Step up – why do you need beginner climbing shoes
As a newbie climber, it is important that you invest in high quality, but budget-friendly climbing shoe like the Black Diamond Momentum or the SCARPA Origin so that you can learn quicker. Using a regular shoe to climb is going to do more harm than good. And this is because they aren’t designed for climbing.
Climbing shoes, on the other hand, are made with thick soles, breathable and comfortable materials that will protect your feet and improve your climbing experience. To ensure that you have excellent climbing experience, it is wise that you buy a climbing shoe that isn’t overly tight, but one that is comfortable and fits you well.
Fitting tips for beginner climbers
Irrespective of the type of climbing shoe you want to buy, it is wise that you try it out to see if it fits you well.
Below are some fitting tips that can help you in finding a good climbing shoe;
Try them on
Buying a climbing shoe without first trying it out to see if it fits is a dumb move. To ensure that you pick a climbing shoe that won’t keep your feet screaming all day, it wise that you try on multiple sizes and pick the one that suits you best.
Shop in the afternoon
Do you know that your foot swells up to full size during the day? Since that is the case, it is best that you go shopping in the afternoon. Alternatively, you can go for a run, climb or engage in some physical activity before you shop. Since most climbing shoes on the market are designed to be worn sockless, it is best you pick one that fits you very well to reduce slippage.
Learn the climbing etiquette
Whether you are new to climbing and still learning the basics or you have been climbing for a while and looking for ways to take your game to the next level, it is important that you give your time and focus to some timeless tips and hacks that have transformed many greenhorn climbers into seasoned pros. Below are a few of them.
Chalk your arm
As you probably know, the importance of chalk in climbing cannot be overemphasized. If you sweat a lot, the chalk in your hands is likely going to dissolve halfway up the climb. If you don’t want to carry large chalk bags, you can put some extra chalk on your forearm and transfer them to your hands later on.
Invest in a good climbing shoe
To ensure that you climb faster without any discomfort, it is best you invest in high quality but affordable climbing shoes like the Black Diamond Momentum, Climb X Gear Red Point or the SCARPA Origin. A good climbing shoe will not only improve your climbing experience but will also help you learn quicker.
Shower in your climbing shoe
If your climbing shoe is a little too tight or is uncomfortable, then you should consider showering with it. The lukewarm water from the shower will stretch the shoe and make them fit you better.
Consider following features to choose the best beginner climbing shoes
Are you in the market looking for a comfortable climbing shoe that will suit your unique needs perfectly? If yes, there are some important things you must give thoughts to first. Of course, it is easy to splash a lot of cash on a flashy, high-end climbing shoe that may not suit you. Much worse, you may end up with one that is overly tight and is uncomfortable to use for long. To increase the odds of you choosing the right climbing shoe, there are some important features you must be on the lookout for. Below are a few of them;
How it fit
One of the most important qualities of a good climbing shoe is the fit. As you probably know, all climbing shoes are not made the same; some brands are known for certain shapes.
Before making a purchase online, it is important that you study the sizing guide carefully. If you are buying the shoe in a shop, it is wise that you test it to see if it fits you well. Don’t limit yourself; try out different models and brands of climbing shoe until you find one that suits you.
While you are looking for one that fits you well, it is wise you avoid those that are very tight and uncomfortable or that is a pain to put on.
The type of material that is used to make the upper of a climbing shoe is often going to determine how well it fits and how comfortable it will be. Below are some materials used in making the upper of climbing shoes;
Knit is a thin but strong layer of fabric. It is more breathable than synthetic or leather. An example of a climbing shoe with a knit upper is the Black Diamond Momentum.
The leather is a common material used in making climbing shoes. It usually stretches to it full size during its break period. Since it stretches, you may not need to buy one that is overly tight and hope it stretches. An excellent example of a climbing shoe that has a leather upper is the Mad Rock Drifter.
Unlike leather, synthetic materials don’t stretch. The main reason why many people prefer other materials to this is that it is not breathable.
Some of the climbing shoes reviewed in this article have an upper that is made from two materials -synthetic and leather or synthetic and suede. The SCARPA Origin and the Climb X Gear Red Point are top-notch climbing shoes with a hybrid upper.
It’s no news that the stickiness of the rubber sole of a climbing shoe is the secret to a climber’s success, as it protects his feet and gives him the edge he needs to scale through the challenges he is inevitably going to face.
The thicker the sole of a climbing shoe, the less sensitive and durable it will be. Most beginners climbing shoes on the market are fitted with thick durable soles.
The SCARPA Origin is made with 5mm soles. Soles this thick are best suited for stiffer platforms and are perfect for those who value durability over sensitivity.
The Black Diamond Momentum has a slightly thicker sole of 4.3mm. Climbing shoes with soles this thick are durable and a little bit more sensitive than the 5mm soles.
Climbing shoes with a sole that is 3mm thick like the Mad Rock Drifter, the La Sportiva Kids’ Stickit or the Climb X Gear Red Point offers a lot of sensitivity but aren’t very durable.
The last of a climbing shoe is what give its height, volume, toe and heel dimension and width. Most climbing shoes on the market are slip-lasted. Only a handful of them are board-lasted.
Board lasted climbing shoes are not very sensitive and a little bit stiff especially when compared to a slip-lasted shoe, but are super comfortable.
Unlike Broad-lasted climbing shoe, slip last shoes are very sensitive and flexible. They normally do not have an insole. They get their stiffness from the midsole located above the outsole.
Downturned which is also known as cambered is made to bend downward toward to toes. It is commonly found in aggressive shoes designed for heels and toes hooking. They are most appropriate in challenging routes when maximum performance and control is needed.
Climbing shoes built around straight last are usually very comfortable and are ideal for all-day climbing.
Lace or no lace?
This is a very important factor you must consider when buying a climbing shoe. And this is because it is going to determine to a large extent how easy it will be for you to put and take off your shoe.
The two sides of a lace-up shoe are separated and can be cinched according to the preference of the user. While they offer a firm fit, they are difficult to put on and take off. A good example of a lace-up climbing shoe is the Black Diamond Momentum.
These are very easy to take off and put on. However, they are less customizable and its upper may fold or overlap when the shoe is cinched down. This may affect the feel and fit of the shoe.
This type of shoe is made with a stretchy fabric that allows a slip-on fit.
Male and female type
While male and female climbing shoe looks very similar, there is a striking difference between them. Male climbing shoes tend to have wider feet. Female climbing shoes, on the other hand, are narrow.
As a novice climber, you need to keep it at the back of your mind that climbing is a gender-neutral sport. So you have the freedom to wear men climbing shoes like the Mad Rock Drifter or women climbing shoe like the SCARPA Origin.
If you have a wide foot a man’s model will be good for you. If your foot is narrow, a woman’s model will be perfect for you.
The flexibility of a climbing shoe is determined by the stiffness of its midsole. If you are new to climbing, it wise you stick to climbing shoes with stiff midsoles as they offer more support to the ligaments and foot muscles. They are good for edging and for climbing challenging routes.
As a beginner, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a high end climbing shoe. Rather, invest in a climbing shoe that is comfortable and budget-friendly like the Climb X Gear Red Point. As you get better, you can invest in top-notch climbing shoes like the Black Diamond Momentum or the SCARPA Origin.
Feel free to add something you think is important and relevant, and please mention some of the products reviewed as examples in the buying guide, where appropriate.