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The right climbing shoe

You are fearless and want to defy gravity while climbing or bouldering? It takes less than you might think. Climbing shoes are the piece of the equipment you should start with. Shoes for climbing are so decisive and special that they should "fit like a second skin" while still remaining comfortable. To allow your foot to grip almost like a hand, climbing shoes must offer a good balance between stability and sensitivity. Read more

Most beginners forget that no matter how big your biceps may be, most of the power needed still comes from your legs. Comfortable climbing shoes allow an optimal power transmission on smallest steps, edges and in cracks.

The human foot shape is very different. There are many more besides Roman, Germanic and Egyptian feet types. Depending on the shape model of the foot, on which climbing or bouldering shoes are made, there are also different fits within the climbing shoe portfolio of a manufacturer.

Buying climbing shoes online is no problem. But when it comes to choosing the right model and type, you should take your time and try them out. By ordering a selection you will find the right size.

What else you should look out for when buying climbing shoes, what types are available and what is so special about pre-tensioning and downturn, you will find out now.

The different types of climbing shoes

Mostly there are climbing shoe models in ladies and mens versions. They are adapted to anatomical differences in foot width and total volume. The appearance and colouring of climbing shoes for women usually also form a nice contrast to their male counterparts.

Decisive for your purchase are also the factors of application area, shoe fastening, shape and upper material used.

The range of use

Well-known manufacturers offer a wide range of climbing shoes with models that are specially designed in detail for various areas of use and categories such as bouldering, indoor climbing, sport climbing, competition, beginners, traditional and crack climbing.

The shoe fastener

  • The most widespread is the hook-and-loop fastener. It is ideal for bouldering shoes and short sport climbing routes, as it combines quick putting on and taking off with stability.
  • For longer routes, multi-pitch tours or a whole day on the rock, climbing shoes with laces are a good recommendation. They are usually designed more comfortable.
  • Slippers are special climbing shoes for advanced climbers. They should fit perfectly and can be put on and taken off even faster.

Shoe shape

Particularly in high-end climbing shoes, which are aimed more at advanced climbers, downturn, pre-tension and asymmetry or symmetry come into play. 

  • Downturn describes the bending of the sole between heel base and toe tip. For example, a big downturn is advantageous for roof climbing or on small steps.
  • The pre-tension is created by an elastic band at the heel in the entire sole.
    This will cause that the heel will be pulled forward, while the heel bone is wrapped optimally and foot is pushed into the toe box.
    This makes shoes for climbing more dimensionally stable overall, a decisive advantage when all of the climber's body weight is on a small step only.
  • When you look from the side at an agressive pre-tensioned climbing shoe with strong downturn, you will recognize its arc form - similar to the shape of a banana.
  • Especially if you place a pair of bouldering shoes lengthwise in front of you and look at them from above, you will probably notice unusually inwardly positioned tips. This characteristic is called asymmetry and is less pronounced in beginners' climbing shoes.

Upper fabric

The choice is basically between synthetic leather and leather. Bouldering shoes with leather are less prone to odours and feel particularly pleasant on direct skin contact. The only disadvantage is that they can expand after intensive use.

In contrast, climbing shoes with synthetic leather remain more dimensionally stable but do not offer particularly good moisture transport.

Special models for children form a separate category of climbing shoes. Here, fun is clearly paramount which is why bouldering and climbing shoes for children are extremely comfortable. Big downturn or strong asymmetry? No chance! Bright colours, funny motives, simple closures and high comfort determine the picture.

The fit of bouldering and climbing shoes

A common phrase among climbers is: „Buy two sizes smaller than your normal shoe size.“

However, there is no standard recommendation. It is best to start with your normal shoe size while also taking the manufacturer's size chart in consideration as a guide. Climbing shoes are usually also available in half size increments.

It only helps to try it on and try it out. So don't be afraid to order several models and sizes when buying online at Bike24.

Before you add your selection to your"shopping cart", you should think about whether you want to wear your climbing shoes with or without socks. In the latter case, we recommend half a size larger.

After receiving your order you will find out whether your choice was right after trying on the first time. 

Tightening should be possible via sturdy pull loops at the upper edge of the heel and, in particularly severe cases, with a nylon try-on sock. If it is too easy, you should go for the next smaller size. You should consider a completely different model if the climbing shoe sits on the toe tips and metatarsus, but can be easily removed from your heel. After putting on, toes can be "set up" in the shoe, but standing on toe tips must be possible without any pain.

After that it is necessary to test different wall inclinations and tread shapes. Microsteps and hooks are particularly important. You should be able to stand painlessly on small kicks and when hooking, your shoe still needs to be right where it belongs. 

However, in order for you and your climbing shoes to develope their full performance testing for several hours is inevitable. 

Climbing shoes for beginners, advanced climbers or pure bouldering

A pair of beginner climbing shoes does not have be expensive.
The more price-intensive models are aimed at advanced climbers. Many manufacturers also offer affordable models or even a whole set including climbing accessories such as chalk bag and chalk. Low-priced climbing and bouldering shoes are ideal for beginners. They usually lack sensitivity, power and coordination to make the most out of your performance as high-end models do. You can also approach the optimum bit by bit and combine a comfortable, rather low-priced pair for longer climbing tours with a high-quality pair for bouldering or performance-oriented sport climbing.

All-round climbing shoes for advanced climbers usually have an even tighter fit and allow for better power transmission thanks to increased pre-tension, a lot of downturn and asymmetry.

Women's and men's bouldering shoes are fully in vogue. These are "specialists" for short climbing sections at jump height. They also offer special edges in your fight against gravity and additional flexibility in ball and metatarsal area.

The sole material: A science of its own

The materials used are as various as climbing shoes and their shapes. Specially matched rubber types and thicknesses are used. For example, rubber types used can vary between tips and heel area.
The sole material of climbing shoes differs in following characteristics: Hardness or abrasion, edge stability, friction and durability.
Unfortunately, there is a conflict of objectives regarding the desired material properties. For a climbing shoe, good friction properties mean less durability with increased abrasion, and vice versa. Here it is important to find an optimal balance for your climbing goals and specific needs.

Buy climbing shoes for men or women at Bike24

We offer you a great selection of top bouldering and climbing shoes. Whether for women, men or children, there is a suitable model for everyone. Are you buying climbing shoes online for the first time and do you have any questions or would like individual advice? No problem! Feel free to contact our customer service at any time. Our service specialists will be happy to help you find the right model and sizes.