Published on: 03/15/2023
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The climbing footwear industry has come a long way in recent years. While leather and its derivatives, like suede or split-grain leather, are still very popular among climbers and climbing shoe manufacturers, many brands are trying to decrease the use animal products in their shoes.
Besides being better overall in terms of sustainability, vegan-friendly climbing shoes do not harm animals as part of their manufacturing process. Now that’s something for any nature-loving climber to be proud of!
In this article, we’ll present our favorite vegan climbing shoes with different configurations to appeal to everyone.
Our Selection of the Best Vegan Climbing Shoes of 2023
|Model||Type||Volume||Best for||Best Offer|
|La Sportiva Skwama Vegan||Performance||Low||Overall||Check prices|
|Evolv Shaman||Performance||High (also exists in LV version)||Comfort & Performance||Check prices|
|Scarpa Veloce||Relaxed Performance||High||Steep Indoor Routes||Check prices|
|Black Diamond Momentum||Comfort||Medium||Beginners||Check prices|
|Tenaya Oasi||Performance||Low||Advanced Climbers||Check prices|
|Five Ten Anasazi Lace||Comfort||High||Trad Climbing||Check prices|
|Evolv Kronos||Comfort||Low||All-Rounder||Check prices|
1. La Sportiva Skwama Vegan: The Best Overall Vegan Climbing Shoes
La Sportiva Skwama are fairly aggressive climbing shoes with great sensitivity to tackle the toughest boulder problems and sport routes. Its soft conception makes it comfortable and versatile; it’s a good pick for intermediate climbers looking to upgrade to a first downturned model from neutral climbing shoes. Also, the 4-mm outsole rubber generously covers the heel and the toe to hook in the most tricky spots, besides increasing durability.
The Skwama has been around for many years and is a staple for many climbers. However, vegans were left out: it uses suede leather. Until now. La Sportiva recently released a completely vegan version of the Skwama with a microfibre upper in lieu of leather. It’s bright fluo green or blue, so you can’t miss it in the shop. Even better, other climbers won’t miss you at the gym/crag. They’ll see the shoes and will know they’d better not forget the plant-based sausages at the next BBQ!
2. Evolv Shaman: The Best to Combine Comfort and Performance
The Evolv Shaman are designed for Chris Sharma, the superstar who propelled climbing into the mainstream by redpointing the first 5.15a route back in 2001 (Biographie/Realization). Sharma’s legend is still being written, but the Shamans will surely remain one of its symbols.
These aggressive vegan climbing shoes have a relatively soft conception that delivers superior comfort thanks to Evolv’s proprietary “love bump” technology. To make it simple, they allow you to crush your most difficult sport climbing and bouldering projects requiring precise toe and heel hooking.
3. Scarpa Veloce: The Best for Indoor Performance
Scarpa has been fighting tooth and nail with its great rival La Sportiva (both brands originate from Italy) to offer the best shoes to climbers worldwide. Overall, Scarpa has been making greater strides on the vegan side of things by proposing many vegan models like the Scarpa Furia Air, Reflex V, and Booster/Boostic, to name a few.
The Scarpa Veloce is one of our favorites among them. Despite being primarily geared toward gym use, they offer great value and versatility. Indeed, their moderate downturn doesn’t get in the way of comfort and, combined with a top-notch tensioning system, allows for optimal performance on moderate routes and boulders.
An outstanding pick for vegan climbers looking for a sensitive and super soft performance indoor climbing shoe!
4. Black Diamond Momentum: The Best for Beginners
The American brand Black Diamond only has one vegan model in their collection (at least as we write these lines). However, it’s an absolute reference for beginners and anyone looking for a comfort option for long climbing days.
Overall, our experience suggest that it’s sturdier than the La Sportiva Tarantula, one of the most recommended shoes for beginner climbers. That’s because it features a thick rubber outsole with moderate stiffness. Also, despite its flat sole, it’s largely sufficient to start pushing harder grades as you progress.
Unlike other beginner picks (we won’t name names) that are too loose, and, therefore, lack structure for proper footwork, the BD Momentum performs quite well when it comes to edging and smearing. If you’re just starting climbing, look no further!
