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Are you happy with your climbing shoes? Is it everything you expect it to be, or do you find that it falls short in delivering what you really need? Maybe that is because you chose the wrong type of climbing shoes. There are different varieties out there that are suitable for the various types of climbing activity. Take sport climbing, for example. You cannot simply choose just any climbing shoe for this activity. You have to pick the right one if you want to get the most out of the experience.

Know What You Need

First things first, before deciding to buy this or that pair of rock climbing shoes, you have to be clear as to what exactly you will be doing. What type of climbing are you going into, how long have you been climbing, and how further into the future do you expect to do it? Will you be doing sport climbing, bouldering, or trad climbing? Do you expect yourself to be tackling steep faces, cracks, or trying to climb slabs? Maybe you are simply starting out, so you would probably look for an all-day climbing shoe because it provides the most versatility.

Features To Look For

  • Materials Used for the Upper: The most typical materials for the upper are leather and synthetic. Leather has the advantage of providing stretch. If you compare unlined leather with lined leather, for example, the former can stretch to a full size while the latter stretches only by half. On the other hand, synthetic materials do not have a lot of stretch. However, they are preferred for their breathability and wicking capability. Stretch is very important since climbing for prolonged periods, such as multi-pitch routes, would have the feet swelling. Thus, you should find a rock climbing shoe that not only fits but will also be accommodate the ensuing swelling.
  • Shape Of the Last: The “last” is the foot-shaped model, often made with stiff tensioned rubber along the sides, that the shoe is built on. If you are going for general climbing, you should choose a semi-flexed last because it would give the most comfort. Cambered lasts are more suitable for difficult terrains and routes and they are often found in special shoes that competitors use.
  • Weight: It is simple, really, anyone would prefer a lighter shoe. However, you should not compromise durability for weight, because you might choose a shoe that is, indeed, lightweight, but made from low quality materials.
  • Closure System: Normally you would choose lace-up shoes because they are the most common, and they are also versatile. However, other options include velcro and slip-on shoes with elastic closure systems. Slippers are preferred by some because they are unencumbered by laces or velcro.

Tips When Fitting Rock Climbing Shoes

  • Test the Shoes: The best way you can do it is to try on the shoes in a store that has a rock-climbing wall. You may think they are comfortable when you walk around, but it might be a different story when you’re on an actual climb.
  • Afternoon Shopping is Recommended: You should try the shoes on during the afternoon, when your feet are swollen. It is a way to determine if the shoes have enough stretch in them that will hold up when you are actually climbing.
  • Fit over Size: Your feet may be of a certain size, but do not let that be the only measurement-related consideration. It could be that your feet have a distinct shape or your toes and heels are wider or narrower. Remember, choose a pair that is snug without being too tight or too loose.
  • Ask Around and Read Reviews: Getting the opinion of experienced climbers will also help a lot, since they have extensive experience on what to look for in a pair of climbing shoes.
Nick Valentine on the famous razor edge section, P7 of Chapelle de Glière, Aiguilles Rouges, France.

Start Climbing By Choosing the Right Shoes

Contrary to what many people say, the climb does not start on the first step you take. It starts when you are preparing for it, and that goes as far back as choosing the most suitable pair of rock climbing shoes. Thus, you should always start right by choosing right.

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