How to Choose Climbing Shoes (Expert Tips and Advice)

A little topo to choose your
climbing shoes?

how to choose climbing shoes

All about
climbing shoes

And if we started with a little game? 

History to disentangle the true from the false so that some conventional wisdom does not prevent you
from choosing the right climbing shoe.

“A climbing shoe is uncomfortable anyway! “

Everything will depend on your program, the shape of the shoe,
the size you choose and just what you want!
For example on the main track, you will generally rather go on forms not binding,
a size close to your real shoe size because you need to hold your boot
a long time. At the opposite extreme, you are looking to perform as a block or on a sports track,
you will be a bit more squeeze, and especially choose forms much more specific
and often less comfortable. But beware that does not mean PAIN!

“Taking a shoe size above reduces the discomfort of my climbing shoe. “

in a climbing shoe , the foot is, anyway, pushed to the front of the bootie
by the tension band located at the heel. It will depend once more on the shape of your foot, the type of slippers on which you will orient yourself.
The way in which the size of the brand is going to play a lot, it will be necessary to adjust
to your taste by comparing the sizes.

“The soft rubber is more comfortable but wears faster. “

even today it is impossible to pronounce on the wear and comfort of an eraser.
The number of factors impacting wear is enormous.
On the other hand a gum half times thicker will age faster, it makes sense!

“A pair of slippers is versatile”

your climbing shoes can accompany you on almost every terrain,
block, cliff. Even if at the beginning the manufacturers advise or produce
models with specificities and sell somehow the program for which
this or that model is made, it is quite possible for you to decide otherwise according
to your personal needs, your tastes, sensations etc …

These developments made, how to choose the best climbing shoes
among all brands and models offered Au Vieux Camper?

Put aside the aesthetic aspects, listen to the advice given to you and stay especially attentive to your needs because there are no “good” or “bad” slippers:
everything depends on you, your feet , your level and your practice.

Here are some guidelines for choosing your climbing shoes.

climbing shoes

The concept of climbing shoes

(initially, a rubber sole attached to sneakers …)
was first imagined by the climber and climber Pierre Allain.
Before him, one climbed with his mountain shoes …
At the Old Camper closely followed, from the beginning, the evolution of climbing shoes, and even proposed, in 1983, the first wall of climbing in full Paris to allow its customers to try their shoes on the spot: because in terms of choice, whatever the quality of our advice, you must above all trust your feet!

Comfort, technicality and practicality:

real criteria of choice for your climbing shoes

To choose your climbing shoes you will have to 
reconcile three parameters:

because you first have to feel good in your slippers to climb well, 
and there, the shape of the slipper plays an essential role …

which depends on your climbing experience, your needs, what you expect 
from a slipper, how to climb too,

The terrain:
or rather your most usual practice of climbing 
(and there are many: indoor or outdoor, in blocks, in cliffs, in the long ways, 
more or less involved, every week or during holidays …).

The goal of the game is to find the perfect compromise to choose the ideal climbing shoe.

What exactly do we mean by “comfort”? 
What we call comfort is above all the reception of the foot, the contact with the materials and the interior volume of the shoe. Too often neglected, the comfort of your climbing shoe is one of the main reasons that will make you appreciate this demanding discipline. The shape plays an important role on the comfort, that is the reason why you will surely see more notion of “comfort” on entry-level and intermediate ranges than on so-called “technical” models. 
However, Au Vieux Cameur, we do not like to segment products and create user bubbles. We are convinced that many models of slippers can be suitable
with several profiles, like a hiking boot, your foot is not universal, so you will have to adapt the models according to your morphology. It’s important to keep in mind that an uncomfortable shoe will hurt your feet and if you feel uncomfortable just getting your foot on the wall, it’s not going to help you move forward. even to climb!

