Climbing shoes are known for being quite snug when compared to regular shoes. But, when you have wide feet, finding a pair of climbing shoes that feel comfortable is particularly challenging.
To ensure that you have the right footwear to send your next project, here are our top 5 picks for the best climbing shoes for wide feet. We’ve even included a buyer’s guide to help to find the perfect pair for your needs.
Let’s get to it!
Finding the right pair of climbing shoes for people with wide feet isn’t easy. So, it’s critical that you know what to look for as you shop. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind before you buy.
Climbing shoes are generally categorized based on their “aggressiveness,” or how flat they are. With climbing shoes for wide feet, you have three main profiles or “types” to choose from:
As the name suggests, neutral climbing shoes are fairly flat. These shoes are designed to be comfortable enough to wear for an extended period of time.
This makes them particularly well suited for newer climbers who might not yet be used to the snugness of traditional climbing shoes.
That being said, since they lack a “downturn,” or a down-pointing toe, neutral shoes aren’t as good at transferring power from your foot into your big toe. As a result, they’re less ideal for steep terrain where edging and precision footwork is key.
Moderate climbing shoes provide a slight upgrade in terms of performance from a neutral shoe. They feature a slightly downturned toe that provides a good mix of comfort and edging ability.
Many intermediate climbers find that they prefer moderate shoes because they allow for much more precise footwork. Additionally, even some very experienced climbers find that moderate shoes are more comfortable for use during longer climbs in the mountains.
Finally, we have aggressive shoes, which are designed to prioritize performance above all else. These shoes have a very aggressive downturn (hence the name), which is ideal for use on steep, overhanging climbs and boulder problems.
With that in mind, aggressive shoes can be particularly problematic for climbers with wider feet. Thus, climbers with wide feet that want an aggressive shoe should specifically look for models that also have large toe boxes that are made with high-volume feet in mind, like the Scarpa Instinct VS, the Butora Acro, and the Butora Endeavor Moss.
In addition to profile, when choosing a pair of climbing shoes for wide feet, you’ll also have to decide which closure system is best for your needs. You have three main types of closure systems to choose from:
Climbing shoes, much like the shoes that you wear in your day to day life, are made with varying degrees of stiffness. While stiffness in your street shoes has an impact on your comfort, stiffness in a climbing shoe also impacts your climbing performance.
In general, shoes with thicker rubber tend to be stiffer. These stiffer shoes provide more underfoot support, which helps to reduce foot fatigue during a long day of climbing. This is particularly important for people with wider feet as the added volume and weight of your feet can take a toll on your climbing performance after a few hours.
If you’re just looking to crush a few problems at the gym after work, this might not be a big deal, but for long alpine climbs or days at the crag, stiffness makes a difference.
That being said, stiff shoes do sacrifice some sensitivity and friction on the rock. As a result, some climbers prefer to use softer shoes for harder climbs with miniscule footholds where sensitivity and friction are key.
The last major thing to consider when buying shoes is whether you want a pair that’s made from leather or synthetic fabrics.
Leather climbing shoes are the traditional choice as they are more smell-resistant and are easier to care for. However, they tend to stretch and soften over time (up to about 1 full US size). Some leather shoes are even lined with a synthetic fabric, which reduces stretching to about 1/2 of a US size.
Synthetic shoes are a popular choice because they tend to be less expensive and more breathable. They also generally don’t stretch out over time, which is ideal if you want the perfect fit from day 1. But, synthetic shoes do tend to get a bit smelly after regular use.
One of the few pairs of climbing shoes on the market that are purposefully built for wide feet, the Butora Acro is our editors’ choice, thanks to its ability to combine comfort and performance into one neat package.
Featuring a unique triple hook fork and loop strap closure system, the Acro allows you to get a more personalized fit with your shoes. At the same time, it has a set of large pull tabs at the heel to help you slip on the shoe with relative ease.
Since it’s a fairly aggressive shoe, the Acro has a tensioned heel and a downturned tow. Its Butyl Butora F5 rubber isn’t known for being the stickiest on the market, but it does provide a nice mix of stiffness and sensitivity as well as excellent edging prowess.
