Kids Climbing Shoes: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction to Kids Climbing

Climbing is more than a sport; it’s a fun and engaging activity that offers multiple benefits for kids. It aids in developing physical strength and hones problem-solving skills, presenting a distinctive platform for young climbers’ growth. This guide zeroes in on the crucial aspect of kids’ climbing adventures: choosing and utilizing the right kids climbing shoes.

Why Climbing is Beneficial for Kids

Climbing for kids is about more than just physical exercise. It’s a holistic activity that improves coordination, confidence, and cognitive skills. Understanding why kids should climb helps us appreciate the importance of the right gear.

Understanding the Basics of Climbing for Children

Before we talk about shoes, let’s understand the basics of climbing for kids. Safety and fun are key. Climbing can be a great way to introduce kids to new challenges in a controlled environment.

  • Safety First: Emphasize the importance of using safety gear like helmets and harnesses.
  • Learning Through Fun: Incorporate games and fun activities to keep the climbing experience enjoyable.
  • Climbing Techniques: Introduce basic climbing techniques suitable for children’s skill levels.
  • Controlled Environment: Start in a controlled environment like indoor climbing walls to build confidence.

Choosing the Right Climbing Shoes for Kids

Choosing the Right Climbing Shoes for Kids

Choosing the right shoes is crucial for a child’s climbing experience. The right pair can make a significant difference in comfort, safety, and performance.

Importance of Proper Footwear

When it comes to climbing, especially for kids, the importance of proper footwear cannot be overstated. Here’s how the right climbing shoes can make a difference:

  1. Preventing Injuries: Kids’ feet are still developing, and wearing the wrong type of shoes can lead to injuries. Climbing shoes are designed to provide support to the foot, reducing the risk of strains and sprains. They help in distributing pressure evenly across the foot, which is crucial when kids are climbing, as their feet are often in unusual positions.
  2. Improving Grip: The sole of a climbing shoe is designed to maximize grip on various surfaces. This is vital for safety and performance. A good grip can boost a child’s confidence, as they feel more secure on the climbing surface. The rubber used in the soles of climbing shoes is specially formulated to offer this grip, even on the smallest of footholds.
  3. Enhancing Climbing Technique: Proper footwear allows for more precise footwork. This is essential in climbing, where the correct placement of feet can make a significant difference in a climber’s ability to ascend a route. Climbing shoes enable children to use their toes to stand on small holds and edges, which regular sports shoes cannot provide.

Variety of Options

When selecting kids climbing shoes, it’s important to understand the different types available and which are best suited for young climbers:

  • Neutral Shoes: These shoes are comfortable and have a more relaxed fit. They are great for beginners because they allow for more natural foot positioning, making them suitable for longer climbs or for kids just starting out. They usually have a thicker sole for extra support.
  • Moderate Shoes: These are a step up from neutral shoes and are designed for more technical climbing. They have a slight downturn in the toe area, offering better performance on smaller holds and steeper routes. However, they may not be as comfortable as neutral shoes for extended periods.
  • Aggressive Shoes: These shoes have a significant downturn and an asymmetrical shape, focusing power on the toe for challenging overhangs and precise footwork. However, they may be too uncomfortable and advanced for most young climbers, especially beginners.
    • For kids, especially beginners or those climbing casually, neutral shoes are often the best choice. They provide the necessary support and comfort, allowing kids to focus on learning and enjoying climbing.
    • As kids advance and start tackling more challenging routes, you might consider transitioning to moderate shoes to support their evolving skills.

Key Features to Look For

When selecting climbing shoes for kids, look for flexibility, comfort, and a snug fit. The shoes should support natural foot development and provide adequate grip.

  • Flexibility: Shoes should allow natural foot movement.
  • Comfort: The importance of padded insoles and breathable material.
  • Snug Fit: Shoes should fit close to the foot without causing discomfort.
  • Grip: Rubber soles with good traction for various surfaces.

Size and Fit: Getting it Right

Getting the right size is crucial. Climbing shoes should fit snugly but not be overly tight. They should allow for some growth, but not be too loose.

