Best Vegan Climbing Shoes in 2020 Buyer’s Guide

Best Vegan Climbing Shoes

Climbing is a widespread activity and one of the best ones for developing strength and endurance. It’s also appealing for a vast majority due to its variety. It can be done on multiple levels, including indoors, outdoors, bouldering or sport climbing, overhangs, verticals, and the list goes on.

Yet, climbing shoes tremendously impact the overall experience in unimaginable ways. That’s why selecting the right pair of climbing shoes, especially if vegan, is nowhere near easy. Many of us have actually bought climbing shoes with the impression that they’re vegan-friendly, only to find out that they’re actually not.

However, luckily for us, major companies and brands in the business are now offering a variety of options that are cruelty-free for real, yet deliver optimal performance. We’ve handpicked the best vegan climbing shoes on the market for you in this guide to help you take your pick.

At a Glance

1. Tenaya Oasi – Best Overall
2. Five Ten Anasazi – Runner-Up
3. La Sportiva Oxygym – Best for Indoor Climbing
4. Evolv Oracle – Maximum Comfort
5. So iLL The One – Best Design
6. Evolv Defy – Best Value
7. Mad Rock Remora – Budget Pick

The 7 Best Vegan Climbing Shoes in 2020

1. Tenaya Oasi – Best Overall

Tenaya Oasi

Suited to steep climbs, the Tenaya Oasi is down-turned and down-cambered by design to suit their purpose. If you’ve heard of Alex Megps, the German climber who captured the world’s first 9a onsight and climbed Bishop highball Lucid Dreaming V15, he climbed those climbs in these shoes!

Let’s tell you why this pair was his choice. For one, it’s vegan. And moreover, it truly unleashes your potential to climb at your highest levels. 

Given its aggressive nature, you’ll be impressed with the shoes’ high sensitivity and comfortability, two factors that aren’t easily made available with aggressive climbing shoes. So, you can say that it’s among the rare few soft, high-performance shoes.

It’s also for almost every kind of foothold since its construction has a high precision for different types of situations and terrains. Whether vertical, overhanging routers or bouldering, you’ll get a performance you wouldn’t dream of.

Finally, with regards to size, it would be best to downsize half a size for an all-day fit and between half a size to one size for a performance fit. The Oasi is a bit limiting in the stretch to make the size more consistent.

Pros:

  • Suited to steep climbs
  • High-performance
  • A pro choice
  • High precision

Cons:

  • Size isn’t true to fit

Bottom Line

Tenaya has always been famous for its designs that blend performance and comfort without sacrificing one or another. The aggressive Oasi is no exception, and for that reason, it’s always chosen by pro climbers all over the world!

2. Five Ten Anasazi – Runner-Up

Five Ten Anasazi

Particularly fit for edging and crack climbing, the Five Ten Anasazi has been a popular choice for beginner to intermediate climbers for a long time. If you’re especially passionate about those tough, small edges, these shoes will empower you with the confidence to navigate them.

How so? With the support of their asymmetrical toe box, Stealth rubber soles, and stiff midsoles. Moreover, the high-tension heel provides you with the needed support for longer climbs as well.

Moreover, don’t let your mind trap you into thinking that the rubber soles are a downside. Quite the opposite! They allow the shoes to hold tight on the most difficult of routes since they’re extra sticky. That’s in addition to the comfort they add that comes in handy on all-day climbing incidents.

Not to mention, this is a highly versatile pair, too, thanks to its adjustable lace-up fixture. While the polyester upper doesn’t stretch as we would like it to, you can still tighten for an extra secure fit, meanwhile hooking or loosening the shoe for your perfect fit.

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Excellent foot support
  • Comfortable fit
  • Stiff midsoles

Cons:

  • Doesn’t perform optimally on overhangs

Bottom Line

With its cutting-edge design and exclusive support features by Five Ten, the Anasazi is a pair that’s versatile to wear and take off, providing you with a secure fit that’s as fit as a glove. It will set you up for the ultimate climbing experience you’ve dreamt of.

