/ when to go for smaller shoes

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Sleepy_trucker - on 03 Mar 2013
Reading up when I started out, the general opinion seemed to be to go for climbing shoes that were close to comfortable, as opposed to not comfortable but more precise - I bought accordingly and they've served me well.

However, climbing today, I noticed I'm just not doing much good with anything small that I need to use as a foothold. I'm the first to say it's something I've not really worked at much and I do intend to concentrate on it. Erm, without wanting to be the bad workman, I kinda feel my shoes lack something - like my toes (especially the outside) aren't on the edge. I'm climbing roughly 6b and can't help but wonder if I'm on the limit of what more comfortable shoes can do for me?

I'll not rush into anything obviously, I'll go work at it for a bit and see how I feel but hoped you guys could offer any advice or pointers?
cuppatea on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker:

Have you tried wearing socks yet?
ralphio - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker: i started with some boreal jokers which were fine to begin with. Although i probably didn't need to, after a year i got some Katana's and i can honestly say they made a big difference. They weren't tight, but were more i felt like they were more technical and gave me much more confidence in smaller footholds. Have since upgraded to Vapour and have again gained felt an improvement. So, id say its not about getting a tighter shoe, but one that is maybe a bit more technical.
ralphio - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker: written on phone hence the dyslexia
Sleepy_trucker - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to cuppatea:

No, haven't tried socks - any more info?

I should've said I'm on Scarpa veloce for what it's worth
AlanLittle - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker:

Could be the fit rather than the size as such. I bought Sportiva Katana Laces a while back and sized them quite tight - 45 street shoe size, 42 Katanas - but never really felt solid in them; felt like my feet were squirming around inside them. Got a good deal on Miura Laces in the same size, and they are indeed exactly the same length but a considerably narrower last and seem to suit my foot better: best climbing shoes I've ever had, in fact. Superb performance but reasonably comfortable.

So it might be a matter of looking for a good shoe that happens to fit your feet well, rather than just squeezing your feet into something crippling.
turtlespit - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker: Dave MacLeod has some information about fitting shoes on his coaching blog: and also check out the guide at V12Outdoor -

The hard part about initially getting a more aggressive pair of shoes is knowing the difference between a well fitting pair of shoes that start out feeling uncomfortable, and a bad fit that will feel uncomfortable forever. A good sales assistant at a climbing shoe shop should be able to help, but finding a good assistant might be difficult. If you've ever thought about having a session with a climbing coach, they could advise you on shoe fit as well.

Try on shoes that match your foot shape. Eg wide forefoot, larger big toe, with a slightly narrow heal is good for Scarpa Instincts; narrower feet seem to favour a lot of La Sportiva models. If you're mainly climbing indoor sport routes, you can size them tighter so that you take them off after you get off the route (they last longer and smell less that way), rather than a wear all day trad shoe fit.

Sleepy_trucker - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

Absolutely, I worded it badly - I understand if I were to get new shoes they'd need to fit well as well as being tighter than I'm used to.

O.k. I guess the first step is to go to the local wall and spend some time using much smaller foot holds than I'm used to and try to gauge if it's me or the shoes that's the problem (or both for that matter). Can anyone offer any help with that?
Skyfall - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker:

Does your local wall have featured panels so that you can use features for feet? If so, do plenty of that. Also, as you warm up be v careful about your foot placements, precise, first time, quiet. Try to maintain that throughout a session.

The oniline sizing guides for rock shoes are quite good. Try this one.

The guides give an indication of what you need dependent upon what you want from it. I tend to go for a semi tech fit for sports/indoor walls. You don't neef a supertight fit; what you want is snug with no air spaces. The fit will depend upon whether the shoe suits your foot shape so try plenty. Also, how hot your feet are and time of day (feet swell during the day). So try them on in the afternoon ideally but not when they're v hot or after a wall session when they will be abnormally swollen.
jkarran - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker:

F6b inside or outside? You say your toes aren't to the edge of your shoe which doesn't sound great but are they actually rolling off small holds or are you just avoiding the smaller footholds? If it's indoor then I suspect you're nowhere near the limits of even a poorly fitted shoe.

A big part of using small holds is focusing on keeping the force aligned just right, too much 'in' and you're working your hands too hard, too much 'down' and you're going to skate off it. Too much force in total and you may find a soft shoe rolling or creeping off the hold. In other words you can probably utilise the shoes you have a lot more fully if you want to.

That said, different shoes do work significantly differently on certain types of hold. Switching to a stiff edging shoe can be the difference between getting enough weight on your feet or not for a particular problem. You could get stronger, you could get better but if you've got them in your pack then it can be very tempting to try em

Speaking as someone with climbing shoe mangled toes that hurt to walk on I'd suggest you stick with close fitting comfortable shoes (or at least shoes that quickly break in to a comfortable fit), you have to live with your toes long after you hang up your climbing boots for the last time.

@ndyM@rsh@ll - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> No, haven't tried socks - any more info?

Would be about as much use as filling the spare space with lard. The most important thing is fit however technical the shoe you get is (or isn't). The more technical shoes are generally designed to place your foot in a position of strength which generally isn't one your feet will take naturally, they can't do this without being pretty snug but getting a shoe that follows the shape of your foot reasonably well makes a big difference to comfort.
Sleepy_trucker - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to Sleepy_trucker:

Indoors but the wall I was at has a texture like real rock with tiny edges etc to use - the reason I'm looking into this though is that I intend to do a fair amount outdoors starting soon. My local wall doesn't have anything like these little edges hence I've next to no experience with them.

My current shoes do seem to fit quite well but, when trying to use these edges, I couldn't say my toe (little or big) was on it and felt the shoe didn't have a sharp enough edge to really make use of the edge - this could, of course, all be down to me not being used to using little edges.

Part of the question though is; when I read about buying climbing shoes, I was under the impression that you start with comfortable shoes and at some point moved on to shoes that maybe aren't as comfortable but allow more precision. I've never heard / read anything about how you judge when to get the latter?

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