Measuring Feet

Measuring a child’s feet correctly is the first step in finding the perfect pair of climbing shoes. Here’s a simple guide:

  1. Prepare the Right Tools: You’ll need a ruler, a blank piece of paper, and a pen or pencil.
  2. Trace the Foot: Have your child stand on the paper with their full weight. Trace around the foot as closely as possible.
  3. Measure the Length: Using the ruler, measure from the longest toe to the heel. This is the foot length.
  4. Measure the Width: It’s also important to measure the width of the foot at its widest part, as some climbing shoes come in different widths.
  5. Check Against Size Charts: Use these measurements against the size charts provided by climbing shoe manufacturers. Each brand may vary slightly, so it’s important to check the specific brand’s chart.

Allowance for Growth

Finding a balance between a snug fit and room for growth in kids’ climbing shoes can be tricky but is essential. Here’s how to strike that balance:

  • Snug but Not Tight: The shoe should be snug to prevent slipping inside, which can lead to blisters or loss of precision in climbing. However, it shouldn’t be so tight that it causes discomfort or pain.
  • Room for Growth: Children’s feet grow fast. While you don’t want the shoe to be too loose, a little extra space (about a thumb’s width at the toe) can ensure the shoe lasts longer as your child’s feet grow.
  • Monitor Fit Regularly: Regularly check the fit of the shoes, especially if your child is going through a growth spurt. Shoes that fit perfectly a few months ago may suddenly become too small.

Trying Shoes On

The final step in the shoe selection process is trying them on, and doing so with climbing socks is vital:

  • Climbing Socks Thickness: Climbing socks are thinner than regular socks. Trying shoes on with the socks your child will climb in gives a more accurate feel of how the shoes will fit during actual use.
  • True Fit Experience: Climbing shoes are designed to fit closely to the foot. Wearing the socks ensures that you are getting the truest fit possible, reducing the likelihood of surprises when your child climbs.
  • Comfort Check: While trying on the shoes, have your child walk around and stand on their toes. This helps in assessing the comfort and fit of the shoe.

Material and Durability Considerations

Kids’ climbing shoes should be made of durable materials to withstand regular use. Look for shoes that offer a balance between durability and comfort.

Materials Used

The choice of material in climbing shoes can significantly affect their performance, comfort, and durability. Here are the common materials used:

  • Leather:
    • Pros: Molds to the foot over time, offering a custom fit; breathable, reducing moisture and odor.
    • Cons: Can stretch out with use; may not be the best for vegan families.
  • Synthetic Fabrics:
    • Pros: Maintains shape and size over time; often vegan-friendly.
    • Cons: Less breathable than leather, which can lead to more moisture inside the shoe.
  • Rubber Soles:
    • Essential for grip; the thickness and pattern of the rubber can vary depending on the shoe’s intended use (e.g., thicker soles for beginners for durability, thinner soles for advanced climbers for sensitivity).
  • Closure Systems (Velcro, Lace, Slip-on):
    • Each type has its benefits, such as ease of use for Velcro, precise fit for laces, and simplicity for slip-ons.

Wear and Tear

Knowing when to replace climbing shoes is important for safety and performance:

  • Sole Thinning: When the rubber sole starts to thin significantly or develop holes, it’s time to replace the shoes.
  • Upper Material Damage: Look for tears or excessive stretching in the upper material.
  • Loss of Shape: If the shoe has lost its original shape or is overly stretched, it may not provide the necessary support.
  • Comfort Decline: If the shoes become uncomfortable, this can impact climbing performance and enjoyment.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care can extend the life of climbing shoes:

  • Cleaning: Clean the shoes regularly with a soft brush and mild soap. Avoid harsh chemicals that can degrade the materials.
  • Drying: Allow shoes to air dry naturally; avoid direct heat sources as they can warp the rubber and fabric.
  • Storage: Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Keeping them in a breathable bag can help maintain their condition.
  • Usage: Use the shoes only for climbing to prevent unnecessary wear.
  • Resoling: Consider resoling the shoes if the sole wears out but the upper is still in good condition. This is a cost-effective way to extend the life of the shoes.

