What Are the Key Features of a Good Climbing Shoe?

If you take a look at an online shop or the shelves in any store, you’ll soon see just how many different climbing shoes are out there. But how do they differ? What do the details and specifications provided by the manufacturers mean? And which shoes should you choose?

This page aims to provide you with an overview of the most important properties and explain what they mean. After all, a feature can be perfect for a particular climbing requirement, but not help your performance in relation to another problem or on another route at all. Development and design teams face the challenging task of using different materials and technologies to combine individual specifications in such a way that the end product achieves the best balance for the respective use.

On each of Red Chili’s product pages, you’ll find a diagram that informs you about the following shoe properties:


This is about the ability to place your shoe on small footholds as precisely as possible. Very pointed, asymmetrical shoes with a somewhat harder rubber blend and defined edges make this easiest. A stable midsole or good tension created by the appropriate structure combined with an adjustable fastening system that enables a close fit also help enable high precision.

Example: Red Chili MYSTIX



“I think my shoes have had it!”. We’re sure you’ll have heard this statement in gyms or at crags. It often means that the rubber is coming away or a hole has appeared in the toe area. The higher the rigidity value, the more robust the shoe as a whole, i.e. including the upper, and the longer it can be used for climbing. There are naturally different requirements here depending on the area of use. For example, if you regularly climb sandstone cracks or do long training sessions several times a week, your shoes need to be really durable. Models designed for durability tend to have a slightly harder, abrasion-resistant rubber compound, a robust upper, a durable fastening system, and sometimes even a double layer of rubber in particularly exposed areas. 

Example: Red Chili CHARGER or SESSION (rental shoe)



When climbing and bouldering, your entire body weight is often supported by just a couple of millimeters of rock. If your toes aren’t yet used to the extreme strain or you want to prevent your foot muscles from becoming fatigued on longer tours, you should opt for a supportive shoe. This relieves strain and helps transfer more power to your toes. Key technologies that increase supportiveness include a continuous, stable midsole, rubber that isn’t overly soft, an asymmetrical shape, a downturn, and good tension properties as a result of areas of clamping rubber and a fastening system that helps keep the shoe taut.