Climbing shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment for a climber. They are the interface between the climber and the rock, and they can make all the difference in terms of performance and comfort. One common mistake that many climbers make is wearing climbing shoes that are too big.
If your climbing shoes are too big, you won’t be able to climb to your full potential and you may even risk injury. In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to know if your climbing shoes are too big and what you can do about it.
Why the Right Fit Matters
Before we dive into the specifics of how to know if your climbing shoes are too big, let’s first understand why the right fit is important. Climbing shoes that fit well will allow you to use your feet more effectively, giving you more control and power on the rock.
They will also help you to maintain a more precise and stable foot placement, which is critical for safety. Wearing shoes that are too big will decrease your foot control and can lead to foot slippage and injuries. In short, the right fit matters for both performance and safety reasons.
The Importance of Trying on Climbing Shoes in Person
When it comes to buying climbing shoes, it is important to try them on in person. This is because different brands and models can fit differently, and even within the same brand and model, the fit can vary from one size to another. Additionally, your foot shape and size can also influence the fit of the shoe.
When trying on climbing shoes, make sure to wear the socks that you plan to climb in, as this can affect the fit as well.
Signs that Your Climbing Shoes are Too Big
Now that we understand why the right fit matters and the importance of trying on climbing shoes in person, let’s look at some signs that your climbing shoes are too big.
1. Your Heel Slips
If your heel slips inside the shoe when you walk or climb, it is a clear sign that the shoe is too big. The heel should fit snugly in the shoe, without any slipping or movement.
2. Your Toes are Not Curled
When you wear climbing shoes, your toes should be curled inside the shoe, with the ball of your foot at the widest part of the shoe. If your toes are not curled, it could be a sign that the shoe is too big.
3. You Have Too Much Room in the Toe Box
The toe box is the front part of the shoe where your toes are located. If you have too much room in the toe box, your foot will move around inside the shoe, which can affect your foot control and stability.
4. The Shoe Bunches Up When You Step
When you step down on the shoe, it should stay relatively flat, without any bunching or folding. If the shoe bunches up when you step, it could be a sign that the shoe is too big.
5. The Shoe Feels Loose
If the shoe feels loose around your foot, it could be a sign that the shoe is too big. The shoe should fit snugly around your foot, without any gaps or looseness.
How to Check the Fit of Your Climbing Shoes
Now that you know the signs to look for, let’s talk about how to check the fit of your climbing shoes.
1. Stand Up Straight
When checking the fit of your climbing shoes, stand up straight with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. This will help you to get a more accurate sense of the fit.
2. Check the Length
Check the length of the shoe by pressing your toes against the front of the shoe. You should be able to feel the end of the shoe with your toes, but they should not be jammed or crunched against the front. If you can’t feel the end of the shoe, it may be too big. If your toes are jammed or crunched against the front, it may be too small.
3. Check the Width
Check the width of the shoe by looking at the sides of the shoe. The shoe should fit snugly around your foot, without any gaps or looseness. If you can see gaps or looseness around the sides of the shoe, it may be too big.
4. Check the Arch
Check the arch of the shoe by standing on the ball of your foot and feeling for any gaps or looseness in the arch area. The shoe should fit snugly around the arch of your foot, without any gaps or looseness. If you can feel gaps or looseness in the arch area, it may be too big.
What to Do If Your Climbing Shoes are Too Big
If you have determined that your climbing shoes are too big, don’t worry. There are several things you can do to improve the fit.
1. Try a Different Size
If you have only worn the shoes a few times and they are still in new condition, you may be able to exchange them for a different size. Make sure to try on the new size in person and follow the steps we mentioned earlier to check the fit.
2. Consider Adding an Insole
Adding an insole can help to improve the fit of your climbing shoes. Insoles can provide extra cushioning and support, and they can also take up some of the extra space inside the shoe. Make sure to choose an insole that is specifically designed for climbing shoes, as regular shoe insoles may not fit properly.
3. Adjust the Lacing System
The lacing system on your climbing shoes can also affect the fit. If your shoes have a lace-up system, try adjusting the laces to get a snugger fit. You can also experiment with different lacing techniques to find the one that works best for your foot shape.
