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Rock Climbing Shoes

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Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby EatinHardtack » Mon May 03, 2010 8:09 pm

Alright sooo I'm looking to finally get into a little climbing. I am in need of my first pair of rock climbing shoes. What is everyone's preference on brand, velcro, lace blah blah? I am not looking to spend a lot, in the 60-100 range, not sure if this is something I will fully invest into in the future. I will only be doing sport in the gym and out at GoG/Red Rock Canyon/etc here in the Springs. Thanks.

Zach
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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby Yalegirl09 » Mon May 03, 2010 8:13 pm

Hey!
I just got my first climbing shoes and have started getting into it too! If you ever need a partner to hit the climbing gym with, let me know! As far as shoes go I went to REI and tried on about 12 pairs before I bought mine. I definitely prefer the lace up for a more customized fit since most of the shoes stretch over time. You'll also probably notice that your climbing shoes with be 1.5-2 sizes smaller than your shoe size to fit properly. You basically want them uncomfortable without being painful until your toes are jammed into the end. I wear a 7.5 in my hiking boots but my rock shoes are a 6. I bought the la sportiva nago womens shoes and I've loved them so far! Good luck! :D

Regina

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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby JB99 » Mon May 03, 2010 8:22 pm

You're best bet is to try some different ones on and buy from REI or somewhere with an equally lenient return policy. Boreal has always fit me best but they are kind of hard to find these days. It'll all depend on what fits you best though.
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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby BaronVonBergschrund » Mon May 03, 2010 9:10 pm

The brand depends on the fit. Generally shoes like Five Ten and Evolv fit wider feet, while LaSportiva and Scarpa fit narrower feet. Buy whatever brand fits your foot the best, all climbing shoe companies are pretty good at making shoes so it is hard to buy a terrible climbing shoe. Laces can be more precise for fitting, but velcros can be nice when you are in and out of them a lot at the gym. Keep in mind some of the hardest routes in the world have been done in both velcros and lace-ups, so this is more of a preference for the climber. Make sure you have a pair of lace-ups when you start climbing cracks, the velcro tabs tend to get in the way when you are jamming your foot into a crack.

Here are some examples of good beginner shoes. A good beginner shoe should sit flat on the floor (not arched) and be stiff to provide support for your feet, which are not used to standing on smaller holds. A beginner shoe typically has a thicker sole to let you climb on them longer before they wear out, and will tolerate a bit more time in the gym than a more advanced shoe. The rubber might not be as sticky on a beginner shoe but it will wear longer and you will get some more life out of them. Because climbing shoes will wear out after a year or so of decent use, it is OK to buy a lower-performance beginner shoe to start out with. By the time you are looking for your next pair of shoes, you will know what attributes you want in a shoe and will be able to select a pair to help your footwork.

Evolv - http://www.evolvsports.com/ - Defy/Elektra, Quest, Royale
Five Ten - http://fiveten.com/ - Coyote, Spire
LaSportiva - http://www.sportiva.com/ - Cliff, Mythos, Nago
Scarpa - http://www.scarpa.com/ - Freestyle, Thunder, Veloce
Mad Rock - http://www.madrockclimbing.com/ - Phoenix, Flash

My top suggestions for a good beginner shoe are the Evolv Defy or the LaSportiva Mythos. One or the other tend to fit most people.
Baron Von Bergschrund
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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby TomPierce » Mon May 03, 2010 10:34 pm

I agree with the Baron, but one addition I'll toss out is that I've lately (last 2-3 years) taken some people out that are new to the sport and those that have had what clearly are beginner shoes have uniformly been pretty frustrated. Too clunky, too stiff, not very sticky, etc. I had one fellow start with 5.10 clunkers get so frustrated he swapped out his shoes for some La Sportiva Mythos (which is my go-to shoe, although I have it shod in non-La Sportiva rubber). He was then in heaven. Anyway, the Baron's advice as usual is spot-on, but I'd add that maybe you should consider renting a few times when you're likely to trash the shoes more, then when you want to buy go up a notch more than you might otherwise do. Great shoes are...great, duh. FWIW, I also agree with YaleGirl on the snug fit; many shoes are best purchased tight, they then stretch to mold to your foot. The Mythos are the archetype of such a shoe. Best to inquire before purchase, however, because some shoes are conversely notoriously non-stretchy. Welcome to the sport!
-Tom

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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby EatinHardtack » Mon May 03, 2010 10:47 pm

Thanks everyone for your input. I was planning on getting to REI or Mountain Chalet to try some shoes on before I buy. I just wanted some info on durability, brand preference, that sort of thing. Keep the info coming, thanks.
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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby Mantana » Mon May 03, 2010 11:32 pm

As always the Baron provides some rock-solid advice.

My 2 cents - I bought my first pair of shoes (mad rock phoenix) at REI after trying on alot of pairs and although I bought them really snug, I found that after climbing in them a handful of times, they stretched out 1 - 1.5 full sizes and were too big once I broke them in. I learned the hard way that this happens with all-leather shoes.

I'm now using a pair of Red Chili Spirits that I bought super uncomfortably small so that now that they have stretched out they are still a small tight fit. Keep this in mind when your looking at all leather shoes. Stretching like this is not as present in synthetic shoes (half size maximum stretch).

And here is a super-informative article on REI's website about choosing rock shoes.
http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/rock+shoes.html

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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby JTOlson26 » Tue May 04, 2010 6:52 am

The first pair i ever purchased were the Evolv Defys. I had great success with them and still use them from time to time depending on what kind of rock i am on. If you are going to be doing a substantial amount of climbing at Red Rocks in the Springs, i would definitely recommend the Evolv Defys. Red Rocks can get pretty slabby and i thought the Defys handled that type of terrain very well.

