Vegan climbing shoes were hard to find for a long time. Many brands relied on leather or suede uppers which instantly disqualified them as options for vegan climbers.
However, more and more climbing and outdoor brands have been making strides to reduce their reliance on animal materials and incorporate vegan alternatives into their products.
The following vegan climbing shoes are made without performance compromise, and we’ll look at options that are perfect for beginner climbers and elite-level climbers.
- What are Vegan Climbing Shoes?
- Features to Look for in Vegan Climbing Shoes
- Common Animal-Based Materials Used in Climbing Shoes
- 7 Best Vegan Climbing Shoes for Beginners
- Frequently Asked Questions FAQ About Vegan Climbing Shoes
Ready for the recommendations? Let’s jump straight in.
What are Vegan Climbing Shoes?
Vegan climbing shoes are any shoes made for rock climbing or bouldering that are free of animal-based materials and created in a cruelty-free process.
For example, a vegan climbing shoe won’t include any leather elements and won’t include animal-based glues or materials like wool.
Features to Look for in Vegan Climbing Shoes
- No Performance Compromises
While this isn’t a feature, per se, as a climber, you need a shoe that gives you the best performance possible and matches your climbing style.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned climber, always verify that your vegan climbing shoe of choice matches your performance needs. Of course, your safety on the wall is always the most important thing to consider.
2. Transparency into Materials, Supply Chain, and Manufacturing Process
The best vegan climbing shoe brands will offer transparency into their materials, their supply chain (including factories and worker treatment in those factories), and the process they use to turn their raw materials into climbing shoe materials.
Even if a company doesn’t explicitly list these on their website, you can always reach out to them with a friendly email. The majority of companies will be happy to let you know more information and confirm that their products are cruelty-free before you buy.
3. Match Your Climbing Level and Needs
Don’t just choose a climbing shoe because it’s the first vegan option that appears. Make sure the shoe you choose matches your climbing abilities.
If you’re a new climber, look for comfortable shoes that offer good support.
If you’re advanced, match your shoe choice to your climbing style and technical needs.
You can expect shoes to stretch with wear in many leather-based climbing shoes.
Because cruelty-free climbing shoes rely on synthetic alternatives, they may not stretch as much. This means you should always check sizing charts and look for reviews before you buy.
Common Animal-Based Materials Used in Climbing Shoes
Not all vegan climbing shoes are necessarily marketed as being vegan or cruelty-free.
When looking for your next pair of climbing shoes, pay close attention to these parts of the shoe on the material list:
- Uppers: A large number of climbing shoes include leather, suede, or split-grain leather as these are generally durable and hard-wearing.
- Glues: Unfortunately, many types of glue used in climbing shoes to hold the soles to the shoe’s body are animal-based in some form.
- Dyes: Spotted a pair of climbing shoes that stand out due to their color scheme? Before you buy, make sure to double-check that the dyes are cruelty-free. You can also look at the sustainability certifications a brand has that verify their dyes are safe, such as being OEKO-TEX Certified.
7 Best Vegan Climbing Shoes for Beginners
1. Evolv Defy
Best for: All-rounder beginner climbing shoe, suitable for bouldering or outdoor
The Evolv Defy is one of the market’s most popular vegan climbing shoes. It’s a unisex model with a flat sole, making it an ideal shoe for beginner climbers who want a shoe that provides support and lets them find their feet on the walls.
The shoes are relatively affordable, and because they’re one of Evolv’s mass-market shoes, they’re usually available at multiple retailers.
One drawback of these shoes is that they’re relatively wide. If you have narrow feet, you may want to try a different model, such as the Evolv Elektra.
In terms of technical details, the shoe fastens with sturdy velcro straps and has a comfy and supportive TRAX SAS sole that will last a long time.
|✔ Versatile shoe that’s ideal for most beginner climbing scenarios||❌ Some customers say that the sizing isn’t consistent with other Evolv styles|
|✔ Robust sole that will last for a long time|
2. Evolv Agro
Best for: Advanced climbers mainly doing bouldering
As the ‘Agro’ name suggests, these vegan climbing shoes by Evolv are perfect for climbers who need an aggressive shoe shape that’s perfect for precise and powerful movements, even on the tiniest foot holds.
The shoes have a minimal look, with a single velcro closure strap near the tongue of the shoe so that you can use the entire shoe in your climbing movements. The sole
These climbing shoes are self-admittedly best for advanced bouldering but will still be able to handle larger walls.
Like other Evolv shoes, the Agro model includes a TRAX rubber sole that’s 4.2mm thick and hard-wearing.
|✔ Soft but sturdy and long-lasting sole||❌ Takes several sessions to wear in properly|
|✔ Tight heel makes it good for heel hook moves|
3. Evolv Shaman
Best for: A trusted high-performance model designed by Chris Sharma
The Evolv Shaman is a vegan shoe designed to be equally high-performing as they are comfortable. This model is a new version of the classic Shaman, and it’s been redesigned to take advantage of Evolv’s latest technical innovations.
