College Outside: Advice for Finding Your First Pair of Climbing Shoes

Photo courtesy of College Outside.

My first exposure to rock climbing came when I was eight years old in my Uncle’s garage. He had spent part of his twenties as the romanticized rock climber, living out of the back of his truck and climbing in Yosemite whenever he could get away. So, when he came back to suburbia Ohio to become a firefighter, he did his best to bring the rocks to him by creating a climbing wall in his garage.

While my uncle said I showed promise on his garage wall, climbing still didn’t stick.  My next experience with rock climbing didn’t come until 16 years later, still living in Ohio, when I talked my then boyfriend into getting a Groupon deal with me for belaying lessons at a nearby rock gym. Despite the lesson, rock climbing slipped out of my life for another 3 years.

Now I’m attending grad school in Boulder, Colorado, AKA rock climbing mecca of the U.S. Not only am I living in a city full of rock climbers and three rock gyms, but I’m also required for my grad program to rock climb next year.

Finding the Right Shoe

While I lucked out with the new shoes, figuring out the fit and sizing of climbing shoes proved to be a bit more complicated than trying on my normal running shoes.

With running shoes, your feet are supposed to feel comfortable as soon as you put them on. Your toes should have room to wiggle, typically with a thumb fingernail space between your toes and the top of the shoe. This is NOT the case in climbing shoes.

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