Climbing shoe

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A climbing shoe is a specialized type of footwear designed for rock climbing. Typical climbing shoes have a close fit, little if any padding, and a smooth, sticky rubber sole with an extended rubber rand . Unsuited to walking and hiking, climbing shoes are typically donned at the base of a climb. [1]



Modern climbing shoes use carefully crafted multi-piece patterns to conform very closely to the wearer's feet. Climbing shoes tend to be stiff. [2] Leather is the most common upper material, with other materials such as fabric and synthetic leather also employed. [3] The climbing rubber used for soles was developed specifically for rock-climbing. [4] [5]

The nose of a shoe can be either pointed or rounded. Pointed shoes can provide the ability to stand on smaller holds more easily. Toes in rounded shoes will typically reach the front of the shoe more easily, granting them more power when pushing off the wall. [6]

Modern climbing shoes are typically subdivided into 3 different profiles based on their shape: neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Neutral shoes, similar to regular shoes, feature a flatter outer sole that allows your feet to rest flat while wearing them. Moderate and aggressive shoes are presented with a cambered (or curved) toe box, with aggressive shoes featuring a stronger downturn than moderate shoes. [7]

Modern climbing shoes come in different closure systems that allows the wearer to adjust the tightness of the shoe. Lace-up shoes use the traditional lace that reaches the rand of the shoe. Lace-ups allow climbers to adjust the tightness of the shoe the most. Velcro shoes will usually use have 1 or 2 Velcro straps that allow for the adjustment of tightness. Velcro allows for quicker adjustments than laced shoes, but are not as precise. Slippers don't have any form of adjustable closure, allowing the user to fit their shoes into slightly smaller spaces. They need to be fitted properly in order to prevent the feet from moving inside the shoe. [8]

Approach shoes are hybrids between light-weight hiking shoes and climbing shoes offering some of the qualities of each.

The anatomy of a modern climbing shoe Diagram of a Climbing Shoe.png
The anatomy of a modern climbing shoe

Shoe fit

Climbing shoes fit very closely to support the foot and allow the climber to use small footholds effectively. Most climbers forgo socks in order to achieve a more precise fit. Climbers will typically wear shoes in a way that sometimes uncomfortably constricts their feet. [9] [10] A smaller size allows the toes to be at the front of the shoe, preventing it from shifting inside the shoe and can allow the climber to generate more force. As a result of their tightness, most climbing shoes, particularly the more aggressive or technical styles, are uncomfortable when properly fitted.

Because pointed shoes may cause the toes to not reach the front of the shoe, this can lead to the use of smaller shoes. Depending on the material of the upper, the shoes may can stretch up to an additional two sizes, which can encourage climbers to buy shoes that are even smaller than they typically would. [6] The tight fit of climbing shoes have raised concerns about the impact on climbers' feet. Foot pain or discomfort as a result of tight shoes is a common complaint among climbers. [10] [11] Given their stiff nature, the foot can be compressed while wearing climbing shoes, and chronic injuries and deformities, like hallux valgus and achilles tendinitis, can occur with long-term usage of overly-tight shoes. [2] [6] [10]


Early rock climbers used heavy-soled mountaineering boots Virginia Garner - The First Ascent of Agathlan - Arizona Highways (photo 1).jpg
Early rock climbers used heavy-soled mountaineering boots

Early rock climbers used heavy-soled mountaineering boots studded with metal cleats and hobnails. An advance on this for dry rock, were boots with Vibram soles, with a pattern of rubber studs developed by Vitale Bramani in Italy in the 1930s. [12] In postwar Britain, a new generation of climbers like Joe Brown began to climb harder routes wearing plimsolls (rubber-soled canvas sneakers), [13] sometimes with woolen socks over them to improve grip. [14] Pierre Allain was an enthusiastic French rock climber who experimented with hard composite rubber-soled canvas boots; by the late 1950s his "PA" boots were being used by climbers worldwide. Fellow French climber Edmond Bourdonneau later introduced "EB" boots in 1950 after purchasing Pierre's company, [15] which had softer rubber soles and became very popular in the 1960 and 1970s. In 1982 Boreal, the Spanish company located in Villena, produced the "Firé" style of shoe with a revolutionary sticky rubber sole. [12]

L-R: Two rock climbing shoes, an approach shoe, a leather boot and a plastic mountaineering boot, last two with automatic crampons Mountainandclimbingbootsandshoes.jpg
L-R: Two rock climbing shoes, an approach shoe, a leather boot and a plastic mountaineering boot, last two with automatic crampons

