Fishhook synthetic midsole, constructed knit fabric, metal eyelet and sticky rubber—a lot goes into our climbing shoes. From the chemically engineered upper to the naturally derived leather, climbing shoes are constructed from a vast array of materials, some better for the earth than others.
As ice caps melt and coral reefs die, it’s easy to remember rules like “Leave no trace” and “Save the trees.” We may be good about cleaning up our trash and recycling our Gatorade bottles, but what about our equipment? We might want to consider the impact of our shoes in particular, given that most climbers own multiple pairs and replace them every three to six months.
Gym Climber surveyed the top eco-friendly shoes on the market. Not perfect, but we like the trend.
The Mythos Eco are perfect proof that some things just shouldn’t be changed. After 25-plus years, the Mythos Eco is still jamming into cracks and dancing up big walls. Best part? According to La Sportiva, over 95 percent of the shoe’s materials come from recycled products. Even the rubber was obtained by recycling leftover rubber during the production process.
If it’s finally time to send that proj, Evolv’s Oracle just might be the shoe of choice. With a downturned, asymmetric profile and “love bump,” (a small bump under the toes) the Oracle is built to perform. No animals were harmed in the making of this shoe—it is constructed using only synthetic materials and vegan-friendly components.
Designed and handcrafted in the northern mountains of Italy, Scarpa’s Mid Maestro Eco is the fine leather shoe of every girl’s and boy’s dreams. Built for comfort, the Maestro Eco suits small cracks on long trad climbs. Extra padding on the tongue provides protection from painful jams. Not only that, according to the manufacturer the leather tanning process used for these shoes uses less water and chemicals than other tanning processes, plus it produces softer leather. These shoes have Scarpa’s Planet Friendly logo, which indicates they are “made of environmentally-friendly materials,” states the website.
Designed by the legendary climber Fred Nicole himself, the Aleons are stiff shoes built for edging and sending. They’re constructed with Adidas PrimeKnit technology, which uses less fabric than non-PrimeKnit technologies. The Dry-Dye on the Aleon uses less water than standard dyes and has cut out toxic dye materials.
Built like a sock, Mad Rock’s Haywire is great for long training days or steep sport climbs. The Haywire is Mad Rock’s softest shoe and is downturned with extra rubber on the end for solid toe hooking. Because of the Haywire’s construction, it also can’t delaminate. The shoe is constructed with molding and knitting technology, which produces far less waste than traditional sheet-stamp construction. According to Mad Rock’s marketing manager, Kenny Suh, for a men’s size 9 this process saves an average of 25 percent of material from going to waste.
Tenaya’s Oasi are solid all-around climbing shoes. They’re higher profile than most shoes, with a breathable sock construction for added comfort. Many 9a+ routes and boulders have gone down in this shoe. Best part is that the shoe is completely synthetic, so production used fewer resources and produces less waste than standard non-synthetic processes.
Butora’s Narsha is a shoe for ninjas, given its sleek, almost completely black optics. The Narsha is stiff, designed for micro-edging on small foot holds. The shoe is mostly synthetic rubber, which, after being mixed with an eco-friendly resin, is textured with the rubber shavings that were created during the production.
Black Diamond’s Momentum Vegan shoe is flat, durable and breathable—a perfect combination for the entry-level climber. The shoe is built with a hemp footbed and a soft midsole, providing both support and sensitivity for all-day convenience. The Momentum Vegan retains the five-star qualities of the original Momentum line, but without the use of animal products, making it BD’s most sustainable shoe.