How to Use Climbing Shoes Properly

How to Use Climbing Shoes Properly

Proper usage and care of climbing shoes can extend their lifespan and improve the climbing experience.

Wearing Technique

Properly wearing climbing shoes is essential for comfort and performance. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Preparing to Wear:
    • Ensure feet are clean and dry.
    • If using socks, they should be the thin climbing type.
  2. Putting the Shoes On:
    • Open the shoe fully (loosen laces or straps).
    • Slide the foot in gently, starting with the toes and then heel.
  3. Adjusting for Fit:
    • Make sure the toes reach the end of the shoe without curling uncomfortably.
    • The heel should fit snugly without significant gaps.
  4. Lacing or Strapping:
    • For lace-ups: Begin at the toes and work up, ensuring even tension for a snug fit without over-tightening.
    • For Velcro straps: Adjust for a firm hold that keeps the foot stable without causing discomfort.
  5. Final Check:
    • Wiggle toes to ensure they are not overly compressed.
    • Walk around a bit to make sure there’s no pinching or excessive pressure.

When to Wear

Climbing shoes are designed specifically for climbing and should be used accordingly to ensure their longevity:

  • Only for Climbing:
    • Explain that climbing shoes are crafted for the specific demands of climbing surfaces and should be worn exclusively for that purpose.
    • Wearing them elsewhere, like walking around the gym or outdoors, can quickly wear down the soles and reduce their effectiveness.
  • Preserving the Sole:
    • Emphasize that the rubber soles are the key to grip on climbing surfaces. Wearing them on rough or dirty surfaces can erode the sole, reducing grip and safety.
  • Maintaining Shoe Integrity:
    • Regular walking or running in climbing shoes can deform their shape, reducing their snug fit which is crucial for precise footwork while climbing.
  • Practical Tips:
    • Encourage bringing a pair of regular shoes to change into before and after climbing sessions.
    • If a child needs to walk around the climbing area, suggest they wear their regular shoes or flip-flops to protect their climbing shoes.

Breaking in New Shoes

Teach your kids how to break in their new shoes gradually. This will help the shoes mold to their feet and become more comfortable over time.

Gradual Use

Breaking in new climbing shoes is essential for comfort and performance:

  • Short Initial Sessions: Begin with short climbing sessions, allowing the shoes to gradually mold to the child’s feet.
  • Monitoring for Discomfort: Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pressure points during these initial uses.
  • Increasing Duration Gradually: As the shoes become more comfortable, gradually increase the length of climbing sessions.

Comfort Adjustments

Even small adjustments can significantly increase the comfort of climbing shoes:

  • Lacing Technique: For lace-up models, experiment with different lacing techniques to alleviate pressure points.
  • Using Socks: Try thin climbing socks for added comfort, especially if the shoes are slightly tight.
  • Heat Molding: Some shoes can be gently warmed (not overheated) and then worn to mold to the foot’s shape.

Teaching Kids Climbing Etiquette and Shoe Care

Good climbing etiquette includes taking care of shoes. Teach kids to clean their shoes and store them properly.

Respect for Equipment

Instilling respect for climbing gear in children is vital:

  • Understanding Value: Explain the importance and cost of good climbing shoes.
  • Proper Use: Teach them to use the shoes only for climbing.
  • Handling Gear: Show them how to properly put on and take off their shoes without damaging them.

Cleaning and Storage

Proper cleaning and storage prolong the life of climbing shoes:

  • Cleaning Method: Use a soft brush and mild soap to gently clean the shoes. Avoid soaking them in water.
  • Air Drying: Let the shoes air dry away from direct heat or sunlight.
  • Proper Storage: Store the shoes in a cool, dry place, preferably in a breathable bag to maintain their shape and prevent odor buildup.

Introducing Kids to Climbing

Introducing Kids to Climbing

Introducing kids to climbing should be fun and safe. Start with basic climbs and gradually increase the difficulty as they become more confident.

Starting Simple

For young climbers, starting with easy routes is important:

  • Building Confidence: Easy routes help build confidence and a sense of achievement.
  • Skill Development: These routes allow kids to focus on basic climbing techniques without feeling overwhelmed.

