How To Size Climbing Shoes?
hi Steph, quick question:
i am a rookie climber – started end of december. but lets just say it was love at first boulder problem…
i tried out the la sportivas at first, but they weren’t quite right. plus they were men’s shoes and i am female so that wasn’t quite right either… but climbed with them for about a month and a half.. then read your blog about evolvs. i purchased the evolv elektra VTR shoes (womens 🙂 which is also better because i am switching from veggie to vegan currently, so the friendlier the better!) and while i have been climbing for almost 3 months, i can not quite get a grip on exactly how they are supposed to fit. at REI the guy told me “get as small as you can get your foot into while still being able to walk around.” well, i am not sure if i went too small because my toe was REALLY messed up after my first climb. i definitely had a better climb but my foot was REALLY hurting. now, i know they are supposed to be mega tight, but i am a beginner. i am worried to go a size up and risk them being a little too roomy… maybe i am just one of those people that is an in between size and will forever be haunted… so my main question is… is it better to go a size up or a size down when you are in the middle of the two?
I don’t want it to be too big, but it HURTS!!!! and i am still a rookie… don’t know if i need all that pain just yet 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read — i appreciate any help i can get! because the people at REI didn’t seem to relate to the fact that i am a rook…
Fitting shoes is so hard. I still mess up all the time, even with hiking boots 🙂 Based on what you said, I think you should try a half size bigger than the pair you have. I called my friends at Evolv when I read your email, and they want to help you out and get you fixed up (they feel bad you didn’t get good sizing help as a customer!). So the very best thing will be to talk with them and get it all figured out. You might want to consider the Rockstars also, but they will help you, so I’ll email you on that.
But as a rule, there are a few things with fitting climbing shoes. First of all, people tend to have two types of feet: either with your big toe being the longest, or your second toe being longer than your big toe. Most climbing shoes are designed for one or the other type of foot, and it’s really important to try on shoes to figure it out. If your big toe is longest, you will most likely prefer shoes that have a point near the big toe. If your second toe is longest, you will like shoes that appear to have a more rounded front. Basically, you always want to feel like you have the most pressure directly under your big toe when you have the shoe on, and so you need to choose from styles that are going to fit your foot shape to start with.
The next most important thing is sizing. Climbing is very much about using your feet. If your feet hurt so much you can’t put full weight on them, you’re not going to be able to use your feet to your full advantage. So while you do want your toes slightly squinched inside the shoes (for normal gym or face climbing use, not crack climbing!), you don’t want them smashed to the point of pain. Leather shoes will stretch, and synthetic shoes will re-form and loosen slightly, but I would go for the shoes that make your toes feel squinched but not jammed, if that makes sense. If your toes are really curled and smashed together inside the shoe, they are going to hurt more and more and make you use your feet less and less. Over time if the shoes stretch out or loosen up, you may choose to downsize in the future. But comfort is key, and especially when you are a newer climber who hasn’t yet developed shoe-specific calluses on your toes and killed all your nerve endings 😉
When in doubt, you always want to error on the side of slightly too big. And it’s always good to have a pair of big, comfy shoes around even if the next pair you get is smaller–they can be good for crack climbing, for days when your feet are swollen, or for long, easy multi-pitch routes.
Some people have two different sized feet or are missing some toes, which can be a real pain especially when dealing with climbing shoes. Evolv actually offers the option of buying two different sized shoes if you order shoes off their website, which seems brilliant to me.
Thanks for writing to me: we will get you fixed up!