Being new to climbing there are a lot of things that don’t come naturally, and one of the biggest is the shoes. Climbing shoes aren’t like slipping into the latest pair of Nikes or Adidas. They’re going to feel tight, constricting and borderline painful at times, but in the end, they’re totally worth it. If this is your first pair of shoes, find a local climbing store and physically try them on before jumping to a particular brand or model just because. The advice from a knowledgeable sales rep with climbing experience is totally worth the extra money you may spend over the latest Steep and Cheap deal or Amazon listing.
Some key points to remember if these are your first pair of shoes is:
- The Fit: You want them to be snug, but not painful. A loose shoe may be more comfortable, but in the end, it is going to restrict your climbing. Remember, you’re going up the wall, not down the trail, so don’t get hung up on how they feel walking around in them.
- Leather or Synthetic: Leather shoes will stretch more than most synthetics so take that into account. Leather shoes will also do better in the stink department over most synthetics.
- Velcro, Slip-on or Shoestring: Velcro will be sturdier than a Slip-on and easier to get off and on than Shoestrings, but it’s really all personal preference here.
- The Shape: The bigger the arch, the more painful they could feel to a new climber, so go with whatever feels the best for your foot and arch. However, as you progress, a higher arch will be a more aggressive shoe allowing for more technical moves with your feet, but start off with whatever feels the best.
- The Cost: Don’t let the price be you’re only influence. Get the shoe that’s just right for your foot, not just your pocketbook.
- Shop Around: Don’t be afraid to try on lots of shoes. Just like any other shoe…one may good, but that other pair may be even better.
- The Look: This sometimes drives decision making more than any other, so although you should like the look of what you’re buying, performance is key, you should always try to choose function of fashion.
Last pointer, don’t go try on shoes after wearing sandals all day, your foot will be sprawled out from the lack of support and will make the shoes feel even tighter, so save the Chacos until after you’re all done shoe shopping.