/ Does rock shoe choice make that big a difference?

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jhw - on 11 May 2012
Hi, if I'm currently plateauing on slabby routes with small footholds, how much difference does it make to try a different pair of shoes? I currently use Evolv Royales which are the most basic shoe that Evolv do - the UKC review says "it feels like I'm using someone else's feet" - I bought them just because they're advertised as suitable for all-day use, and they felt comfortable. But I keep finding I don't trust the smaller footholds and often come off randomly on them.

Clearly the main issue is I've got sloppy footwork, but the immediate issue is I have a trip to a slabby part of Spain next week so don't have time to make any major amendments to my technique. Will it make me significantly safer if I invest in a slightly better pair of shoes - Evolv Bandits or Red Chili Spirits perhaps - something that is still "all-rounder" and suitable for all-day climbing, but not the total bottom of the barrel?

Or shall I save 90 as the shoes I have are already quite new and I'm a bit broke as it is...

Thanks
Landy_Dom on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

At what sort of grade? Indoor or outdoor? I suspect a bit of coaching / practice at foot placement would make a bigger difference. Maybe there's someone here that's local to you who could look at it with you and give an unbiased opinion?
Skyfall - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

I know that in the past when I have gone from a not very well fitting pair of rock shoes to a pair that do fit well and are precise, it can feel like it gives you an extra grade or so, particularly on slabs. However, I think that is often because if they fit well and feel precise, you do consciously make an effort to climb better in them, not because the shoe is doing a hugely better job. It's a bit like a surgeon and his tools, great in the right hands (or on the right feet) but won't make much difference if you don't know how to use them.

If you are going to be climbing on limestone slabs, then you would probably want something fairly stiff, not a soft smearing girt slab shoe.

I suspect at the end of the day that it's down to how you use them rather than the shoe itself. If you think that getting a better fitting and more precise pair it will help you focus on your footwork, then go for it. If you think in reality you will just climb as before then I wouldn't bother yet.
ripper - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw: if you do decide to invest, and if you want shoes for standing on small edges, 5.10 galileos might be worth considering. If you want something slightly more aimed at smearing, the 5.10 Anasazi VCS (although much better for smearing when broken in rather than box-fresh)
jhw - on 11 May 2012
Thanks

"I suspect a bit of coaching / practice at foot placement would make a bigger difference."

No time for major changes to my technique requiring oodles of practice - just wondering if a gear change can add an extra 5% or so to my ability overnight.
tlm - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

If your footwork is rubbish, new shoes will make no difference.

If you have excellent footwork, then they will make all the difference.

On slabby routes, aren't you smearing more, and not really using small edges?

What sorts of grades are you climbing?

I've always used big, sloppy shoes, and only now, after 20 years, do I feel that different shoes really matter (and that is only when doing somethign pretty technical, like bouldering). If your shoes are huge (like mine) then your foot can roll inside the shoe itself - so your foot comes off the shoe, which then comes off the rock.

I would keep your 90 (from what you have said and from looking at your profile). Experience will improve your footwork - just concetrate on placing your feet very precisely and carefully, rolling your foot onto the holds.
tlm - on 11 May 2012
In reply to ripper:
> (In reply to jhw) if you do decide to invest, and if you want shoes for standing on small edges, 5.10 galileos might be worth considering. If you want something slightly more aimed at smearing, the 5.10 Anasazi VCS (although much better for smearing when broken in rather than box-fresh)

The same shoes that suit you may well not suit someone else's feet at all. It's better to try lots of shoes and get ones that work for you as an individual.

tlm - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:
> No time for major changes to my technique requiring oodles of practice - just wondering if a gear change can add an extra 5% or so to my ability overnight.

No.

jhw - on 11 May 2012
Thanks - climbing around the F6a mark indoors/5 outdoors/HS 4b on trad.

Will work on the footwork and keep my as advised. Training hard at the moment and feel my upper body and finger strength is improving commensurately - improving my footwork is a different matter altogether. I think the key may be to climb with people a couple of grades beyond me, and just watch them.

Cheers for advice, will stick at it.
ripper - on 11 May 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to ripper)
> [...]
>
> The same shoes that suit you may well not suit someone else's feet at all. It's better to try lots of shoes and get ones that work for you as an individual.

True - that's why I said 'might be worth considering' and not 'buy these and nothing else'
jhw - on 11 May 2012
(i.e. grades you can mostly get away without having any footwork whatsoever...:S)
tlm - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:
> Will work on the footwork and keep my as advised. Training hard at the moment and feel my upper body and finger strength is improving commensurately - improving my footwork is a different matter altogether. I think the key may be to climb with people a couple of grades beyond me, and just watch them.

