January 14, 2022

How to Size Climbing Shoes for Better Performance?

by Roger

Climbing shoes will never be the most comfortable pair of climbing equipment that you own. Do you know what’s painful? To buy climbing shoes that you will spend most of the time complaining about.

If you don’t want your climbing day to end complaining, you will have to learn how to size climbing shoes for better performance and comfortable fit.

The size of climbing shoes will depend on the type of climbing you do. Beginners should wear their climbing shoes the same size as their street shoe size. Advanced climbers can wear climbing shoes half a size to one full size smaller than their street shoe size.

Climbing is a sport. To ensure you enjoy it, you have to choose the right climbing shoes to make your experience more fun. 

There are many different climbing shoe brands, and deciding on what size climbing shoes you should get is not always easy.

Climbing shoes are the closest thing to your feet; you should not feel pain when you put them on. 

Table of Contents

What to Consider When Deciding What Climbing Shoes to Buy?

Depending on different brands, different climbing shoes come in different sizes. This is an essential factor to consider when deciding on what size of climbing shoes you should buy.

The key things to look for in climbing shoes are the climbing discipline you will climb, how difficult the climbing is, the climbing location, and the material used on the climbing shoes and their fit

How to Size Climbing Shoes
How to Size Climbing Shoes?

What Size of Climbing Shoes Do You Need?

Fit is an important aspect when you are deciding on what size of rock climbing shoes you will need.

It is essential to compare different brands and shoe models. Below are a few tips to help you find that perfect fit. 

Consider shopping in the afternoon for climbing shoes

Your feet tend to swell up in the afternoon. Before you shop for rock climbing shoes, go for a jog, take a walk, or run.

Some people wear climbing shoes without socks since some climbing shoes are made to reduce slippage.

However, cold conditions will require you to put on a pair of socks and buy slightly bigger shoes. It will then fit perfectly when you wear it with socks.

Try the climbing shoes before buying

You can’t be sure of the size of rock-climbing shoes you should get by just looking at them. You have to try them on. It is better to shop for rock climbing shoes yourself.

If you are getting them online, you could order an additional size and return the pair that doesn’t fit. Before embarking on rock climbing, wear shoes and walk around the neighborhood. 

Be flexible when the size is involved

Everybody has a different size of feet. Climbing shoes come in the UK, Eu, and US sizes. If you are not sure of your size, confirm with the size chart on the shoe’s inner part.

For example, pay attention and note that size 38 of one shoe brand will be slightly bigger than size 38 of a different shoe brand.

Before you put on the climbing shoes, undo all the laces and then tighten them. 

Know Precisely What Rock Climbing Shoes You Want

Rock climbing shoes need to fit well; they don’t have to fit painfully. If you have toe pain, chances are you won’t have an easy time climbing and end up with blisters.

Here are some of the standard fitting rules to follow.

  • Do not buy shoes that have space between the inside of your shoes and your toes.
  • Ensure your toes are comfortable in the shoes and the knuckles of your toes are not stuck or rubbing painfully against the top of the shoe. 
  • Your heel should have a perfect fit. Ensure the back of your climbing shoe is not hurting the Achilles tendon. 
  • Different feet bend differently. If you are having a hard time fitting a shoe or climbing shoes are tight, chances are they are not the correct size. 
Should climbing shoes fit good
Lace your climbing shoes well when trying different climbing shoe sizes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We will answer the most frequently asked questions about how to size rock climbing shoes.

What size should my climbing shoes be?

The size of climbing shoes will depend on the type of climbing you do. Beginners should wear their climbing shoes the same size as their street shoe size. Advanced climbers can wear climbing shoes half a size to one full size smaller than their street shoe size.

Do you size up for climbing shoes?

You shouldn’t buy bouldering or climbing shoes that are a size bigger because climbing shoes are supposed to fit tightly.

You better buy climbing shoes that are the exact size as your street shoe or a half size smaller. You should try them on to ensure the right fit before buying.

Does La Sportiva run narrow?

La Sportiva is the brand to look at if you are looking for narrower, lower-volume climbing shoes.

La Sportiva has a variety of styles and designs that will suit your needs, and they offer many different widths so you can find the perfect pair. We advise you to try them on before buying.

Here is a list of all the reviews we have made for La Sportiva climbing shoes.

How often should you buy climbing shoes?

You should buy new climbing shoes when they feel too worn out or when your feet start to slip in them. Otherwise, a good pair of climbing shoes can last for years.

