Climbing Shoes – (how to make em stick)

Listed below are Frequently Asked Questions about how to fit your climbing shoes:

Christian Core bouldering in a pair of Boreal shoes on the Egg Files at Rocklands.

Christian Core bouldering in a pair of Boreal shoes on the Egg Files at Rocklands.

Question : How should I take care of my climbing shoes so that they last as long as possible?
Answer: Taking care of your rock shoes is not difficult if you just exercise a bit of common sense. Don’t wear your climbing shoes walking around when you are not climbing. Resole them when the rubber starts to wear thin – don’t wait until it’s too late! Watch the rand, and resole them as soon as you start to wear into the rand. DO NOT leave your shoes in direct sunlight or in a hot car for any period of time.

Question : When should I start thinking about resoling my shoes?
Answer: The best way to know when to resole your shoes is to watch the seam between the sole and the rand (the strip of rubber that runs around the side of your foot). When you start to wear into the rand you should resole the shoe. If you resole the shoes before you wear out the rand you will pay less for your resole and your resoled shoes will perform better. If you climb in the gym a lot, watch for the rubber under the ball of your foot wearing thin. Once there are holes in the rubber, or the if the rand breaks down, a resole becomes more difficult and expensive and the resoled shoe may not perform as well. You can get your shoes resoled with different rubber if you want eg. Stealth onto boreal.

Question : My shoes smell. Can I put them in the washing machine?
Answer: We do not recommend washing your climbing shoes. There are many home remedies for odor, from freezing your shoes to baking powder that have varying effectiveness. We’ve been told that some climbers have had success washing synthetic shoes in the washing machine (cold, gentle cycle) – however, if you do this we can’t warranty against problems related to the washing.

Question : What is the largest size climbing shoe?
Answer: Most general purpose rock shoes go from US size 2 -15.

Question : What does it mean if shoes are board-lasted?
Answer : The board-lasted question is usually asked because of the misperception that board-lasted shoes are better for traditional style climbing. The truth is that stiff shoes that fit well are the best for traditional style climbing. Slip lasting and board lasting are different ways of making shoes. Each uses a midsole and the stiffness of the shoe is determined by the stiffness of the midsole, not the lasting process. Board lasting is a cheaper process because the sewing operation isn’t as complex. Nowadays the feeling is that slip lasted shoes provide a superior fit because the uppers completely suround the foot like a sock – allowing for a more conforming fit when the upper is tightened. By adding a stiff midsole to a slip-lasted shoe you end up with a superior fitting shoe with the support needed for traditional style climbing.

Question : So, what does is mean if shoes are slip-lasted?
Answer : Most modern shoes are slip-lasted. This is because a slip-lasted shoe gives you the best fit, which is essential for getting the best performance. With a slip-lasted shoe you have a sock that wraps around your foot. When you tighten the laces or Velcro the sock conforms to your foot. With a board-lasted shoe, you do not get a better fit as you tighten the shoe, you are merely pressing a board harder against your foot.

Question : How much can I expect my climbing shoes to stretch?
Answer: Most lined leather shoes will stretch about a half size. Most of the stretch will be in the width, although they will stretch a little in length too. Expect unlined shoes to stretch more than lined shoes. Special note: Synthetic leather shoes stretch very little, so you should look for a fit that is close to how you want them to fit after they have broken in.

Question : How can I break my shoes in faster?
We recommend that you break in your shoes by climbing in them. If you can’t wear them for long periods of time, it might be best to break them in while bouldering or sport climbing, where you can take them off between climbs.

Question : Why do some manufacturers make Women’s climbing shoes?
Women’s feet are different than Men’s. You will get the best performance out of a shoe that fits correctly. Normally a women’s climbing shoe is narrower – especially in the heel, has lower volume, a high arch and lower ankle bone notches.

Question : Do climbers sponsored by other companies really resole their shoes with Stealth?
Definitely. We know of tons of examples of sponsored climbers who send their brand new shoes out to be resoled as soon as they get them.

Question :What are the best shoes for new climbers?
Answer: New climbers typically need a shoe that is comfortable and gives them extra support. They typically have weak feet, so they can benefit from the extra support. They also tend to wear their shoes a little larger than other climbers, so they will not benefit from the support of a snug-fitting climbing shoe.

Question : How should I fit my climbing shoes?
Answer: This is never an easy question and unfortunately there is no golden rule. A few of the best climbers like shoes that fit like bedroom slippers while some keen beginners are willing to suffer the tightest fit possible. Still, there are some reliable guidelines that will satisfy many of you. Pick the category that fits you best:

Still Confused? Try answering these Q’s to find you A’s…

What kind of climber are you:

    1. Beginner (Grades 10 — 15)
    2. Intermediate (14 — 18)
    3. Advanced (17 — 24)
    4. Wunderkid (24 — 32)
    5. Talk about 28’s, climb 16’s where no one can see you.

Where do you climb:

    1. Outside Only
    2. 70% Outside
    3. 40% Outside/ 60% Inside
    4. Inside Only
    5. Can be found at the base of 30’s on rest days. Never actually seen climbing.

What routes do you like:

    1. Slabs / Vertical
    2. Vertical / Overhangs / Everything
    3. Sport Climbs/ All Kinds
    4. Plastic only
    5. To talk about, or to climb?

How long do you want to be in your shoes:

    1. All Day: Car to crag to car
    2. Multi Pitch Routes
    3. Single pitch only, can stand in them long enough to tie in.
    4. Only for the few moments it takes to redpoint, will pull them off on the way back down to the ground.
    5. Since no one sees me climb, I actually don’t need shoes.

Now, count up you’re 1, 2, 3, 4’s and 5’s.

2 or more 1’s: You like comfort and you’ll have a better time climbing if you don’t fit your shoes too tight. We suggest wearing one half size below your street shoe size, though you may be happy wearing your street shoe size if the shoe is stiff enough.

2 or more 2’s: You’re climbing enough to understand that a snug fit can yield more precise performance but you still favor comfort above pain. We suggest going one half size below street shoe size (Street shoe size will be too sloppy for you).

2 or more 3’s: You’ve discovered your limits and now you’re ready to expand them. Try pointier, tighter fitting shoes for more precision. Size down 1 full size.

2 or more 4’s: Either you’re a beginner who likes to climb indoors (in which case you should see our comments for “2 or more B’s”) or you’re shredding. By now you know how you like to fit your shoes, so why are you reading this?

2 or more 5’s: You only climb easy routes and hard over-rated routes you have brutally wired. You should size your shoes one half size to a full size below your street shoe size.

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