aggressive climbing shoes

Aggressive climbing shoes – Everything you need to know

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Aggressive climbing shoes – Everything you need to know

After climbing at a novice level for years, you start to feel like you have become a decent climber and it’s time to move on to harder stuff and get better climbing shoes. So you fancy one of those aggressive downturned shoes that you see hardcore climbers wear in the gym? It is time for you to join the big boys club. Before you drop a couple of hundred bucks on these shoes you’ll need to know a few things.

Comfort or a lack of it

If aggressive downturned shoes look uncomfortable to you then you are right. The shoe design forces your feet to stay in a curved position with your toes all squashed together and tapered towards the big toe. Sound painful and uncomfortable? Yes, it is. Fortunately, the pain has a purpose which is to keep your feet in a firm and strong downturned position when standing on tiny footholds and overhanging walls. The downturned curve enables you to dig the tip of your shoes into footholds on steep overhanging routes.

When to wear aggressive shoes

Aggressive shoes are meant for bouldering and short single-pitch routes. When you are gunning for a flash or onsight attempt you’ll want your shoes to be downturned, sticky, and precise especially if the route is overhanging. Many aggressive climbing shoes come with a rubber layer covering the toe which is designed for toe hooks on overhanging climbs.

la sportiva python front view
La Sportiva Python toe rubber design for toe hooks

For training purposes, you may want to wear something more comfortable, cheaper, and durable. Unless you have an immense tolerance for pain then sure wear aggressive shoes for your training climbs.

As good as aggressive shoes are for precision, you may want to keep them at home when comes to slab routes. Having your feet in a downturned position is not going to be helpful. Instead, choose flat shoes, with a thin sole, and sticky.


Most aggressive downturned rock shoes are designed for performance with sticky rubber soles. Unfortunately, shoes like these do not last as long as you’d like. Sticky rubber soles tend for higher wear and tear. Depending on how frequently you climb. But if you do 1 to 2 sessions a week it is common to wear your shoes out after 9 months, especially the front-end.

Sole design

You bought a nice new expensive pair of downturned climbing shoes. It is stiff and snug with a firm downturned profile. You feel confident when standing on small tiny edges and you can climb steep incline walls and still keep your toes on tiny little footholds. Then 6 months in you notice your downturned shoes are not downturned anymore, in fact, it’s flat. This is fairly common as with any rubber sole which starts to lose its tension due to wear. However, a certain shoe design keeps the downturned profile longer than others. Climbing shoe design with a split in the middle of the sole by a tension band pulls the sole midsection towards the arch of your feet. This design helps to keep the downturned profile after prolonged usage. Other downturned shoes without the split sole design will lose their downturned profile sooner than you’ll like.


When it comes to selecting a suitable size for downturned shoes. You may need to size up from your flat or moderate climbing shoe size. Due to the downturn design, your feet will be forced into a downward-pointing position making the shoe feel tighter. A word of advice, if you are buying a new model of climbing shoes for the first time, you should always try it out before you buy it.

Aggressive climbing shoes

Every climbing shoe brand has a wide range of aggressive climbing shoe selections. Check out the popular aggressive climbing shoes pro climbers wear.

La Sportiva Futura
evolv phantom
Evolv Phantom
scarpa drago
Scarpa Drago

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