climbing shoes

You will often read and hear elsewhere

 that the choice of a slipper depends first of all on the shape of your foot, Roman, square or Egyptian. This is not wrong, but we think The Old Camper that we can not make an absolute rule, and immediately dismiss some slippers on this criterion alone. Because all the feet are different and even more than their shape (anyway, in a climbing shoe, the toes are always compressed regardless of their respective lengths), it is the sensation, once the slip-on the slipper, which counts. And there, impossible to decide for you …

For climbing shoes, the technicality is directly visible:

just look camber, asymmetry, heel tension … the more elements, the more the slipper is
aggressive. Do not forget that a pair of climbing shoes feels and that your feelings and your way of climbing will directly impact the choice of the model. This means that a slipper advertised “precise”, “radical” may not suit you and eventually make you climb less well.

The field: still a very subjective parameter! 

Again, difficult to generalize, recommending this or that slipper for the block and if you start … Keep however some key elements in mind to target your choice: how often will you use your slippers (know that the ballerina s ‘wear fast …)? 
To climb instead indoors? Rather cliff? 
Do you want to work on the slopes (trying on more arched slippers) to 
get into big ways (by preferring stiffer slippers)? 
Thus, your level of practice, your playground and the sensations sought 
are the real guide of choice for your slippers.

Understand the anatomy
of the climbing shoe

Let’s take a closer look at these shoes, their characteristics: 
shape, sole, camber, asymmetry, tip, tightening system … 
will tell you a lot about the use you can expect.

climbing shoes

The sole: it is, as on any shoe, the bottom of your liner, the barrier between the wall and your skin. The sole of the climbing shoe is always 100% rubber, rigid or flexible, to choose according to the use.

The interlayer: you do not see it, located between the slipper and the sole, it influences the rigidity of the slipper and the shape of the sole (more or less scratching). In addition, depending on its quality (cardboard or EVA), it will facilitate or not the recovery of the slipper and, in fact, is more or less durable.

The stem: the upper part of the shoe, which wraps the foot. It can be leather or synthetic.

The tip: it’s the tip of your slipper, it’s where your toes are curled up. It is, therefore, an element to take into account in the final choice of your climbing shoes according to the proposed technology: well-placed toes, it is a little more comfortable after all.

The heel, at the perfect end, is completed by the tension band. What’s going on in the climbing shoe? When you put your foot in the slipper, the tension band pushes the foot forward to go and place your toes at the end of the slipper for more precision. A filled heel is proof that your slipper is at the right size and it is a quality of “picking” that will be a very useful technique.

The arch can be zero, medium or strong. 
The stronger the chamber, the more the slipper is technical: TRUE. 
In use, incant and in the block, the liner is arched and flexible to allow to push on the catches and to work in adherence or flat on the volumes. Rigid climbing booties, on the other hand, are perfect for beginners or slabs to load on smaller grips while getting less tired of the feet and calves.

The clamping system:

Velcro booties: they have the advantage of being easy to put on and take off thanks to the quick velcro system, easy to handle. The Velcro climbing shoes are the most versatile, existing in different rods, they are to this day, the most used slippers. However, the Velcro system is sometimes too short in tightening for a thin foot and scratch wear can shorten the life of the shoe. And do not forget, the velcroes appeared with the development of the rooms for the practical side. The laces remain what is more complete in the maintenance of the foot.

Lace-up booties: they are more suitable for very thin or very wide feet (hyper-adjustable volume), or for climbers and climbers who are looking for a very close fit of the foot. Indeed, the system of laces allows a precise and personalized tightening. On the other hand, this type of climbing shoes is longer to put on and take off.

Do not forget the ballerina slippers: the ballerinas are the slipper in its simplest expression, without tightening system, with an elastic rod. Practical, they slip quickly, and economic. Note that you have to choose very tight to fit well to the foot. In decline, the “traditional” ballerinas are little by little replaced by “hybrid” ballerinas that are to say slippers with a “mono velcro”. This offers a good compromise foot maintenance/speed of footwear.

