendons is one of the many advantages.

You will also get big callouses on your feet and toes as a result of this. These callouses will reduce pain and the scraping off of live skin over time.

Monetary Benefits

Climbing shoes are highly beneficial for performance and safety, but they can be pretty costly.

  • Climbing barefoot is extremely inexpensive because it eliminates the need for shoes and all of their disadvantages.

Climbing barefoot has the potential of providing you with some mental and spiritual benefits in addition to the physical and monetary benefits. Climbers have commented that the simplicity of climbing barefoot has given them a whole new perspective on the game.

They felt more connected to nature, which assisted them in discovering a deeper meaning in their climbing adventure. While I did not have that experience, it may be beneficial to others on their spiritual journey.

4. Are There Disadvantages To Barefoot-Style Climbing?

When you climb barefoot, your weight is distributed across each toe rather than a single point on a shoe. This keeps you from putting too much weight on the smaller footholds, increasing the weight your arms must support.

As a result, climbing without shoes will cause your arms to burn out faster and reduce your overall climbing ability.

Climbing Barefoot Is Dangerous

Rock climbing shoes not only improve performance but also protect climbers’ feet. While barefoot, putting all of your weight on small, potentially pointy/sharp holds can be incredibly painful.

Climbing Barefoot Is Unhygienic

Climbers aren’t precisely recognized for their pristine cleanliness. On the other hand, climbing barefoot elevates the word “dirtbag” to new heights.

Feet aren’t exactly the most attractive items globally (unless maybe you have a foot fetish). However, that’s not the worst: primarily, feet are known to be quick in spreading diseases and unhygienic.

5. Is It Ok To Climb Barefoot In The Climbing Gym Or Boulder Hall?

a woman climbing in a boulder hall

You can do that, and it’s OK if the climbing surfaces are clean and dry. I’ve done it without a problem in the summer when I didn’t have my rock boots, but I wouldn’t want to do it now.

  • It’s worth noting that many gyms forbid walking barefoot for reasons of hygiene (which is ridiculous; climbers’ hands are just as filthy) and safety.

So it’s always good to check with the staff first to avoid a possible climbing faux pas.

6. Climbing With Climbing Shoes

Bouldering, in particular, does not require a lot of gear, but the essential item is undoubtedly a pair of climbing shoes. Unfortunately, there is a bewildering array of rock climbing shoes on the market, some of which are intended explicitly for bouldering.

Each one claims to be the most comfortable and features the stickiest rubber. Although most climbers have a favorite brand, no single brand dominates the market, implying that no single brand offers a distinct advantage.

When selecting the right shoe for your needs, you must consider a variety of aspects, including: 

  • The stickier the rubber is, the faster it wears out.
  • A thin sole is more responsive but less durable. 

7. Why Are Climbing Shoes Still A Good Idea?

a pair of climbing shoes

Climbing shoes are available in a variety of styles, with several of them developed specifically for bouldering. When selecting them, you must usually choose between several factors, including: 

  • Tight or loose fit? Tight is better for tiny holds, but loose is more comfortable.
  • Is it better to use sticky rubber or hard rubber? Sticky rubber is soft and causes shoes to wear down more quickly, but it also helps them grip the wall better.
  • In addition, smearing is improved with firmer soles. Smearing occurs when you push your shoes against a rock or slab and rely solely on friction to gain traction.
  • Thin soles are delicate but less lasting, while firm soles endure longer.

If you’re a newbie, don’t overspend on footwear. They’re unlikely to last long anyway, given your footwork is probably not up to par.

8. Do Rock Climbers Wear Socks?

You can wear rock climbing shoes with socks. It all comes down to personal preference and comfort.

To be more specific, you should not wear socks with rock climbing shoes in the first place. Most expert climbers do not wear socks in their climbing shoes, which is actually how it is done.

9. Should Your Toes Curl In Barefoot Climbing Shoes?

It would help if you never curled your toes to the point that you feel like you’re standing on your toenails; this is a solid sign that your shoes are too tiny.

In contrast, a shoe that’s too large will shift when you’re standing on small footholds.

10. How Do I Know My Barefoot Shoe Size For Climbing?

You might have heard that you should obtain the smallest climbing shoe size you can fit your feet into. This rumor may have been true a decade ago when shoes were built to modern specifications, but that is no longer the case.

Instead, climbing shoe technology has advanced to the point where you can now wear your boots “comfortably” (a relative term-keep reading for details) without losing performance.

11. Why The Vibram Five Fingers Kso Evo Is The Single Best Option For A Barefoot Climbing Shoe.

one pair of vibram kso-evo-black-red

The goal behind the advancement of the Fivefingers shoes was to create footwear that would fit snugly and comfortably around the foot. As a result, individual fingers on the feet can quickly move in their place while walking, running, or jogging while wearing the Fivefingers shoes.

Wearing Vibram Fivefingers has a plethora of advantages. Take a look at a few examples:

  • According to studies, the padding on regular shoes reduces our feet’ ability to sense what’s beneath them as they contact the ground. This sense’s dullness can lead to damage.
  • On the other hand, Vibram FiveFingers keep your feet in contact with the ground, which preserves your feelings and reduces the danger of injury.

The human body is designed to quickly adapt to how it is being used over time, meaning that you can use your feet without shoes, and it will adapt. The actual purpose of our toes, from a mechanical perspective, is to provide us with extra traction while walking on any surface.

When you’re barefoot and you hit a piece of turf, your foot will adjust, and you’ll be able to retain your position. In this case, Vibram FiveFingers can be beneficial because they will let you tell if you’re hitting the turf by its natural feel and adjust your position accordingly.

Vibram Women's KSO evo-w Cross Training Shoe, Pink/Grey, 36 EU/6.5-7 M US*
  • Lightly padded tongue & speed lacing system
  • Serrated blade lug design
  • Xs trek outsole


After reading this article, you should have a solid notion of how to go about finding the ideal climbing shoe. But be sure to do some more research; after all, climbing shoes are a significant investment.

Take a look at the crags and gyms in your area. Please inquire about your climbing partners’ gear and why they prefer it. Also, read different customer reviews on the particular climbing shoe type before buying.

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