Lace vs Velcro Climbing Shoes – Which One Is Best Choice for You?

When shopping for new climbing shoes, there are two main types: lace-up and Velcro (sometimes referred to as hook and loop). 

Each shoe style has its pros and cons, and choosing the right one depends on your unique climbing needs. 

In general, lace climbing shoes offer more support than velcro climbing shoes, but they are also slightly heavier and less convenient to put on and take off. Velcro climbing shoes are generally easier to put on and take off than lace climbing shoes, but they don’t provide as much support or stability as lace-up.

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so keep reading to find out which kind of shoe best fits your needs.

Lace vs Velcro Climbing Shoes: Best Recommendation

lace vs velcro climbing shoes

When shopping for a new pair of climbing shoes, you’ll want to be sure that they are durable, comfortable, and held up to use in various conditions. 

The table below details some of each category’s favorite lace and velcro climbing shoes.

Why Does A Climber Need a Good Pair of Shoes?

Why Does A Climber Need a Good Pair of Shoes

A good pair of climbing shoes can make a big difference in your climbing.

While getting yourself in shape, learning new techniques, and understanding how to be safe will help you climb better, having a good shoe on your feet doesn’t hurt. 

A good pair of shoes will improve your climbing and make it more enjoyable. 

The Anatomy Of An Ideal Climbing Shoe

The Anatomy Of An Ideal Climbing Shoe

It’s important to know what makes an ideal climbing shoe for your climbing style. Whether you’re bouldering or just staying upright on easy-moderate terrain, a few factors make all shoes function well. These include-

  • Right amount of sticky rubber.
  • Support in all areas.
  • A snug fit without creating pain or uncomfortableness and molding your foot over time. 

Each shoe is different regarding these aspects as they are designed for different uses. For example, 

  • If you plan on doing long routes at a sports crag, it’s best to find something with more comfort and less aggressive rubber.
  • If you want to boulder outside without falling onto small rocks below, a super aggressive shoe would best suit your needs.

Velcro Climbing Shoe

Velcro Climbing Shoe

It’s one of two types of climbing shoe design, and it’s a pretty solid choice for those who are just getting into or continuing to practice their craft. 

Advantages Of Using Velcro Climbing Shoes: 

  • Quick on/off: The convenience of velcro climbing shoes is a great feature that makes for easy on-and-off functionality, perfect for those who are always in a rush to get somewhere and can’t stop to tie their laces. 
  • Wide range of motion: The lack of laces allows for a wider range of motion for your feet, which can be especially beneficial if you have wide feet or have trouble getting into shoes with laces. 
  • Cost-effective: If you’re on a budget, velcro climbing shoes are a great option because they tend to be less expensive than their lace counterparts. 
  • Non-slip function: Velcro is known for its non-slip functionality, making it easier to climb steeper terrain without worrying about your feet slipping off of holds.

Velcro climbing shoes are better for experienced climbers or those who regularly climb for a long time because they are more comfortable than lace-up ones.

Drawbacks Of Using Velcro Climbing Shoes: 

  • Less comfortable: When it comes to comfort, lace climbing shoes win out over velcro models by a mile. 
  • Harder to adjust: Adjusting laces is a lot easier than adjusting Velcro, as you can easily adjust laces mid-climb without much hassle.
  • Easier to over-tighten: It’s more easy to over-tighten velcro climbing shoes, which can lead to discomfort or pain in your feet or ankles if you’re not careful.

Lace Climbing Shoe

Lace Climbing Shoe

Some climbing shoes are laces, like those you would wear with a pair of sneakers. For your first pair of climbing shoes, it’s best to buy a lace-up pair. They are cheaper, safer, more durable, and good for beginners. Moreover, you can adjust the laces for a better fit. 

Advantages Of Using Lace Climbing Shoes 

  • It is easier to take them off: You can quickly slip your shoes off when you need to climb down a cliff or do some bouldering.
  • They have more space for your toes: If you have wide feet, with lace-up climbing shoes, you can tighten them so that they are snug without squishing your toes into a narrow space.
  • Great fit with all types of the foot: Whether you have wide or narrow feet, lace climbing shoes will always be a good choice for you because they can be adjusted to fit your feet well.
  • They can be used for a long time: If you take good care of your lace climbing shoes, they will last you for years.

Lace climbing shoes are best for beginners, especially people with wide feet who like to walk around in their climbing shoes.

Drawbacks Of Using Lace Climbing Shoes: 

  • Initial Usage Problem: Because they are lace-up, they can be a bit uncomfortable when you first wear them. You will have to break them in before getting used to how they feel on your feet.
  • They are not as easy to put on: You have to tie them up every time you wear them, which can be a bit of a hassle if you want to get going quickly.

Differences Between Lace-up And Velcro Closures

Differences Between Lace-up And Velcro Closures

There are two main types of closure systems for climbing shoes: lace-up and Velcro. The primary difference between these systems is Accessibility. 

