/ Shoe issue - old model from a gym best fit
I have done some scrambles, topropes and bouldered both indoors and outdoors. Altogether I believe I am progressing well, even though my greatest challenge is that I have to fight against gravity: I am quite overweight and am working on loosing fat as well.
Yet, I am ready to invest in my own gear, and my next savings could go for some decent rock climbing shoes.
Issue: My normal shoe size is 9 and a half. So far I have used my instructors' Boreal Joker, size 9, which were incredibly tight, difficult to wear and uncomfortable but I managed to climb a bit anyway...
I went to a few shops and the shoe models they made me try (Boreal Joker, pro, Scarpa Helix, sizes 9 and 9 and a half) almost caused tears for the excruciating pain!! It felt like my "foot-palms" could rip apart any moment and most of the pain was on the knuckle of my big toe. Yes, the knuckle, not the tip.
The salespeople were trying to tell me I might have some problem with my feet and maybe should give up climbing (I don't like mentioning names but... Ellis Brigham store in London).
However, today I went to a new indoor wall and hired some shoes... they had only La Sportiva Tarantula models of various sizes.
Size 9 and a half was... too big!
Size 9 was ok but I still had too much toespace.
Only size 8 gave me the "climbing foot position" with the slightly bent toes and it was surprisingly comfortable too! I climbed for about 4 hours in them and I could easily walk around the place without any pain whatsoever.
So I was wondering what could be the cause:
were those shoes comfortable just because they were used and a bit worn out, which is why even a size 8 fit so well on me?
Will all new shoes be painful at the beginning but later feel better?
How then can I understand in the shop which shoe will fit me best?
The La Sportiva Tarantula seems to be unavailable in most stores, maybe even discontinues. Are other La Sportiva models with a similar fit?
A few points that might help:
- La Sportiva are sized pretty generously - I'm a normal shoe size 8, but in theory the Sportivas that I use are 6/6.5, which is typical. Actually, they're not generous - they're simply the size that they really are in normal sizes; whereas, of course, we don't use rock shoes in our normal size - unless we want them really, really comfy, and possibly with socks!
- With the dozens of models available any shop that suggests that your only option is to give up climbing can reasonably safely be regarded as simply inviting you to take your custom elsewhere.
- Make sure when you're trying on a shoe that you know whether they're made in Euro, UK or US sizes; the translation between the first of these and the other two doesn't correlate exactly, and it's possible to "lose" the odd size. Example: I might be trying a pair of Sportiva Katanas in a size "6", which feel a bit tight - so I try a pair of "6.5"; these feel a bit big, so what do I do? I might plump for one or the other, and then decide I got it wrong! Just possibly, had I examined the label on the size "6" pair, I would have noticed that the UK6 was in small figures, but far more prominently was the number "39"; yes - unsurprisingly, being Italian rather than British or American, La Sportiva make their shoes in Continental/Euro sizes (as also do Scarpa and various others). However - had I also studied the 6.5 pair I would have seen that they were size 40; hang on - surely such expensive/quality shoes are made in half sizes, and if so where's the 39.5? Had I figured this out and asked the question while still in the shop the assistant, unless he knew no better himself, might have shuffled awkwardly and explained that they didn't actually have any 39.5 in stock; and having tracked a pair down elsewhere and peered at the label I would have found that - Hey Presto! - they were also apparently a UK6! This is because the translation is from the primary size into the nearest equivalent secondary size - so not an exact translation; when the size intervals between systems are different a "bunching" can occur, whereby a single secondary size is the nearest equivalent of two adjacent primary sizes. So when you need to try the next half-size up or down make sure you are given the next half-size in THE SIZE SCALE IN WHICH THAT SHOE IS MADE! (Sorry to shout.)
- When you get isolated pain on the knuckle of a toe it usually means that that particular toe is too long for the bit of shoe that it's in, and consequently gets bent up in the middle. It usually occurs when one of the 10% of the population with Morton's Syndrome, in which the second toe is longer than the "big" one, tries to stuff his feet into a particularly tight and asymmetric shoe that is designed with the longest bit being where the big toe is. It's possible (I'm not particularly familiar with them) that the models you mention are less asymmetric; if you have normal, longer big toes then that could be the problem. You basically need to try as many different shoes as you can get your hands on/feet in; only use the given sizes as a reference point within each model - ie a 42 in xxx will be bigger than a 41.5 and smaller than a 42.5, but how it relates to a 42 in yyy will be anyone's guess - and at this stage give priority to fit rather than claimed performance.
Took me a week but finally found a pair that I was happy with.
There is no worthwhile correlation between climbing shoes and street shoes, beyond a rough starting point, and sizing varies wildly between manufacturers. For example, with the last pair I bought I had two competing shoes to choose from, with an identical fit, but two full sizes apart.
I can't wear anything that pushes my big toes over - it kills the joint. So anything with a centrally pointed toe is a no-no
Yes! good work & thanks :-)
Buying rock shoes is always a bit problematic even when you have years of experience but it is very hard at the start as you don't know what is acceptable 'pain' etc.
Basically, as a beginner, don't buy rock shoes too tight. What you want is a fit where the shoe is fairly snug all around your foot and you don't have big air pockets, loose bits, or your foot just rolls around in them. As you seem to appreciate, ideally your toes will be slightly bent but not so much that it is painful. This helps give a bit of tension in the shoe and also feels more precise. However, as a novice that's not going to mean too much to you so don't overdo it.
Remember that most shoes will stretch a little and become more shaped to your foot after some wear. If they fit well, even quite technical shoes can become very comfy.
I would echo the above comments about La Sportiva shoes being sized very roomily (I wear them about 2.5 to 3 euro sizes smaller than my street shoe for a semi technical fit). But all of them are different and your street shoe size is only a starting point. Use the comparison chart someone linked to above to help size particular shoes. It will tell you how many sizes to go up or down from your street shoe to produce a spectrum of fits from comfort to very tecnhical (and you want to err on the comfort side). Even if the particular shoe your are looking at isn't shown, you can see that most makes of shoe have a particular trend re sizing which should give you some guide.
Try lots on and go for what fits you best. Some so called technical shoes are actually very comfortable on some people (eg. 5-10 green lace-ups are great for people with narrow'ish feet) so don't totally ignore the higher end shoes. Having said that, you are probably best off going for an entry level shoe with thicker rubber (lasts longer) and probably rather stiffer to support your feet more (whilst your feet get stronger).
As for the comments made at the shop you went into, they may have gotten frustrated if you were just asking their advice constantly and not helping them with appropriate feedback. Yes, they are there to give advice but, on the other hand, only you can tell how your feet feel in them and ultimately you have to make the decision.
I would take a little time looking at the sizing chart link and working out what would be a comfort fit in a shoe you like. Use that as a starting point but remember that everyone's feet are different and you should go with what feels right for you.
One final point, try them on in the afternoon or early evening when your feet have swollen to their normal maximum size (though they will get even fatter if you climb outside in the sun!).
As all good shops will let you try them on at home again and return them if you've not worn them outside, when you get them home, try them on the next evening and wear them for an hour or so and see if they feel comfortable enough without being too roomy to be much use.
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