3. La Sportiva Oxygym – Best for Indoor Climbing

La Sportiva Oxygym

As its name implies, the La Sportiva Oxygym is best for indoor climbing gyms, but that doesn’t mean it won’t do the job with outdoor climbing as well. It’s constructed with a durable 5mm outer sole along with a shock-absorbent EVA heel insert, so welcome to the world of superior comfort!

Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate in climbing or hiking, the shoes’ grip is not too aggressive, so no need to worry with regard to that aspect. Moreover, La Sportiva Oxygym comes in both men and women versions, and both provide a secure fit.

The upper fabric is highly breathable and 100% washable. What’s more, the shoes also feature an odor-reducing Airtex Silver Liner, so gone are the days of smelly and sweaty shoes and feet.

Last but not least, you’ll be happy to know that La Sportiva Oxygym is available in half sizes, so you won’t have to go either a size up or down. What’s more, it further comes with an adjustable Velcro hook and loop fastening to ensure an accurate fit.

If we were to mention one downside, it would be that the FriXion rubber sole the shoes feature is less hard-wearing than its counterparts. Yet, it’s worth mentioning that this could be solved since the shoes can be resoled. 

Pros:

  • Highly breathable
  • 100% washable
  • True to size
  • Odor-reducing

Cons:

  • Soles can wear down if used outdoors frequently
  • Inferior edging performance

Bottom Line

If you’re a beginner or intermediate in the world of climbing and looking for the ideal vegan climbing shoes, don’t miss the La Sportiva Oxygym. Made of entirely breathable and washable fabric and providing top-notch comfort for indoor use, this one will be the perfect companion at the gym.

4. Evolv Oracle – Maximum Comfort 

Evolv Oracle

While there are various options on this list that are indeed pleasant to wear, none of them compare with Evolv Oracle’s comfort levels. In fact, they’re known on the market to be one of the most high-performance shoes that provide maximum flexibility and comfort.

For one, it’s constructed with a split outer sole, ensuring maximum flexibility. And your heel is still supported by a high-tension heel! Moreover, with the shoes coming in a lace-up design, this adds to the fit’s adjustability.

The Evolv Oracle is quite popular for its aggressiveness, and you’d think that these would tend to crush the toes. Not with the Oracle! This one has extra space for your big toe knuckle and fills the dead space under your toes with what Evolv calls a ‘Love Bump’ for enhanced comfort and edging performance.

Last but not least, the brand has also added a heeled midsole to these shoes to help you with heel hooking while at the same time protecting your Calcaneus bone.

As you would expect, the downside of these shoes is that they come at a high price tag.

Pros:

  • Flexible sole
  • Snug toe box
  • Antimicrobial fabric
  • Suitable for all climbing types

Cons:

  • Pricey

Bottom Line

The Evolv Oracle is your gateway to quality, high-performance climbing shoes. They’ll give you access to a world of outstanding comfort, great fit, and protection to each part of your feet without sacrificing performance.

5. So iLL The One – Best Design

So iLL The One

The lace-up The One from So iLL is for all climbing levels. So, if you’re after that all-round climbing experience, consider this high-performance climbing shoe.

Despite being constructed with a medium stiffness midsole and an aggressive tension heel, The One still manages to be very lightweight. Additionally, these shoes come in a classic shape that empowers them to be suitable for not only vertical and slab climbing but also traditional and edging.

On the functional side, their dark rubber outer sole results in plenty of traction, while the laces allow for a highly adjustable fit. Then there’s a soft inner lining and padded tongue, both providing added comfort. Combine these factors together, and you get one of the most snug climbing shoes there is. 

Let’s not forget; one of the most unique features of The One is its welded ‘no-sew’ upper, so the lightweightness is truly unmatchable. 

However, it’s worth mentioning that despite the adjustable fit with the help of the laces, the sizes do run small, so order a size up!