Also - if your upper body and finger strength is improving at these grades, how much weight are you actually putting onto your feet? It sounds as though you are 'pulling' yourself up routes with your arms, rather than 'pushing' yourself up routes with your legs?

The less weight you put onto a foothold, the less your foot sticks to it. I could be very wrong, with only a bit of text to go on, mind you! :-)

Good luck.
ripper - on 11 May 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to jhw)
> [...]
>
> No.

Not necessarily - you're probably right as a general point, but I know there are specific moves (basically standing on very small edges or toe-pockets) that I can do in decent tight-ish shoes fairly comfortably, but wold be completely impossible in my comfy long-route shoes
Monk - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

For most people, fit is more important than which shoe. If your shoes are at all baggy or big, then they could definitely be holding you back on small holds on slabs - your foot may roll off holds, for example.

For what it's worth, I have climbed in many different shoes from baggy beginner shoes to twisted toe-down monsters, and they all have their place. I have both bandits and Spirits, and both fit me well. Spirits are probably my favourite shoe ever (apart from Boreal Stingers). I think I'm on about my 8th pair now as they fit me so well. It is very rare for these shoes to be the limiting factor in my climbing at modest grades (up to 7a sport, E3 trad or V6 bouldering), although I will switch to more technical shoes for hard stuff (not that I climb any of that at the moment).

Basically, fit is everything. If your shoes have deaad space in them, holes in the soles or are a bit baggy, new shoes might help you. Otherwise, it's probably worth just practicing your footwork.
Kemics - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

Climbing with a friend in Asia where getting decent equipment cant be hard. He had plateaued hard in the 6's and had spent several days projecting his first 7a. Finally the day game when our new 5.10 ansazi's arrived by post. First route of the day, first climb in his new shoes. His first 7a.

But he was climbing in poorly fitting shoes I considered unfit for DWS ;)

Poor equipment can hold you back. Also, bad shoes encourage you to learn bad habits. But assuming you have a decent pair, it's not really going to make much difference.
tlm - on 11 May 2012
In reply to ripper:
> Not necessarily - you're probably right as a general point, but I know there are specific moves (basically standing on very small edges or toe-pockets) that I can do in decent tight-ish shoes fairly comfortably, but wold be completely impossible in my comfy long-route shoes

I agree that shoes can make a difference to some people on some routes.

My no was to the question, could a pair of shoes make the op 5% better overnight (going on all he has told us about his current footwork and experience).
Eagle River - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

Listen to Monk, he's hit the nail on the head.
The Ex-Engineer - on 11 May 2012
A well fitting and appropriate rockshoe certainly makes a difference, but it is mainly all about the fit rather than the design.

You really have to be climbing at superstar grades before you need to worry too much about whether your shoes are 'technical enough'. I know that up to around E5, f7b and Font 7A I generally get on fine with Evolv Defy which are a fairly basic shoe. Slabs are a probably bit of an exception but I still think it makes little difference - although that is on the basis I am fairly pants at Font style slab climbing regardless of what climbing shoes I have ever tried to use!

That said, you do need to accept that you will need to compromise between performance on small holds and long-term comfort. Whilst shoes that are so tight you can only wear them for 5 miuntes at a time are just counter-productive, a shoe that is sized to be comfortable all day is NOT going give enough support to climb on small features. For general cragging and sport climbing use, the trick is to find the best fitting shoes possible that you can still wear comfortably for 20-30 minutes at a time.

The best (and probably only) thing to do, is try on loads of shoes and see what suits your feet. If possible, visit several shops and then return to try on whatever you have short listed for a final time on a separate occasion so you are as sure as you can be.

PS After having said all that, if you happen to fit a size 9.5 or 10 in Spirits, I've a couple of brand new pairs sitting around that I would only want 40 for.
jhw - on 11 May 2012
Thanks for tips

10.5 is my size unfortunately!

Undecided about what action to take. Sounds like there's a marginal case for looking at getting some slightly more technical shoes - whether I like it or not, it's become a psychological block
Scarab9 - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

you can make a huge improvement in technique of foot placing very quickly. Probably more than a change of shoe will give you. If you're going to a slabby place accept that you will improve over the holiday greatly rather than expecting to go good at it. Spend this week doing slabby problems if you have chance and really concentrating either way on your foot placement. Drop your grade and conciously work on placing them precisely while pulling less with your arms. Try climbing one handed on a slab on top rope. Or none handed on TR or even a traverse wall. You may not get far but keep trying and the small improvements in distance are because you're getting better technique and thinking about slight amendments to what you're doing.