The shoe is ideal for strong climbers who need a shoe that’s going to help you get the results you’re looking for on tough routes, week after week.
There’s a velcro closure system that includes three straps in different directions so the shoes are going to stay snugly on your feet, whether you’re on a slab, vertical wall, or overhang.
The upper is made from Evolv’s vegan-friendly Synthatek VX material.
|✔ Sticky soles mean you get lots of grip no matter how your foot is positioned on the wall||❌ Not as sensitive as some other high-end vegan climbing shoe options|
|✔ Climbers using them highlight how comfortable they are even out of the box|
4. Tenaya Oasi
Best for: High-performance, technical vegan climbing shoes
The Tenaya Oasi is a high-performance curved climbing shoe and has been used by climbers to ascend routes like Jumbo Love 9b, and worn by climbers like Alex Megos and Ramón Julián.
The aggressive style makes it ideal for overhang climbs and technical boulders. The closure uses velcro, and the Draxtor system means you can adjust the fit over different parts of your foot.
The shoe weighs 340 grams and has a 3.5mm Vibram XS Grip sole, which has rubber everywhere you need to successfully smear .
|✔ Excellent shoes for overhang climbs||❌ Aggressive style means they’re not suited for new climbers|
|✔ Used by multiple pro climbers|
|✔ Comfortable fit with the velcro stab|
Best for: Ultra-lightweight vegan climbing shoes
The Scarpa Furia Air is the most lightweight climbing shoe ever made – vegan or not – and weights just 150 grams.
The materials include microsuede and Alcantara — a synthetic leather alternative that remains breathable even in hot conditions.
The Furia Air’s have a robust Vibram XS Grip 2 sole that gives you a good degree of support but sensitivity.
These vegan climbing shoes also include Scarpa’s Surround Rubber Tension (SRT) technology, which is a layer of soft rubber wrapped around the toe area so you can apply pressure in whichever direction you need to.
The Furia Air shoes are aggressively downturned, so we wouldn’t recommend them for new climbers, but if you’re a strong climber looking for a vegan shoe that delivers real performance, they’re an excellent option.
|✔ Lightest climbing shoe on the market (at time of publishing)||❌ Not made for beginners|
|✔ Aggressive downturn|
|✔ SRT technology means you can maximize grip on all parts of the toe box|
Also available to shop at Bergfreunde.eu
Best for: Sensitive and technical bouldering shoe
The Mad Rock RedLine Strap shoes are a technical shoe made for tricky climbs.
The RedLine sole is downturned and relatively aggressive, with a clutch heel cup to control tension and avoid movement on any heel hooks.
RedLine doesn’t use any animal materials in these shoes, so they’re vegan-friendly. Instead of leather, the uppers are made using Tek Flex, a synthetic material which has a bit of give and has some breathability.
Mad Rock also offers a generous returns policy, so if there are any defects or issues, you can send them back and get a replacement.
|✔ Uppers made from breathable vegan leather-alternative||❌ Can be uncomfortable when worn for long periods|
|✔ Aggressive and technical shoe||❌ Not ideal for smearing|
Also available to shop in the EU at bergfreunde.eu.
Best for: Elite and advanced climbers who need precision and good support
The One Pro shoes from So iLL are completely vegan and another excellent option. They were designed with pro climber Toshi Takeuchi and are best for elite and advanced climbers on bouldering and sport routes.
The One Pros have a tense but comfortable heel, and a hard midsole. Coupled with an aggressive downturn, it makes The One Pros precise and ideal for edging.
The closure system is a one-strap velcro system with a strap that runs over the whole shoe for solid support.
|✔ Stiff sole makes the shoes accurate and stable||❌ Some wearers report that the glue finish isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t affect performance|
|✔ Sticky, high-quality rubber|
|✔ Padded tongue and velcro closure system ensures comfort|
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ About Vegan Climbing Shoes
Are So iLL Climbing Shoes Vegan?
Some So iLL climbing shoes, such as the ‘The One Pro’ model are vegan. However, not all So iLL shoes are vegan.
On their product pages, look for an explicit mention of the shoes being vegan. If it’s not listed, you can also consider reaching out to the So iLL support team. They’ll let you know if a product is vegan or not so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Are Scarpa Shoes Vegan?
Scarpa does offer some vegan shoes, such as the Furia Air which we’ve looked at in this guide.
However, not all Scarpa climbing shoes are vegan so make sure to check before you buy.
Are La Sportiva Shoes Vegan?
Unfortunately, La Sportiva doesn’t make many vegan shoes. The only option they have is the Oxygym, which is currently out of stock with no indication of being restocked.
Wrapping Up: Vegan Climbing Shoes
We hope you’ve enjoyed the article, and have now found the perfect pair of vegan climbing shoes to aid that send.