Rock climbing is a balanced sport between adventure, uncertainty, courage, decision making and flexibility. A climbing aspirant needs to learn the art of achieving the goal through constant practice, patience and perseverance. And to aid them performing in best of their capabilities, climbing gear plays a vital role, especially the footwear. Therefore, the first thing to do is to equip yourself with the essential safety and sports apparatus which you can look for on various climbing gear website. As per a study in www.mayoclinic.org, wearing inappropriate footwear for high-intensity sports like rock climbing may result in severe damage to your foot tissues and bones like tissue rupture, hairline fracture etc. Hence choosing the right shoes depending upon your level of expertise, personal comfort and foot structure, if you want to become an expert rock climber.
Right type, pattern and fit of the shoe is critical. Few parameters to be evaluated while buying a rock climbing footwear include:
1. Type of shoe: There are majorly three types of climbing shoe:
• Neutral fit: An ideal choice for a beginner, it has a comfortable fit. The midsole comes in the variation of medium to stiff and the outsole is made of rubber to give adequate grip. The flat sole helps your foot to slide into cracks quickly but is not appropriate for overhanging terrains.
• Moderate fit: These are slightly downward shaped shoes, placing your foot in a more stronger position. As all the power follows into the toe area, you can handle crack climbs, overhung routes efficiently. The sole used here have a sticky rubber and thin sole which gives excellent grip to the foot.
• Aggressive: In these shoes, the front toe part is curved downward, and considerable heel tension is created to route the power and strength towards the toe area.
2. The material used in manufacturing the shoe: The upper side of the shoe is made up of leather and synthetic mixed fiber. The leather shoe is of two types. Unlined leather stretches and expands; you should not leave a scope in front. Lined leather shoes do not stretch that much. Synthetic textures are most popular material for rock climbing shoes because these surfaces allow feet to breathe and therefore sweat gets absorbed.
3. Based on the level of rock climbing being done, the requirements of the shoes in term of flexibility, shape, the thickness of midsole and the outer sole also vary.
• Basic or indoor rock climbing: The footwear should be flexible enough allow you to learn the techniques nicely, buy downward carl shoes, Midsole should be stiff enough to give all-day comfort, and the thickness of outsole should be shock resistant.
• Sport-based climbing: Mediocre level of expertise needs shoes which are slightly rigid. The stiffness of midsole should be enough to do the edge work efficiently, and the outsole should be thin.
• Bouldering climbing shoes: These are for experts, highly flexible, downward curl gives power to toe, midsole should be supportive and soft, and the outsole is thinner for better grip.
4. The closure of shoes also matters. Lace-up shoes give a better fitting and secure the feet from any abrasions. Velcro shoes are easy to slide in and out.