I was talking to an online buddy the other day about rock climbing shoes. Coincidentally, I found this little piece I wrote way back in 2004 on the various rock climbing shoes I’ve tried and worn. A lot of the shoes listed here are probably obsolete by now.
No offense intended to the rock climbing shops here, but the people selling shoes don’t really give much advice on what’s a good pair for my feet. They just give me what I ask for and usually I ask for whatever they have that’s in my size.
My most recent pair of shoes is the Katana and I bought it by default – it was the only model in the shop at the time that was available in a UK size 2 and the next shipment of shoes weren’t arriving until ???
What else have I worn?
For the first three, I can’t say much because I didn’t know enough about climbing and what I was doing to have any real appreciation for my shoes. The shoe with the best fit would have to be the Matrix, but therubber feels really slippery. Can’t do resoles here unless I send them overseas and by then it costs about as much as a new pair anyway (maybe even more).
The first shoe I really noticed a difference with was the Five Ten X-Ray.Although it hurtreal bad when I first got it, it stretched out really nicely. The rubber was really sticky and it helped me learn how to use my feet. The only problem with this shoe was that it continued to stretch and I had to pull the velcro flaps tighter until the side ripped (or perhaps it ripped from too many foot jams).
I had been eyeing the Boreal Matrix ever since we tried to get it for the Thin Man for his birthday but since the shoe couldn’t fit and they didn’t have his size, he had to swopfor another shoe. The Boreal Matrix rubber is very soft and not recommended for a beginner climber who has a tendency to wear down the rubber quickly from too many incorrect foot placements. For that reason, I held off buying this shoe until I felt I was ready for it.
Aside from the nice snug fit of the shoe, I’m afraid I didn’t think too highly of the rubber. It was fine while it was still new but after a while, the rubber lost all stickiness. Smearing on the wall was like ice skating. I recall a mention that the Boreal’s rubber formulation had changed and it was no longer considered very good by this time. I do believe they’ve since changed the formulation and have heard it is much better now, although I never tried another Boreal shoe again after this experience.
When I was using the Cobra, I thought there was air in the heel because at the time I bought it, the smallest size they had in the shop was UK 2.5 and I really needed a new pair. The Cobra was overall a good shoe and I don’t really have much complaints except for the air in the heel (which seems to be a problem I have with a lot of shoes). It was a slipper and the problem with slippers is that after they stretch, there’s a tendency for them to slip off your heel.
I thought the problem would be fixed when I bought the Katana in a size 2, but that, too developed a bit of air in the heel after some wear. I liked the Katana because the sole was stiff. It was good for edging, but while it was new, I couldn’t smear to save my life.
Generally I find that even if the shoe fits nicely in the shop, it always seems to stretch after a bit of climbing. Even those that I bought that were really tight to the point of causing me pain will also stretch. At least that’s the problem with the all leather shoes.
I’ve been told that the synthetic shoes don’t stretch, but I find that they still do to a limited extent. I tried the Five Ten Anasazi (velcro) and V10 when I was shoe shopping in Singapore and felt like Cinderella’s ugly sister trying to wear the glass slipper. I wanted to cry from the pain and I couldn’t even stand up in them!
To update since I wrote that, I currently have in my cupboard:
–Five TenAnasazi Slipper (UK size 2 which I doubt I can wear now that my feet have swollen to the size of elephant trunks)
– La Sportiva Katana (UK size 2, but it feels bigger than the Anasazzi Slipper size 2)
– Saltic Mamba (slipper – courtesy of BlocX)
– SalticVampire (velcros- courtesy of BlocX)
I was using the Anasazi for indoor for a while, but I couldn’t get over the pain it caused to my heel so I stopped wearing it after a while. I can’t really say much about it because I don’t think I really wore the shoe enough to get a feel for it.
I like using the Mamba for indoors and I found the Vampir great for edging. After the increase in my foot size due to all the swelling, I think I may need to buy a new pair of climbing shoes if I want to get back into it again after the pregnancy.
Even though my feet are supposed to return to its prepregnancy size after delivery, my friend PLsays her shoe size now is still bigger now than they were before her pregnancy (her daughter is now about 15 months). I guess it’s wishful thinking to hope I’ll be able to wear my old shoes…
Check out this link for fitting rock climbing shoes.