Choosing Rock Climbing Shoes
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Choosing the right model and size of rock climbing shoe is very important for climbing performance and comfort. We carry many models and some are designed for all around use, while others are designed for very specific types of climbing. First we will list the different types of shoes and the models we carry that fall into those categories. Then we will discuss proper fit for each of those categories.
This is the classic rock climbing shoe, or at least the closest thing to it that exists today. These shoes are designed to do all types of climbing pretty well. In general, all-around rock climbing shoes are comfortable and the best choice for a persons first shoe. As a climber progresses and buys a shoe specific for sport or bouldering these shoes often become the all-day shoe for doing multi-pitch trad in the mountains. For the most part, these models feature a stiffer sole designed for supporting the foot on small holds while the muscles are developing in the new climber's feet. This also makes them fairly good for stuffing into cracks as the stiffer sole doesn't collapse and allow the foot to be pinched painfully. Other features often include a symmetrical toe box for comfort, laces that extend all the way down to the toe, and a relaxed heel rand. Some of these models do have hook and loop straps instead of laces and look asymmetrical but they are comfortable and stiffer so are included in this category. You will see some of these models in other categories as well, which is due to the fact that they cross over nicely into those areas as well. Just remember above all else, the most important variable is a proper fit.
These are the Ferrari's and Porsche's of the climbing shoe world. These are also the shoes you normally see in the climbing magazine ads. Some have laces and some have hook and loop straps, they all have an exaggerted asymmetrical toe box designed to drive power to the big toe. Some of the models are cambered, which means the shoe has a down turned toe or sole, this is also intended to drive power to the big toe. These shoes tend to have a softer sole for increased foot sensitivity when trying to feel tiny crystals on the rock. The main goal of these shoes is to maximize edging on thin foot holds. Many of the models are made from a synthetic material so they won't stretch out much after time keeping a very tight performance oriented fit.
Trad shoes have many of the same characteristics of the all-around shoe but lean more toward the stiff, symmetrical sole. Many of the trad routes out there involve climbing in cracks and multi-pitch routes. For this you need a shoe that can be worn all day whether you are leading a pitch or standing on ledge belaying your partner. The symmetrical toe box allows comfort and the stiff sole allows the foot to be put comfortably in a crack. Some of these models feature a padded heel in case hiking has to be done. Most of the trad shoes are made with a leather upper so that they will stretch some and become more comfortable with time.
In general, any shoe will work for the gym and fit is the most important consideration. That said, there are a few models which are better suited to gym climbing than others. If you are just starting out and are going to be climbing more on the easier grades in the gym then choose from all-around shoes. If you are more advanced and plan to tackling the harder routes or bouldering routes then choose from the sport/bouldering shoes.
Women often have different foot shapes then men and a shoe specific for that fit are ideal. These shoes, in general, feature a narrower heel cup, wider toe box, and lower ankle cuff. The models we carry are more in the all-around category but both do climb sport and trad quite well.
Sizing rock climbing shoes