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How to choose the best climbing shoes?
La Sportiva ambassadors and climbing product specialists Pietro Dal Pra and Neil Gresham explain how to choose the perfect ones: Super handy tips for all climbers!
- Choice of climbing shoes: what are the factors to consider?
- How to identify the morphology of your foot
- How to choose a shoe according to the type of climb
- How to choose the perfect size for climbing shoes
- Climbing shoes for beginners: which to choose?
- Climbing shoes for women: what are the differences?
Orienting yourself within the wide range of climbing shoes on the market today can be more difficult than expected: Colours, designs and aesthetic solutions in general can sometimes seem more appealing than the technical features themselves, thus confusing the climber in the choice of what may be considered as the most important piece of apparel.
It will not surprise you to discover that it is impossible to find the perfect shoe for everyone, and this is true even when it comes to the preferences of great climbing champions. However, the “how to” tips written by La Sportiva in collaboration with Vibram can certainly help you to identify the most important aspects to take into consideration when making a choice.
CHOICE OF CLIMBING SHOES: WHAT ARE THE FACTORS TO CONSIDER?
To choose the right climbing shoes, you need to consider three main factors:
- The morphology of your foot: the width of your foot is the first element to focus your attention on in order to choose the most suitable shoes.
- The use you will make of the climbing shoe: the choice of the shoe is strongly linked to the type of wall to be climbed and to the more or less prolonged use it is intended for. You will then need to take into consideration the thickness of the sole: different degrees of stiffness or softness are, in fact, functional to different types of performance and use. From this will follow the choice of the correct size, fundamental to guaranteeing adequate support to the foot.
- Your level of expertise: for novice feet it is necessary to choose carefully. For example, if you are a beginner, we recommend using rigid models that help the foot to work properly and gradually develop the muscles required.
Considering the huge offer and the many factors to consider, you will be extremely happy to discover that by following these few short steps you will be able to easily identify the footwear that is right for you!
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE MORPHOLOGY OF YOUR FOOT
Understanding the morphology of your foot is the first aspect to focus on in order to identify the right climbing shoe that, like a second skin must guarantee perfect adherence.
To orient yourself in the choice, consider that we can usually distinguish between:
- Narrow feet: tapered feet with a less pronounced plantar arch, a fairly horizontal metatarsal bone and toes that "drop" from the big toe to the fifth toe, giving the foot a pointed shape.
- Wide feet: feet with a fairly vertical metatarsal bone, accentuated plantar arch and rather short and square toe.
Therefore, based on this first distinction, you will be able to make a first selection. More specifically, if you have a narrow foot you can refer to models like Miura Lacci, Futura, Kataki or Solution. On the contrary, models like, Speedster, Testarossa, Miura Velcro or Genius will be more appropriate if you have a wide foot.
HOW TO CHOOSE A SHOE ACCORDING TO THE TYPE OF CLIMB
After identifying the shape of your foot, it is necessary to consider the characteristics of the wall you intend to climb. In particular:
- In the case of overhanging walls or surfaces with good grip it is advisable to opt for shoes with a softer sole, such as the Skwama model. Characterized by greater flexibility and sensitivity, they are in fact ideal for guaranteeing more precise grips but, at the same time, they are especially suitable for more experienced climbers whose feet are already used to supporting the weight of the body on a minimum part of the foot.
- In the case of long, vertical routes characterised by small, angular holds we recommend, instead, shoes with a more rigid and comfortable sole, suitable for prolonged use and able to support the weight of the climber also on very small holds, such as the Otaki model.
At the same time, it is important to identify what your climbing style is in order to orient yourself properly on products that are more in line with your type of climbing wall and movement technique. Only in this way can you make a conscious choice between shoes of the No-Edge line, designed to perfectly follow the profile of the foot while enjoying a more sensitive support that improves the quality of the climb and shoes with a traditional construction.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT SIZE FOR CLIMBING SHOES
To optimize performance and ensure a stronger grip, more experienced climbers suggest buying a climbing shoe that is 2 sizes smaller than the size used for other types of footwear. Our advice is to consider, first of all, that often the choice of the size depends also on the choice of the rigidity of the sole and therefore to the type of climbing.
In general, we recommend that you opt for a shoe:
- With not too small a fit, should you choose a shoe with a rigid sole. In this case, in fact, the rigidity of the sole will guarantee optimal support.
- Of a smaller and snug fitting size, should you choose a shoe with a softer sole, in order to have adequate foot stiffness.
Combining these variables and identifying the perfect compromise between sensitivity and comfort may seem difficult. It is therefore, important to remember that, generally, the shoe with the right fit does not leave the toes completely extended and completely wraps the foot, without leaving any empty spaces, resulting in a normal sensation of compression on the foot, which, however, should not result in pain.
CLIMBING SHOES FOR BEGINNERS: WHICH TO CHOOSE?
Those who begin to climb, both on plastic and on rock, need a comfortable product that tends to be rigid and supportive, designed to gradually adapt to more efficient, softer shoes with a tighter fit. Precisely for this reason La Sportiva has developed an ALL ROUND line, dedicated to beginners and which includes products specifically designed for climbing in the gym.
These are shoes designed to be worn for a long time and avoid annoying pains, combining both comfort and durability. Moreoever, given their more rigid structure, it is possible to use them by choosing a size more similar to that of one’s normal shoes. Therefore for those who are about to start their own vertical adventure, experts recommend models such Tarantula and Finale.
Considerations if the beginner is a child
Particular attention should be paid to cases in which the beginner is still a child so that the climbing shoes chosen do not hinder the growth of the developing foot. It is precisely from these considerations that specific products are created to maintain the delicate balance between performance and safety, as in the case of the Maverink collection, a no Edge shoe designed for the needs of the youngest.
CLIMBING SHOES FOR WOMEN: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
On the market there are models specifically designed for the female world which, compared to shoes designed for men, are generally characterized by a softer structure that makes them able to soften under a lighter weight. It should be noted, however, that the technical solutions used do not in any way exclude the possibility of using these products even by the male world.
Even in the case of climbing shoes designed for women, in order to orient oneself in the multitude of products on the market today, it is sufficient to consider the salient factors previously mentioned and namely the morphology of the foot, the level of expertise of the climber and the field of use.
Only by way of example, whoever has a slim foot can opt for models such as Futura or Katana. On the contrary, those with a fairly wide foot can opt for Miura VS or Finale VS.
The web-series is on-line in 3 episodes in which the climbers and product specialists Pietro Dal Pra and Neil Gresham explain how to choose the right type of climbing shoe.
Starting off on the right foot by choosing the right shoe for your climbing level is the first step to reaching the summit! Good climb!