This week, I interviewed a climber who is new to the scene, whom I will refer to as MT. He’s only been climbing for two months, but really enjoys it. When I asked him for an interview, he said that the shoes he had were his first pair and that he didn’t have a lot of experience. I told him that was okay, because we all start where he’s at, and he’s a climber, too, after all! MT started out with his first pair of climbing shoes being the Scarpa Force V climbing shoes. I asked him if he liked them, and he said, “Oh, yeah. I like them. They’re a little loose now, though. When I bought them, they were really tight, but now I think I need a smaller size.” We had a conversation about shoe break-in and I explained some of the characteristics of shoes that can make them stretch a lot or a little, depending on which ones are built into the shoe that you choose. I asked him what he liked about his shoes. He liked the flat last that doesn’t bend his feet, and the fact that they stick well to the wall so far. When we got to the question about how tight he likes his shoes, he said, “Well, now that they’re broken in and I’m not wearing socks with them, I wish I had a smaller shoe by at least half a size.” In terms of fit, he would like them to be snug. I asked him how much he thought he needed to size down his climbing shoes if he had the fit he wanted. He wears a size 11 US Men’s street shoe, and needs the equivalent of a size 10 US Men’s for his climbing shoes, so he would size down one full US Men’s size for his climbing shoes, we estimated from our conversation. He was glad to have been interviewed and seemed happy that I had asked him. Thank you, MT!
This interview brought home the point that is so crucial to sizing our climbing shoes – how much they’re going to (or not going to) stretch as we break them in! I was really thankful for this interview with MT because I got to have a conversation that helped both of us in this area. I learned the hard way how to size my shoes. Buy a pair, try them on, break them in, reassess fit, then do it all over again. Different shoes would stretch and break in differently and I was so incredibly frustrated with trying to find my shoe size!!! Hopefully MT won’t have to go through as much of that now that we’ve talked about it, but everybody goes through it to a point. There are factors that go into stretch and ultimately how the shoes are going to fit your feet once broken in that can be used to predict the outcome somewhat, though, and for more information on those, you’ll have to read my new weekly post series “Shanatomy” on Thursdays. Oh, the suspense!