Climbing and bouldering is a fantastic sport as you can get away with having quite minimal amounts of equipment (especially bouldering.) I mean CAN get away with minimal equipment if you’re not like me who absolutely loves getting new gear. Everyone has a vice and (one of) mine is being a bit of a gear head. But lets go ahead and talk about shoes for a bit. Shoes are a very important and necessary part of your kit. You will hear all different advice from all different people if you ask around so pick and choose your advice and do what feels right for you. I would say that you shouldn’t worry about super tight or aggressive shoe fits if you are just starting out. You are just going to find it painful and it will useless because lets face it, you are going to be climbing on jugs for quite some time. Not that you should care what other people think but it’s not a great look struggling on a v0-1 or a 4/5+ wearing the newest most aggressive shoe. I have worn a few different types of shoes so I figure I might as well tell you what I like and dislike about each shoe.
ENTRY LEVEL/COMFORT SHOES.
I started off with the velocity climbing shoe made by Scarpa. I think that this shoe is a fantastic beginner shoe. You are not going to be edging hard or redpointing your 8a route with these but you will be comfortable and will be perfect to get into climbing. I wouldn’t go getting this shoe overly tight as it is not built for that type of performance. Definitely shouldn’t be loose but don’t over do it.
- Cost – Lower side about £60- 70
- Profile – Very flat
- Stretch – .5 size
- Performance – Low
- Durability – Medium/High
- Comfort – High
- Break in time – Low
Another pair of climbing shoes I use regularly are the Scarpa Vapor V. This shoe is now my “chill climbing” shoe. I can wear these at the gym or at the crag all day and not feel too much discomfort. They are going to give you a lot more performance than the velocity above. It has a bit more of an aggressive profile with harder edge. I like the dual strap on it as I have a fat ass wide foot so I generally get some stretch across the front which makes me less comfortable if i can’t tighten it up. This is a shoe that is fine to get on the tighter side as opposed to the velocity. You can get some pretty good performance out of this shoe.
- Cost – Mid price about £80-90
- Profile – Slightly aggressive. Promo photos over estimate the aggressive profile.
- Stretch – .25 – .5 size
- Performance – Medium
- Durability – High
- Comfort – High
- Break in time – Medium
Now we are starting to get into some performance shoes. No these shoes aren’t going to go and make you flash a few grades higher than you currently climb, they will; however, have more character to them. Some shoes will have harder soles for edging, others are going to be flatter and stiffer for crack climbing, others will be nearly U shaped profile for excellent toe control. If you are going to start getting into performance shoes, take a think about which type of climbing you are going to be doing and pick a shoe to fit it.
5.10 Hiangle is a fantastic aggressive shoe. This shoe breaks in very easily. First time I put the shoe on it was an absolutely painful experience; however, once my foot slipped in, it was quite comfortable for the rest of my climb. Edging and heel hooking with this this shoe is definitely not their strength, they perform well. The toe of this shoe… I still dream of the toe on this shoe. You will have extreme precision when you are pushing the grade and millimeters matter. I loved this shoe but the durability eventually drove me away. You’ll see in the photo below I have a whole in my left toe. I don’t know. Maybe I am bigger climber at around 83 kilos but I fried through 4 pairs of these shoes with holes in their left toe. I know you can re-sole but I got frustrated with it after a bit and stopped getting them. I also do not like the single strap with no ability to tighten by the toe.
- Cost – Higher end about £100
- Profile – Very aggressive
- Stretch – They say very little stretch but they always got quite wide on me after a while of climbing but once again that could be do to my absolute flippers of feet.
- Performance – Very High
- Durability – Personal Experience was very low (2-3 months out of shoe)
- Comfort – For a technical shoe very high
- Break in time – Low
The Scarpa Instinct tie shoe is right now one of my favorites (and best looking though I might be biased.) The tie aspect makes it a bit of a pain in the ass when you are in the gym and putting on/taking off your shoes all the time but when you are on the wall it is great as you can control the tightness of the whole shoe Also, how else are you supposed to act cool than flash a route with your shoes untied that your buddy failed on? I can’t say that these shoes do anything extremely well or anything is lacking (toe hooks are not the best but not the worst I have used.) I just love this shoe. They take a bit to break in and don’t stretch much but right now they are my go to. The durability seems to be … ok… not the best but not the worst. You can see me wearing them in my north face windstopper review (https://concretewolves.com/2019/06/05/gear-review-north-face-summit-series-windstopper/)
- Cost – High about £130
- Profile – aggressive
- Stretch – They say very little stretch but I get some in the orange patch in the front
- Performance – High
- Durability – Medium
- Comfort – For a technical shoe very high after they break in
- Break in time – Medium/High
So I just got these absolute beasts. I got sold on the marketing of edgeless technology. The Sportiva Genius are an extremely aggressive shoe from first few wears. The price point on these are pretty high at over 120 or 130. Next time I hit the crag certainly expect for these to dampen the impacts of gravity. I will report back once I have more experience with these.