How do I Choose Rock Climbing Shoes?

How do I Choose Rock Climbing Shoes?
Gone are the days of wearing hiking boots when climbing rocks. Today's shoes constructed for the rock climber resemble something a ballet dancer would wear more than a bearded mountain man. Choosing a good rock-climbing shoe means deciding what purpose you need the shoe to fulfill.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Pick a general-purpose model if you are not look for the shoe to help you perform some kind of special maneuvering. Look for a shoe that is stiff enough to allow you to use the boot sole to stand steadily on a skeletal ledge or narrow foothold. This is known as edging. A general-purpose rock-climbing shoe also should have plenty of contact area so that you can use frictioning to place the whole of the forefoot onto a rock.
Step 2
Look for a shoe that offers a better ability to engage in edging over frictioning if you are planning on climbing a rock with sharp edges. Newcomers to rock climbing will benefit from a shoe that is stiffer than an experienced climber. Once you have learned the intricacies of edging your way around ledges and tiny footholds, you can move to a shoe that is not as stiff because the stiffness will limit foot movement in other areas of the climbing experience.
Step 3
Choose shoes that provide better frictioning capability if you are climbing rocks with thicker areas on which to place your foot. Friction rock-climbing shoes bend better beneath the foot, and this lets you place the larger forefoot section of the shoe flat against the rock. This process of compressing the rubber of the sole to attain maximum adhesion is known as smearing, so be sure to inquire about the shoe's smearing ability when shopping.
Step 4
Train with slip-lasted rock shoes, otherwise known simply as slippers, inside a gym or sport route to give your feet muscles a workout. Slippers are preferable outside in the real world for those who enjoy the sensation of climbing barefoot but want to avoid the pain and agony that can come with doing such a climb. Beginners should only use slip-lasted shoes for training purposes because they are not substantially constructed enough to provide good edging or frictioning ability.
Step 5
Avoid the outdated advice of buying rock-climbing shoes that are too tight. Today's shoes should be snug enough that there is no dead space, but if you are in any pain at all, then they should be considered too tight. A good rule of thumb to follow is to seek the sensation of stepping into wet clay. Look for a pair of shoes that provide that kind of form-fitting, but not overly tight impression.

Tips & Warnings

Walk around inside the shoe for 10 to 15 minutes. If your feet are in pain after that tryout period, the shoe is too tight. If you feel as though you could walk comfortably for another 20 minutes, the shoe is probably not tight enough.

Article Written By Timothy Sexton

Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.

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