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Today’s climbing shoes have existed for 40 years. Even if much has changed over time. If you want to go solo climbing, you need the right footwear, but above all suitable buying advice.
So that it does not come to the wrong purchase in the unmanageable huge selection, we want to go into the most important features below. What is important, what features make a good shoe for solo climbing?
Solo climbing shoes are now sophisticated pieces of equipment, which are located in the high-tech sector. The top solo climbers move among other things at a very high level because the footwear brings special and sophisticated features.
The clunky-looking climbing shoes, which are ankle-high and stiff, have long been a thing of the past. The footwear of the late 70s and 80s have now evolved lightweight slippers, which have little in common with their predecessors.
That it is not so easy to gain a foothold in the market of solo climbing shoes*, some well-known manufacturers have already had to admit. A few years ago, the company Mammut tried to establish itself, whose commitment extended over several years. Ultimately, the manufacturer had to give up, because the performance was never achieved, which can be observed in the long-established competitors.
These are the best solo climbing shoes:
- La Sportiva TC Pro* ← for advanced climbers
- Tenaya Iati*
- La Sportiva Miura*
- La Sportiva Solutions*
- Scarpa Furia Air*
- Black Diamond Momentum* ← for beginners
Solo Climbing Shoes Special Features
The shoes, unlike classic sports shoes, fit very closely to the foot and adapt to its shape and structure. It is important that there is as little space as possible between the toes and the toe of the shoe. Solo climbing shoes expand over time, so they should always be bought one to two sizes smaller.
The pretension and downturn of the shoe should also be brought into focus. This determines how strongly the heel plate of the shoe pushes the foot forward. As a beginner, you should choose a model with a small or low downturn. The advanced solo climber is best to choose a shoe with existing asymmetry, in combination with a downturn.
If you’re not practicing indoors and head out into the great outdoors with a climbing harness, you’re securing a beautiful outdoor experience. The stress of everyday life simply falls away from you as the athlete finds his route and becomes one with himself and nature. Every single moment you focus on the essentials. It is not only concentration that matters, but also determination to succeed in solo climbing. Of course, a certain level of fitness also plays a role. So does the right footwear. Suitable shoes are essential for solo climbing to ensure the necessary grip so that you do not suddenly hang in the ropes.
However, choosing the right shoe is not easy. After all, the product portfolio is wide-ranging. Would you prefer a Borea model or a Five Ten? Or perhaps a Scarpa Vapor V is being considered? In this guide, we want to specifically address the features of the models and inform about all the important information about this particular piece of solo climbing equipment.
How should climbing shoes fit? Is it too tight?
This is what Distinguishes a Solo Climbing Shoe
Shoes for solo climbing are offered in a variety of designs. These are based on different rock types and wall inclinations. For this reason, the individual models have strong differences in their last shape. There are also significant differences in terms of construction.
And last but not least, the rubber sole and the closure must be chosen specifically, as here too there are differences between the various models.
Solo climbing shoes: what types are there?
The shoes are not only selected according to their category, they are also based on the areas of use and must be adapted to the training level of the climber. Therefore, we will list how the appropriate climbing shoe should be constructed depending on the level of training.
The equipment for beginners focuses on comfort. After all, solo climbing is still unfamiliar to beginners and it is especially important at the beginning that you do not lose the desire after the first hurdle. Here, a climbing shoe with a straight last is a good choice. In this case, the pretension should be not strong. If a pretension is nevertheless present, it should only be minimally pronounced. A shoe with lacing is suitable so that the first attempts run smoothly and a secure feeling is created.
Even advanced solo climbers should focus on a high level of comfort in the context of footwear. However, those who envisage demanding routes must make concessions when it comes to the space of the toes. For this purpose, a shoe with a strongly pronounced pretension is ideal. In addition, attention should be paid to a corresponding asymmetry. This ensures that even small footholds can be conquered, which are always necessary when solo climbing.
What are the Purchase Criteria to look for when Choosing?
Basically, it does not matter whether a higher or lower price segment is aimed at when buying: What is important is that the right size is selected. In addition, a suitable sole and an exact fit must be ensured. In the following comparison, we reveal the other criteria that need to be taken into account.
The so-called pretension has already been mentioned several times in the text. This indicates how far the foot is pressed forward. The pretension should be very high when solo climbing is about taking small steps and conquering overhanging walls.
If the shoe is to be selected for a beginner, the pretension can be omitted when buying. This has the simple background that just at the beginning rather less demanding routes are conquered. A large pretension is therefore not necessary.
If it is a shoe with a stiff midsole, this ensures proper surefootedness. This is always important when it comes to mastering small ledges with the right equipment. For example, in a climbing hall.
In nature, friction kicks are more likely to be found, which require a sensitive and soft midsole. Here it is important to know that a stronger foot force is needed when the shoe has a soft midsole.
In the stores you can find boulder shoes with Velcro as well as lace-up shoes. In addition, slip-on shoes are offered. With a lacing, the climber secures a high degree of adjustment options and a better hold. Who instead attaches great importance to the quick on and off of the shoes, should rather look around in the area of solo climbing shoes with Velcro. Alternatively, slip-on shoes are an option.
