Whether you’re new to climbing or looking to replace a well-worn and well-used pair of shoes, it’s always important to buy climbing shoes that fit correctly. If you want to have the best grip and hold out on the rock face then having shoes that fit is a big part of it.
It’s not always easy to buy climbing shoes that fit correctly. After all, this is no ordinary pair of footwear. You need to think about what size to get and also where to buy them. That’s why we’ve compiled a guide with some tips on how to get the best shoes for you. Hopefully, by following this advice, you can really improve your climbing experience.
Try before you buy
It’s essential that your try on rock shoes before you buy them. This is the only way you can be sure they’re the right pair for you. Rock climbing shoes are made of thick rubber and are very durable (just think of the punishment they must take), which can mean they won’t feel very comfortable when you first put them on.
They’re also supposed to be very snug to give you maximum grip, hold and control. However, some climbers are tempted to buy shoes that are too tight in order to get the most hold. This can be very painful and damaging for your feet in the long run. Climbing shoes should be tight but not so tight you have to contort your feet just to get into them. Comfort wins over size, every time.
Buy from a knowledgeable shop
If you’re a first time buyer then always go to a shop where they know their stuff. OK, you might find the best deals online but you can’t always be sure of what you’re getting. Plus it’s quite difficult to try them on over a broadband connection. Manufacturers sizes also vary – a lot. So don’t think because your casual shoes are one size, climbing shoes with the same numbers will be a guaranteed fit.
Go to a reputable climbing or outdoors shop, preferably an independent store where the staff know what they’re talking about (Saturday staff in high street chains aren’t usually experts – some of them have probably only ever climb stairs). However, don’t let them intimidate you into buying the priciest pair, and remember the rule about comfort over size.
How to tell if they fit
Your feet are unique, just like everyone else’s. That means that you’ll be very lucky if a pair of rock climbing shoes fit like a glove first time. Over time they will stretch and mould to the shape of your feet. But until then, there are a few things to look out for.
Look for an all round snug fit, with no air pockets or baggy sections. Initially you shouldn’t need to pull the laces or Velcro completely tight. Guys with very slim feet might be better off trying a ladies shoe (and don’t get all macho, the right shoe is extremely important). Watch out for the fit around the ankle bone too. Shoes that are too high can cause problems by digging in.
It is always a good idea to try out the shoes at your local climbing wall first to see what works for you. Even this small amount of experience should help you to buy climbing shoes that fit correctly when the time comes.