Finally, let’s talk about the asymmetry of the slipper, it is aimed at experts climbing because even if you gain in precision and technicality, you lose seriously in comfort. It can be straight, weak, medium or strong. The idea of an asymmetrical slipper is to bring as much force as possible to the big toe, we are on a particularly technical use.

At each experience,
its type of
climbing shoes

Beginner? Intermediate? Confirmed? 
Your sensations needs, your budget, and your playing field are not the same. 
Again, without wanting to generalize, here is what we can advise you.

Comfort for beginners.

If you’re new to climbing, choosing a first slipper in which you’ll be fine, tight without being compressed, is essential. Has your foot measured to find your exact size? Start from this size and then try according to how you feel, down or up to size to target the size that suits you. Your foot should not move at all in the shoe. Prefer a flat or moderately arched slipper, perfectly adapted to the good catch of the blocks and the easy ways. If you have fun climbing, that your pair of slippers is a tool and not a torture, you will progress quickly.

The versatility to intermediate levels

To refine your sensations and perfect your actions, the slipper must be a little tighter. We can keep comfort with versatile models such as the Black Diamond Momentum slipper or the Boreal Silex slipper or move towards a first versatile technical slipper such as the La Sportiva Katana or the Scarpa Vapor V. the Guardian of EB. If the discomfort is felt in a slipper too restrictive by its shape for your foot, direct your choice to a slipper more classic and less pronounced on asymmetry and camber. Note that it is better a slipper less technical to the good size than a slipper more technical too big. You could lose precision and power.

From technical for experienced climbers

Finally, experienced climbers or even experts will know, in general, what they want: Velcro or laces, rigid or flexible … 
Indeed, after your third pair of climbing shoes, you will better know your needs and sensations sought since you will have learned what climber or climber you are. 
Your questions will then be much more focused on the pure technical slippers. You just have to find your size and know how the shoe moves to use.

technical characteristics 
of climbing shoes

The material of the climbing shoes 
and their footwear according to the marks

Leather or synthetic upper? 
This is what you should also look for when choosing a slipper, 
because it will not react in the same way to use. Clarification?

If you are starting to climb, choosing a first boot in which you will be good, tight without being compressed, is essential. Have your foot measured to find your exact size. Start from this size and then try according to how you feel, down or up to size to target the size that suits you. Your foot should not move at all in the shoe. Prefer a flat or moderately arched slipper, perfectly adapted to the good catch of the blocks and the easy ways. If you have fun climbing, that your pair of slippers is a tool and not a torture, you will progress quickly.

100% leather:
big relaxation and super breathable.

Lined leather:
the idea is to have the breathable side all over the upper with a softer touch thanks to the synthetic material. 
The relaxation will be, in fact, less strong.

Mix Leather / Synthetic Microfiber:
In general, the microfiber is placed on the front part of the slipper strategically to keep a perfect hold and tension of the toes in the long run. The rest of the leather slipper offers lightness and ventilation!

The synthetic stems, meanwhile, do not relax at all or very little, you must be in your boot right from the start. This is the case of Five Ten climbing shoes (almost all), EB and Tenaya. 
The biggest advantage of the slipper with a synthetic upper is its lifespan, the slipper will always be adapted to your foot.

The sole of the climbing shoe:

soft gum or hard rubber?

The gum is closely related to the style of the slipper. A soft or very soft liner will have a soft rubber with potentially less thickness. 
This allows the shoe to gain flexibility and quality of adhesion. 
A stiff liner will, in fact, a harder eraser, offering a dynamism and 
thrust power that will go with the type of program and with this type of slipper.

Soft or rigid bootie? 

Think about your favorite playground …

It’s still a question of sensation! To put it simply, a rigid bootie naturally transmits more power. You will push with more force on your feet and save yourself physically. The liner being stiffer it will have less deformation and in some cases it may interfere. A soft liner will be more focused on the “feeling”, the touch, the grip. It will transmit less force in the foot, perhaps to choose with a good experience?