Also may sound daft but I came back after winter able to climb much better than before. I put this down to obsessing somewhat over winter (and having a bad bout of insomnia) so I was visualising moves, particualrly foot placement, so that I felt I more instinctively trusted my feet and was able to place them confidently on small smears. May work for you, maybe not, but if you find you've got an hour to kill stick the tv on for background noise and just think your way through climbs.
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Captain Gear - on 11 May 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Hello Mr Engineer,

I bought a pair of Defys after reading your reviews of them on here. They're a good shoe and they fit me well. However I do find them far too soft for long trad routes. My 5.10 whites are only marginally less comfortable, but are much stiffer so I don't get pumped/sore arches on long pitches.

To the OP: It sounds like you need to work on your footwork a bit. Next time you are at the well. Try boulder and traverse around making a little noise as possible. That way you have to reall focus on your feet and where you place them.

Hope this help.

T
Skyfall - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

Your grades don't suggest you need a technical shoe per se. However, as I said above, and several others, a well fitting shoe may make a difference. But that in itself is not enough - you are going to have to consciously work on your foot placements and, having better shoes, may help you do that as it tends to focus the mind. That was my original point. For me, when I moved from rather imprecise shoes to better fitting (note the emphasis on fit not on what is a technical shoe or not) it did trigger the response in me that I took more care because I could start to use holds more precisely. If the shoe doesn't fit well it may feel like it's rolling off holds and it doesn't encourage good footwork.

My concern is that you say you haven't got time to practice which I think is missing the point - the very next time you get out climbing (in or out) you must start to focus 90% of your attention on your feet - 1st time, soft, precise foot placements, pushing with legs to gain height (rather than pulling with arms all the time).

As you are going to a hot rock destination on limestone, as I said, you don't really want soft smearing shoes; it should be more edging so you need a moderately stiff shoe. Personally I would say that the Evolve Defys are a lot too soft and also they have a synthetic inner which, for me, means that my feet roll around in them as soon as I get hot feet. I've also had issues with 5-10's due to the synthetic materials not allowing them to breathe in the heat. Therefore, personally, I would suggest going for a natural leather shoe for hot rock destinations.

jhw - on 11 May 2012
Thanks - I'll keep the shoes - better technique is free

"My concern is that you say you haven't got time to practice which I think is missing the point - the very next time you get out climbing (in or out) you must start to focus 90% of your attention on your feet"

True - be the change you want to see, and all that...
GrahamD - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

First and formost, the shoes have to fit your feet (that is be exactly the same length as your foot without being sloppy or too tight across the width). The choice of make / lace or velcro will be entirely personal. All I can suggest is to try a shop that has loads of models to chose from and compare each one to your current shoe. Good shops should allow you to do this.
deepsoup - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:
Has anyone pointed out yet that Joe Brown did the first ascent of Great Slab in Woolies pumps? I think that's obligatory in threads like this isn't it? ;O)
Bulls Crack - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw:

Big Ron wore Hanwags I think on the Prow - they wouldn't make it now a wall boots! Makes me smile to Aces described as 'beginners' boots - mostly nonsense.
Skyfall - on 11 May 2012
In reply to deepsoup:

Obligatory maybe, but a scary thought...
mgco3 - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw: Doesn't matter what I have on my feet. My climbing is still shite!!
monkey_moves - on 11 May 2012
In reply to jhw: yes as monk say's if your shoes have dead space buy new ones! but beware most shoes take a while to break in so maybe not appropriate to try in advance of trip! noone has mentioned making sure they are done up super tight and critically clean b4 u start! squeak your boots before climbing and stand on a mat/shoes/towel/ropebag, whatever to avoid dirt on sole before getting on the route! if you spit on your hand and squeak it into the shoe (hence term squeaking!) it will make a massive difference! you should notice the shoe rubber looking much blacker and feeling tackier! Its well known phenomena that in font that every grain of sand on the sole of your shoe adds at least a grade to the problems! enjoy your trip btw :) ps whilst massively overkill for your grades, the sportiva solutions are ace out of the box, require very little breaking in,super sensitive on limestone slabs, and generally work on all angles so if you feel like splashing out haha......queue everyone telling you they are only for the hardcore! ;)
kell_boy - on 15 May 2012
In reply to Monk: Same! Im pretty new to climbing 8 or 9 months) but I tried on so many pairs of shoes and found that most of the red chilis fitted my foot shape best, still desperate for some sausolitos as they where just made for me! But own a pair of spirits I got from an outdoor show cheap and i can climb for hours in them, great fit and seem to do the job great! Would deffo buy another pair for general climbing and am debating dropping half a size too!

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