How to Buy a Climbing Shoe

Climbing shoes are an integral part of your climbing gear, whether you're going on a long mountain climb or training on an indoor climbing wall. However, there are differences between the type of shoe you need for each type of climbing, and for rock climbing you'll need to take your skill level into account. It's important to take your time and try on a number of different climbing shoes from various manufacturers. The following steps will teach you how to buy a climbing shoe.


  1. Image titled Buy a Climbing Shoe Step 1
    Decide what type of climbing you will be doing and determine the type of climbing shoes you need.
    • For long climbs that also involve some walking, including face chimneys, cracks, and slabs, you'll need to buy a sturdy conventional climbing shoe with a board last. This is a flexible board that's placed on top of the midsole to make the shoe more stable and rigid. This adds more stability and helps roll the foot up and along after each step. These are generally made of leather or a strong synthetic material, and fit more loosely than other types of climbing shoes to allow for thick climbing socks. This type of climbing shoe can also be used in combination with crampons to add extra traction when climbing in snow or over ice.
    • Sport climbing shoes are suited for light climbing gym activity at easy to moderate difficulty, but also for face climbing and very limited crack climbing. They are narrower, fit more snugly than the sturdy conventional climbing shoe, and are slip lasted. These climbing shoes are best for beginning rock climbers or those climbing on surfaces that don't require maximum precision of foot placement.
    • Performance climbing shoes are for advanced rock climbers and can be worn in a climbing gym or outdoors for competitions, overhangs, advanced sports routes, and bouldering. These shoes are typically turned down for maximum performance on overhangs. This style of shoe is not ideal for long multi-pitch climbing, as they are typically snug and can be uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time.
  2. Image titled Buy a Climbing Shoe Step 2
    Locate a sports goods store with a large selection of climbing shoes. You'll need to try on a lot of shoes to find the right fit. It's best to ignore the sizes on the boxes as manufacturers can either use street shoe sizes or climbing shoe sizes, and the different designs affect the way the shoe fits to your foot. An important thing to remember is you don't have to downsize. try on many styles and models and try to find a shoe that is snug but also comfortable on your feet. Also remember some advanced shoes require a short to long break in period before you will be very comfortable in them.
    • When buying a conventional climbing shoe, make sure to allow enough room for thick climbing socks if you plan on climbing in colder weather. Many climbers chose not to wear socks in their shoes though. Also pay attention to how the shoe fits around your ankle, as this can sometimes chafe and make the whole experience painful. Leather climbing shoes might be more expensive than synthetic, but they're much more durable and offer better protection from the cold. Also note leather shoes can stretch up to a full size while synthetic shoes will not stretch very much. When buying leather, choosing a lined shoe is a good option as it will reduce stretching.
    • Sport climbing shoes should fit snugly without being painful. Remember to test the traction to see if they will offer you a good grip when climbing.
    • Performance climbing shoes should be a very tight fit. In fact, it's quite common for these shoes to be painful to wear. However, the tight fit also allows for maximum precision during foot placement, as well as maximum traction. Generally, climbing moccasins are a popular choice among advanced climbers. Make sure that your toes curl up in the front of the shoe and can't wiggle.
  3. Image titled Buy a Climbing Shoe Step 3
    Buy a climbing shoe that gives you the desired amount of stability or flexibility in foot placement, provides adequate traction, and matches your budget.


  • If you're preparing for a big event or climb, be sure to wear your shoes a couple of times in advance to let them settle into the shape of your foot. This will give you maximum comfort and allow you to concentrate on your sport, not your shoes.


  • Never buy used climbing shoes. Shoes automatically fit to the shape of the wearer's feet, and, as no two people have the same shape feet, you'll most likely be very uncomfortable wearing them.

Article Info

Categories: Climbing