After climbing at a novice level for years. You start to feel like you had become a fairly decent climber and its time to move on to harder stuff and get better climbing shoes. So you fancy one of those aggressive downturned shoes that you see hardcore climbers wear in the gym. It is time for you to join the big boys or girls (have to be gender-neutral these days) club. Before you drop a couple of hundred bucks on these shoes you’ll need to know a few things.
Comfort (Or a lack of it)
If aggressive downturned shoes look uncomfortable to you then you are right. The design of the shoe forces your feet to stay in a curve position with your toes all squashed together and tapered towards the big toe. Sound painful and uncomfortable? Yes, it is. Fortunately, the pain has a purpose which is to keep your feet in a firm and strong downturned position when standing on tiny footholds and overhanging walls. The downturned curve enables you to dig the tip of your shoes into footholds on steep overhanging routes.
When to wear aggressive shoes
Aggressive shoes are meant for bouldering and short single pitch routes. When you are gunning for a flash or onsight attempt you’ll want your shoes to be downturned, sticky and precise especially if the route is overhanging.
For training purposes, you may want to wear something that is more comfortable, cheaper and durable. Unless you have an immense tolerance for pain then sure wear aggressive shoes for your training climbs.
As good as aggressive shoes are for precision, you may want to keep them at home when comes to slab routes. Having your feet in a downturned position is not going to be helpful. Instead, choose shoes that are flat, with a thin sole and sticky.
Most aggressive downturned rock shoes are designed for performance with sticky rubber soles. Unfortunately, shoes like these do not last as long as you’ll like. Sticky rubber soles have a tendency for higher wear and tear. Depending on how frequent you climb, but if you do 1 to 2 sessions a week it is common to wear your shoes out after 9 months especially the front-end.
Ah yes, I had this experience. You bought a nice new expensive downturned climbing shoes. It is stiff, snug with a firm downturned profile. You feel confident when standing on small tiny edges. 6 months in and you notice your downturned shoes is not downturned anymore, in fact, it’s flat. There is certain shoe design that keeps the downturned profile longer than others. Climbing shoe design with a split in the middle of the sole by a tension band pulls the sole midsection towards the arch of your feet. This design helps to keep the downturned profile after prolong usage. Other downturned shoes without the split sole design will lose its downturned profile sooner than you’ll like.
Check out this article on everything you need to know about climbing shoes.