5. Tenaya Oasi: The Best for Advanced Climbers
There’s a vegan shoe out there for every climber, regardless of their level. And Alexander Megos, the elite German climber who made history by being the first to onsight a 5.14d (9a) sport route, surely found his match with the Tenaya Oasi!
However, despite being obviously a sharp ally to send your hardest projects, the Tenaya Oasi is fairly comfortable. You should only be careful if you have wide feet as these aggressive shoes are not the roomiest.
Other than that, it’s a straight win: the Tenaya Oasi has earned a stellar reputation and received praises from the climbing world for its break-in-and-stretch-free conception thanks to its synthetic materials.
6. Five Ten Anasazi Lace: The Best for Trad
Vegan trad climbers also need great shoes to send their long and often strenuous multi-pitch projects. Trad requires comfort for all-day use, decent protection to jam your feet in cracks, and laces as scratches can easily come undone when jamming.
Luckily, Adidas’ Anasazi Lace, affectionately nicknamed the ‘Pink’ for its unique colorway, is a classic for trad climbing that ticks all these boxes. And did we mention it’s vegan? Besides its comfortable and durable design, the Anasazi Lace offers optimal friction for smearing on vertical faces.
Spread the vegan love on trad climbs with this iconic model!
7. Evolv Kronos: The Best All-Rounder
The Evolv Kronos is ideal for climbers looking for heavy-duty climbing shoes that can do everything. With its slight downturned profile, the Evolv Kronos (Kira for the women’s version) offers comfort and precision for all-day climbing on moderate routes.
Indoor or at the crag, bouldering, or sport climbing, the Kronos is a jack-of-all-trades that packs a punch when needed. For example, the 4.2mm TRAX SAS rubber outsole extends to cover the toes and deliver grip when toe hooking on overhangs and steep routes.
The Kronos fits almost true to size compared to street shoes and stretches quite a bit for synthetic shoes after a couple of sessions.
You can’t go wrong with the Evolv Kronos: it’s a top pick to complement the shoe rotation of any climber.
All You Need to Know About Vegan Climbing Shoes
Animals Products in Climbing Shoes
Unfortunately, the reality is that most climbing shoes on the market today contain animal products in one form or another.
Despite their inherent love for the outdoors, most climbing brands often don’t place animal welfare at the center of their mission. In a way, it’s understandable: veganism is far from the mainstream even though it’s quickly gaining ground. If you survey climbers at the gym or crag, you’ll probably only need one hand to count the number of vegans.
Even brands like Patagonia that are going all-in when it comes to sustainability (1) still focus on activities like fly-fishing, which we guess comes from its founder, Yvon Chouinard, an accomplished climber and… fly-fisher. You just need to take a look at their Patagonia Provisions site to understand that veganism is the furthest thing from their mind.
It’s like the famous vegan saying goes:
“Many will give up plastic straws to save fish, yet they won’t give up eating fish to save fish!”.
The most obvious animal-based material in climbing shoes is leather coming from cowhide. Leather derivatives like suede are also very popular. We mostly find leather in the upper of climbing shoes, but it’s also sometimes used in the lining.
Less known to the public, many climbing shoes also use animal-based materials like bones or fish skin in the adhesives that keep some of the parts together. Interestingly, it’s the main reason why running shoes are not vegan, while they rarely use leather.
Vegan Climbing Shoes and Sustainability
When opting for vegan shoes, do we have to choose (no pun intended) between animal welfare and sustainability? Luckily, the answer is a resounding no!
The ecological advantage of vegan synthetic materials is not so obvious at first look. Indeed, sports products like climbing shoes rely on polymers like polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The problem with such plastic materials is that they take years to biodegrade, unlike real leather.
However, experts (2) agree that synthetic alternatives to leather use much fewer resources overall. Indeed, leather comes from livestock, the worst agricultural sector in terms of environmental impact because of its land and water use, leading to greenhouse gas emissions and pollution (3, 4).