4. Use a Toe Pad
If your climbing shoes are only slightly too big, you may be able to use a toe pad to improve the fit. Toe pads are small foam inserts that can be placed in the toe box of the shoe to take up some of the extra space. Make sure to choose a toe pad that is specifically designed for climbing shoes.
5. Consider Getting a Resole
If your climbing shoes are too big but you don’t want to replace them, consider getting a resole. A resole involves removing the old sole of the shoe and replacing it with a new one. This can change the fit of the shoe slightly, so make sure to talk to a professional resoler before making this decision.
How to Prevent Buying Climbing Shoes That Are Too Big
Prevention is always better than cure, and this applies to buying climbing shoes as well. Here are some tips to help you avoid buying climbing shoes that are too big.
1. Do Your Research
Before you buy climbing shoes, do your research. Read reviews and watch videos to get a sense of how the shoes fit and perform. This can help you to make a more informed decision when you are trying on shoes in person.
2. Try on Multiple Sizes
When you are trying on climbing shoes, make sure to try on multiple sizes. Start with the size that you think is best based on your research, but also try on sizes that are slightly smaller and slightly larger. This can help you to find the best fit for your foot shape.
3. Don’t Compromise on Comfort
When you are trying on climbing shoes, don’t compromise on comfort. Climbing shoes are designed to fit snugly and provide a high level of performance, but they should not be painful or uncomfortable to wear. If a shoe feels too tight or too loose, try a different size or style.
4. Consider the Type of Climbing You Do
Different types of climbing require different types of shoes. If you primarily climb indoors or on sport routes, you may prefer a shoe that is more comfortable and less aggressive. If you climb on technical routes or boulder problems, you may prefer a shoe that is more precise and aggressive. Consider the type of climbing you do when choosing a shoe.
5. Get Fitted by a Professional
If you are unsure about your shoe size or how climbing shoes should fit, consider getting fitted by a professional. Many climbing gyms have staff members who are trained to fit climbing shoes, and they can help you find the best size and style for your foot shape and climbing goals.
6. Don’t Buy Shoes Online Without Trying Them On
While it may be tempting to buy climbing shoes online to save time and money, it is generally not a good idea to do so without trying them on first. Different brands and models of climbing shoes can fit differently, so it is important to try on shoes in person before making a purchase.
7. Consider the Break-In Period
Keep in mind that climbing shoes may require a break-in period before they feel comfortable. Leather shoes, in particular, can stretch and mold to your foot shape over time. If you are trying on a new pair of shoes and they feel slightly too tight, consider whether they may stretch and mold to your foot shape over time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How much extra space should there be in climbing shoes?
Climbing shoes should fit snugly, with no extra space or gaps around the sides or arch of the foot. However, there should be a small amount of space (less than half a thumb’s width) between the end of the shoe and the toes.
- How do you know if climbing shoes are too small?
Climbing shoes that are too small may feel painfully tight or may cause the toes to curl or bunch up. The shoe may also feel too narrow or too tight around the arch of the foot.
- Can you wear climbing shoes that are too big?
While it is possible to wear climbing shoes that are slightly too big, it is generally not recommended. Shoes that are too big can decrease performance and increase the risk of injury.
- How often should climbing shoes be replaced?
The lifespan of climbing shoes can vary depending on how frequently they are used and how well they are cared for. In general, climbing shoes should be replaced when they begin to show significant wear or when they no longer provide the performance you need.
- How do you care for climbing shoes?
To care for climbing shoes, avoid exposing them to extreme heat or moisture, and store them in a cool, dry place between uses. Clean the shoes regularly with a soft brush and mild soap, and avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents.
In conclusion, finding the right climbing shoes is crucial for your safety and performance on the rock. Wearing shoes that are too big can decrease your performance and increase the risk of injury. When trying on climbing shoes, make sure they fit snugly with no extra space or gaps, and consider the type of climbing you do when choosing a shoe.
If you are unsure about your size or how climbing shoes should fit, get fitted by a professional and avoid buying shoes online without trying them on first. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect pair of climbing shoes that fit just right.