Get tips on how to pick the right size climbing shoes for your feet, and learn about the different types of shoes available.
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Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned climber, one of the most important pieces of gear you need is a good pair of climbing shoes. But with all the different brands, materials, and shapes available, it can be tough to figure out which pair is right for you. In this article, we’ll help you figure out what size climbing shoes you need, and how to choose the right pair for your climbing style.
Climbing shoes are designed to give you two things: traction and precision. The first is pretty self-explanatory — good shoes will help you keep your footing on small footholds and edgy terrain. The second might not be as obvious, but it’s just as important: by concentrating the pressure of your foot onto a smaller area, climbers can stand on holds that would otherwise be too small to support them.
There are three main types of climbing shoes available on the market today: bouldering shoes, sport climbing shoes, and traditional climbing shoes. Bouldering shoes (often called “boulder buckets”) are generally the most aggressive — they have super-sticky rubber soles for unparalleled grip on small holds, and they’re often downturned to give you extra leverage on overhanging routes. Sport climbing shoes are a bit more versatile — they don’t have the extreme curvature of bouldering shoes, so they’re better for long days spent traversing walls, but they still have sticky rubber and relatively stiff midsoles to keep your feet precision while edging. Finally, traditional (or “trad”) climbing shoes are designed for all-around use: they don’t have the aggressive tread or curvature of other types of shoes, but they tend to be more comfortable for long days of walking and scrambling.
Factors to Consider
There are a few things to consider when purchasing climbing shoes such as the type of climbing you’ll be doing, the fit, and the feel. The type of climbing you’ll be doing will dictate the model of shoe you’ll need. For example, if you’re doing bouldering or sport climbing, you’ll need a shoe that is low-volume with a tight fit. If you’re trad climbing or big wall climbing, you’ll need a shoe that is more comfortable with a looser fit. The feel of the shoe is also important. You want a shoe that is comfortable and doesn’t pinch or rub in any areas.
Your shoe size is the most important factor to consider when purchasing climbing shoes. You want your shoes to fit snugly, but not so tight that they’re uncomfortable. If your shoes are too big, you’ll have difficulty control your movements and keeping your balance. If your shoes are too small, you’ll be in pain after just a few minutes of wearing them. To find the right size, consult a size chart or visit a local climbing shop to have your feet measured.
Climbing style is the primary factor to consider when determining what size climbing shoes to get. If you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to take a few beginner classes so that you can try different shoes and styles before committing to a purchase.
Bouldering focuses on shorter routes with large holds close to the ground. This style calls for shoes with a tight fit, good edging ability, and moderate flexibility. Climbers who boulder tend to choose shoes that are one to two sizes below their street shoe size.
Sport climbing consists of ascending routes that have pre-placed bolts for protection. This style demands shoes with good edging ability and moderate flexibility. Sport climbers generally choose shoes that are one size below their street shoe size.
Trad climbing (or trad) is traditional climbing without the use of pre-placed bolts; instead, climbers place protection as they climb using removable gear such as cams and nuts. Trad climbing requires a balance of comfort and performance, as well as footwear that is durable enough to withstand cracks and edges. Climbers who trad climb generally choose shoes that are two sizes below their street shoe size.
Shoe last is the shape of the shoe, from toe to heel. The three most common last shapes are:
-Asymmetrical: this mean the toe box is narrower than the heel, and is good for edging on small holds.
-Symmetrical: this means the toe box and heel are the same width, and is good for all-around bouldering, sport climbing, and gym climbing.
-Down turned: this means the toe box is narrower than the heel, and the toe box is downturned, or curved. This is good for aggressive sport climbing and overhanging bouldering.
There are other factors to consider when choosing a shoe last, such as your foot type (wide vs. narrow), whether you have bunions or hammertoes, and whether you want a shoe that will stretch.
Climbing shoes come in a variety of sizes to fit different foot shapes. Use the sizing chart below to find the right size for you.
Size Euro Size UK Size US Men’s Size
34 2.5 1.5 3
34.5 3 2 3.5
35 3.5 2.5 4
35.5 4 3 4.5
36 4.5 3.5 5
36.5 5 4 5.5
37 5.5 4.5 6
37.5 6 5 6.5
38 6, 5, 7,
38,39 7, 6, 8,9 39 7 6 8
From what we can gather, the vast majority of people tend to size down when buying climbing shoes. This makes sense when you think about it, as your toes will be cramped into a small space and you want them to be as snug as possible. That being said, every person is different and you should always try on shoes before you buy them to see what size works best for you.