How to Buy Climbing Shoes

How to Buy Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoes are an integral part of the sport of rock climbing. Much like running shoes help the runner perform better, climbing shoes help the climber perform with more precision. Equipped with "sticky rubber" that helps your feet adhere better to the rock, these ballet-slipper-like shoes make standing on small holds far easier than your standard tennis shoe.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Determine what type of climbing you will be doing most---traditional climbing, sport climbing, mountaineering, bouldering, or indoor climbing. Different types of shoes are available for different climbing styles. If you don't know what type of climbing you will do, consider a pair of all-around, beginner shoes.
Step 2
Research climbing shoes. There are more than 100 types of shoes available. Visit your local climbing shop or gym, and ask the employees what types of shoes they use. Also, ask any friends you know who rock climb what their preference is and why. And, read up on the reviews you find in climbing publications.
Step 3
Go to your local outdoor store or climbing shop and try on as many pairs of shoes as possible. There are shoes for all types of people---people with wide feet, narrow feet, long toes, and so on. A good fit is more important than a good review. Make certain that the shoe fits your foot comfortably, and that you toes will not be mashed up at the end.
Step 4
Wear the shoes for at least five to ten minutes, and climb with them if possible. (Many climbing shops have small walls on which you can try prospective shoes.)
If you can't find a wall to climb on, at least walk around for five to ten minutes and step up and down onto a chair to see how the shoes feel. You may also visit your local gym or recreation center and try on their shoes, or attend a local climbing event, most of which have shoe demos. You can find out about shoe demos at your local climbing shop.

Tips & Warnings

Break in your climbing shoes quickly by getting them wet and walking around in them at home.
Many employees will try to convince you to buy shoes that are way too tight, claiming that you need a tight fit to really "feel" the rock. If your shoes are too tight, however, you're not going to feel much besides pain. Buy shoes that are a little snug, but not painfully tight.

Article Written By Lizzy Scully

Lizzy Scully is a senior contributing editor for Mountain Flyer magazine and the executive director of the nonprofit Girls Education International. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from University of Utah and Master of Science in journalism from Utah State University.

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