How To Size Rock Climbing Shoes

How To Size Rock Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoes are constructed to focus your weight and balance on one point. Beyond performing that basic function, different varieties of climbing shoe are designed with various focused purposes. Some climbing shoes are designed to excel at crack climbing, which requires stiff, board-like soles, while others are designed to be extremely sensitive and sticky on the rock, and are excellent for climbing steep less-than-vertical slabs. Regardless of what you want your rock climbing shoes to be able to do, the same general advice about finding an appropriate fit holds true; they should be as tight as possible without making you so uncomfortable that you're not willing to put them on or stand in them.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Try on the climbing shoes. There's no way to escape this part of the process, unless you already know what size usually fits you best in a given brand of rock climbing shoe. In general, start trying on climbing shoes that are about a half-size smaller than your street shoes.
Step 2
Tie or strap the shoes snugly shut if they have laces or velcro; some shoes might have both laces and velcro or even a zipper to keep them closed (though these aren't very common). Slipper-style climbing shoes won't have any fastening mechanism at all; they just slide right on to your foot.
Step 3
Wiggle your toes. While certain styles of sport or gym climbing shoes--usually distinguished by a radically downward-pointing or hooked toe--may require a tighter fit, in most cases, you should be able to wiggle all of your toes together as if they were one big toe. You shouldn't be able to wiggle your toes individually at all; they should only move as one unit.
Step 4
If your shoes have laces or velcro, check them. There should be room to tighten your shoes at least one finger-width tighter than they're at when you try them on; this allows for the stretching that is inevitable with new climbing shoes. If the shoes are made of leather, expect them to stretch more and allow at least two finger-widths of extra room for tightening. If the shoes are made entirely of synthetic materials and/or lined, they will stretch less, but you should still have at least one finger-width of extra space.
Step 5
Hook the heel of the climbing shoes on a lipped surface--such as the edge of a bench--and pull as if you were heel-hooking on a climb. If the heel shifts at all, you should consider a different model of shoe or try a half-size smaller to see if you can get the heel tighter without sacrificing the rest of the shoe's fit.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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