Each one has their own way of climbing, depending on their size, strength, flexibility and favorite terrain. Choosing a pair of climbing shoes is above all a matter of sensation, that’s why it is essential to try it and test it on the plugs available in the shop. Thinking about how you will use it mainly:

Prefer rather soft slippers if:

You practice block and tilt

In block and in slope, the openings require a lot of work of adhesion: the approach is done flat foot. Thus, it is recommended to have a soft liner with a strong grip, which will bend easily. In cant, the technique consists in pushing on the slipper in heel and quilt.

You already have a good training, a good level

soft liner takes up a lot of your foot, it requires precision and strength to hold the position you give it, you have to master the climbing and have some training to be effective in your actions and do not tire too fast.

You are what is called a “small” template

Your weight and the size of your foot are obviously criteria to take into account: a slipper size 35 is naturally stiffer than the same size 42, it will deform more difficult on the catches, especially if you are the featherweight kind.

You like beautiful slabs

In slab, the wall is often straight with small catches. Also, a “naturally” curved foot will be less tiring over time: a rigid boot does not deform during the movements and will be better adapted.

You start, resume climbing 
or place your level as “intermediate”

If you still miss training, or do not climb often, you’ll be less tired with a stiff bootie.

Note that these remarks are generic, in counter-example, we can say that a climber on the way will use rigid booties to progress for a long time: a climber on the way is not yet a beginner …

It’s all about finding the perfect compromise between comfort, rigidity and terrain: a technically unsuitable climbing shoe can hurt you and prevent you from climbing (yes, we’ve already told you, but we can never say it again) !).

Do you wear socks 
in your 
climbing shoes?

This is THE question that is debated within the climbing community. 
Some will tell you that it is unthinkable to wear socks climbing : 
loss of feeling, slipping in the shoe, size issues … 
Others will note that this may not be a bad idea, especially in the levels 
of the formation of odors in the slipper worn barefoot or to limit them and the formation of blisters.

At the Vieux Camper, you will find socks specifically designed for use with climbing shoes:

Their construction is ultra-ventilated with quick-drying synthetic materials and micro-cells that enhance the breathability of the fabric as well as antibacterial materials.

Some climbing socks are reinforced at the toe and heel to enhance comfort while the arch is covered with a very thin fabric and gaining a great feeling of maintaining the arch.

Wearing socks in one’s climbing shoes greatly reduces the feeling of wet feet, which is hygienically very interesting.

All Y & Y, EB or Rohner climbing socks are perfectly adapted to all types of slippers as well as climbing.

Choosing climbing shoes 
for children

Most children do not wait to know how to write the word climbing to make it … 
Provide them with a pair of slippers to encourage them while securing their support: 
the game also becomes an apprenticeship that requires listening and concentration. 
Well, we are not here to boast the benefits of climbing (who doubts?) But to talk slippers.

The key word: comfort!

The peculiarity of the children – you have probably already noticed it – is that their feet grow up quickly. Manufacturers have understood and offer solutions: most slippers have adjustable scratches or pads behind the heel making the slipper evolutionary. It is also possible to play with the thickness of the sock, for the choice of size …

Once the shoe is tight, check that the heel does not come out, just like for an adult. 
If the heel comes out, it is either that the shoe is not adapted, or that the size is too big.

In summary, most of the climbing shoe for children is based on its feelings and comfort. Technically, a child does not need to be too tight to progress because it evolves to a level that does not require to constrain the foot. They are obviously naturally good at climbing! The sole does not need to be too rigid: given the size of the average rather light children, the slipper is not likely to “crash” under their weight. In short, better a soft slipper, which will bring them both comfort and sensations, insurance also thanks to the grip of the rubber … enough to give them a taste for climbing!


What to say about me? Good question ... I am MiR Towfiq. Chief Editor of I am Curious, greedy and passionate about writing, Travelling, and listening to music. As a Professional, I am an Accountant. But in my sphere time, I love blogging. That is why I have made it my mission to share my insider knowledge (tips and tricks) those who are troubling in their life.