Climbing shoe manufacturers

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shoe</span> Footwear

A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot. They are often worn with a sock. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with form originally being tied to function. Though the human foot can adapt to varied terrains and climate conditions, it is still vulnerable to environmental hazards such as sharp rocks and temperature extremes, which shoes protect against. Some shoes are worn as safety equipment, such as steel-toe boots which are required footwear at industrial worksites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Footwear</span> Garments worn on feet

Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which typically serves the purpose of protection against adversities of the environment such as wear from ground textures and temperature. Footwear in the manner of shoes therefore primarily serves the purpose to ease locomotion and prevent injuries. Footwear can also be used for fashion and adornment as well as to indicate the status or rank of the person within a social structure. Socks and other hosiery are typically worn additionally between the feet and other footwear for further comfort and relief. Cultures have different customs regarding footwear. These include not using any in some situations, usually bearing a symbolic meaning. This can however also be imposed on specific individuals to place them at a practical disadvantage against shod people, if they are excluded from having footwear available or are prohibited from using any. This usually takes place in situations of captivity, such as imprisonment or slavery, where the groups are among other things distinctly divided by whether or whether not footwear is being worn.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boot</span> Type of footwear extending above the ankle joint

A boot is a type of footwear. Most boots mainly cover the foot and the ankle, while some also cover some part of the lower calf. Some boots extend up the leg, sometimes as far as the knee or even the hip. Most boots have a heel that is clearly distinguishable from the rest of the sole, even if the two are made of one piece. Traditionally made of leather or rubber, modern boots are made from a variety of materials.

Ski boots are footwear used in skiing to provide a way to attach the skier to skis using ski bindings. The ski/boot/binding combination is used to effectively transmit control inputs from the skier's legs to the snow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crampons</span> Traction device for ice-climbing

A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. Besides ice climbing, crampons are also used for secure travel on snow and ice, such as crossing glaciers, snowfields and icefields, ascending snow slopes, and scaling ice-covered rock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clog</span> Footwear made in part or completely of wood

Clogs are a type of footwear made in part or completely from wood. Used in many parts of the world, their forms can vary by culture, but often remained unchanged for centuries within a culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of climbing terms</span> List of definitions of terms and concepts related to rock climbing and mountaineering

This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shoelaces</span> Laces or stings for fastening shoes

Shoelaces, also called shoestrings or bootlaces, are a system commonly used to secure shoes, boots, and other footwear. They typically consist of a pair of strings or cords, one for each shoe, finished off at both ends with stiff sections, known as aglets. Each shoelace typically passes through a series of holes, eyelets, loops or hooks on either side of the shoe. Loosening the lacing allows the shoe to open wide enough for the foot to be inserted or removed. Tightening the lacing and tying off the ends secures the foot firmly within the shoe. The laces can be tied in different shapes, most commonly a simple bow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pointe shoe</span> Ballet shoe with stiffened toe for dancing en pointe

A pointe shoe, also called a ballet toe shoe or simply toe shoe, is a type of shoe worn by ballet dancers when performing pointe work. Pointe shoes were conceived in response to the desire for dancers to appear weightless and sylph-like and have evolved to enable dancers to dance en pointe for extended periods of time. They are manufactured in a variety of colors, most commonly in shades of light pink.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sandal</span> Type of footwear with an open upper

Sandals are an open type of footwear, consisting of a sole held to the wearer's foot by straps going over the instep and around the ankle. Sandals can also have a heel. While the distinction between sandals and other types of footwear can sometimes be blurry, the common understanding is that a sandal leaves all or most of the foot exposed. People may choose to wear sandals for several reasons, among them comfort in warm weather, economy, and as a fashion choice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Motorcycle boot</span>

Motorcycle boots are associated with motorcycle riders and range from above ankle to below knee boots. They have an outside of a typical boot but a low heel to control the motorcycle. To improve motorcycle safety, motorcycle boots are generally made from a thick, heavy leather and may include energy absorbing and load spreading padding, metal, plastic and/or composite materials to protect the motorcycle rider's feet, ankles and legs in an accident. For use in wet weather, some boots have a waterproof membrane lining such as Gore-Tex or SympaTex.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Combat boot</span> Type of boots designed to be worn by soldiers

