Types of Climbing Shoes

Climbers face a range of challenges that can require unique climbing shoes to overcome. There are several climbing shoe features you'll need to consider when you decided what shoe you want to buy. The feature you want depends on the type of climbing you want to do. For example, climbing a mountain that's mostly steep hiking with some occasional rock climbing will require a completely different shoe than crack climbing.

There are several features that make one climbing shoe superior to another for any given situation. In addition, the varied conditions of climbing make it unlikely that any single set of climbing shoes will meet all your climbing needs.

Climbing shoes come in two basic types: Approach shoes and technical climbing shoes. Each type has a specific purpose and works best for a certain type of climbing. In order to choose the right climbing shoe for you, you have to have a good idea of the type of climbing you plan to do.

Here's a list of common climbing shoes and the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you decide which one will work best for the type of climbing you do most often.

Approach Climbing Shoes

These climbing shoes resemble regular street shoes. Approach shoes are generally used only for the hike that approaches more technical climbing. Technical climbing shoes can be incredibly uncomfortable to walk in, so you'll want a good set of approach shoes for the less arduous portion of your climb.

Some approach climbing shoes come with advanced features like nylon web speed laces that'll allow you to get your shoes tight enough to tackle some light rock climbing if needed. If the type of climbing you do is mountain climbing, approach shoes may be right for you.

Lace-up Climbing Shoes

Lace-up climbing shoes are perhaps the most versatile climbing shoes you can buy. The soles are made out of a sticky rubber that gives you more friction when you're rock climbing. In addition, you can lace these shoes up as tight as you want to give you more control on difficult climbs.

If it's your first time buying a technical climbing shoe or the type of climbing you do is in the mostly bouldering and light rock climbing, lace-up shoes are probably your best option.

Velcro Climbing Shoes

These climbing shoes share many of the same characteristics of lace-up climbing shoes. In addition to offering sticky rubber soles for increased friction, Velcro climbing shoes tend to offer more turn-down. That is, they turn your toes down more to give you more power on the rocks. In addition, Velcro climbing shoes don't come loose as easily or as often as lace-up shoes.

Slipper Climbing Shoes

Like lace-up and Velcro climbing shoes, slipper climbing shoes also have sticky rubber soles for increased friction on the rocks.

These are the ultimate in technical climbing shoes. Climber's buy these shoes so tight that they're extremely difficult to put on. In addition, the turn-down on these shoes can be severe to offer more power. There is no chance of these shoes coming loose.

The type of climbing shoe you should purchase depends largely on the type of climbing you do. If most of your climbing is on a steep incline, approach shoes will work well for you. However, if you do more technical climbing, you'll need to get a pair of lace-ups, Velcro shoes, or slipper shoes.

Most climbers, however, will find that they need more than one set of shoes to complete their climb. Make sure you know your climbing environment and talk to local climbers to see what kind of climbing shoes are best for the area.

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