Encouraging Progress

Recognizing and celebrating achievements is key to motivating young climbers:

  • Setting Achievable Goals: Help children set realistic and achievable climbing goals.
  • Celebration of Milestones: Celebrate when they reach these goals, no matter how small.

Creating a Safe and Fun Climbing Environment

Ensure the climbing environment is safe. Use proper safety gear and supervise your kids closely.

Proper Supervision

Adult supervision is non-negotiable in climbing:

  • Safety First: Always have an adult present to monitor safety.
  • Guidance and Support: Adults can provide guidance, support, and immediate assistance if needed.

Safe Setup

Ensuring the climbing setup is safe is crucial:

  • Equipment Check: Regularly check the condition of climbing ropes, harnesses, and other gear.
  • Environment Safety: Ensure the climbing environment, whether indoors or outdoors, is secure and appropriate for the child’s skill level.

Building Confidence and Skills Gradually

Help kids build their climbing skills and confidence gradually. Celebrate their successes and encourage them to try new challenges.

Step-by-Step Progression

Gradually increasing the difficulty of climbs is important for skill development:

  • Gradual Challenges: As skills improve, introduce slightly more challenging routes to push their abilities.
  • Monitoring Progress: Keep track of their progress and adjust the difficulty accordingly.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in building confidence:

  • Encouraging Words: Use positive language to encourage and motivate.
  • Focus on Effort: Praise the effort, not just the achievement, to foster a growth mindset.

Tips and Tricks for Young Climbers

Tips and Tricks for Young Climbers

Here are some tips to help young climbers improve their skills and enjoy climbing even more.

Setting Goals

Goal setting is a motivational tool that can enhance a child’s climbing experience:

  • Realistic Targets: Encourage kids to set goals that are challenging yet achievable based on their current skill level.
  • Short-Term and Long-Term Goals: Include both immediate goals (like mastering a specific climb) and long-term aspirations (like climbing a more difficult route by the end of the season).
  • Tracking Progress: Keep a record of their achievements and improvements to visually demonstrate their progress.

Staying Motivated

Maintaining interest in climbing is key to continuous participation and enjoyment:

  1. Variety in Climbing: Introduce different types of climbing, like bouldering or top-roping, to keep the experience fresh.
  2. Climbing Games: Incorporate fun climbing games or challenges.
  3. Climbing with Peers: Encourage climbing sessions with friends or joining a climbing club to foster a sense of community and fun.

Exercises to Improve Technique

Simple exercises can help kids develop better climbing techniques. Practice drills and games can make learning fun.

Balance and Coordination Drills

Improving balance and coordination is fundamental in climbing:

  1. Balance Exercises: Practice exercises like standing on one foot or using a balance board.
  2. Coordination Drills: Simple activities like climbing ladders or navigating obstacle courses can enhance coordination.
  3. Practice Climbs: Incorporate specific climbing routes that require balance and coordination to master.

Strength Training

Strength is important in climbing, but it’s crucial to focus on age-appropriate exercises:

  • Bodyweight Exercises: Activities like pull-ups, push-ups, and squats are great for building strength.
  • Climbing as Strength Training: Regular climbing naturally builds upper body, core, and leg strength.
  • Fun Activities: Turn strength training into a game to keep it enjoyable for kids.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Kids might face challenges like fear of heights or difficulty in certain climbs. Offer support and advice on how to overcome these challenges.

Dealing with Fear

Fear of heights is common in young climbers and can be addressed with patience and understanding:

  1. Gradual Exposure: Start with low heights and gradually increase as confidence grows.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: Encourage and praise their bravery, no matter how small the achievement.
  3. Mindfulness and Relaxation: Teach simple breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques to help manage fear.

Problem Solving

Climbing is as much a mental exercise as a physical one:

  1. Route Planning: Encourage kids to observe and plan their route before starting.
  2. Creative Solutions: Prompt them to think of different ways to navigate difficult sections.
  3. Reflecting on Climbs: After a climb, discuss what strategies worked and what could be improved.

Top Kids Climbing Shoes

Top Kids Climbing Shoes

La Sportiva Stickit Climbing Shoe for Kids

The La Sportiva Stickit Climbing Shoe emerges as a popular choice for young climbers. These shoes blend quality with affordability, making them an attractive option for parents looking to support their child’s climbing endeavors.

