The Climbing Shoe Quiz
From testing climbing shoes, we get a first-hand understanding of which models are best suited to certain disciplines, climbing terrain, and varying foot shapes.
By answering these six simple questions, it allows us to offer you three shoe suggestions that we think are best suited to your feet and climbing style.
Let us help you on your journey to finding the perfect shoe!
Step 1: Consider your shoe’s purpose
The first half of the quiz will identify the purpose and terrain where you plan on climbing. Most models can be broadly grouped as performance, beginner, or all-round shoes.
If you are new to climbing, the requirements of your shoe will greatly differ from an experienced climber who is looking for a shoe to maximize performance for a specific style of climbing.
Step 2: Decide on your preferred style of climbing
Generally, the requirements of a shoe change depending on the style of climbing you will be doing.
Shoes designed for a shorter style of climbing often focus on performance rather than comfort. They often have closures that allow for easy on, easy off access, and have additional design features that help you to tackle difficult sequences.
For climbs that involve spending prolonged periods of time on the wall, comfort becomes more of a priority over performance.
Step 3: Are you climbing inside or outside?
Although there are plenty of shoes that can perform well on both plastic and rock, some characteristics allow shoes to handle the demands of these varying environments better than others.
Indoor climbing tends to be more dynamic, with larger holds that have greater surface friction than rock. Because of this, shoes with a flexible construction and a softer outsole rubber tend to excel in the gym.
Step 4: Think about the vertical incline
The incline of a climb, when taken into consideration with other factors, will play a role in determining the right shoe for you. Aggressive shoes allow for greater precision due to their camber and asymmetrical shape, which also makes them naturally suited to overhung routes.
Likewise, a stiff neutral shoe will be better suited to vertical terrain or crimpy slab climbing due to their ability to create a rigid platform between you and the rock.
Step 5: How wide are your feet?
Every shoe is built on a mould called a ‘last’, which dictates the shape and size of a shoe. Shoe lasts are designed to cater to different sizes of feet, which is why many brands offer the same shoe in both male and female variations.
From our hands-on testing, we determine which shoes, and last shapes, are best suited to varying widths and foot volume.
Step 6: Contemplate your toe shape
The shoe last doesn’t just dedicate the width and volume of a shoe, it will control the shape of the toe box too. No climbing shoe is designed to be a perfect carbon copy of your foot shape, nor should it. Both your foot and shoe should compromise their natural shape and place your foot in a powerful position.
That said, the toe box of shoes will suit the shape of your toes better than others. Climbers that have Morton’s toe might find asymmetrical shoes painful, so shoes with a more centralised toe box might feel more comfortable.
Similarly climbers that have bunions or roman toes might benefit from a wider toe box or more rounded tip.