If you are new to bouldering or climbing, you must have heard of those tight shoes that climbers wear, and you will be wondering what they are used for. Do I need one of those shoes for my adventure? Do they help? Should I buy climbing shoes? You must have asked.
If you have asked any of these questions, then this article is for you. This article is filled with answers, tips, and extra information on bouldering and essential items that you might need while en route to the rock tops.
Why Wearing Climbing Shoes Is Important
Many climbing shoes are designed for boulders and are of different styles.
When making a choice, you need to consider the following factors:
Tight or loose fitting?
Tight bouldering shoes are better for performance on rocks or equipment with small holds, but the loose ones are more comfortable.
Firm or sticky rubber?
You should note that bouldering shoes’ soles that are soft and have a sticky rubber feeling wear down faster, but stick better to the wall while the firm ones last longer.
If you are a beginner, it’s advisable not to spend too much money on shoes because there is a big chance that they won’t last long as your footwork is most likely not perfect yet. Just get good-fitting trainers shoes for a start and as you advance in the game, you can go for an upgrade.
If you are a professional, you will notice the gap between your toes and the wall when you push down on the footholds, and that’s a bit of a problem. Wearing climbing shoes will get your toes very close to the wall and that means more control for you because most climbing shoes will keep your toes pointed down in front.
The tighter the shoe fits, the better they will perform. So, ensure that your shoes fit nicely, but are not too painful for more comfort. They might stretch a little bit with time, so make sure that you don’t leave any free space in front of your toes or around your heel.
In addition, as a professional, tighter shoes will give you extra support on small holds and edges, even though it will make it harder for you to climb on slabs where a large portion of rubber is needed from your shoes to enable it to stick to the wall.
When You Should Get Climbing Shoes
If you have tried a few sessions with some hired or borrowed shoes, it’s recommended that you get your pair when you feel like it’s the right time to get one and that it will be worth it. If you know that you will boulder often, then you must invest some money in a good pair of climbing shoes.
Also, if you hate the loose, tight, or painful feeling that the rented shoes give you, then it’s time for you to get a pair for yourself. You can read up guides to the best beginner climbing shoes so that you can choose one of the best.
Can I rent Climbing Shoes?
Yes! If you are looking forward to going climbing in a gym, then you might not need to worry about shoes to wear as most gyms rent out climbing shoes. The only disadvantage in renting bouldering shoes is that you might not get one that is exactly your size, and it might affect your performance while climbing.
Even if you are climbing an actual rock, you can still hire. But if you want to have full control of the type, size, and performance of the footwear you are using for your climbing adventure, then you should consider buying a pair for yourself and save yourself the stress of renting shoes that don’t fit or are loose.
You definitely would not want to smear your foot on the walls or edges due to loose-fitting bouldering shoes.
Can I Climb Barefoot?
If you are thinking of going for a climbing adventure in a gym, then you might need to reconsider climbing barefoot if you don’t have climbing shoes, because most gyms normally set a strict rule on ‘no barefoot’ climbing.
The handholds in most climbing gyms are not exactly as clean as they look, so it’s not good to add some foot fungus on the list of things that are using those spots as their home.
Regardless, you can climb barefoot if you are climbing an actual rock, but this is not advisable for non-professionals. Some rock handholds and edges are not shaped good enough to hold you in place while climbing, so your foot might slip off and that will lead to a fall.
If you are still a newbie in climbing, always ensure that you are wearing a pair of shoes, even if it’s the trainers’ shoes. It will help you in maintaining your balance on the rocks, or in the gym.
Other Essential Items Needed For Bouldering
Aside from climbing shoes used for bouldering, there are also other things like a crash pad that will help to keep you safe in the game. When you wear a crash pad, it will save you from getting injured from scratches from the rock, or absorb the shock that might come from a fall.
If you are bouldering outdoors, you will also need a functional brush to enable you to clean the rock holds, and a small patch of carpet will come in handy when you feel the need to clean your shoes. Also, a compass and guidebook may be of help in your journey as well.
Climbing shoes are not the regular trainers that you know, they are covered in soft sticky rubber, tight, and are mostly designed to focus on the toe because the toe is the part of the feet that is mostly involved in climbing.
If you wish to progress and advance in your climbing skill, then you will need to get a pair of bouldering shoes quickly. You can decide to start with trainers if you like, especially when you are just trying to test the waters and see how the experience will be.
Then with time, you can go ahead and purchase a dedicated climbing shoe when it is needed.