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velcro-shoesLa Sportiva - Skwama - Black/Yellow - Men's Climbing Shoes
Indoor and outdoor rock climbing / bouldering shoes
The climbing shoes on the market now a days make it possible for athletes to almost walk up the wall and to stand on seemingly smooth surfaces and none existing foot holds. This has all been made possible through years of research, trial and error. The rubber used for the soles of climbing shoes generates as much friction as possible in order for the athlete to perform at peak levels. Most, if not all intermediate to advanced climbing shoes are equipped with these high performance soles, but there are still a few differences worth pointing out.
How do you choose your shoe in this wide range of options
When it comes to choosing your climbing / bouldering shoe there are two main criteria to look out for, comfort and functionality.These two are not correlated, meaning that if you want your shoe to be a bit more comfortable and less tight, you will most likely pay the price in functionality and the other way around. Furthermore, climbing shoes will expand with use and wear, especially the leather shoes can change their shape and size quiet a bit, which is why, if you want performance, it makes sense to initially buy these pairs pretty tight. Synthetic shoes on the other hand will not loosen as much. This covers the aspect of comfort, optimised functionality is usually achieved as long as the shoe is snug fitting around the heel and as long as the big toe touches the tip of the toe cap. Anything else, like shape, material, closing system etc has it's advantages and disadvantages and is up to the climbers preferences and climbing needs.
Different climbing shoes for men, women and kids
It took a while before women specific climbing shoes hit the markets, up until recently a women's shoe was a simple climbing shoe in different colours. Over time this has changed and brands started developing and producing rock climbing shoes specific to the female shape of foot. In general, these women's shoes are designed for more petite feet, their cut is generally narrower and the height of the heel a bit lower. The new name manufactures give to these shoes instead of calling them women shoes, is 'low volume' or 'LV' shoes. This doesn't mean that men cannot wear these shoes, it just depends on their foot shape. Kids climbing shoes should be selected along a similar criteria as the normal adult does, the only thing to watch out for is to not squeeze the child's foot too much because we all know how children are, if it just hurts a bit they won't continue to climb. A trick for kids is to try on the climbing shoes with thick socks, this first of all makes the shoe very comfortable in the beginning and has the advantage that once your kids feet grow, he/she can just take off the sock and by doing so, make the climbing shoe bigger again.
What makes up a bouldering shoe vs climbing shoe
Bouldering shoes are specifically designed climbing shoes for short, intense and precise efforts. Boulderers do not tend to wear their bouldering shoes for a prolonged period of time, it is more likely they take them off after each try in their project (around 30s of effort), compared to climbers on climbing walls who have to stay in their shoes for much longer. For longer efforts like these, bouldering shoes would be way to tight and cause too much tension for the athlete. But it is exactly this discomfort that makes boulder shoes effective on short routes/boulders. Manufacturers such as La Sportiva, Scarpa, Red Chili, Ocun have extremely high heel tension and most of them have a down turn in the toe area, making them look like a banana that is about to curl into itself. These two features allow the climber/boulderer to place maximal pressure on tiny footholds with the big toe and also apply effective heel hooks.
There are 'low volume' bouldering shoes for women, they are designed to be narrower than men's shoes. Kids should not be wearing bouldering shoes that are too tight and have too much heel tension since they are still in a phase where their feet grow. For beginners most bouldering shoes are too aggressive too, but there are options with less down turn and less tension that are great to get used too these aggressive shoes. Once the athlete develops enough strength, technique and body tension he/she is ready to move on to the high end professional models, and only at that level can you make the most of the shoes performance.
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