9 million Americans squeeze into their climbing shoes and scramble up some sort of rock face each year.
Our bet is that every single one of them was clueless about fitting their climbing shoes at some stage. We know it’s a learning curve but who has time for that when they could be outdoors?
That’s why were here to help you navigate the tricky world of the climbing shoe size chart.
What You Need to Know on How to Size Climbing Shoes
Before you just take a look at a chart and click buy, let’s go over some basics.
There’s a bit of a debate in the community about how to size your climbing shoes, but the rough rule to follow is that your soft shoes require a tight fit. This means they would be two to three sizes smaller than your street shoe size.
This shoe size comparison is down to the construction of the shoe. A soft slipper-type shoe relies on your toes to create a platform whereas a thicker midsole creates the platform.
Decide which type is right for your needs and then go and try some on. Different types of last suit different types of feet. If it feels good on you, then trust your intuition. There is no point in following instructions if it doesn’t feel right.
Remember to consider the stretch potential of your shoe. Depending on whether your shoe is lined or unlined there is an ability to stretch. Unlined shoes tend to expand about one full size, lined shoes only around a half size. It all comes down to the fit. A well-fitting comfortable climbing shoe is better than an ill-fitting tighter shoe.
Why You Don’t Want Shoes Too Tight
Go tight, but not too tight. There are two main reasons to make sure you’re not cramming your feet in any more than you need to:
Tight is good, pain is not. You can develop serious problems if you wear your shoes too tight.
If you are wearing the incorrect shoes you can expect ingrown toenails that need to be surgically removed for starters. Not a great outcome, and that’s only the minor end of the scale.
Rock climbers have experienced serious problems requiring surgery on their feet after repetitive wear of tight shoes. Also, when you fall, you can potentially land dangerously if you are in shoes that are too small for you. This is because you’re more likely to land on the outside of your feet. That’s how climbers end up with rolled ankles or worse.
Better safe than sorry.
Distraction from Climbing
We just want to point out that having painful feet can be an annoying distraction from what you’re there to actually do. Who is going to push themselves to their full potential when they’re distracted by stubborn pain?
Your climbing shoe decision should come down to finding the perfect balance. Snug enough to be effective but not so tight they break your focus.
Ready to Rock?
Feel free to consider this the goldilocks quest of rock climbing shoes. Not too big but definitely not too small. It might take you a little trial an error along the way but you’ll soon figure out your perfect fit.
Now you know everything you need to know about fitting your shoes, why not check out our climbing shoe size chart.