The Best Aggressive Downturn Rock Climbing Shoes

Aggressively downturned shoes are sometimes referred to as performance shoes. Whether you are on pocketed limestone, juggy overhanging sandstone, or techy granite, these models are specialized tools to help you send your steep projects. Aggressive shoes are the type that you put on while climbing, and immediately take off in between tries. They are dramatically curved and provide a lot of heel tension to arrange your foot in a position of power. They are also often asymmetrically shaped, curving toward the big toe to focus your balance and power towards that single strong point. Aggressive shoes are best for bouldering, sport climbing, and gym climbing, and won’t be very comfortable for crack climbing or days spent multi-pitching. These shoes are usually sized snug, and often are worn a couple sizes smaller than your street shoe size. See which aggressive shoes were our favorites in our comparative test.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Scarpa Furia
94
Edging 7
Smearing 10
Sensitivity 10
Cracks 10
Rubber 7

Super sensitive

High performance

Suction-cup fit

Wears quickly

MSRP
$179.00
BEST DEAL
La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe
93
Edging 10
Smearing 7
Sensitivity 10
Cracks 7
Rubber 10
Value 9

P3 Platform retains shoe’s shape over its life

Fantastic at pockets and edging

Super comfortable suction fit

Easy on, easy off

Struggles on smears

Struggles on certain heel hooks

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
Evolv Nexxo
90
Edging 10
Smearing 8
Sensitivity 9
Cracks 7
Rubber 9
Value 7

Easy on, easy off

Suction-cup fit and an asymmetrical last

Velcro strap provides arch support under foot

Comfortable micro-fiber lining

Hot shoe; doesn’t breathe well

Heel could be lower volume

MSRP
$145.00
BEST DEAL
Scarpa Stix
90
Edging 9
Smearing 8
Sensitivity 9
Cracks 7
Rubber 9
Value 8

Asymmetrical last and precision fit for toe power

Easy on, easy off slipper

Great arch support and little dead space underfoot

Lightweight

Not the most reliable heel hooker

MSRP
$149.00
BEST DEAL
La Sportiva Genius
90
Edging 10
Smearing 9
Sensitivity 7
Cracks 7
Rubber 7

Supportive yet sensitive

High performance

No Edge toe

Some dead space in heel

Laces don’t add anything

MSRP
$190.00
BEST DEAL
Boreal Kintaro
88
Edging 5
Smearing 9
Sensitivity 8
Cracks 9
Rubber 8
Value 9

Vari-sized Velcro closure—upper strap is extra-wide to let you ratchet fit without upper-foot cramping

Great grabbing action on steeps

Slim, snug, comfortable heel cup

Very sticky rubber

Bomber Spanish construction

5-5.5mm sole thick out of the box, causing “smedging” where you want edging

Stickier rubber tends to wear more quickly

Slightly narrow fit (pointy toebox) for high-volume feet

MSRP
$145.00
BEST DEAL
Five Ten Team VXi
87
Best in Class
2016
Rubber 9
Edging 4
Smearing 9
Heel/Toe Hooking 9
Comfort/Fit 6

Incredibly soft and sticky rubber compound

Glove like fit suctions on foot

Great blend of sensitivity and aggressiveness

Rubber wears faster than other shoes

Narrow toe box smashes toes together

Lacks a defined edge

MSRP
$185.00
BEST DEAL
La Sportiva Testarossa
85
Edging 9
Smearing 5
Sensitivity 8
Cracks 5
Rubber 9
Value 9

Aggressive last

Highly adjustable fit

Excellent heel cup

Time-tested quality

Expensive

Pushes definition of “all-around” shoe

Poor toe hooker

MSRP
$175.00
BEST DEAL
Tenaya Oasi
85
Edging 7
Smearing 8
Sensitivity 8
Cracks 5
Rubber 7

Precision toe

Fits true to size

No break-in period

Velcro closure cinches down

Not great on toe hooks

MSRP
$165.00
BEST DEAL
Mad Rock Redline
82
Rubber 6
Edging 9
Smearing 2
Heel/Toe Hooking 8
Comfort/Fit 7

