Shanatomy, No. 6

Today, I’d like to look at fastening systems on climbing shoes.  Yes, what holds them on your feet.  There are several common fastening systems and then there are combinations as well.  Let’s take a look!

First, there are lace-up climbing shoes.  They have, or ideally should have, laces all the way to the toe for maximum adjustment.  These aren’t the quickest or easiest to get on and off at the crag, but they do offer the most specific fit for your feet because you can tighten or loosen the laces however much you need to to get that perfect, secure fit on each foot.  Also, as your feet swell a bit during the climbing day, you can loosen them accordingly in order to have a good fit regardless of how much or how little your feet and ankles might swell, especially during the heat of the day after a lot of climbing!  If you’re big-wall climbing or crack climbing, you’ll want a pair of lace-ups because you don’t want your climbing shoes coming off of your feet or loosening up in the middle of an ascent, as can happen with other types of fastening systems.  Lace-ups are a pretty sure bet if you want to know your climbing shoes are staying with you as you climb and you want maximum adjustability.  These are popular among trad climbers.

Next, there are Velcro-closure climbing shoes.  They often have two or three straps that run different directions across your foot.  This is to make it less likely that two or more straps come loose at the same time should anything happen when you slip and perhaps catch one of the straps on something.  They are quick and easy to get on and off at the crag and are often preferred by boulderers and sport climbers who won’t be climbing for long periods of time at one go and want to take their shoes off in between attempts.  Velcro (or hook and loop) fastening systems are found on many beginner climbing shoes and also work very well in the climbing gym.  The straps can be tightened to your liking and offer a moderate degree of adjustability.  For this reason, you’ll find that many aggressive shoes have Velcro strap fastening systems as well.

Third, we have the slipper climbing shoes.  They have an elastic part at the opening of the shoe so that you can slide your foot into the shoe, but beyond that, there is no fastening system.  These are popular with boulderers because, again, they are quick and easy to get on and off.  They don’t have any fasteners that could break or get caught on anything (such as laces or Velcro straps), so they can be wedged into some pretty gnarly places.  The disadvantage is that they can slip off during an ascent, especially during a powerful heel hook or something of that nature.  There is little to no adjustability beyond breaking this type of climbing shoe in.

Now there are combinations of fastening systems.  For example, you can have a slipper-style climbing shoe with a single Velcro strap running across the opening of the shoe to secure it, or you can have a slipper-style climbing shoe with a Velcro strap at the opening of the shoe that tightens a non-stretchable band of tightly woven ribbon that zig-zags across your foot for adjustability in a tensioning system of sorts.  There are variations out there, just so you’re aware.  Some of these climbing shoes are quite comfortable and popular, but they don’t have to be comfortable to be popular.  Several of the most powerful climbing shoes use these variations and combinations of fastening systems.

So, there you have it.  Climbing shoe fastening systems.  Hopefully this was helpful and you can get a feeling for the different types of climbing shoes available.  Don’t be afraid to try out different styles of climbing shoes!  Find what works for YOU!!!  Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll continue reading my blog in the future!!!  Have a fantastic climbing day!!!

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