10 Things to Know When Buying Climbing Shoes

buying climbing shoes

Buying climbing shoes can be daunting, especially if it’s your first pair. Here are 10 tips to help you know what to ask and how to answer seemingly obvious questions. We ask you (or should ask you):

How long have you been climbing?

Be honest! We don’t ask you this because we want to giggle about you being new. Just because we are psyched that you’re committed enough to buy your own shoes! We mainly ask you this so we know what kind of shoe will help you grow as a climber.

If you’ve only been climbing for a month or two we aren’t going to sell you the Ferrari of climbing shoes or something so painful it hurts to stand. Instead, we’ll suggest something more comfortable and durable. We’ll want to get you in a work-horse that won’t blow out because you haven’t quite fine tuned your footwork yet and won’t kill your feet because they are scrunched in a down-turned position.

Buying Climbing Shoes : Is this your first pair ?

It’s important for your salesperson to know if this is your first pair of climbing shoes. Because they will know to put you in something flat that isn’t terribly downsized. Now, while we are on the topic of “tight is right,” just because some dude at your gym said, “Get the smallest size you can squeeze your feet into,” does not make him the master and commander of rock slippers.

buying climbing shoes for indoor bouldering

In fact, I would say he knows very little about fitting people for climbing shoes. Extreme downsizing is not necessary anymore. Most climbing shoes are already manufactured to fit very snugly and downsizing further may cause more pain than necessary, possibly deterring you from climbing!

What type of climbing will you be doing in this shoe?

Knowing if you are going to be bouldering, trad, or sport climbing helps to know the shoes that would fit you. Many climbing shoes are designed for a very specific type of climbing so make sure you get the right shoe the first time.

What is your street shoe size ?

Not all climbing shoes are made the same. And the sales associate helping you should be completely aware of this when you are buying climbing shoes. It’s easier for the staff to know your street shoe size. And bring out what they think will work for you in a specific climbing shoe. You may need to make small adjustments within each brand and each shoe.

But this is a better starting point than telling them what size gym rental you’ve been wearing. This is especially crucial for La Sportiva. Since they manufacture their shoes to the size of the shoe, not the length of the foot that would fit in that shoe.

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