Disclaimer: This may be more of a tradition review than a gear review. I’m not completely sure if that really qualifies as a gear review at all, but I’m fired up so here we go.
I am here to plead with you. Especially if you are a casual (AKA you do it for FUN) rock climber, do NOT fall into the ‘aggressive’ climbing shoe trap. Let me explain.
I remember my first pair of climbing shoes. They were quite frankly the cheapest ones I could possibly buy. I believe they were by the brand ‘Climb-X’ and I wore those suckers OUT. In fact, by the time I was through with them, my big toe was starting to peek out of a hole in the front of the shoe like a wary gopher after winter hibernation.
After slipping off a V5 boulder problem an ungodly amount of times during a session at the climbing gym, I got fed up. I scraped together what meager savings I had and hustled down to the pro-gear shop, dumped a pile of wadded up cash and change on the glass counter, and asked for La Sportiva Solutions.
After debating over what size to get with the shop attendant for the better part of half an hour, I decided to get a pair of these shoes TWO AND A HALF WHOLE SIZES lower than the size of my original Climb-X shoes.
Now if you’re not deep into the rock climbing world, you may be wondering why I would torture myself like this. Essentially, the idea is, the tighter you can cram your foot into your climbing shoe, the easier it will be to press down hard on tiny climbing jibs while you strain to hold onto other climbing holds that may as well be foot-jibs themselves. And some climbers go to great lengths in order to make tinier and tinier shoes happen. I’ve seen some put coffee filters on their heels just to make it a bit easier (and more comfortable) to slip their size 3 dragons onto their size 8 hoofs.
And of course, my competitive brain was falling for it. I bought the shoes, went back upstairs, and after spending 5 minutes putting my shoes on, I climbed that V5 on the first try.
So ultimately, who cares how bad my feet hurt if I can make it to the top? Right? …Right guys?
Well here I am several years later, simeotaneously cutting off my quintillionth hangnail from my permanently deformed big toe, to tell you that it’s just not worth it. And In fact, another rock climbing friend of mine recently went to urgent care to take care of the same problem.
So that being said… Choose your size responsibly. My recommendation is to pick a shoe size that makes you want to climb. Not dread putting your shoes on.
Despite the toll they took on my toes, the La Sportivas were and still are one of my favorite climbing shoes of all time (Just get them in the right size). As someone with big calluses on my toes, I found these shoes to be a great form fit for deformed feet.
If you want to check them out, click here: https://www.sportiva.com/solution-comp.html
And thanks so much for reading! 🙂
3 Replies to “Me, My Toes, and Intense Emotional Despair (Gear Review)”
The pain of tight climbing shoes is one of the reasons I quit climbing eons ago (late ’80s). What I didn’t know at that time is that I had Morton’s neuromas in both feet, and not just in one joint space per foot, but two or more. Wearing climbing shoes was excruciating and took all the fun out of climbing. I hope others heed your advice so that they can continue to enjoy climbing. Fun shouldn’t come with tons of pain.
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New climbers might underestimate how important it is to be able to feel their way around a rock face. Muscle memory and a flexible toe have prevented me from slipping on many occasions.
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yeah we cant go back…thankfully…liked the title