Combat boots are military boots designed to be worn by soldiers during combat or combat training, as opposed to during parades and other ceremonial duties. Modern combat boots are designed to provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection suitable for a rugged environment. They are traditionally made of hardened and sometimes waterproofed leather. Today, many combat boots incorporate technologies originating in civilian hiking boots, such as Gore-Tex nylon side panels, which improve ventilation and comfort. They are also often specialized for certain climates and conditions, such as jungle boots, desert boots, and cold weather boots as well as specific uses, such as tanker boots and jump boots.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Track spikes</span> Shoes with protruding spikes on the soles

Track spikes, or just spikes, are a type of footwear featuring protruding spikes on the soles used by athletes when racing on the track. Some spikes are designed for longer-term training on tracks, but generally the shoes are used for racing. The term "spikes" can also refer to track shoes featuring such protrusions, though these are technically called pins. Spikes are similar to studs, which are used for team sports, although generally smaller and with a sharp point.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hiking boot</span> Sturdy footwear for outdoor activities

Hiking (walking) boots are footwear specifically designed for protecting the feet and ankles during outdoor walking activities such as hiking. They are one of the most important items of hiking gear, since their quality and durability can determine a hiker's ability to walk long distances without injury. Hiking boots are constructed to provide comfort for walking considerable distance over rough terrain. Boots that protect the hiker's feet and heel are recommended. Hiking boots give ankle support and are fairly stiff. A less popular alternative is to use light trainers with thin soles. Footwear should be neither too loose nor too tight, to help prevent blisters and sore feet. Hiking socks that wick sweat from the feet, provide warmth, and cushion the feet are recommended and a thin, inner sock may also help. Most hiking boots are also designed for other outdoor activities such as backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, and hunting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Australian work boot</span> Style of work boot

An Australian work boot is a style of work shoe, typically constructed with a leather upper bound together with elastic sides and pull tabs on the front and back of the boot. The shoe lacks a tongue, and laces, and often contains a steel toe cap for occupational health and safety reasons. When the shoe contains a steel cap they are often known as "safety boots" or "steel toe boots". The boots generally lack an inner lining. The sole is generally polyurethane and the leather uppers are treated to be resistant to hot water, fats and mild alkaline and acid solutions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cycling shoe</span>

Cycling shoes are shoes purpose-built for cycling. There are a variety of designs depending on the type and intensity of the cycling for which they are intended. Key features include rigidity, for more-efficient transfer of power from the cyclist to the pedals, weight, a method of attaching the shoe firmly to the pedal and adaptability for use on and off the bicycle. Most high-performance cycling shoes can be adjusted while in use, via a quick-adjusting system that has largely replaced laces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ballet boot</span> Style of high-heeled footwear

The ballet boot is a contemporary style of fetish footwear that merges the look of the pointe shoe with a high heel. The idea is to restrict the wearer's feet almost en pointe, like those of a ballerina, with the aid of long, slender heels. When upright, the feet are held nearly vertical by the shoe, thus putting nearly all of the body's weight on the tips of the toes. However, a properly tight fit will hold the shoe to the wearer's instep and heel, thereby reducing the weight on the wearer's toes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moccasin</span> Type of traditional footwear of many indigenous people of North America

A moccasin is a shoe, made of deerskin or other soft leather, consisting of a sole and sides made of one piece of leather, stitched together at the top, and sometimes with a vamp. The sole is soft and flexible and the upper part often is adorned with embroidery or beading. Though sometimes worn inside, it is chiefly intended for outdoor use. Historically, it is the footwear of many indigenous people of North America; moreover, hunters, traders, and European settlers wore them. Etymologically, the moccasin derives from the Algonquian language Powhatan word makasin, and from the Proto-Algonquian word *maxkeseni (shoe).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cleat (shoe)</span> Projection on sole of shoe

Cleats or studs are protrusions on the sole of a shoe or on an external attachment to a shoe that provide additional traction on a soft or slippery surface. They can be conical or blade-like in shape and can be made of plastic, rubber or metal. The type worn depends on the environment of play: grass, ice, artificial turf, or other grounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Slab climbing</span>

Slab climbing is a type of rock climbing where the rock face is at an angle less steep than vertical. It is characterized by balance- and friction-dependent moves on very small holds. It is often not leadable, or climbable from the ground up, unless it has pre-drilled bolts to protect the climb, making most slab climbs either top rope climbing or sport climbing. Special techniques such as smearing are necessary to climb slab. It is a type of face climbing and is distinctly different from crack climbing. Slab climbing is a relatively new area of climbing, having become more popular in the last 30 years, and some of the highest graded routes are currently being realized.


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