All Solo climbing shoes are equipped with a rubber sole without profile. No matter whether it is a cheap or an expensive model. It also does not matter from which manufacturer. Whether Millet, Evolv, Mammut or Scarpa, a profile is not part of the equipment of climbing shoes.
A soft sole ensures that the solo climber has a good grip on the rock or even in the hall. If the equipment is primarily purchased for bouldering, climbing shoes should be selected which score with a high degree of sensitivity. Ideally, these shoes also allow you to grip the rock with your toes. A hard sole, on the other hand, is better suited for crevasses and small footholds.
These variants also require less effort. This is particularly useful for beginners. The outer edge, the so-called bar, is also an important purchase criterion. For beginners, this should be symmetrical, while advanced users should opt for an asymmetrical shape.
Tip: The size of Solo climbing shoes changes during use. The shoes should therefore be purchased one to two sizes larger.
Solo Climbing Shoes – FAQ
Many beginners think that their shoes are too tight. However, this is a subjective feeling. Unlike hiking boots, Solo climbing shoes are designed to fit as snugly as possible on the foot.
The personal favorite should also have the smallest possible space between the tip of the shoe and the toes.
Can you wash Solo climbing shoes in the machine?
If the Solo climbing shoes are very dirty and need to be cleaned, the washing machine should never be used for this. And also soap and detergent have nothing to do on the surface of the footwear.
The sole of the shoe must always remain dry and clean when climbing. Therefore, it is important that dirt is removed. However, this should only be implemented by rubbing or tapping on the rock, respectively, or with the help of a damp sponge.
Fine dust can be removed very easily with the fingers. If the shoes are to be transported, they are particularly well protected in a cloth bag. At home, the shoes can then be cleaned with warm water. Alcohol can be used to clean the soles, which ensures better adhesion. Before the shoes are stored, they should be well dried. For this purpose, newspaper is suitable, which is stuffed into the shoes.
Stinky climbing shoes: what to do?
Stinky climbing shoes are best aired out. If this does not remedy the situation, they can be placed in the freezer overnight. This kills annoying odor-causing bacteria. The use of disinfectants should be avoided, however, as leather in particular can become brittle very quickly as soon as it comes into contact with the corresponding liquids.
How long do climbing shoes last?
Hard to believe, but solo climbing shoes usually last only a week for professionals. Beginners have significantly more of their shoes, as these usually last 6 to 12 months. If you use the shoes a lot in the climbing hall, the life span can be significantly shorter. The same applies to use on limestone or sandstone.
When do climbing shoes need to be resoled? – Guide
What do I do if the sole is worn out?
If the sole of the shoe is already almost transparent, it can be resoled. To ensure that the climbing shoe is repaired professionally, a professional should be consulted. This has the appropriate soles usually already ready.
How much does the resole cost?
Until a few years ago, the new sole for climbing shoes was still such a thing. As a rule, you had to assume that the solo climbing shoes have a different character after resoling. This inevitably led to the fact that the shoes have not lasted long. In the meantime, however, reasonable alternatives are offered. If you send in the shoe in time and do not wait until the sole is completely worn through, you can expect costs of 20 to 30 EUR for the resole.
There are suppliers on the net, where you can even choose the new sole. As a rule, the shoes are mounted on similar lasts. This means that the character does not change greatly. So if you had bought a good pair of climbing shoes, this should calmly let soling once. It is worth it.
Where to buy climbing shoes?
Climbing shoes are offered both online and in stationary specialty stores. Here, however, the virtual purchase offers itself, because the product features can be better compared with each other.
Customers benefit from the transparency offered by the web, but have to make concessions when it comes to buying advice. That is why it is important to read a comparison. This helps to find out which features are important and what needs to be taken into account.
The Individual Designs Described in Detail
These are sometimes also called lace-ups. Lace-ups are ideal for alpine tours, which last a little longer and are very popular, especially from La Sportiva. The shoes can not only be optimally fixed, they also hold very well. With the adjustable fixation, these models usually convince with a better step feeling. The disadvantage is that it usually takes a little longer to put on and take off. Therefore, lace-up shoes are not necessarily suitable for bouldering.
As mentioned above, these designs are also called Velcros or Velcro shoes. They are characterized by the fact that they can be quickly put on and taken off. This makes them popular models for bouldering. However, it is advisable that shoes with Velcro closures are replaced more often. This has the simple background that they suffer more quickly from wear and thus break.
Slippers are solo climbing shoes, which have neither a Velcro closure, nor lacing. However, they are partly equipped with a Velcro strip and usually fit very tightly. The important thing with loafers is that they fit exactly. The advantage also refers to the quick on and off. However, beginners should avoid loafers and choose a model with lacing instead.
Attention: You have to take care of your safety when climbing! The information on climbtheearth.com only helps you to learn. Before you climb, you should make sure that you have been properly instructed by an expert and that you follow all safety precautions.
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