Climbing shoes are essential for rock climbing and bouldering, with features like a flexible rubber outsole and a snug fit. They offer friction, support, flexibility, and protection. Different styles are available for different types of climbing and skill levels. Proper fit is crucial, and it’s recommended to get a professional fitting or try renting shoes first.
Climbing shoes are shoes designed specifically for rock climbing, bouldering and other climbing sports. Climbers have been known to say that climbing shoes are the only piece of equipment that can enhance a climber’s skills, and all climbers know that good climbing shoes are vital to a successful climb. Many outdoor stores, especially those that focus on climbing, offer a wide variety of climbing shoes and can even be ordered through catalogs, for people who know the size and style they need.
Climbing shoes have a number of distinctive features that make them easily differentiated from other types of shoes. First is the flexible rubber outsole, which runs partially up the side of the shoe for additional support. The second is the snug fit, which ensures that the shoe adapts to the shape of the wearer’s foot. Climbing shoes for men and women are also styled differently, to accommodate subtle anatomical differences.
Several functions are handled by a climbing shoe. The first is friction. Good climbing shoes offer plenty of traction, allowing climbers to navigate a variety of difficult surfaces. The second is support, as climbers need to be comfortable and their feet and ankles need to be properly supported in order to climb without risk of injury. Additionally, climbing shoes must offer flexibility, allowing climbers to manipulate their feet to reach small climbing holds, and the shoes provide protection from scrapes and sharp ledges.
There are different styles of climbing shoes, designed for different types of climbing and different skill levels. As a general rule, climbing shoes are designed to be used only when climbing and are not suitable for hiking, walking or running. This is especially true of high-performance climbing shoes, also known as sport or boulder shoes, because they have a rigid design and a point-down toe that is perfect for climbing, but not for navigating flat terrain.
All-around climbing shoes have a basic, utilitarian design that can be used on a variety of surfaces and by climbers at all skill levels. Many beginners start out in all-around shoes as they explore different types of rock climbing to see what appeals to them. Smearers are highly flexible climbing shoes ideal for bouldering and manufactured climbing walls. Some beginner shoes also have ankle support, to encourage climbers to build foot strength without injuring themselves.
Fit is key with climbing shoes. The right shoes fit snugly, allow the climber a full range of motion, and don’t pinch or tug. If climbing shoes are uncomfortable in the store, they will be uncomfortable on a rock. For people who have never purchased climbing shoes before, it’s a good idea to walk into a store for a professional fitting and know that socks are typically not worn with climbing shoes. Some people also like to try renting shoes first, to get a feel for how the shoes feel in action before committing to a purchase.