Choosing the Right Climbing Shoes. Part 1: Defining the Requirements

There are so many blog posts about choosing the right climbing shoes, but I haven’t actually found one to give me the answer yet. I am sort of saturated with information a bit. I’m also finding that there’s nowhere in the area where I can just go and try them on – not without having to order a whole bunch ahead of time (and pay for them!), if I want to try various sizes.

I don’t want to blow a load of money on some shoes that will do me for 6 months and then find they aren’t performant enough for me. At the same time, I want to enjoy my time climbing, and not feel crippled off of the wall, hobbling around to the next project.

To make things even trickier for myself, I want a shoe that allows me to climb on the wall whenever I want and continue to push myself and improve. I want to have the option to maybe use them outside, for like, proper climbing! This is just an insurance thing, but I want to be able to do it, even if I don’t…

Bouldering is my thing, so I am also trying to keep that in the mix for figuring out the right shoe and whether this has any impact at all on the fastening (does it?!)

So where do I find these magical, intermediate/beginner comfy shoes? I don’t know. But I’m going to share what I find along the way…

I’ve decided what we need is some sort of calculator. You enter a whole bunch of information including experience, climbing type, street shoe size (which would have to be calibrated somehow), foot width, etc. This will then output a whole bunch of shoe options with recommended sizes to try which matches up to the climbing shoe sizes that might stand a chance at fitting your feet!

My latest target shoe is the Evolv Kira. It gets good reviews and is marked up as a good allrounder. I’m certainly not ready to cripple my feet yet – I want to enjoy climbing. At the same time, I want to have something that I can get to know and trust on different routes. The Kira gets good reviews for smearing and vertical climbs which is mostly what I’m doing now. But, that niggle is that I know my weakness is overhangs and so should I be concentrating more on dealing with my weaknesses and improving there…? Argh!

To be honest, it doesn’t take much for me to totally backtrack on whatever I decide and be back at square one. What I need, is to go to a Willy Wonka-esque climbing shoe shop, try on a whole bunch with a trustworthy, slightly weathered figure, probably with a beard – I don’t care if this is a guy or a gal – who will offer me reassurance and a guarantee that my shoe choice is the right one for me. A bit like the wand shop in Harry Potter. Is that too much to ask??

This afternoon I’m going to a new climbing wall. It’s only two years old and everything looks really shiny on their website. They also have a tunnel to climb through, which looks pretty exciting to me. They use graded routes, which is new for me. The place I normally climb doesn’t focus on grading, they decided it encouraged a sort of snobbery and they wanted to break that down.

So today I might actually get an idea of where I’m at, or I might just be too excited climbing in a new place and not have time to finish all of the V0 routes. Whatever that means!

The scary bit: I’m going by myself. To a new place. On a Saturday lunch time?! It could be really busy and intimidating…now I sound like a wuss. I’m thirty something for goodness sake.

Anyway, I think they have a shop there, so there may also be a possibility of trying some shoes on…

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