Pros and Cons of Vegan Climbing Shoes
No or Little Stretch
Have we already mentioned that vegan rock climbing shoes don’t harm animals and use fewer natural resources? They have another advantage that may be a drawback, depending on your preference: they stretch less than leather climbing shoes. Therefore, what you try is what you get. If the shoe feels nicely snug, it will most likely remain like this even after months of climbing. However, this may not be to the liking of climbers who like to downsize to extreme levels, hoping for some relief later as the leather upper of the shoe stretches.
There’s one potential problem. And not a small one. Vegan synthetic climbing shoes might be more prone to bad smells. (I fear my Black Diamond Momentum might be confiscated and disposed of by a team in hazmat suits the next time I go to the gym.) But hey, that’s just something to accept! Your friends might be less receptive to the idea, but if they’re not vegan, they don’t have the moral high ground here!
More seriously, this does vary from one model to another. For example, vegan climbing shoes with cotton or hemp lining seem to be less smelly.
There’s a stigma associated with veganism that vegan products are more expensive, especially when it comes to food. However, our research doesn’t suggest anything like this. Non-vegan and vegan climbing shoes are priced similarly.
However, we don’t know the profit margin from climbing manufacturing companies when it comes to shoes. It could be that vegan climbing shoes are cheaper to manufacture an that brands don’t pass on the savings to us consumers. But hey, that’s the world we live in!
Where to Buy Vegan Climbing Shoes
We buy most of our climbing gear from REI. Their service is top-notch, and their site has a useful filter for finding vegan climbing shoes. Check it out here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Unfortunately, to our knowledge, there’s no single 100% cruelty-free vegan climbing brand as of 2023. Notably, all the climbing shoes of American brand So iLL are vegan, but one of their lifestyle model is not. Also, some companies like Evolv (US), Tenaya (Spain), Ocun (Czech Republic), and Mad Rock (US) mainly propose vegan climbing shoes but do also have a few options that use leather.
Yes, the brand confirmed to us by email that at this time (April 2023), all of their climbing shoes are vegan.
Only the synthetic ones. Check out our list to be sure.
Some are, but not all of them.
Yes, it is!
Yes, it is!
We’ve seen many sites listing the Cobra Eco as vegan, but unfortunately, that’s not the case! Being sustainable and vegan is not always the same thing. The Cobra Eco uses recycled materials but from animal materials (i.e., leather). Of course, you could argue that recycled non-vegan products didn’t harm new animals. However, it’s best to leave those products to non-vegans not to prop-up their market value further.
Vegan Climbing Shoe List
|Boreal||Butora||EB||Evolv||Five Ten||La Sportiva||Mad Rock||Ocun||Scarpa||Red Chili||So iLL||Tenaya||Unparallel|
|Beta ECO||Brava||Balboa||Agro||Anasazi Lace||GeckoGym Vegan||Drone CS HV||Advancer LU||Booster||Ventic Air||Momoa Pro||Tanta||Flagship LU|
|Crux||Senegi||Guardian||Defy||Anasazi Pro||Oxygym||Drone CS LV||Advancer QC||Boostic||Spirit IV||Free Range Pro||Masai||Leopard II|
|Mojo||Eldo Z||Anasazi VCS||Skwama Vegan||Drone HV||Bullit||Furia Air||The One Pro||Mastia||Lyra|
|Red||Elektra||Quantum||Drone LV||Crest QC||Veloce||Oasi|
|Kira||Team 5.10||Lotus||Havoc||Velocity||Oasi LV|
|Kronos||Team VXI||Lyra||Jett Crack||Tarifa|
|Phantom||Mad Monkey 2||Pearl|
|Shaman Pro||Pulse Positive||Striker QC|
|Venga Kid’s||Remora LV|
|X1||Remora Tokyo Edition|
|Zenist LV||Topo 2.0|
Earth is now our only shareholder.
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia.
Is vegan leather worse for the environment than real leather?
Jessica David, April 2020
Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
Damian Carrington, May 2018
Plant-based diets and their impact on health, sustainability and the environment: a review of the evidence
WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases