Are Beginner Climbing Shoes Worth It? An in depth analysis

To buy or not to buy beginner climbing shoes. The age old question. One that I actually asked myself when I was first starting my climbing journey. I had been to the gym a few times but was starting to get sick of having to pay extra to rent climbing shoes. It was time to figure out if beginner climbing shoes are worth it or not.

As a general rule, beginner climbing shoes become worth it after 15 to 20 indoor climbing sessions and will typically last a minimum of 50 sessions. On average, investing in a pair of beginner climbing shoes will save a frequent indoor climber at least $150 in rental shoe costs.

Cost, although important to consider, is not the only factor that determines if beginner climbing shoes are worth it. Check out the article below to find out what other factors to consider and determine if beginner climbing shoes are a worthwhile investment for you.

If you are interested in seeing what the current prices are for the most popular rock climbing shoes, you can find them on Amazon by clicking here. Using the Amazon affiliate link above and/or other links in the article helps support this website.

When Beginner Climbing Shoes Are Worth It

Before we can say definitively when beginner climbing shoes will be worth it for you, we first need to do a basic cost analysis. If math is not your friend, fear not because I will walk us through this step by step. We will be done with the math portion of this article in no time!

First, we will determine how much it costs to rent shoes at a climbing gym.

Average Climbing Shoe Rental Price At 5 Climbing Gyms

As a general rule, all climbing gyms will rent out climbing shoes to climbers who do not yet own a pair.

I compiled the cost to rent climbing shoes from 5 popular climbing gyms across the US as seen in the table below.

Climbing GymLocation Shoe Rental Price
Adventure RockMilwaukee, Wisconsin$6
The Stronghold Climbing GymLos Angeles, California$5
Steep Rock BoulderingNew York City, New York$6
Denver Bouldering ClubDenver, Colorado$5
Momentum Indoor ClimbingHouston, Texas$6

Typically it will cost $5 to $6 to rent indoor climbing shoes for a single day. The rental price will vary depending on the climbing gym and most will offer a discount to rent shoes in combination with other equipment i.e. harnesses, belay devices, chalk bags, etc.

Note: the prices listed in the table above are for climbing shoe rentals ONLY. To see the entire cost of indoor climbing including hidden fees and a complete set of rental equipment check out my article linked here.

Typical Cost of Beginner Climbing Shoes

There are many different factors to consider when getting beginner climbing shoes.

For the purpose of calculating how much you can typically expect to pay, I looked at the current price of 5 popular beginner climbing shoes.

Their cost can be seen in the table below.

Beginner Climbing ShoeAverage ReviewPrice
La Sportiva TarantulaceExcellent$85
Scarpa OriginGreat$100
Black Diamond MomentumExcellent$100
Evolv DefyGreat$90
Mad Rock DrifterGreat$75

Typically, it will cost between $75 and $100 to buy a good pair of beginner climbing shoes. Shoe performance, quality, and brand name are all factors that affect the price of beginner climbing shoes.

Note: the average review took into consideration of customer reviews on various retail websites, blog posts, and forums. To find out which shoe I believe to be the best beginner climbing shoe and why – check out my recommended gear page linked here.

When Beginner Climbing Shoes Are Worth it

Doing a quick calculation we can find out how many indoor climbing sessions it will take to make your money back after buying climbing shoes.

Using an average rental shoe price of $5 and a beginner climbing shoe price between $75 and $100, it will take approximately 15 to 20 indoor sessions to start saving money from your climbing shoe investment.

How Long Beginner Climbing Shoes Last

As with any piece of gear, the lifespan of climbing shoes directly depends on well you take care of them. Storing them in a climate controlled environment (i.e. your house) and out of direct sunlight will help prolong their life span. Storing them in hot, freezing, or wet environments will shorten their lifespan significantly.

Typically, beginner climbers will not have developed precise foot placement quite yet. Their feet will take awhile to find the correct hold and foot position. This causes the rubber on their climbing shoes to wear out quicker compared to more experienced climbers.

To account for this, beginner climbing shoes are typically designed to have thicker rubber. This additional rubber makes the shoes more durable and extends their life.

It should go without saying that the more frequently a beginner climbs, the quicker their shoes will wear out. If Climber A climbs once a week and Climber B climbs twice a week, Climber B will have to replace their shoes twice as often as Climber A (assuming the same shoe care and climbing ability).

As a general rule, beginner climbing shoes will last approximately 4 to 8 months of climbing 2 to 3 times per week. This corresponds to approximately 50 to 70 sessions. Climbing frequency, foot placement, and shoe care are all factors that influence the lifespan of beginner climbing shoes.

If you only plan to climb once per week and take proper care of your shoes, they can last you well over a year.

Benefits of Owning Beginner Climbing Shoes

Many other factors besides just the cost go into determining if beginner climbing shoes are worth it for you.

More Opportunity to Go Climbing

I have found that owning a pair of climbing shoes will naturally get you more involved with the sport and community.

Being able to save money on climbing shoes allowed me to buy a multiple month pass to the climbing gym. Having my own shoes and an unlimited gym pass gave me the freedom to climb when I wanted. Naturally, I found myself going more frequently to my local gym.

You Can Go Climbing Outside

In addition to allowing you to save money, having your own shoes allows you to go climbing outside.

I didn’t go outdoor climbing until a few months after I started gym climbing. Once I finally got the chance to go, a whole new world of climbing opened up to me. If you think climbing on plastic is fun, going outside will be a blast and owning your pair of shoes gives you this opportunity.

Increases Your Climbing Performance

You will be able to pick out shoes that feel the best and provide you with the best fit. Getting shoes that fit your feet properly will allow you to use holds that improperly fitting shoes wouldn’t allow you to. They also will let you to trust your feet more and give you better traction.

Having your own pair of shoes will allow you to build comfort and familiarity with their performance. This comfort helps you send harder routes. Not to mention, beginner shoes will be much better than the ones you can rent out from a climbing gym.

The bottom line?

Beginner climbing shoes are worth it if you plan on climbing indoors 15 to 20 times. Beginner shoes will allow frequent climbers to save money on rental cost and give them the freedom to climb outside. The lifespan of beginner climbing shoes is directly influenced by climbing frequency, ability, and proper shoe care.


Hi, I'm Rex! I have been into everything outdoors for as long as I can remember. Climbing became a huge part of my life in college and I hope to share everything I have learned on this website to help fellow passionate climbers.

Recent Posts