Mad Rock Phoenix climbing shoes
The Fine Art of Buying Shoes
Of all the gear you are likely to purchase as a rock climber, your first pair of rock shoes will give you the single biggest and immediate leap in ability. Yet from there on in, the murky world that is a climbing shoe is likely to haunt you every time that you put your over-tight shoes on, or roll off of an edge...
Climbing shoes are an integral part of your climbing cupboard - but the variety and myths make buying the correct shoes increasingly more difficult. It is infinitely more desirable to spend the extra time and effort in purchasing your shoes, than regretting a hastily or ill-informed decision each time you put them on. Climbing shoes do more than look aesthetically pleasing - they are extensions to your body and if bought correctly can enhance your climbing greatly. Below is a guide to buying rock shoes, based predominantly on design as apposed to the Manufactures name, which is usually shrouded in fable and mystery (if their marketing department is any good).
General Rule of Thumb for beginners
- Comfortable is too large
- Painful is too tight
- Uncomfortable is perfect
Fit : First and Foremost
The most important factor to consider when choosing any rock shoes is finding a pair that fits well.
Your "fit" should be determined by the type of climbing that you intend doing, combined with your experience level. Remember that leather upper shoes are likely to stretch over time (mostly in lateral width), while lined and synthetic upper shoes are not likely to stretch much at all.
Climbing shoe sizing varies from brand to brand and, just to confuse the issue, often from model to model within a brand. Use numerical sizes purely as a guideline. As a rule of thumb, the level of shoe discomfort increases proportionately to an increase in climbing "level". This is primarily a result of molding the foot into as firm and precise an appendage as possible in an effort to eliminate "roll" (due mainly to weak feet or the shoe being to big and rolling around your foot) and increase sensitivity (sensual feedback) and pin-point controlled.
Shape of last
There are various sole patterns to accommodate various types of climbing and foot shapes. Some are more asymmetrically displaced towards the big toe than others. Generally speaking lasts vary from flat mildly asymmetrical to pronounced / aggressively down turned.Aggresive
Designed for the advanced climber and particularly suited to steep environments.
Because the very nature of steep/overhanging routes forces you to try to curl your toe down in an attempt to pull you in the route. Thus strong foot muscles and a shoe that helps get in beneath the roof, to the grip are necessary.Moderate
Designed for the intermediate and advanced climbers these are the most all-round types, but excel in vertical to slightly overhanging.
While a pronounced camber is ideal for steep routes, on vertical / midly overhanging routes the down-pointed nature of the foot makes edging and smearing difficult. The moderate last offers a performance fit, often associated with a mildly stiff midsole which together give great precision, great edging ability and good smearing ability.Mild
Designed for the beginner and intermediate climbers and particularly suited to easy angled / vertical climbing.
Generally the easier the grade the bigger the [foot] holds and thus the need for an aggressive shoe wanes. Coupled to this, the less steep the route is, the more the climber stands on his/her feet. Therefore the mild last is significantly flatter than any of the others. Also, as one tends to stand more in these, they often feature a stiff missole (offering greater support and a roomier toe box.