How to Choose Rock Climbing Shoes
Have you been wanting to get into a sport that will give you an adrenaline rush and boost your self-confidence? Well, you can always try rock climbing. Yes, you read that right.
Of course, rock climbing isn’t for the faint of heart, as this sport requires strength, stamina, and a determined mind. Nevertheless, the true adrenaline-seekers who try it report they would never stop doing it for anything in the world.
Even though it’s a dangerous sport, it’s still a worthy pursuit and very rewarding as well. Many experienced climbers agree that it helps them immensely to fight depression, increase their motivation and help them overcome certain challenges in their lives.
However, to get started you don’t only need courage and strength. It’s also paramount to get familiar with climbing equipment as your life will literally depend on it. And while proper footwear is important for hiking, it’s even of greater importance for rock climbing as you need firm support and stability underfoot.
Features to Look for When Shopping for Climbing Shoes
Since climbing shoes are the interface between you and the rock, choosing the right pair of climbing shoes can make all the difference in staying safe and having what it takes to reach the top.
However, finding a shoe that fits all your requirements can be daunting. With so many different brands and designs on the market, you might feel confused as to what to buy, especially if you are new to the sport. For this matter, it’s recommended to consider the different features, starting from the material, your climbing style and choosing the proper fit.
Whenever we shop for shoes we usually make our decision based on the type of material, shape, and construction that fits our feet best. Well, these are the same features you should look for when shopping for rock climbing shoes.
Outdoor climbing shoes are usually made from leather, lined leather, or synthetic. Leather is the most common upper material and it’s the easiest one to take care of, including deodorizing. Lined leather shoes are durable but are a little less stretchy than pure leather. Sometimes manufacturers line in the toes to keep the cost down and to reduce the stretch to half size or less.
On the other hand, synthetic material stretches the least, around a quarter of the size at most. The perforated synthetic uppers soften up slightly with use and allow the feet to breathe and wick away moisture to keep them smelling as good and fresh as possible. This type of material is also most preferred by many vegetarians and vegans.
Choose the Right Fit
For the best performance, you should pick out mountain climbing shoes that fit snugly on your feet so you can wear them comfortably. There is no rock shoe standard as everybody’s feet are different. Therefore you should be flexible when it comes to choosing the right size, as different brands’ sizes differ from one another.
Choosing the wrong fit can prevent you from climbing to your full potential besides it may cause problems such as blisters, bunions, and calluses.
There are many different types of climbing styles, and the type of footwear you choose to wear is usually dependent upon your most preferred style.
The traditional type of climbing or trad climbing is a type of rock climbing in which a climber or group of climbers places all gear required to protect themselves against falls without damaging the rock. For this type of climbing, shoes with relatively firm soles, laces, or velcro will work perfectly. This will give you enough support without exhausting your feet too much and allow you to stay comfortable.
Another popular climbing style is bouldering which is quickly growing in popularity. It requires very little equipment or technical knowledge. This climbing style is performed close to the ground without the use of ropes or other equipment, only a crash mat for protection. It is a fun and social sport, that increases the physical level and flexibility. This type of climbing is a fantastic alternative to the gym, and in just 60 minutes you can burn up to 600 calories. You don’t need any special features in your climbing shoes if you’re into bouldering.
Even though it’s a fun hobby to pursue, bouldering is counted as one of the most aggressive styles of climbing. For this reason, rock climbing shoes for boulderers tend to differ from normal regular climbing shoes. They are flashy, cramped, and focused primarily on performance. Bouldering shoes’ most prominent feature is the “downturned” sole the design of which will give you the maximum power on tiny edges without slipping.
One of the significant differences between bouldering and traditional climbing shoes is the comfort level. The traditional rock climbing shoes tend to be more comfortable as they are made to wear for longer distances while bouldering boots designs are built to offer maximum performance over short distances.
Mountaineering is one of the oldest and most adventurous types of climbing. A mountaineer must be well equipped, wearing the proper climbing gear, and be aware of all the possible hazards that may befall them such as rock falls, avalanches lighting, etc. It’s considered to be one the most dangerous climbing styles that require a lot of skills, cultural knowledge of the terrain, and courage.
Most mountaineering boots are specially designed for walking over hard terrain. Many people confuse them with hiking boots, however, there are some substantial differences between these two types of boots.
Compared to hiking boots, mountain climbing boots are much taller and stiffer and feature additional insulation to provide warmth to the user while walking. The extra height of these boots will provide you with adequate support when climbing on steep terrains. Most of them are made from resistant leather material as well as plastic. With proper maintenance, these boots can last for many years.
Profile (Neutral, Moderate, and Aggressive)
Modern climbing shoes are generally classified into three main profile categories: neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Which profile you choose usually depends on the style of climbing you prefer doing. These categories are usually divided based on the curvature of the footbed they offer, which can have a drastic effect on your climbing precision and comfort level.
Neutral climbing shoes tend to be the most comfortable design of all climbing shoes, as they let your toes lie flat without being scrunched or pointed. These entry-level climbing shoes are built to offer enough breathability and comfort, yet still excel in their performance. Their soft midsoles provide added sensitivity for improved edging abilities while retaining comfort. The flat neutral lasts allow you to climb or walk to and from your climbing comfortably.
Climbing shoes with a moderate profile are the hybrid version of the neutral and aggressive type. They are great all-purpose rock climbing boots that can be worn for a variety of styles and climbing. They have a slight curve to the last and offer much more comfortability than aggressive climbing shoes.
La Sportiva Miura is one of the best examples of moderate rock climbing shoes. They combine precision, sensitivity, and foot support. Besides, they feature arch support with a P3 platform technology that ensures enough comfortability. The construction method is suitable even for less experienced climbers as it presents a less extreme version of the latter model.
The aggressive climbing shoes are designed with a big downturned shape which pulls the toes down and places lots of tension on the heel. These shoes have the thinnest soles.
Wearing these types of shoes makes you naturally more sensitive to the surface you are climbing on which will additionally help you feel the rock beneath your feet and step accordingly. One of the best high-end performance rock climbing shoes is Red Mystix.
Built on an aggressive downturned pointed last and having a specially designed midsole, this rock shoe allows very precise footwork on vertical and overhanging terrain. Besides, it offers great support on small edges while remaining flexible enough to smear but also offer enough rigidity to stand on tiny edges. This is a well-fitting shoe thanks to its very sensitive Vibram XS Grip Sole and the leather material which adjusts to each individual toe accordingly.