If you have practical experience in climbing, of course, you know that you need special shoes for it. Since climbing shoes play an important role in your overall climbing experience and your safety in particular. Here’s everything you need to know about climbing shoes.
Table of Contents
- How Important Are Climbing Shoes?
- What Makes Climbing Shoes Different?
- Why Are Climbing Shoes Curved?
- How Do You Wear Climbing Shoes?
- Should You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?
- How Do You Know If Climbing Shoes Fit?
- How Tight Should Climbing Shoes Be?
- How Curled Should Your Toes Be In Climbing Shoes?
- How To Size Climbing Shoes?
- Should You Buy Climbing Shoes A Size Bigger?
- Do Climbing Shoes Stretch?
- How Should New Climbing Shoes Feel?
- How Do You Break In New Climbing Shoes?
- How Long Does It Take To Break In Climbing Shoes?
- Can You Walk In Climbing Shoes?
- How To Make Climbing Shoes More Comfortable?
- Types Of Climbing Shoes
- Lace Vs. Velcro Climbing Shoes
- High Volume Vs. Low Volume Climbing Shoes
- Moderate Vs. Aggressive Climbing Shoes
- Climbing Vs. Approach Shoes
- Climbing Vs. Bouldering Shoes
- How To Choose The Right Climbing Shoes For Your Needs?
- What Climbing Shoes Do The Beginners And The Pros Wear?
- Top Climbing Shoe Brands
- When Should I Replace My Climbing Shoes?
- How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?
- When To Resole Climbing Shoes?
How Important Are Climbing Shoes?
Very important. What climbing shoes do is gather your toes into one application of force. You can use that force to apply to a minimal area of high-friction material. The shoes make your feet more like the hooves of a mountain goat. This not only simply makes climbing easier, but it also makes it possible to do it at all.
What Makes Climbing Shoes Different?
The sticky rubber of the sole delivers a level of traction very different from any other type of shoe. It allows climbers to stand on nearly invisible imperfections in seemingly blank rock. The downturned shape places your feet into a stronger and more powerful position.
Why Are Climbing Shoes Curved?
Curved shapes are closer to ideal for strength than flat shapes. The curve shapes your toes into a pointed position. Because of this, unlike with a flat shoe, your foot will be held in a position that aids in hooking holds with your toes.
If you wear a flat shoe, it is certain that when you hook a hold your toes will twist upward. Even if it is only by a small amount, power is lost whenever your toes don’t keep a grip and point.
How Do You Wear Climbing Shoes?
On your feet? Depending on what kind of climbing you do, your shoes should be neutral, moderate, or aggressive. Neutral shoes provide a relaxed fit for day-long comfort. Moderate shoes have a slightly downturned shape that makes them ideal for technical climbing.
Aggressive shoes have extremely downturned toes and plenty of heel tension to place your feet in a strong and robust position for those challenging overhanging climbs.
Should You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?
You can, if you just feel more comfortable doing so. However, it is not necessary. If the shoes are properly fitted you won’t need to wear socks with them. Because it is widely believed that tighter is better, some people find socks more comfortable. Some people wear socks to keep the shoes from getting too sweaty and smelly.
How Do You Know If Climbing Shoes Fit?
Your toes should be a little bit curled, but not to the point that they feel really cramped. As for width, you need it snug about the foot, though not so tight that it’s painful. There should be no space between your toes and the inside of the shoe. The higher performance a shoe is, the tighter the fit will be.
How Tight Should Climbing Shoes Be?
Your heel needs to have a snug fit but they should not pinch. Everyone’s feet bend in their own way, but if the shoe is hard to slip on your foot, it is likely too tight. If they feel comfortable, they need to be tighter, to the point that you can really feel it but not so much that nerves or circulation are cut off.
How Curled Should Your Toes Be In Climbing Shoes?
The fit should be rather snug but not at all painful. Some kinds of bouldering and sport climbing shoes and slippers are engineered so that your toes will be bent over (much like your fingers curled around a handlebar) to give strength to your toes, stiffen the shoe and get a grip on the rock.
How To Size Climbing Shoes?
Your fit should be decided by the kind of climbing that you intend to be doing blended with your experience level. Keep in mind that leather uppers on shoes are apt to stretch over time (generally in lateral width), while lined and manmade uppers on shoes are not expected to stretch very much at all.
Should You Buy Climbing Shoes A Size Bigger?
If you are just starting out, you may actually want to go the other direction. Beginners need to wear their shoes at half a size to one full size smaller than their usual size, more or less disregarding of their climbing discipline. If this sounds uncomfortable to your noobs, remember that pros wear shoes two sizes smaller than usual.
Do Climbing Shoes Stretch?
Rubber is stretchy, but it tends to spring back. However, it’s quite easy to get your climbing shoes to stretch. Put your climbing shoes on and take a hot shower. Stuff them with a newspaper while they air dry.
How Should New Climbing Shoes Feel?
It should be snug, but not painfully so. Your toes should gently curl but again, not in a painful way.
