http://www.rockclimbtips.com/rock-climbing-shoes-buying-guide/ Whether you're looking for your first pair of climbing shoes, or just a need a new pair and want to make sure you make the right choice, this guide is for you. Click the link above to be taken to the full free guide.
In this rock climbing shoe buying guide, we're going to cover some of the most common questions climbers have about picking out the perfect pair, for optimum climbing performance.
Question 1: Will the More Expensive Shoes Last Longer?
Answer: Not necessarily. A lot of the more expensive climbing shoes are what is called "aggressive". This means that they have a very deep arch and essentially force your foot to be arched while climbing. A lot of these shoes are also more expensive.
Why is the Climbing Shoe Arch Design Important?
The answer, is that the arch design of the climbing shoe is optimized for climbing on overhangs. The shape of the shoes allow you to more easily hook your foot into holds that are on intense overhangs like in the picture below. This can prevent you from losing your footing on the climbing wall holds, and thus prevent you from falling off the wall.
So Shouldn't You Always Want Aggressive Climbing Shoes?
DEFINITELY not. There are actually several critical disadvantages of aggressive shoes which can especially hurt your climbing if you're a beginner climber, and if your using them on a wrong type of route. We go into this in much more detail in the PEAK Climbing Program where we explain which moves are easier to execute with the different types of shoes, so that you can choose the best shoes for your routes to get maximum performance. But, for now, it's sufficient to say that as a beginner climber, you generally don't want aggressive climbing shoes to be your first pair and here's some more information why:
One reason for this is that many of the aggressive climbing shoes have soles that are built out of thinner material. This isn't as big an issue if you're an advanced climber and have very precise foot movements (so you put very little strain on your shoes). When you're just a beginner climber however, realistically you're going to be putting a lot of wear and tear on your shoes. This is normal. It simply takes practice to be able to get you climbing shoes on the right holds in the right spot, without scraping them against the climbing wall or any of the climbing holds. You'll probably notice that you first pair will last the least amount of time since at that point you'll still developing your climbing finesse and precision.
Because of all the above, you really want your first pair to be extremely durable. The durable shoes tend to:
Have thick soles compared to other climbing shoes that you're looking at. Usually slipper style climbing shoes and aggressive shoes can give you a good indication of what a thin sole looks like in the world of climbing shoes.
Have soles that aren't extremely flexible: The thicker the sole, the less it will bend. As a beginner climber, you want that strong stable foundation which you get in a nice thick sole. Once you get more advanced, you can opt for shoes that you can wear when you want that extra foot flexibility instead of a solid platform (like when you're doing very advanced overhangs)
So are the Non-Aggressive Climbing Shoes Less Expensive?
A lot of times the climbing shoes with the characteristics I mentioned are actually less expensive. This is perfect to make it easier for beginner climbers to get into the sport.
Velcro or Lace-Up Climbing Shoes?
This is huge! It may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but I can personally say from experience that each has distinctive advantages and disadvantages. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each:
Advantages of Lace-Up Climbing Shoes:
With lace-ups, you can adjust the level of tightness on each part of the shoe. This is HUGE and is the main reason I don't think I'll ever go back to velcro shoes. As a climber, you want your climbing shoes to be pretty tight around your foot. They are supposed to feel like an extension of your foot (the way wearing a rubber glove feels on your hand). Since different people have different foot shapes, laces let you have direct control how tight each part of the shoe is around your foot for that really snug fit that you want for maximum climbing performance. It essentially lets you form your shoe to your foot and gives you that amazing level of control.
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