Pros:

  • Comfortable and flexible fit
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for almost all climbers and terrain
  • Grippy outer sole

Cons:

  • Sizes run small

Bottom Line

Functionality with a character is what So iLL’s The One is all about. Get your hands on the perfect blend of style and functionality that will go the ‘extra mile’ with you, literally. 

6. Evolv Defy – Best Value

Evolv Defy

Ticking all the boxes of climbers from beginners to intermediate, The Evolv Defy is a best-seller in the arena of vegan climbing shoes, and for the right reasons! Starting for being super comfortable to its seamlessness even for a full-day on the rocks, this one is set to impress.

The Defy is mostly targeted at beginners, and we believe it does take the lead in that regard. 

Coming with a flat sole and wide toe box, along with a molded VTR outer sole for toe support and advanced performance, you get excellent traction and comfort for hours.

That isn’t all. The Evolv Defy also includes a split tongue and Velcro fastening for maximized support and a flexible fit. On this note, make sure to take care when choosing the shoe size. 

Last but not least, the upper is made of a vegan-friendly Synthratek VX synthetic fabric, and an antimicrobial liner, so bad odors are long gone and out of your way.

On the downside, while these shoes are optimal in most climbing functions, they’re not very up to par when it comes to edging. 

Pros:

  • Top-notch comfort
  • Antimicrobial lining
  • Reasonable price
  • Ideal for long climbing days

Cons:

  • Fabric not stretchable
  • Wears out after a while

Bottom Line

The Evolv Defy is the perfect entry-level, high-performance vegan climbing shoes. It’s an outstanding one that will provide you with comfort and sensitivity regardless of your climbing level. Plus, they accommodate both narrow and wide feet!

7. Mad Rock Remora – Budget Pick

Mad Rock Remora

The Mad Rock Remora is an all-round vegan climbing shoe, making headlines due to its affordable price tag and flexibility.

Its Syn Flex upper is exceedingly flexible, and so it will stretch to match your feet size, but without altering its shape and design.

Moreover, its slipper closure and wide toe box make it an especially comfortable fit for climbers with wider feet. The Mad Rock Remora is also fitted with a soft midsole that provides extra comfort but still performs exceptionally well on edging and smearing.

Finally, the slight downturn of the design makes the shoes suitable for steep and vertical climbs, while the Science Friction 2 rubber rand equips them with the necessary grip needed for both outdoor and indoor climbing.

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Accommodates wide feet
  • Grippy rubber soles
  • Affordable price
  • Flexible

Cons:

  • Occasional struggling to grip onto small holds

Bottom Line

The Mad Rock Remora is best suited for all-round climbing as well as all-day climbing. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for a choice that will deliver its money’s worth, this is it!


What to Look for When Buying Vegan Climbing Shoes

If you’re shopping for a pair of vegan climbing shoes, the hunt can be a little bit confusing. We’re here to help you narrow down your choice by giving you a glimpse of the aspects you need to consider that will affect your climbing shoes’ performance. 

Material Checking

The first step you should do before settling on a particular pair of climbing shoes is to visit the brand’s official page. Why so? To verify that the shoes are actually vegan. Most manufacturers indicate which of their products are vegan-friendly, and which aren’t.

A decent vegan climbing shoe should be made of synthetic materials and shouldn’t have any animal extracts of any kind.

Tip: Also bear in mind that even if the shoes themselves are made of synthetic material, the adhesive used and the treatments may not. That’s a tough call you’ll have to make.

Reviews

Reviews, just like this one, can be a very solid backup source for you when purchasing your shoes. Your climbing shoes are a make it or break it kind of purchase, so you’ll want to get confirmation that the shoes are actually what they’re advertised to be.

Climbing Shoe Type

Climbing shoes are mainly divided into three main categories, being beginner, intermediate, and aggressive. 

Beginner shoes are for beginner climbing, so they tend to be flat and more comfortable. On the other hand, intermediate and aggressive climbing shoes have more of a downturned shape and thin sole for aggressive climbing.