The lifespan of a climbing shoe is determined by how well you take care of them, the type and frequency of use, and how well-suited they are to your needs.

Can climbing shoes be too small?

When your rock climbing shoes are too narrow or too small can cause in-growing toenails. In-growing toenails are very painful and often cause infection around the nail that attracts fungus.

This usually ends up in your toe becoming swollen and inflamed. It’s tough to climb with an ingrown toenail. Read further about how small climbing shoes should be.

Should you downsize climbing shoes?

Most climbing shoes are already manufactured to fit very snugly; thus, extreme downsizing is not necessary anymore.

The shoe will not have as much support, and the fit will not be as comfortable. In order to avoid these problems, you should downsize by only one size if needed.

How do I know if my climbing shoes are too small?

People’s feet bend differently; however, if the shoes are difficult to put on your feet, they are probably too tight.

Make sure that your heels have a snug fit. Stand on your toes and make sure that the back of the shoes doesn’t pinch the bottom of the Achilles tendon.

What is Morton’s toe Syndrome?

Morton’s toe Syndrome is a condition that can cause pain in the foot and discomfort while walking. It is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the second toe.

It is also known as Morton’s metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, or intermetatarsal neuroma. The condition is caused by pressure on the nerves between the toes, leading to inflammation and pain in the ball of the foot.

The first symptom of Morton’s toe syndrome is often an aching sensation in one of your toes.

This may be followed by swelling or redness around your toes or spread to your whole foot. If your toes hurt after rock climbing, you need to take care of the pain.

How tight should shoes fit?

You need to have around one finger’s width of space between the end of the shoes and your longest toe. The space must be enough for your finger to fit tightly.

As a rule of thumb, if your finger slides tightly, you should go a half size up. If your finger slides easily with some space, you should probably go a half size down.

How long does it take to break in climbing shoes?

It takes about 2-3 weeks to break into climbing shoes. The break-in period is necessary to eliminate the stiffness and make them softer.

How tight should climbing shoes be when you buy them?

The right climbing shoes should be tight enough to firmly grip the rock but not so tight that your toes are squished.

A good way to measure the right fit is to measure your foot in centimeters and find a shoe with a similar length.

A size eight shoe would be about 25 cm long, while a size seven would be about 23 cm long.

Should I buy climbing shoes?

If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you buy a pair of climbing shoes. They are designed for comfort and to ensure that your foot grips the rock.

If you are an experienced climber, then you should invest in a high-quality shoe. You can also buy a shoe with a stiffer sole for more support and protection.

Why are rock climbing shoes so expensive?

Rock climbing shoes are expensive because they are made with high-quality materials that are meant to last for a long time.

This is why it is essential to know what you want before buying your shoes. Read how much rock climbing shoes cost.

Are rock climbing shoes supposed to hurt?

Rock climbing shoes are designed to fit your foot snugly, sometimes leading to discomfort.

The tightness of the shoe is necessary for the shoe to stay on your foot when you are climbing. However, if the shoe is too tight, it can cause pain in your feet and toes.

What is a low-volume climbing shoe?

Low-volume climbing shoes are designed to fit as thin and as tight as possible.

This is because they are meant for climbers with a low volume foot, typically narrower and more pointed than the average climber’s foot.

How can I make my climbing shoes more comfortable?

Climbing shoes are often stiff and uncomfortable, especially for beginners. Here are some tips on how you can make them more comfortable.

  • Try to buy a pair of shoes that is the right size. It should fit snugly but not too tight.
  • Use shoe pads or insoles to add cushioning and comfort.
  • Try wearing socks with climbing shoes to keep your feet warm and comfortable.
  • Choose a shoe with softer upper material such as leather or synthetic leather instead of canvas, suede, or mesh. These materials are more pliable and will stretch with your foot over time, which will make them more comfortable to wear.

Final thoughts on How to Size Climbing Shoes

Getting the perfect shoe size for a rock climbing shoe is not a walk in the park. If it is possible, determine the size of your shoe by fitting it yourself. Do not send anyone to get you a pair of shoes. 

When deciding on what size of climbing shoes you should get, consider the general rule, stick to your size, and things will be smooth.

As you climb more often, you are likely to use tighter shoes as days go by. Tighter shoes will give you more control and balance over your feet and better performance.

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 


Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


eBook: Rappelling Equipment Guide

 $ 29.99  FREE

Download our Rappel Rapport eBook: a Rappelling Guide for Beginners. It's free.