Rock climbers agree that rock climbing shoes are much better than regular gym shoes when it comes time to scale a rock cliff. Not only are rock climbing shoes lighter than normal shoes, they also offer both performance and comfort, partially because they are made from synthetic material that allows the shoe to conform to a person's foot without stretching over time. The shoe's should fit comfortably, but should also be tight enough to ensure that the shoe will not slip off during the climb.
Not all rock climbing shoes look or work in the same way. For example, to put on a shoe with a tight fit, some rock climbing shoes have heel loops at the back. Additionally, some shoes have lacing, while others are slip-ons. What climbers choose to wear on their feet is often based on comfort as well as the type of climb they plan to do. Many rock climbing shoes also have stiff, sticky soles, allowing climbers to smear, or press, as much of the foot as possible against the rock. The rubber band above the sole is referred to as a "rand."
For beginning climbers, the shoe's toe box should be comfortable but tight enough that the toes touch the end of the shoe. More experienced climbers typically use shoes with pointed toe boxes, which are often uncomfortable, but more useful during extreme climbs.
Makers of rock climbing shoes offer climbers various footwear options for various kinds of rock climbs. Most manufacturers offer variations of these shoes: sport / bouldering, trad, gym, women's and all-around, which is perfect for a beginning climber's first pair. Experienced climbers recommend that beginners try on a variety of rock climbing shoes to find what is most comfortable, because sizing isn't always the same from one brand to another.
Since shoes are just one necessary item to rock climbing, major manufacturers typically also offer hardware and accessories, such as harnesses and chalk bags. Popular shoe brands include Mad Rock climbing shoes, Bufo, Evolv, Five Ten, La Sportiva and Scarpa.
A good pair of new rock climbing shoes for the outdoors can cost between $100 and $150. While cheap rock climbing shoes that are also new can be hard to come by, discount rock climbing shoes can usually be found at closeouts of discontinued shoes, often in late winter and spring.