January 14, 2022

What Size Climbing Shoes Should I Wear? (Follow This Advice)

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
How to Size Climbing Shoes
What Size Climbing Shoes Should I Wear?

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

Our Climbing Shoe Size Guide – Eeverything You Need to Know

It is not easy to select the perfect pair of climbing shoes.

Some experts believe that choosing climbing shoes is a hard decision among all the climbing gear.

You cannot make a mistake with the climbing shoe selection as it can affect your performance during climbing.

Many ask what size climbing shoes should I get because they do not want to make a wrong decision.

We have compiled a guide to help you with the climbing shoe selections.

Some suggest that you should wear tight shoes to ensure high shoe grip.

It may not apply to you as people participating in competitions need this level of shoe grip.

The tip about wearing over-tight shoes can harm your feet by applying extra pressure on your feet.

It is better to try different shoes to learn more about different types and sizes.

Most people find it hard to find the perfect fit as their left and right feet do not have the same size.

Most of the world’s populations have differences between both feet sizes.

You can get better at selecting climbing shoes for yourself with accurate knowledge.

You can learn about Last Shape and EU sizing to start your climbing shoe selection journey.

Climbing Shoes Last Shapes

Every shoe is built on the shape of the feet. Shoe Lasts consist of molds of different types of feet.

Manufacturers make them from plastic or wood material. The Last Shape determines the shape of the shoe.

You can find out which Last Shape fits your feet perfectly to move to the next step. Different brands have different types of Last Shapes.

They made a classification system to name different Last Shapes with the same name.

PD75 is one of the most running Last Shape of the La Sportiva company.

If the shoes made on the PD75 Last Shape of La Sportiva fit your feet, you can try the Solutions and Miura model shoes.

Scarpa is a shoe manufacturing company with twenty Last Shape designs.

You will find none of these shapes for women and remaining for men.

La Sportiva has a Last Shape for the kids as they know many kids start their climbing journey in their early years.

EU (European) Sizing

You may have to select the climbing shoes in EU size instead of the US size range.

It is better to choose based on the EU size because it has more size variations.

Some people also use the EU size because the climbing shoe companies originated from EU countries.

EU sale has 30 shoe numbers. It has 6 more numbers than the US size range. US size range has only 24 numbers.

Selecting shoes with the EU number help, you get a better fit as there are small size increments.

Understanding that the Last Shape affects the shoe fitting is also essential.

Shoes of the same size may not fit if they are made on different Last Shape.

You can find a conversion chart online if you are unsure about the EU size. It will help you find which EU size equals your US size.

How to Size Climbing Shoes?

After learning about the Last Shape and EU size, you can come to this step.

The best way to find a perfect fit is to go to the stores of different shoe manufacturing brands and check which one fits your feet.

Some are uncomfortable with this idea as they do not know what a perfect fitting look like.

If you do not want to go to a different store or if online shopping is more suitable for you, you can use the five-step process to find your perfect shoe size.

Some like to buy online as they get discounts on the online stores.

Buying from the original company website is preferable to avoid counterfeit products.

Some companies may help you find the perfect shoe fitting by sending size cards and helping you choose the perfect size.

Some have online guides to help you with the size selection.

Our method will help you when you do not have anything and want to start the shoe selection process.

Step 1: Measure Your Foot

Before you look for the shoe size, you should look for the size of your feet.

It will be easy to find the perfect fitting shoes when you know the type and size of your feet.

Some suggest that the street size will work for you. It is true in most cases.

If your feet do not have a shape similar to the other people in that area, street sizes will not work for you.

Mearing your foot size is the perfect point to start because climbing shoes do not sit flat on the end near the toe.

You can curl your toe to reach the end of the climbing shoes. It helps you during the climb when you have to fix the shoe end into the opening in the wall.

You may need a piece of paper, a pen, and a measuring tape to measure your foot size.

You can complete the process by yourself. If you ask someone to help you, it will make the process easier.

You can place your heel next to the wall and place the paper below your feet.

You can ask someone or write a line on the edges or do it yourself.

Once you finish with one foot, you can draw the line for the other foot.

The next step is to measure the distance between the lines behind your heel and the line in front of your long foot finger.

The toe is usually longer than all the foot fingers. Once you have your foot size, you can look for the shoe sizes.

Step 2: Check Your Climbing Shoe Brand Sizing

Finding your foot size is not enough to find the perfect fitting shoes. Each brand has different measurements for similar shoe sizes.

A manufacturer may use a larger Last Shape for the same size number. There is no standard size for Last Shapes.

It makes the shoe selection hard. It means that if the size forty of La Sportiva fits you perfectly, Scarpa shoes of forty number size may not fit your feet.

We will give examples of the most popular climbing shoe brands to help you with the selection procedure.

  • Scarpa. Most climbers select size by reducing two numbers from their foot measurement results. It is better to reduce two numbers when you have shoes with PAF heels. Reducing 1 to 1.5 is more suitable for the regular types of shoes.
  • Five Ten. This company updated its shoe measurements according to the feet size of the climbers. If selecting from the older models, you need to use half size below the reading from your foot measurements. You do not need to change the size if you have the latest models.
  • La Sportiva. This company recommends you reduce the size by two to three numbers from your foot measurements to get the perfect fit. You can reduce the size by three numbers when you want an intense fit size. You will get a relaxed size when you reduce the number by 1.5 to 2.

Step 3: Consider Climbing Shoe Stretch

It is better to keep the shoe material stretch in mind when selecting the shoe size. Shoes consist of different types of materials.

Companies are making climbing shoes from synthetic, leather, or a combination of both materials.

Leather shoes show more stretch after you wear them. You can buy a smaller size when the shoe consists of leather.

Synthetic material does not stretch more. Combination material may show a medium level of stretching.

If you do not want them to stretch, you can buy shoes made with a double layer of synthetic materials.

Step 4: Consider Your Climbing Discipline and Its Intensity

If you want shoes for intense climbing sports, you need a fit size. It is unsuitable to use the hard fit if you are a beginner or want to do other daily tasks with climbing shoes.

You can practice with the intense fit shoes when climbing competitions are near.

You can find hints about the perfect fitting size by checking the toe position.

The toe should never be completely flat. A flat toe means your climbing shoes do not fit your feet.

Step 5: Learn How to Put on Climbing Shoe Properly

You can learn about the accurate way of wearing and checking climbing shoes.

You will get the correct answer to your question of what size climbing shoes should I get if you know how to wear shoes properly.

You can check the fitting of the toe and the heel first. You can also test the shoe size accuracy by doing a test climb.

How to Identify if Your Climbing Shoes Are the Right Size?

You can test your shoes for size accuracy by pressing your toes downward.

You should feel pressure from the sides pressing your feet to prevent the shoes from coming off.

There should be no bagging on the sides when pressing the toes. You may not feel comfortable while wearing them on the ground.

They specialize in climbing. Testing them on the climbing wall gives you an accurate answer.

Tips on Climbing Shoe Sizing

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. 

1. 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.

2. 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. 

3. Be flexible when the size is involved

Everybody has a different size of feet. Climbing shoes come in 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. 

4. 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. 

Climbing Shoe Sizing 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.

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.

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.

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About the author 

Roger

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.

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