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A Guide to Finding Your Perfect Climbing Shoe

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

New to climbing and planning to buy your very first pair of climbing shoes? Or thinking of retiring your current pair and trying out a new model? Given the number and variety of climbing shoe models out there, finding the right pair of shoes can be a daunting task. But don't worry, we're here to help! Here are some important things you should consider before making your climb changing decision.

1. Shape of the shoe Climbing shoes can have a flat or downturned shape. Flat shoes have an easy relaxed fit, allowing you to wear them comfortably for long periods of time. They are a good option if you're a beginner or if you’re planning to do long multi-pitch climbs. Moderately downturned shoes allows you to climb more challenging routes without too much discomfort. But if you're planning to tackle tough overhanging routes and boulder problems you'll want the support and power of an aggressively downturned shoe. The downside is they can get pretty uncomfortable to wear after a while.

Mad Rock Flash 2.0 (Flat), La Sportiva Katana Lace (Moderate), La Sportiva Genius (Aggressive)

2. Laces or Velcro? Climbing shoes have three main tightening systems- laces, straps and slippers. Laces are the most versatile, providing the most customised fit for your shoe. If you don't mind having to tie your laces every time you climb, lace ups might be the right choice for you. If you're looking for ease of wear, try out shoes with Velcro straps - they're easy to put on and take off between climbs and usually have a reasonably good fit. Slippers are a good option if you’re looking for a sensitive shoe with a low profile. Since they don't have laces or straps they're ideal for squeezing into tiny cracks and pockets.

Climbing shoe closures (Top to bottom, left to right):

Evolv Addict (Slippers), Evolv Shaman (Straps), Five Ten Anasazi (Laces), Scarpa Boostic (Straps), La Sportiva Genius (Laces), Evolv Kronos (Straps) Image source: Switch Back Travel

3. The sole of the shoe The sole of the climbing shoe is made of rubber and varies in thickness and stickiness. Thicker soles are great for edging and provide more support for your feet. Thinner soles are more sensitive, allowing you to feel the rock or holds under your feet and are great for smearing. They wear out faster however, and provides less support. If you’re a beginner, it’s better to buy a shoe with a thicker, longer lasting sole. As for the stickiness of the rubber - stickier shoes smear better but will wear out faster.

Thick soled climbing shoes are ideal for edging (Left to right):

Cypher Sentinel and La Sportiva Miura Image source: REI and MyVentures

4. Getting the right fit The shape of your foot is unique and some climbing shoe models will fit you better than others. It's important that you try the shoe first before buying because what works great for your climbing partner may not work for you. The ideal fit is snug but comfortable- there shouldn't be any dead space or air pockets around your feet when you wear them. There's a lot of hype around squeezing your feet into smaller sized shoes but being distracted by constant toe pain is not going to help your climbing.

Always try on your shoes before buying:

La Sportiva Miura VS Women’s Image source: active junky

5. Size matters Climbing shoe sizes don't always correspond to street shoe sizes. What’s more, sizing changes from one shoe brand to another, sometimes even from one shoe model to another. Generally your normal shoe size is a good place to start but be warned that it may not be your correct size. So again, it's very important that you try on the shoe before buying it. 6. Get it touch with your feminine side If you have slim narrow feet, try women’s climbing shoe models (even if you're a dude). Women’s shoes tend to have “lower volumes” that fit slim feet better. They also come in cuter designs and colours (personal opinion) ;)

Women’s climbing shoes (Top to bottom, left to right):

La Sportiva Miura, La Sportiva Solution, Five Ten Anasazi, La Sportiva Tarantulace, Evolv Elektra, La Sportiva Katana, Scarpa Techno X. Image source: Outdoor Gear Lab

Bonus: Brands and where to find them Ready to shop? Here's a list of popular climbing shoe brands and where to find them in Singapore.

Climb Asia - La Sportiva, Evolv, Ocun Onsight - Tenaya Campers’ Corner - La Sportiva, Madrock Gear Fitters - Evolv, Saltic, Scarpa Kinetics - La Sportiva, Scarpa, Red Chili Allsports Equipment - Five ten, Butora

Boulder Plus - asakusa climbing

And that's it! Those are our top tips for finding the perfect climbing shoes! Follow them and you should be able to find a great pair that takes your climbing to the next level. Happy shopping :)

Written by: Tharini

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