How Do You Break In New Climbing Shoes?
If you don’t like the idea of taking a hot shower while wearing shoes, there are other ways to break them in. You can do the old trick of putting in a baggie full of water and freezing them. And you can just wear them until they acclimate to your feet.
How Long Does It Take To Break In Climbing Shoes?
This depends a lot on the size and materials. It usually doesn’t take very long. a few climbing sessions should do it.
Can You Walk In Climbing Shoes?
Not if you want them to last very long. The natural motion that comes with walking will stretch out your climbing shoes in ways they weren’t made to stretch. This can reduce their life expectancy by half.
How To Make Climbing Shoes More Comfortable?
You could try stretching them. Besides the ice method and the hot shower method, you could always use a hairdryer. First, stuff your shoes with socks until they are firmly packed.
Heat your shoes for about one minute with the medium setting on a hairdryer. Keep the dryer about half a foot away from your shoe. Add more socks as the material stretches.
Types Of Climbing Shoes
Besides the aforementioned neutral, moderate, and aggressive, there are low volume climbing shoes and kids’ climbing shoes. The low volume shoes are somewhat narrower and may have a smaller heel shape.
These are favored by women who climb. Kids’ shoes have no camber that would damage a still growing foot. There are also different closure systems for climbing shoes.
Lace Vs. Velcro Climbing Shoes
Lace-up climbing shoes are fully adjustable but take a lot of time to put on and take off. Velcro closure is very convenient but it doesn’t give you full-length adjustment options.
High Volume Vs. Low Volume Climbing Shoes
The low volume climbing shoes are better suited for smaller feet. High volumes are for big feet. Go with what fits you.
Moderate Vs. Aggressive Climbing Shoes
Moderate climbing shoes typically have a mildly turned down shape that places your feet in a more sturdy position to better control placements on the most challenging of routes. Aggressive climbing shoes will be more radically cambered, having a downturned shape that bends downwards in the arch towards the toe.
Climbing Vs. Approach Shoes
Approach shoes are soled with the same kind of rubber as climbing shoes. This makes them particularly grippy on the rock. The sole expands above the toe box and generally surrounds the back of the heel. It should be remembered that approach shoes are not built for longevity if they’re used while backpacking.
Climbing Vs. Bouldering Shoes
Bouldering doesn’t particularly call for a good deal of equipment but the most crucial item is definitely a pair of climbing shoes. Remember that tight shoes mean better performance and that sticky rubber wears out quickly. The same can be said of thin soles.
How To Choose The Right Climbing Shoes For Your Needs?
What type of climbing do you intend to do? Will you be on a climbing wall at a gym or are you going out to real cliffs? Do you like boulders or off-width cracks? For example, if you plan on doing a good deal of slab climbing, you may want to try a flat-lasted shoe rather than an aggressive hooked-toe shoe.
What Climbing Shoes Do The Beginners And The Pros Wear?
La Sportiva and Scarpa are very popular with the pros as is Tenaya. Hiangle is popular with the ladies, though Evolv is also a favorite for the petite foot. Butora caters to the beginner. Scarpa is just as popular with the beginners as the pros. There is something to be said for La Sportiva as well.
Top Climbing Shoe Brands
Well, we’re not going to see any Olympiads climbing until next year, but if you want to go out (way, way out) and do some of your own climbing, these are the brands everyone is going for right now. La Sportiva is going strong with Scarpa close behind. Butora is also bringing them in.
When Should I Replace My Climbing Shoes?
There are five signs you should look for to tell if it’s time to replace your climbing shoes. Is the climbing rubber worn out or damaged in any way? Does there appear to be any delamination? Is the toe box worn down or damaged at all?
Is the rand damaged somehow, worn out, or just plain blown? Is the sole worn down or damaged? Keep in mind that rock climbing can be very dangerous if you do not have gear that is in good condition. Always check your shoes to make sure there are no defects.
How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?
Assuming you go for a climb once or twice a week, a pair of climbing shoes could last about three or nine months, depending on what kind you got and what you put them through. However, some shoes do not need to be wholly replaced but only resoled or the rands replaced.
Good quality shoes will last longer. If you climb on hard granite-like the kind found at Yosemite you might need shoes with hard rubber. Soft rubber works better with porous sandstone like the kind found at Fontainebleau in France.
When To Resole Climbing Shoes?
When the amount of rubber underneath the visible line that separates the rand and sole begins to get thin you will notice that the sole begins to recede. If you keep climbing while your shoes are like this the shoes will lose their performance. The price of resoling climbing shoes is generally under forty dollars, but this can fluctuate and doesn’t take shipping into account if that will be an issue.
N.B. Here is an entire article about resoling climbing shoes.
Whether or not you wear socks with climbing shoes is a personal choice. It is not altogether necessary. As climbing shoes need to be tight, some people find a little padding to be more comfortable. You should get the kind of climbing shoe that is right for you.
This means taking into consideration your foot needs and what kind of climbing you like to do. There are a lot of different kinds of climbing shoes out there so you are sure to find what works for you.