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First pair of climbing shoes

Q. I’m a first year Scout and this summer my troop went to Camp La-No-Che in Paisley, Fla. I took the Climbing merit badge and soon realized my tennis shoes were not suitable to scale the climbing wall. I left La-No-Che with a partial completion for that badge. I’d like to buy some climbing shoes before I attempt the climb again. Can you recommend good ones?

–Slippin’ Jacob, Riverview, Fla.

A. Climbing in sneakers definitely makes for a slippery slope. So you do need some climbing shoes if you intend on giving the sport a serious shot.

To help you with some guidelines on how to buy your first pair of climbing shoes, I called up my buddy Kris Versteegen, a spokesman for La Sportiva climbing gear and former head of Inner Peaks Climbing Center in Charlotte, N.C. Here’s his fit advice: “Some longtime climbers will tell you to find a shoe that is so small that your foot barely fits, and then go a half size smaller. This is bogus. In the 1980’s and 90’s, climbing shoes used to stretch a lot, so people sized them down until they were excruciatingly painful in hopes of a ‘custom fit’ when the leather stretched around their feet.

“Today, climbing shoes don’t stretch nearly as much as they used to thanks to innovative lasts, higher-quality leather and high-tech lining materials. So, you can size your shoe so that it’s snug, but not painful. A shoe with to-the-toe lacing can help customize the fit and feel of the shoe, while a slipper or velcro shoe is much easier to get on and off. In a lace-up, all of your toes should be touching the end of the shoe, but they shouldn’t be bent too much. In a slipper or velcro shoe, you can’t cinch down the laces, so size it should fit slightly tighter than a lace-up. Be careful going too small though, you should still be able to walk around without any pain.”

Here are two Gear Guy picks for good all-around shoes designed with beginning climbers in mind:


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5 Comments on First pair of climbing shoes

  1. Look at Mad Rock flash($60). They’re the orange ones. Mad Rock just came out with the new science friction leather that they put on these.

  2. Get Some Galileos or Something by petzel or mammut

  3. Archeopteryx // December 29, 2008 at 7:44 am // Reply

    I like climbing. 🙂

  4. I go to Camp-La-No-Che! Cool!

  5. try colmibia

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