The padded tongue and wide fit of these shoes provide comfort for high-volume feet that’s hard to come by in other models. Plus, Butora gave the Acro a large rubber pad above the foot to protect your feet when jamming into cracks or cruising up rugged terrain.
When performance is critical, the Scarpa Instinct VS is a solid choice for climbers with wide feet. These shoes are made from premium Lorica synthetic leather, which provides a comfortable leather-like fit.
Scarpa built the Instinct VS with a tensioned rand and stiff sole that helps focus your foot’s power into the big toe. When combined with the shoe’s aggressive downturn and asymmetrical shape, this translates into superior performance on the rock.
Moreover, these shoes come standard with high-end Vibram XS Edge rubber. This rubber provides superior traction for edging on steep climbs and it can be resoled again and again for long-term use.
For climbers with wide feet, Scarpa crafted these shoes with an extra wide, high-volume toe box. They even have a rubber pad on top of the toe to protect your feet when jamming in cracks.
For budget-conscious climbers, the Butora Endeavor Moss is a solid choice. These purpose-built wide-fit shoes offer enough space for high-volume feet that just don’t feel comfortable in most other alternatives.
The Endeavor Moss boasts a unique construction that uses leather upper at the back of the shoe for an improved fit and synthetic front to wick away moisture. Additionally, these shoes have an organic hemp liner to minimize odors, as well as a padded mesh tongue for breathability.
Thanks to their neutral profile, the Endeavor Moss are among the most comfortable models available. They also have a triple fork webbing closure system to help you get a precision fit before your climb.
Plus, these shoes come with a 3D-injected midsole which provides extra stiffness underfoot. Although this also limits sensitivity to some degree, the added stiffness reduces foot fatigue, which is ideal for newer climbers.
Designed to help the next generation of climbers get off on the right foot, the La Sportiva Tarantulace is a comfort-focused pair of climbing shoes for wide feet.
These shoes feature a predominately leather upper with integrated panels of synthetic leather which help to provide a secure fit for years of use. While the leather portion of the upper allows for a bit of stretch and softening over time, the synthetic panels and moisture-wicking liner prevent the Tarantulace from expanding too much in size.
La Sportiva outfitted these shoes with a set of 5mm thick FriXion RS rubber, which is their proprietary blend. This rubber provides a decent amount of stiffness and sensitivity without depleting your bank account, however, they’re best for low-angle climbs where edging isn’t a priority.
Although lace-up shoes are a bit more tedious at the crag, the laces on the Tarantulace allow new climbers to get a precision fit for a better fit as they work to improve their climbing skills.
For steep bouldering problems and technical climbs where performance is non-negotiable, the La Sportiva Skwama is a top contender.
From toe to heel, the Skwama is designed for high-angled climbs. It has P3 technology and a padded toe cover to maintain a downturned toe, even throughout years of use. Moreover, its S-Heel Construction provides just the right amount of tension to the back of the heel to ensure a snug, yet not too tight fit, especially when heel hooking.
When it comes to traction and performance, the Swkama features thin Vibram XS Edge rubber outsoles, which makes them among the most sensitive on the market. Although this comes at the expense of underfoot support, these soles are specifically designed to excel on those microscopic footholes.
Like nearly all La Sportiva shoes, the Skwama have a wider toe box to accommodate high-volume feet. They also have unlined leather uppers and an oversized velcro strap to ensure that you get a quality fit on every climb.
If we had to choose just one of these five great pairs of climbing shoes for wide feet, we’d likely go with the Butora Acro. Although the rubber on the Acro isn’t the stickiest when compared to the rubber on the Scarpa Instinct VS, they offer a purpose-built wide fit and an aggressive downturn at a competitive price point.
Additionally, the Acro offers a great mix of sensitivity and underfoot support, making it a good all-around option for indoor and outdoor climbing.
At the end of the day, what’s important is that you get the right climbing shoes for your unique needs. Whether you’re a keen trad climber or you prefer to pull plastic in the gym, hopefully, we’ve helped you find the perfect pair of climbing shoes for wide feet for all your upcoming exploits in the vertical world.