Closure Systems

Closure systems fall into three categories: lacing systems, slipper systems, and velcro closure systems.

If you’re looking for an aggressive pair of climbing shoes, velcro closure and slipper systems would be your go-to. Why so? Because you’re more likely to want to take off your shoes with more aggressive shoes.

On the other hand, lacing closure systems are more fit for beginners who won’t have that urge to remove their shoes as often.

Comfort

There’s always a tradeoff between comfort and performance. Despite that, blending both is not mission impossible. A snugly fit pair of shoes can go a long way with you. So, make sure to go for breathable and soft climbing shoes so that you don’t have a painful climbing experience.

Rubber Soles

The nature of the shoes’ rubber soles is another very important aspect. You need to determine whether you prefer a flat or concave sole and whether you want a thick or thin one. Once you settle, you’ll be in a much more powerful position to choose the best vegan climbing shoes.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are All Climbing Shoes Vegan?

Unfortunately, no. Climbing shoes are frequently made of leather. Even those who aren’t are often made using glue that’s made of animal bones. On the bright side, today, more vegan climbing shoes are being produced than ever before.

How Do I Know If Climbing Shoes Are Vegan?

As mentioned, the best way to get a definite answer is to visit the brand’s official page or website. They should have a certification or a clear section specifying which of their products are vegan. Moreover, you can also find the certification on the outside of the shoes’ box. 

If all fails, you can also reach out to the brand to ask directly. 

What Can Come From Animals in Climbing Shoes?

Mainly the upper, lining, and the adhesive & dye. Most of the upper material in climbing shoes come from leather or a derivative of it, such as suede or split-grain leather.

Similarly, a lot of climbing shoes have a leather lining. Shoemakers usually list these on their websites. Vegan ones, on the other hand, are either unlined or use a synthetic lining material.

Lastly, some adhesives or dyes do contain animal-based ingredients. The tricky part is that climbing shoe manufacturers don’t really list the materials of their adhesives and dyes on their websites, so they’re tough to confirm. In this case, you resort to emailing the manufacturers.

Are Vegan Climbing Shoes as Good as Leather Ones?

Yes! There’s no distinguishing difference between both when it comes to performance. It’s just that leather is known to be more durable and comfortable. Yet, vegan materials have come a long way with durability and comfort as well!

How Curled Shoes Toes Be in Climbing Shoes?

Just slightly. And this isn’t just the rule for climbing shoes only, but also sport, bouldering, and gym shoes. Look for a fit where your toes are just touching the front and only slightly curled. In other words, you should be able to press with all parts of your foot and not just your big toe. So, you want the shoes to be snug, but not tight to a painful extent.

When Should I Resole Climbing Shoes?

When the bottom of the sole begins to become really thin or even rounded, and the rand becomes more visible. Don’t wait until holes appear in the rand, because that would be too late.

Final Thoughts

It’s no surprise that plenty of climbing shoes on the market are made of animal-based materials. We’re still happy to see persistent climbers who still don’t give up on the idea of looking for gear that doesn’t contain any animal products. That’s why we put so much effort into making this list as narrowed down as possible.

Now that you know the best vegan climbing shoes on the market at the moment, along with their respective brands, the choice is all yours. All of them equally make excellent vegan climbing shoes, but the choice really boils down to your needs.

However, if you still need a narrower selection, we can still help. If it were to us, we would recommend Tenaya’s Oasi as our top pick. It’s continuously chosen by pros all over the world, and that certainly says something about its performance and comfort. It’s made to last!

However, if you’re tight on budget, you can choose between the Evolv Delfy and the Mad Rock Remora. Both will give you excellent value for your money and are suited for all-around climbing experiences.

If you’re suffered previously from lack of comfort, we’ve all been there! Fortunately, there’s the Evolv Oracle to erase that memory for you and even redefine the meaning of comfort. 

Last but not least, if you know you’re mostly going to climb indoors, La Sportiva’s Oxygym is your go-to and will tick the right boxes.

Happy shopping!