Tips for Finding Proper Fitting Rock Climbing Shoes

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A common myth in the rock climbing community is that the more painful the shoes, the better. Unfortunately, this way of thinking can cause long-term damage to your feet and toes. Properly fitting shoes, both not too big or small, will provide you with excellent performance and healthy feet. Follow these tips for finding proper fitting rock climbing shoes.

Shoe Size

Have you climbed and heard your feet yelling at you to stop? It’s OK to pause your climbing and listen to your feet. Over time, this kind of pain can cause chronic plantar fasciitis or even bunions. The number one tip is to find shoes that aren’t too snug or too loose. When you first try on the climbing shoes, keep in mind that the shoes will stretch as you climb over time.

If you have a shoe with more leather, it’s prone to more stretch than a synthetic material. If you think you’ll be walking in them all day, prepare for more stretch.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have properly-fitted boots to avoid common hiking injuries. This is especially true if the area you are walking is rocky.

Shoe Shape

The shoe shape, partnered with shoe size, is crucial for your climbing performance. A properly fitted shoe will help your endurance, grip, and overall footing. Follow these shoe shape tips for finding proper fitting rock climbing shoes.

Toe Box

Try on your climbing shoes and evaluate the toe box. All of your toes should reach the end of the box. This means you don’t want any dead space at the tip of the shoe. If there’s too much space, you won’t be able to grasp holds or rock.


Make sure the heel is snug and secure as well. If you attempt a crucial heel hook, you don’t want your shoe to come off. This could result in a painful fall.


You want your shoe to be snug around your foot. However, if it’s too tight, you can cut off circulation to the rest of the foot. If you have a wider foot and this proves to be a problem, consider a shoe with a wide toe box. Sportiva Skwama and Butora Acro are options to consider if you have this problem.

Try-On Questionnaire Guide

Use this try-on questionnaire guide when you try on your rock-climbing shoes. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a gap between the heel and the opening of the shoe?
  • Is the material bunching?
  • Can my foot move around inside?
  • Does putting on the shoe hurt my foot?

What do you think?

Written by Henry Johnson

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