Standout Features:

  1. Adjustable Fit: One of the most notable features is the highly adjustable hook and loop closure system. This design is ideal for accommodating fast-growing feet, ensuring that the shoes remain a perfect fit for longer periods.
  2. Kid-Friendly Design: The easy access system is a significant advantage, allowing kids to put on and take off their shoes independently. This feature not only fosters self-reliance in young climbers but also adds convenience for parents.
  3. Appealing Aesthetics: The Stickit sticky climbing frog theme is a delightful touch that is likely to appeal to kids, making the shoes not just a piece of equipment but a fun accessory for their climbing activities.
  4. Quality Material: The upper part of the shoe is made of leather, offering durability and comfort. The unlined design further adds to the comfort, making the shoes suitable for prolonged wear during climbing sessions.
  5. Color and Size Variety: Available in an attractive Chili/Poppy color, the shoes come in a range of sizes (1-2 Little Kid, 2-3 Little Kid, 9-10 Little Kid, 11-12 Little Kid, and 13-13.5 Little Kid), catering to a wide age range and ensuring a good fit for most young climbers.

Overall, the La Sportiva Stickit Climbing Shoe for Kids is a well-rounded option, offering a blend of comfort, adjustability, and child-friendly design. These features, combined with the shoe’s durability and attractive appearance, make it a worthy investment for young climbing enthusiasts.

SCARPA Kids’ Drago Rock Climbing Shoes

The SCARPA Kids’ Drago Rock Climbing Shoes are a top-tier choice for young climbers, with free returns on some sizes and colors, indicating a commitment to customer satisfaction and quality.

Standout Features:

  • High Performance for Young Climbers: Specifically designed for youth climbers who aspire to tackle challenging climbs, the Drago model brings high performance in a compact package. This makes them suitable for both gym climbing and bouldering.
  • Super Sensitive Design: The shoes feature a thin midsole and moderate downturn, enhancing their sensitivity. This design is ideal for complex bouldering problems in the gym and steep sport routes, allowing for precise foot placements.
  • Comfortable and Kid-Friendly Fit: The use of soft microfiber throughout the upper part of the shoe minimizes stretching and maximizes comfort. Additionally, a flexible tension system ensures a snug fit that accommodates growing feet without causing discomfort.
  • Advanced Sole Material: The incorporation of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber in the sole provides a blend of stiffness and stickiness. This combination is versatile, catering to various rock types and terrain, making these shoes adaptable to different climbing environments.
  • Technical Capabilities for Advanced Moves: SCARPA’s use of softer M50 rubber on the top of the toe and heel areas is a significant feature. This rubber provides extra grip, which is essential for complex moves like bat hangs and high tension heel hooks, thus enhancing the technical capabilities of young climbers.
  • Color and Size Options: Available in a striking yellow color, these shoes come in a variety of sizes (12-12.5 Little Kid to 3-3.5 Big Kid), ensuring a good fit for climbers of different ages and stages of growth.

In summary, the SCARPA Kids’ Drago Rock Climbing Shoes stand out for their sensitivity, technical capabilities, and child-friendly fit. These features, along with the high-quality materials and construction, make them an excellent investment for young climbers who are serious about improving their skills and tackling more challenging climbs.

Five Ten Kirigami Climbing Shoes for Kids

The Five Ten Kirigami Climbing Shoes for Kids have garnered impressive feedback. These shoes are offering a good balance between quality and affordability.

