/ VIDEO: ROCUPtv - Technique: How important is good climbing footwear?
I'm sure we can all remember our first pair of climbing shoes – they were comfy weren't they? I remember my first pair coming to the end of the road and being genuinely sad. They were so "good". But they weren't…
This video is to highlight the importance of the shoe that accompanies good footwork.
Back in 1995 I tried to onsight Entropy's Jaw in my brand new tight fitting lasers and fell twice just before the gear. I then tried to top rope it and still failed. As we were packing up to go home I decided to try again in my old, baggy, resoled lasers and I soloed it easily first go. The same thing happened on a different Roaches slab some time later. (can't remember which one). I'd fallen a few times in my new shoes, borrowed a friend's old and baggy original style ninjas and climbed it easily straight away. Tight new shoes aren't necessarily always the best shoes.
One "Dislike" already? Good grief.
Okay, another time I was in the South of France, completely failing to get anywhere on a bolted 7b+ in my very tight (but not very stiff) shoes. I had a rest, borrowed my brother's brand new stiff shoes that were a size too big and cruised it straight away.
Isn’t the moral of the story pick the right tool for the job?
Very true in the fact that a "brand-new shoe" can be too stiff - depending on the model. Today, even the most aggressive performance shoes can be ideal for smearing and edging straight out of the box.
Overly tight isn't a good thing - but too loose is the point I want to make here. The key is that so many people are climbing in shoes that simply inhibit performance. I have coached literally thousands of climbers over the last 12 years. I have worked in climbing walls everyday for that time too and spent more time outside than most. I see that the message that a lot of shops are sending out is incorrect. The shoe designers support this sentiment too.
> Isn’t the moral of the story pick the right tool for the job?
Yes, but that isn't something that might be tight or painful.
It's also dependant on what you want out of climbing, if you're striving for grades then fair enough, ram you feet into tiny painful foot prisons and get on with it. If you want to spend all day climbing a number of different routes, in good company and simply "doing stuff in nature" then comfy is the way to go.
There's a lot of bullshit regarding shoes and comfy is often seen as slack, sloppy and inferior, it doesn't have to be any of those.
I might be an oddball - I have a big big toe and I've tried buying shoes half a size smaller (Scarpa Instinct Lace) with a bent toe (crimped at 45 degrees) and the pain never went away. I couldn't put my weight on my toes so ended up pulling more. I went back to my well fitting Maestro's and was very happy. Slightly baggy on the top but the toe was secure and straight.
I suppose the 'arguably crimped' toes is something that could be expanded on by people showing what foot/toe type they are and whether they crimp. I imagine smaller toes would need to crimp more.
Very true and I don't disagree. As I say in the video, I was wearing my well worn in and "comfy" skwamas.
The key point that perhaps I misconstrued is that a lot of people are wearing shoes that are FAR too big. Clumsy, not comfortable.
That said, for performance orientated climbing, we are looking for the "right tool" and this can mean tighter ill-fitting shoes.
I often spend all-day climbing in nature, bouldering, sport climbing and trad multipitch. I wear a tight, well fitted shoe that is still comfy. That shoe, however, has been worn in. At first, there were a few sessions that I climbed in discomfort.
Yep, for some with stiffer joints, this simply isn't an option. Down turned shoes just don't work. You just need to get the shoe that fits you ergonomically.
> I imagine smaller toes would need to crimp more.
You might remove your toes altogether, that should improve things no end.
Let us know how you get on, you could start a trend.
I don’t disagree with you but depending on what your needs are a painful tight stiff shoe might be what is required for a particular redpoint. The message is don’t wear them all the time.
Pretty good little explanation on how a slightly more "technical" shoe works to your advantage
Virtually All of the climbing injuries i have ever had have been due to a foot pop and because of this i very rarely wear a shoe that has any potential for movement( ie.space inside) on a foothold
I am also pretty heavy (93kg) so not getting that leverage advantage just means i can't pull on to most of the projects i have
For sure if i was doing something 5 grades below my limit i would be wearing my warm up shoes which are a UK size bigger than my normal fit
> I don’t disagree with you but depending on what your needs are a painful tight stiff shoe might be what is required for a particular redpoint. The message is don’t wear them all the time.
I don't red point
I don't see the point, two goes, and I move on. I'll come back another time and try again.
Check out rock athlete at 16:44 - where can i get some of those ?
You can also develop poor technique from agonizing shoes that encourage you to avoid putting power through your feet. As others have said, the right tool for the job that also fits your foot shape.
> You can also develop poor technique from agonizing shoes that encourage you to avoid putting power through your feet. As others have said, the right tool for the job that also fits your foot shape.
I've had loads of people telling me, that once a shoe is resoled, it's useless. But for me it's the best of both worlds, very little breaking in and new rubber. While they might not be great for climbing 8a+, they're find for my limits of 6c indoors and 6b outdoors.
When I bought my first pair of shoes,
"What size shoes do you normally take?"
"You'll need an 8 or a 9 then"
I've never worn anything smaller than an 11, and while it might be true that dropping a size would increase my grade (though I'm very doubtful of this), I'd rather be climbing pain-free, actually more than that, I'd rather be climbing in comfort.
My shoes will never, ever, be the reason my climbing is limited!!!
I have wide feet. No one seems to make rock shoes for wide feet
Scarpa are fairly wide, Black Diamond too. For me the secret to a good wide fit is high asymmetry, which means the toebox is not in line with the heel, which gives space to the big toe ie the point of highest load. The more asymmetry in my experience, the wider they generally feel (assuming it's not a narrow shoe to begin with)
Try fairly flat but asymmetrical shoes like BD Momentum or Scarpa Vapour V
Hi Robin. You have done good work on injury prevention so don't forget feet get injured by over-tight shoes. You should always be balanced in advising tight technical shoes by including some useful links to ensure people are not getting the wrong idea.
It would be nice if some training experts like you encouraged more use of thin sports socks in the comfy shoe used when away from hard projects. They can help small modifications in fit, cut down fungal issues, keep the foot warmer (comfort and injury reduction), keep the biting insects off ankles, and stop your comfy shoes stinking.
> I have wide feet. No one seems to make rock shoes for wide feet
Jokers are quite wide, but I'm still having doubts about how good they are, they are quite stiff, and quite different from my previous shoes.
> It would be nice if some training experts like you encouraged more use of thin sports socks in the comfy shoe ..
I've worn socks since my first set of "proper" shoes when I noticed a layer of skin coating the inside of the shoes, blurgh!!
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