Find the answers to the most common questions about Rock Climbing and Rock Climbing Shoes!
How to know which size Rock Climbing Shoes?
Your rock climbing shoes should be tight but not so much so that it leaves you wincing at the thought of putting them on.
A good fit will be snug, giving you the support to get a good feel of your foothold.
Different brands can vary in sizes so you should always check their sizing guide to find the one that is right for you.
You will also need to think about what the Climbing Shoe is made from.
Leather uppers are going to give you more stretch (sometimes up to a whole shoe size) whereas synthetic materials will be a more precise fit.
The shoe type, material, and the kind of climbing you will be doing should all come into play when you’re shopping for the right size rock climbing shoes.
Not all rock climbing shoes are created equally
This statement is very true and rightly so as everyone’s feet are different so what suits your rock climbing or bouldering buddy, might not be the right shoe for you.
Whatever shoes you choose, you’re the one who is going to be wearing them – manoeuvring your foot to reach each hold. With a little time to put in some thought and consideration, you should be able to find a shoe that suits your needs and is relatively comfortable, remember they don’t need to be a boa constrictor around your foot!
Don't forget to check out our Rock Climbing and Bouldering Shoe REVIEWS and TOP LISTS for more help deciding on your next pair.
What's the best Rock Climbing Shoe for me?
Here are a few things to think about when choosing your next Climbing Shoe:
Laced Rock Climbing Shoes
Laces are versatile and give you a better fit because you can tighten or loosen where you need to but those same laces might get in the way during your climb.
Velcro Climbing Shoes
Velcro is great to get your shoes on and off quickly but you won’t get that snug fit like with laces. Then you have the slip on shoe.
This shoe doesn’t need any adjustments, just pop them on and off you go.
Of course this means there is no space to customise so you want to make sure you’ve got the right size to get a good fit.
Slippers are comfortable and a great low profile option for cracks.
So you know what closure you want but what about the type of rock climbing shoe?
Neutral, moderate, or aggressive?
Each serve a purpose and can help or hinder your climb.
A neutral shoe is a great option for beginners or for all day climbing.
As you move along to the moderate shoe, you will find this is suited to more technical climbs while still allowing for a certain level of comfort.
Then you have the aggressive shoe type.
This shoe has an obvious downturned toe that puts you in position for single pitch or gym climbs where you will be reaching for smaller footholds.
See some reviews on different types of Climbing Shoes here.
Read some of our Top Lists here to help you make the right choice.
Unlined Leather Climbing Shoes
Unlined leather is going to give you the most stretch – sometimes up to a full shoe size after a day of climbing, they are breathable and a comfortable fit.
Lined leather shoes
These shoes are slightly more rigid and will stretch to about half a size up and will be less breathable than their unlined cousin.
Synthetic shoes Rock Climbing Shoes
Synthetic shoes have the least overall stretch factor and least breathability.
Some synthetic shoes will have wicking features that will draw the sweat away but otherwise these shoes can get pretty uncomfortable and stinky!
Hope this helps you make the right decision.
How do I care for my rock climbing shoes?
There are a few things you can do to care for your rock climbing shoes so that they last longer:
With a few precautions and a little care, you can easily care for your rock climbing shoes so that they last longer and perform better.
Breaking in Rock Climbing Shoes
When buying your climbing shoes, you want to make sure you’re getting the right size, fit, and type for the sort of climbing you do.
With the right shoe for your foot, there should be minimal discomfort but alas, unless you have your shoes custom made to your exact sizing, then you’re probably going to go through some resistance as you break them in.
Just like going out and taking your new shoes for a climb will heat them up and give you a little relief, so too can a hot shower…for your shoes.
Pop your shoes on as you usually would and then climb right into the shower.
A nice hot shower will help loosen the materials which will let your feet stretch them out a little.
Once they’ve gotten to the point of being thoroughly soaked, hop out of the shower and let your climbing shoes dry a little before stuffing them with newspaper to continue the stretching process.
If that’s all a bit much, you might prefer a cooler option.
A similar effect can be achieved by stuffing your shoes with a bit of ice and popping them in the freezer overnight.
Although this works well, it will be a much gentler method so you might need to repeat it a few times to get the same result as a blast under the shower.
Now, a lot of old school climbers will probably say "breaking in climbing shoes is part of the journey and just toughen up and get climbing" ......but the struggle is real and if you do the above, hopefully you will have less discomfort.
If you have any tips or trick you use, please let us know, we'd love to hear them!
Which rock climbing shoes should I buy?
So what should you look for?
You want a nice tight fit – not so snug that it’s suffocating your foot but just tight enough to feel a little pressure, giving you a better grip.
To learn more about sizing your Rock Climbing Shoes, read our article "How to know which size Rock Climbing Shoes" here.
We all know money makes the world go round so it is inevitable that budget will be a factor in your choice.
There is a big difference between the top of the line shoes and the cheapest option but you can only work with what you’ve got.
Work out your budget and then look for the best quality shoes you can afford. You’re paying for the craftsmanship that will literally be sitting between your foot and a rock face, that’s a pretty big deal.
Different types of Rock Climbing, different shoes?
Another consideration when thinking about which rock climbing shoes to buy is what kind of climbing you do – are you a beginner or doing multi-pitch climbs?
If that is the case then you will be looking at neutral shoe type.
Facing up to a technical climb?
A moderate shoe type will get you slab climbing, across long multi-pitch climbs, and crack climbs.
Aggressive shoe types get you into position for a spot of advanced or technical climbing where you need a tighter fit for precision moves.