The combination of physical skills and technique has always been the most important trade in any sport, but there is no doubt that with better tools, you can certainly become a better athlete. For swimmers, streamlined suits can help them be faster in doing laps. A well-chosen pair of shoes prevents ankle injuries for runners. Comfy shorts are chosen by volleyball players so that movement is easier. That being said, climbers also have to be critical in choosing their weapon of choice - AKA their climbing shoes!
What should I consider when buying climbing shoes?
There is a big variety to choose from, but beginners face many questions. Do I pick one that's two sizes smaller than my usual size? Velcro or lace? The one that's flat or curved? And what the *bip* is an aggressive shoe? There are many aspects to consider and it can be a bit confusing to figure out what's the most important to focus on. When choosing your pair of climbing shoes, the fit is definitely the most important aspect as a pair of uncomfortable shoes can take away the joy of climbing and ruin your focus and concentration. They have to be tight on your foot or else you'll lose some important grip on the tips of your toes.
Velcro shoes are the shoes typically used for bouldering or short routes. The pro is that you can take them on/off very quickly, especially useful with very aggressive shoes (boulderers sometimes take shoes on/off between each attempt on a hard boulder). The con is that its harder to tight the shoes perfectly around the foot, but with every year, the velcro system is getting better and better developed. Most people will vote for velcro shoes as their personal favorite closing system. Here are some great climbing shoes if you prefer a velcro closing system.
Laced shoes are typically the shoes intended for longer routes or prolonged time of usage. The con is that takes time to put them on, so you don't want to do this every few minutes. The biggest pro is that the shoe can be tightened better around the foot. Even after getting a bit sweaty, you will still feel secure enough for long continuous climbing. Here are some shoes with a laced closing system if you prefer that.
Slip-on shoes are the easiest to take on and of. They're great for rock climbing where you'll constantly be taking them on and of. Here is an example of a great climbing shoe with a slip-on closing system.
Types of footwear
This type is the over-all the most comfortable type. They are designed to be worn all day. Its usual flat camber lets the foot fit in a relaxed position, making it best for long multi-pitch climbs as well. It's great for the novice who does not want to sacrifice comfort but requires stickiness of a rubber sole. The support of the foot for smaller footholds is lower than with the other types but for easy and moderate climbing, it suffices.
The mid-ground of climbing shoes, this jack of all trades type offers a camber that is subtle and slightly bent which makes it more comfortable than an aggressive shoe. It's a good transition from the neutral shoe when you want a pair that's designed for more technical climbing. This type allows climbers to stand on smaller holds and put more weight on them, as the bend in the shoe allows for better force transfer to the tip on the shoe.
Aggressive is the exact term for this shoe - just by seeing it, you can feel the extreme camber. Its high heel tension lets your foot get into a powerful position which allows flexibility and edging. Preferred by climbers who specialize in bouldering and high-end sport climbing. Aggressive down-turn enables the maximum force to be focused on the very tip of the shoe, but it comes with a price. The shoe can get very tight and uncomfortable after a short period of time, so it takes time and will to get used to.
That’s it for now, climbers. We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Feel free to share it with your friends and on your social media channels. Have any questions on how to choose the right footwear? Don't hesitate to reach out! We're always ready to help!
About the author
Climbing Wall Designer and Admin
Vojtěch is a passionate sports climber and boulderer - actually he is one of the best climbers in Denmark with ascents up to 8a+ although he expects harder ascents coming soon. You can find him training or being a climbing instructor in Aarhus Climbing Club or climbing at many sport crags around Europe. Vojtěch is educated as an Architect from Czech Technica University in Prague and as a Building Engineer from Aarhus School of Science and Engineering. At Gubbies He combines his expertise in how climbing works with his architectural background.
If you plan on getting a climbing wall or have any questions about climbing or climbing gear, he will always have some valuable input and great advice to share.
You can contact Vojtěch on