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What to look for in a climbing shoe?

9:55 p.m. on February 25, 2011 (EST)
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133 forum posts

I am about to invest in my first pair of rock climbing shoes.  I was wondering if a beginning rock climber would have different needs in a shoe then somebody with more experience.  Any advice on what to look for in a shoe would be greatly appreciated.

3:38 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
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Edging shoes, and they should fit tight around your feet and your toes should curl a little.

 

What kind of climbing will you be doing?

7:28 p.m. on February 26, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for the help.  I'll probably be doing mostly gym climbing to start.  The gym in my area has bouldering caves and top rope climbing. I guess there is also a few lead climbing routes that are available, but I am nowhere close to being ready to try that type yet.

5:18 a.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
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It sounds like you haven't done enough climbing to answer this question. 

The performance of a climbing shoe, beyond comfort and fit, boils down to two climbing techniques: edging and smearing.  If most of your more dicey foot holds involve standing on tiny tiny “ledges”, you'll want a shoe with hard rubber soles that won't roll off the "ledge" when weighted.  These are edging shoes.  On the other hand if you find your dicey situation is more often a surface lacking "ledges" but is capable of having you grip the wall with just friction - like a fly on the wall - then you want a shoe with a soft "sticky" sole that will conform to the rock face features.  These are smearing shoes.  Some shoes are in between these extremes, I guess in an attempt to be an all round utility shoe.  My experiences lead me to have both types of shoes, as a specific climb typically requires mostly edge control or mostly smearing, and it made no sense for me to give up the advantage of a shoe tailored for one type of climb, just to save the money it costs owning two pairs. 

Ed

8:07 p.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for your explanation.  That has helped me learn.  So is it safe to assume that if I'm going to be climbing mostly in a gym (where there aren't many opportunities to smear) to start off, then I would be better off with a shoe that favours edging?

9:23 p.m. on February 28, 2011 (EST)
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1,046 forum posts

Coyote- the edgeing shoe is actually a beginner shoe. Great shoe to have because it doesn't have alot of give like a smearing shoe.I presume you may buy your shoe's at the Rock Gym you climb at? generally "Most" employee's are climbers or climb at the gym.  And they will help fit you.Just make sure the shoe's are tight like Mikey pointed out in the toes and tight in the heel. Generally these shoes have lace's. My smear shoe's are slipper style no lace's..Hey enjoy the wall's and the excercise...

6:42 a.m. on March 1, 2011 (EST)
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Coyote- the edgeing shoe is actually a beginner shoe...

I respectfully disagree with this statement.  There is a reason for thier names; otherwise they'd be called beginner shoes and expert shoes.  Edging and smearing shoes serve difference functions for different terrain.  Calling an edging shoe a beginner’s shoe is like comparing mountain bikes to road bikes, claiming one is for beginners.  That is not the case; they are different tools for different applications.  That said, perhaps beginners are better off starting on edging shoes, because beginners have less foot strength, and can use additional support.  That benefit, however, is token.  But when it comes to outdoor climbing both types of shoes have their place as dictated by route characteristics, regardless of ability.    

Ed

10:24 a.m. on March 1, 2011 (EST)
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womeworry(ED) I used a bold statement for the OP. To not confuse him for the shoe that would best fit his needs for what he is starting and learning in A Rock Gym. Your analygy of why edgeing shoe's is correct and that is why I used the bold statement and I agree 100% in an outdoor setting Route's and Rock play the biggest part of what shoe to select when climbing.But for practicle purpose's edgeing  shoe's will build the nessary dexterity and feel for his endeavor.The more skill he aquires and learning he will evolve.

6:29 p.m. on March 1, 2011 (EST)
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Denis:

Sorry I didn't catch your drift, and spouted off like a school marn.

Ed

6:50 p.m. on March 1, 2011 (EST)
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(ED) You bring great insight into any discussion and I always appreciate your  opinion and your vast experiance..You also state a reason for your opinion and bring common sense into it.  You also add  to the learning process as well to any adventurer.

11:43 a.m. on March 2, 2011 (EST)
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223 forum posts

Is there any rentals at your gym? I would start there. it give an idea. Make sure to get comfortable shoes first, if you dont youl hate climbing before long. Of course comfort in a climbing shoe is a debatable subject, get a shoe you can wear for extended periods of time and get ready to be hurting a bit even though.

Climbing's the best, have a good and get outside as soon as you can. ;-)  

9:09 p.m. on March 7, 2011 (EST)
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The gym I go to does have rental shoes, which do the job.  I'm just eager to learn as much as I can so that when I'm ready to get my own shoes I don't end up doing an impulse buy that doesn't turn out right.

Climbing is definitely great fun!

10:36 p.m. on March 7, 2011 (EST)
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Coyote Packer to me your way ahead of the game on impulse buy...You are way ahead of most! Enjoy the climbing ..

11:51 a.m. on March 8, 2011 (EST)
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The best way to learn as much as you can is what you've already done. You tried one out. Continue on your rentals is what I would suggest. Note what you like about em and what you dont. Then find a shoe that responds best to that ideal. Remember comfort  and what you plan on climbing is key. Theres is big difference between all day trad shoe, and some ultra send slippers.

 I'll be posting  a trip report on frind who discovered ice climbing soon if you want to see a bit of what that's like.

Glad to hear your having fun.

9:24 p.m. on March 8, 2011 (EST)
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What to look for in a climbing shoe?

Your foot?

Sorry it's what I was thinking when I read the question...

3:10 p.m. on March 9, 2011 (EST)
87 reviewer rep
2,221 forum posts

What to look for in a climbing shoe?

Your foot?

Sorry it's what I was thinking when I read the question...

A toe hold, of course, silly!

Ed

12:09 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Denis:

Sorry I didn't catch your drift, and spouted off like a school marn.

Ed

 

Did you not mean school marM"  (not marN) ??

r2

4:02 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Denis:

Sorry I didn't catch your drift, and spouted off like a school marn.

Ed

 

Did you not mean school marM"  (not marN) ??

r2

I stand correct, but note you will have a full time job if attempting to correct all of my typos and misspellings.

Ed

7:32 a.m. on May 2, 2011 (EDT)
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1,238 forum posts

Not to worry, Lad ~~

I've toned down my online attempts at rectifying errors. I am known to have been a fierce "Spelling and grammar Nazi" on a couple music-instrument forums (where I literally "live", as it is my livelihood and passion).   I say "have been", because I seem to rankle too many people, and it became a distraction, as well as a "sideshow".   I demurred.

(Notice I mentioned ERRORS.   I have a 'sticky' in my office, that reads, "An ERROR does not become a MISTAKE,  unless you refuse to correct it".)  I am no better than anyone else in this regard.   I am ALWAYS appreciative of being corrected.   I WANT to be informed.

In this new (for me) internet age,  it has become all too commonplace to make egregious errors (mostly MISTAKES), with spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax.   Fundamentally, most are very lazy in this regard.   Then, we have the issue of IGNORANCE vs APATHY.   I don't want to get into that here and now.

I am prejudiced, I admit; against STOOOOPID PEOPLE.

Yogi Robt

April 20, 2014
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