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Video: How To Choose The Right Climbing Shoe - Next Adventure

Video: How To Choose The Right Climbing Shoe

The wall of climbing shoes at Next Adventure can be an overwhelming sight for a new climber. Some are all bent, others are covered in rubber, some look like a Chuck Taylor high top, and others look like slippers. Finding the right one for you can seem like a bit of a chore, but with the right help and armed with the right knowledge, it’s really not so bad.
First, the most important thing is fit. Say it with me now: “the most important thing is fit.” Every brand and every model are going to fit differently, and you should expect to try on a few pairs of shoes before you find the right ones. The biggest attributes to pay attention to in shoes will be the closure mechanism, the materials used, and the aggressiveness of the shoe.

Laces vs Velcro

Shoes will use one of three mechanisms to dial the fit: laces, Velcro, or elastic. Lace shoes talk the longest to put on and off and are the most adjustable, and thus tend to be popular with sport and trad climbers. Velcro shoes are faster but less adjustable, and boulderers tend to drift this direction. Slippers are not super popular, although there are some great models like the 5.10 Moccasym, which are known as a great comfortable multipitch shoe. You should choose whatever suits your fancy.

Leather vs Synthetic

Shoes will typically be made out of either a leather or synthetic leather upper with rubber on the sole and toe, and some will be lined, and some will be unlined. Unlined leather will stretch the most. An unlined leather slipper like a La Sportiva Cobra Eco or a 5.10 Moccasym must be downsized so it doesn’t become sloppy once it’s broken in. Unlined leather shoes can be the most comfortable once broken in, but the break-in period can take longer and thus they aren’t as popular with beginners because they’re less comfortable out of the box. Synthetic materials tend not to stretch as much, and thus lined synthetic shoes will stretch the least. Though shoes that don’t stretch won’t ultimately fit as well because they don’t mold to the foot as much, they’re more comfortable out of the box because there’s no need to downsize as much.

Flat vs Downturned

Finally, we come to the aggressiveness of the shoe. Some shoes, like a Scarpa Instinct or a Tenaya Mundaka, are very bent and downturned. When the pressure placed on the toes stretches against the rubber tension band wrapping around the back of the heel, the force is increased and the “power” in the toes is increased. Downturned shoes are great for overhung routes where precise and highly powerful footwork is necessary. These shoes are far less comfortable and are unnecessary for beginner climbers. Flatter shoes still aid precise footwork but are far more comfortable and are thus preferred for beginner climbers. Ultimately, the fit is the important thing in climbing shoes. ALWAYS try them on before buying. Downsize so they’re tight but not painful and be aware of how much they will stretch (ask someone in the Climbing Dept. if you aren’t sure!). You want to make sure shoes fit snugly, that there isn’t any dead spots or looseness, that the heel cup fits snugly, and the toes are tight but not overly scrunched.
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