Standout Features:

  1. Color and Design: The shoes come in an eye-catching Glow Blue/Signal Coral/Signal Green color, making them visually appealing to kids and adding an element of fun to their climbing gear.
  2. Size Variety: Available sizes include 12 Toddler and 1 Big Kid, along with size 10.5, providing options for younger climbers and those in early childhood stages.
  3. Sole Material: The use of rubber in the sole ensures a good grip, which is crucial for climbing safety and performance. The rubber material is typically durable and offers stability on various surfaces.
  4. Easy Closure System: The hook-and-loop closure is a practical feature, particularly for kids. It allows for easy and quick adjustment of the shoe, enabling a secure fit that can be managed by the children themselves.
  5. Adifit Length-Measuring Tool: This unique addition helps in ensuring a perfect fit, which is particularly beneficial as children’s feet grow rapidly. The Adifit tool aids in measuring the foot length accurately, thereby assisting in choosing the correct shoe size.
  6. Comfortable for Gym Climbing: These shoes are described as comfortable for gym climbing, suggesting they are well-suited for indoor climbing environments. Comfort is key, especially for kids, to ensure they can enjoy their climbing experience without any unnecessary discomfort.

Overall, the Five Ten Kirigami Climbing Shoes for Kids stand out for their vibrant design, practical closure system, and the inclusion of the Adifit length-measuring tool. Combined with the comfortable fit and suitable sole material, these shoes present a great option for young climbers, particularly for indoor climbing activities.

EVOLV Venga Climbing Shoe – Kid’s

The EVOLV Venga Climbing Shoe for Kids is a well-received product, with free returns on some sizes and colors, these shoes offer a balance of quality and value.

Standout Features:

  1. Vegan-Friendly Material: A key feature of these shoes is the vegan-friendly synthetic construction. The breathable polyester mesh upper is an eco-conscious choice that doesn’t compromise on quality or performance.
  2. Adjustability: The single pull adjustable strap system is a standout for its ease of use. It allows for comfortable and precise adjustment in both the length and volume of the shoe, accommodating growing feet and varying foot shapes.
  3. Support and Comfort: The full-length midsole and outsole are designed to provide maximum support and comfort. This is particularly important for kids as they develop their climbing skills, ensuring a stable and secure footing.
  4. Durable and Sensitive Rubber: The shoe features TRAX SAS rubber, known for offering excellent friction and maximum durability. This makes them suitable for a variety of climbing surfaces and conditions.
  5. Molded VTR for Comfort: EVOLV’s Variable Thickness Rand (VTR) system is an innovative addition. It places thinner rand rubber in areas to reduce pressure points and hot spots around the foot, while thicker rubber near the toe increases longevity in high wear zones. This balance enhances both durability and performance.
  6. Sensitivity and Breathability: The MX-P: 0.6mm sensitive full-length midsole, combined with the mesh upper, offers a perfect blend of sensitivity and breathability. This ensures comfort during prolonged climbing sessions.
  7. Size and Fit: Available in sizes from 1 Big Kid to 13 Big Kid, the shoes are noted to run small, and it’s recommended to order a size up. This tip is crucial for ensuring a proper fit, especially when ordering online.
  8. Color Scheme: The Blue/Neon Lime color scheme is vibrant and appealing, likely to be a hit with young climbers.

In summary, the EVOLV Venga Climbing Shoe for Kids is a solid choice for young climbers, offering a blend of comfort, adjustability, and durability. The vegan-friendly materials and innovative design features like the VTR system and adjustable strap make these shoes both a practical and ethical choice for kids’ climbing adventures.


Climbing is a fantastic sport for kids, and with the right shoes, they can have a safe and enjoyable experience. Remember, the key is to focus on comfort, fit, and safety.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What age should kids start climbing?
    Kids can start climbing at a young age, but always under supervision and in a safe environment.
  2. How often should climbing shoes be replaced?
    Replace climbing shoes when they show significant wear or no longer fit properly.
  3. Can the same shoes be used for indoor and outdoor climbing?
    Yes, but consider the specific requirements of each type of climbing.
  4. How to know if the shoes fit correctly?
    Climbing shoes should be snug but not painfully tight. They should allow for some toe movement.
  5. Are there specific climbing shoes for girls and boys?
    Climbing shoes are generally unisex, but some brands offer models designed specifically for girls or boys.


Zoe putter

Zoe Putter

Hi, I'm Zoe Putter. Climbing isn't just my hobby; it's my passion. From the Rockies to local bouldering challenges, every ascent has been an adventure.I've traveled, learned, and met amazing fellow climbers. Through this site, I share my experiences and insights. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned climber, I hope to inspire and guide you. Keep reaching for the top!

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