With a lace-up shoe, you must loosen or tighten laces to adjust your fit before every climb. 

On the other hand, Velcro shoes are designed with an open-toe box that makes it easy to slip them on and off without needing to unlace them first. 

Velcro shoes are much easier to get on and off for quick trips outside, and climbers who take multiple laps on a single route can be quite convenient.

Reasons To Use One Over The Other

Reasons To Use One Over The Other

Climbers can have various reasons to decide that lace-up or velcro-closure shoes are best. Sometimes it’s an issue of preference, but sometimes there are genuine performance differences between options. 

Some climbers prefer lace shoes because they offer a more tailored fit.

You won’t have any excess straps or loose parts, so your foot will have better sensitivity and control. 

It is essential in technical climbing situations where every fraction of a second count. 

The downside is that laces take longer to put on and take off than Velcro, making them less convenient if you want to quickly slip into your climbing shoes before heading out on a session. 

For some climbers, convenience trumps all other considerations-and that’s okay.

To be specific, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to laces vs. Velcro. Some people alternate between different styles depending on their mood or what type of climbing they’re doing. 

So, it’s fairer to experiment with both types and see what works best for you.

Which One You Should Get?

The decision on which kind of shoe you should get depends largely on your climbing style. 

If you’re a boulderer or sports climber, you will probably prefer lace-up shoes. Their ability to be very snug around your foot means that they have less material in them, which is ideal for clipping into those tiny holes on steep climbs. 

However, if you’re more of a tread climber or big wall aficionado, Velcro may better suit your needs. They are easier to put on (and take off) and often give you more room in the toe box to wear thicker socks when it gets cold out.

How to choose the best fit climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes may be optimal for toeing in or heel hooking, depending on how you tie your laces. 

As with life, climbing shoe preference is subjective: some climbers swear by lace-ups while others prefer their velcros. 

Regardless of personal preference, keep these tips in mind before making your next climbing shoe purchase

  • You should be able to put on your climbing shoes without using your hands, but you shouldn’t have to tighten them so much that they cut off circulation.
  • Your toes should not touch when you are standing in your climbing shoes, but they should feel snug while standing on a flat surface with your heels against a wall or ledge. 
  • When sitting down, there should be about half an inch of space between your heel and the back of your shoe.
  • When you’re standing up straight, there should be about half an inch of space between your big toe and the tip of your shoe. 
  • Your shoes shouldn’t be too tight that they squeeze your toes together or make them curl under when you stand on a flat surface with your heels against a wall or ledge. 
  • It is too big for you if you can pinch more than 1/4 inch of extra room in any part of your climbing shoe. 
  • If your heel slips out while climbing, it is probably time to go down a size. 
  • If you have to crank down on velcro straps to get a good fit around your foot and ankle, it is probably time to go down a size (or two). 
  • Try a different brand or model if you feel like your toes are jammed into your shoes because they don’t have enough volume. 
  • Make sure you choose a pair of climbing shoes that will work well with both sport and trad routes. 
  • Make sure your laces don’t come untied during climbs; if they do, consider using locking lace-ends or Velcro

Do You Need Both?

Do You Need Both

Lace shoes will likely serve your needs best if you boulder often but rarely climb routes or use ropes (rappelling).

On the other hand, if you primarily climb routes or use ropes (rappelling), then velcro shoes might be more useful. 

This doesn’t mean that one type of shoe is better than another; they simply fulfill different purposes. If you have multiple types of climbing in mind, consider getting multiple pairs of shoes. 

That way, you can ensure that your feet are protected no matter what style of climbing you’re doing on any given day.


  • Why is Velcro better than shoelaces?

Shoelaces are made of cotton and tend to get stuck in your climbing shoes when you need them most. They also loosen up over time, making you untie your shoes before every climb. However, the velcro will never loosen, doesn’t take long to put on or take off, and always fit snugly. It means you can always get a tight grip during each climb.

  • Why do climbing shoes have loops?

A climbing shoe is used to support your foot while you climb. The best climbing shoe will have loops to wrap around a harness to ensure that you don’t accidentally slip off.

  • Do good climbing shoes make a difference?

Answering yes or no is a matter of opinion. As for me, I would say no. I don’t think climbing shoes make much of a difference in how well you climb. However, if you have sensitive feet, getting sore easily (like myself), they can be a real game-changer.

The right pair of shoes can help prevent painful blistering and ingrown toenails, which will allow you to push yourself harder at the gym or crag without worrying about injury. And that makes all the difference.

Final Thought

So, what’s better: lace or velcro climbing shoes? The answer to that question depends on your individual preferences and style of climbing. 

Some people prefer a snug fit and can make adjustments with their laces, while others prefer something they can put on without tying or untying them. 

Try both types and see which one you prefer.

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