Whether you’re just starting out on your climbing adventures, or you’re a seasoned pro, finding the right climbing shoes can be tricky.

So, to help, we’ve put together this blog, so you know what to look out for when buying new climbing shoes:


Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s important to get a good match for the shape of your foot. Your toes should be right at the end of the shoe and the heel should fit snugly.

You won’t be wearing socks with your climbing shoes, so remember to take them off when trying on the shoes, to make sure you get the fit right.

A good tip is to try your shoes on in the afternoon, or after a walk, so you can get the best fit as your feet naturally swell throughout the day.


When you try on climbing shoes for the first time, it won’t feel the same as putting on a pair of trainers and there’s no denying they can take a bit of getting used to.

Climbing shoes should provide adequate support for your feet and although tighter shoes will help performance, there shouldn’t be any pain. If the shoes hurt, we recommend trying another style or a slightly larger size. This will also help to make the transition from everyday trainers to climbing shoes easier.


There are 3 main types of downturn to choose from: neural, moderate and aggressive:

  • Neutral shoes are flatter and very supportive. They also tend to be stiffer than other shoe types.
  • Aggressively downturned shoes are softer and more flexible. They are banana shaped, turned down from the heel to the toe, causing your foot to arch and designed to hold your toes in a gripping position, so you shouldn’t expect to fully flatten or extend your toes.
  • These shoes give you more precision, as you can feel the holds and direct more power through your toes, making it easier to stand on small grips and pull your lower body onto the wall.
  • Moderate, as you probably expect, sit in between the two styles, offering more support than the aggressive downturn and more flexibility than a neutral downturn.

Your experience and the type of walls you’re planning to tackle will affect which downturn you choose and how much sensitivity you want to feel. We recommend neutral downturns for beginners, gradually moving onto aggressive as your confidence builds.


You’ll need to carefully select how your shoes are fastened, so you can get the most from your climb:

  • Lace up

Laces will allow you to adjust your shoes, getting a tighter, more precise fit. They are great for longer sessions.

  • Velcro

Velcro is convenient as it makes the shoes quick to take on and off.

  • Slipper

Slippers are very soft and typically have an aggressive downturn, making them ideal for challenging climbs.


Obviously, comfort is key when choosing your shoes, but so is the material. The top part of the climbing shoe, the upper, usually comes in 3 main types: leather, synthetic or a combination of both materials.

Here are some benefits of each type, so you can decide which is best for you:

  • Leather

Leather climbing shoes will stretch, which will minimise rubbing. Leather will also last longer, breathe more and resist odour more than some synthetic materials.

When trying on your shoes, you should get ones that fit tightly, to allow for them to stretch.

  • Synthetic

Synthetic shoes are lightweight and won’t stretch as much as leather ones, so they should feel right as soon as you try them on.

  • Leather with a synthetic liner

Combination shoes allow for a close fit and there is less risk of the shoes stretching over time.


Choosing climbing shoes with extra rubber patches, heel cups and rubber across the top for added grip when hooking, will help to reduce unnecessary wear, so you can get more out of your shoes.

Try different sizes and brands

It’s a good idea to try on different brands, as their sizing will differ and some styles may suit your feet more than others. It’s also worth trying on a half size, as a couple of millimetres could make all the difference, in terms of your comfort and optimum fit.

Pop into our centre for expert assistance and try our selection in the shop.