Just my two cents. Happy climbing!

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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby paul109876 » Tue May 04, 2010 10:55 am

Check out www.spadout.com or www.acmeclimbing.com
For very low prices on name brand stuff. I've bought climbing shoes for myself and daughter through spadout and was very satisfied.
As far as size, I ended up buying a 12 and normally wear a 13 in regular shoes.
I preferred the lace up instead of the velcro. I tried both at the local indoor climbing gym.
A person who risks nothing, learns nothing, has nothing and becomes nothing.

Don't let your actions contradict your desires

Crap on your shoes eventually wears off. Rough patches are only temporary.

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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby atalarico » Tue May 04, 2010 12:33 pm

All great advice so far! I'll add my .02 to confuse you some more. =p

Getting your first pair of climbing shoes does present a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, since you're new to the sport, you're going to want to do everything in your power to have fun so that you'll keep doing it! Getting a performance fit on a climbing shoe might inhibit that fun, as your feet will be in for some hard times. Climbing is a whole new feeling for your feet, and there are lots of fun pains to discover. However, once your feet break into the sport, a performance fit will go a long way for your skills and abilities improving quickly.

On the other hand, getting shoes that are more "comfortable", which for beginners usually means that the shoes are just too big, will probably not be too detrimental because most beginners start out on easy routes. Easy routes generally mean that you will be dealing with very large foot and hand holds. As a result, careful and precise footwork is not as critical as it is on harder routes. Also, if your shoes are perceived as more "comfortable" for you, then you'll probably log more hours climbing because it won't be as painful. The flip-side to logging more hours is that your skills will improve quicker and you'll be sending harder routes sooner, which would require a performance fit.

That being said, there is a way of sizing climbing shoes comfortably without them being too big. As Baron mentioned, the Mythos is a great shoe that comes to mind when I think of this type of sizing.

As to velcro vs laces, it's really a matter of preference. I have lace-ups and velcro shoes, and they both serve their purposes well.

I enjoy my lace-ups for long days on the wall and multi-pitch outings. Lace-ups allow for a more precise tightening of the shoes and can help alleviate pressure spots on the top of your foot. However, for gym climbing and short sport pitches, I'm not as much of a fan, as it's a little time-consuming. As I'm typing this though, I'm realizing how I actually prefer my lace-ups regardless now because I'm climbing harder routes, which require really careful and precise footwork. I just haven't found a velcro shoe that hugs my foot quite as well as my lace-ups do. Ahhh who knows. I give up.

Anyway, if you get a leather shoe, find the size that fits properly and then size down about a half to full size. Some leather shoes stretch more than others (I'm thinking of the Mythos here). Just be sure to buy your shoes from a place that will let you return them if they don't end up fitting right even after the break-in period (which is usually a month of climbing one or two days a week for a few hours).

Anyway, my shoe ownership list is as follows, from first pair to current pairs...
Mad Rock Flash (velcro, sized too big, but worked out for the most part until I started breaking in to 5.10 routes)

Five-Ten Coyotes (fantastic leather lace-up for the same beginner time period. Bought them at a REI garage sale for about $9)

Five-Ten Anasazi Velcro (Another great shoe that helped me break into 5.10 routes and send well. Stiff and wide, they ended up also being too big for me. They were pro-dealed so I was stuck with them)

La Sportiva Katana's (This has been my favorite shoe, period. This was another garage sale find, but they were women's. I really didn't care that they were baby-blue because they fit me so damn well. This has been my go-to shoe for the past three years. I've resoled my original pair twice, and I recently picked up a second pair, a half-size smaller, from another REI garage sale for about $9)

Scarpa Techno's (This is my current favorite lace-up shoe. I sized them a touch too small for my intended purpose, which was all-day moderate multi-pitch routes. Regardless, they still perform very well for cracks and slab)

As I typed that out, I saw how many of my climbing shoes I got from REI Garage Sales. I highly recommend checking them out. The prices have gone up since I found my first pair of $9 climbing shoes in a garage sale, but they're still priced about 40-70% off, which is a steal. Climbing shoes get returned A LOT there because it is simply too hard to know how a shoe is going to perform and fit for you until you take it out a few times.

Hope this rant helps!

Cheers!

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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby Snowgirl » Tue May 04, 2010 2:27 pm

I just bought my first pair of climbing shoes (Evolv Elektras), and I got one size down from my normal shoe size. They were tight but comfortable at the time. Even though these shoes aren't supposed to stretch that much I find myself (1 month later) wishing I had a tighter pair of shoes. I also have to pull the velcro very far across to get the kind of support I want, but the velcro is really handy for what I am doing right now (mostly indoor climbing). Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Rock Climbing Shoes

Postby BaronVonBergschrund » Tue May 04, 2010 2:39 pm

Snowgirl wrote:I just bought my first pair of climbing shoes (Evolv Elektras), and I got one size down from my normal shoe size. They were tight but comfortable at the time. Even though these shoes aren't supposed to stretch that much I find myself (1 month later) wishing I had a tighter pair of shoes. I also have to pull the velcro very far across to get the kind of support I want, but the velcro is really handy for what I am doing right now (mostly indoor climbing). Just my 2 cents.

It sounds like you have a narrow foot. Evolvs tend to run average to wide. You might check into some LaSportivas for your next shoe. If you can bottom out the laces or velcro straps on any shoe it is likely too wide for your foot, even though the length may be perfect.
Baron Von Bergschrund
Remember, remember, the third of December.
Sharing wisdom on Rock Climbing, Climbing Shoes, Rappelling, Layering, Eddie Bauer, Pants, Helmets, Ropes, Ice Axes, Tri-Cams, Carabiners

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