Climbing Shoe Problems

Climbing Shoes,

I love climbing shoes. I love shopping for new ones and taking friends – especially new climbers – shoe shopping to find their first suitable good-fit shoe. I currently have four pairs on the go and a few old pairs waiting for the next DWS trip. I’ve found that La Sportiva are the shoe that best fit my foot shape (high arch, narrow taper toes) but I’d really like to try a pair of the new SoIll shoes, they look amazing.

I think there are quite a few misconception around climbing shoes. For some strange reason these seem to be propagated more by good climbers than ignorant noobs. The number one misconception is that super-tight shoes will be better for your climbing! This is absolutely not the case. As soon as shoes are painful to walk from where you put them on to where the climb starts you’re shoes are too tight. Too tight shoes are not helping they are just making climbing less enjoyable for no reason. Shoes that are a good fit and that suit your foot shape are what’s important. You should try on all the available brands and see which suit your foot the best. All the shoe companies use a different foot base model so they will all be slightly different and might suit you more or less than another brand.

Climbing shoes are expensive and getting a suite of shoes costs a lot, but let’s face it what else are you going to spend your money on :p

7 thoughts on “Climbing Shoe Problems

  1. Hey I started climbing about 5 years ago, and I am still confused by the different kinds of shoes. Could you explain the difference, or just point me in the direction of a place that does? (Have yet to find a website that explains it yet)

    1. Generally, steeper terrain requires a more aggressive (down-turned) shoe – think the bouldering cave at the gym. The curvature of the toe and overall stiffness allow you to transmit a lot of power through the toes to keep yourself on the rock. Lower angle terrain calls for a flatter shoe.

      There are many subtleties but that’s the main idea…. some shoes are known as great “edging” shoes meaning they have a nice precise toe… other shoes are known to be good for crack climbing because they allow your toes to lay flat which makes stuffing them into cracks easier. And on and on…

    2. In reality, there are as many categories of shoes as their are arbitrary distinctions between styles of climbing and rock. That’s not to say there are not legitimate advantages to specific shoe styles, but beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Here are some basic categories that I have (in my mind), plus some extras that I’ve seen:

      Gym Shoes: Pair of older shoes that I don’t mind putting a lot of laps in, and are comfy.

      Aggressive/sport shoes: I use the same pair of aggressive, downturned shoes for both indoor/outdoor red points. They edge well, have a good heel/toe box, and are tighter so I can get a better read on the rock.

      All day/multi pitch shoes: These are my go-to for long-ass trad/sport days. I prefer a lace version so I can loosen them at the belay to slip my heels out of. They’re different than my gym shoes in that I want them to still be in good condition (i.e. not old). They have to be comfy for 5 pitches, but they also need to get me through tough sections.

      Approach shoes: For the approach. And easier terrain.

      That’s all I have. I also see these:

      Crack shoes: slip ons, or low profile velcro. Pretty hard to foot jam with a big lace knot on top of your foot.

      Slab shoes: a pair that edges incredibly well. I don’t have them, so I can’t speak to their specificities – but I imagine they’re a little tighter, but not nearly as downturned as an aggressive/sport shoe.

      That’s it! Let me know what you think.

  2. I’m curious what level you climb because at higher level climbing, very tight shoes are super beneficial. I agree with you when it comes to beginner shoes or full day shoes

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