Rock climbing shoes: a crucial choice

[Reading time: 2 minutes]

Hi climbers!

I am going to talk about one of the most important choice for every climber at any performance level: the climbing shoes.

When buying climbing shoes, you have to consider three crucial aspects:

Climbing shoe type:  neutral, moderate and aggressive shoes according to what type of climbing you want to practice.

Climbing shoe characteristics: features such as laces, straps, linings and rubber have a huge impact on performance of a shoe.

Climbing shoe fit: for a good climbing session, climbing shoes should fit tight but not painfully. Getting the right fit will make it easier to climb harder and longer.

In this article we deal with the first aspect: the right type of climbing shoes.

Neutral

As they tend to be more comfy, neutral shoes are a good option for dummies, but they’re also great for seasoned climbers who prefer comfortable, all-day shoes for long multi-pitch climbs.

Advantages:

  • give all-day comfort;
  • feature medium-to-stiff midsoles and thick rubber soles for a proper support;
  • their flat profile makes them useful for slotting into cracks.

Drawbacks:

  • Thicker, stiffer soles are less sensitive compared to the thinner soles on the other two types of shoes;
  • Relaxed, comfortable fit is not designed for complicated overhanging rocks.

 

Moderate:

Moderate shoes have a particular slightly downturned shape (also called camber) that makes them the best choice for technical climbing.

Advantages:

  • downturned shape puts your feet into a stronger, more powerful position than neutral shoes, supporting you to face more demanding routes;
  • they have stickier rubber and thinner soles than neutral shoes for a better grasp;
  • more comfortable compared to aggressive shoes.

Drawbacks:

  • Not as performance-oriented as aggressive shoes, making them less suited for very overhung routes and challenging boulder problems
  • Less comfortable than neutral shoes
  • Stickier rubber and thinner soles wear faster than rubber on neutral shoes

Aggressive:

Most of them have an asymmetric shape that curves toward the big toe, focusing power over the toe for more accurate placements on small holds. Climbers tend to use them for single-pitch sport climbs and routes at the gym rather than all-day multi-pitch climbs.

Advantages:

  • a very downturned shape puts your feet in a strong, powerful position for overhanging sport climbs, routes at the gym and bouldering
  • they have stickier rubber and thinner soles than neutral shoes for a better grasp;

Drawbacks:

  • less comfy than the other two kinds of shoes;
  • downturn shape fit into cracks in a less effectively compared to neutral and moderate shoes;
  • stickier rubber and thinner soles wear faster than rubber on neutral shoes.

So, what is the best kind of shoes for you?

If you want to have more information about it, you can also read the interesting article on REI coop website.

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