Stiff rubber for solid edging

Downturned toe grabs well in steep terrain

Tight yet comfortable fit

Terrible at smearing

Tight in mid-foot

Uncomfortable for long periods

MSRP
$169.00
BEST DEAL
Five Ten Dragon Lace-up
81
Edging 10
Smearing 9
Sensitivity 9
Cracks 5
Rubber 3
Value 5

Aggressive shape edges really well, even on the steepest rock climbs

Great for toe hooks

Stealth HF rubber is extremely sticky

Takes a long time to put on and take of (not ideal for bouldering/gym)

Laces don’t allow for much adjustment in volume

Uncomfortable heel

Pricey

MSRP
$165.00
BEST DEAL
Boreal Satori
80
Rubber 7
Edging 8
Smearing 6
Heel/Toe Hooking 4
Comfort/Fit 5

Easy to slip on and off

Solid edging

Wide toe box

Extra space under heel and over toes

Seriously painful break-in period

Non-adjustable closure

MSRP
$159.00
BEST DEAL
Boreal Dharma
76
Edging 5
Smearing 8
Sensitivity 7
Cracks 2
Rubber 4

Symmetrical last is easy on toes

Well-fitting shoe with no dead space

Boreal Zenith rubber is surprisingly useful

Uncomfortable

Too much rubber on the heel

Three Velcro straps are overkill

MSRP
$159.00
BEST DEAL
Cypher Zero
73
Edging 7
Smearing 6
Sensitivity 6
Cracks 3
Rubber 5
Value 6

Inexpensive

Aggressive down-turned toe for steep pockets and edging

Semi-soft last yields great sensitivity

Velcro closure system is uncomfortable and poorly designed

Rubber not as sticky as other brands

Lots of dead space in heel

MSRP
$110.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Scarpa Instinct

The Scarpa Instinct is a lace-up climbing shoe that finds a home on everything from all-day trad climbs to performance sport-climbing days to V-hard boulder problems. With only 3.5mm of rubber on the sole, the Instinct is sensitive but its asymmetrical last and Suede upper prove a lot of support and comfort on a full pitch of edges. This is an exceptionally good shoe.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Gear Coop

Evolv Shaman

The shape and design of this shoe provide a lot of performance features for a climbing shoe that is wickedly comfortable. The Shaman is not only a great way to break into the category of down-turned, asymmetrical, high-performance climbing shoes, but it will also work on the hardest climbs in the world, though the extra rubber on the sole reduces sensitivity.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Gear Coop

Scarpa Furia

The Scarpa Furia is a precision weapon for high-end sport climbing and bouldering. As one of the softest shoes on the market, the Furia is not for beginners: strong toes and advanced footwork are a prerequisite to taking advantage of all the Furia has to offer. What’s incredible about the Furia is its ability to maintain its downturned, aggressive last despite having such a soft, flexible sole—certainly the mark of a well-made shoe. The only downside to enjoying that supple sensitivity is a rubber sole that wears quickly, especially on abrasive or roughly textured rock. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at GearTrade.com

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe

The La Sportiva Solutions are downturned, aggressive and precise. The shoe struggles to smear exceptionally, and it takes a long time to break in. However, after years of testing, I regard the Solutions as one of the best high-end slippers on the market.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at CampSaver.com

La Sportiva Genius

The La Sportiva Genius takes a few days to break in and has a narrow last, with some dead space in the heel. The No Edge design of the Genius takes some getting used to, but once you’re comfortable with the egg-shaped toe, smearing, edging and using tiny pockets becomes really secure. This shoe is more suitable for sport climbing than bouldering, in part due to the laces.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Outdoorplay

Scarpa Stix

In the latest design from acclaimed shoe designer Heinz Mariacher, the Stix is a medium-wide, medium-soft slipper built for vertical to steep routes. The Stix is super comfortable, with no dead space and achieves a great balance between sensitivity and support. The Stix is made for those who want an easy on, easy off performance sport-climbing shoe that also works well in most bouldering and gym situations, so long as the problems don't require intensive heel hooking. Those who love to heel hook might prefer the performance of the Scarpa Boostic or the La Sportiva Solution.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Backcountry.com

See All Aggressive Downturn Rock Climbing Shoes Reviews