7 advice
Children Rock Climbing shoes
Having two energetic young boys, I was so chuffed when they both became excited about climbing. We visit our local climbing walls, The Mini Climbing Works and Awesome Walls most weeks and the boys soon became confident in getting to the top of the 'big' walls.
Beginners Rock Climbing Shoe
I was keen to test out the Simond Rock shoes for rubber stickiness and comfort. I'd seen them in use regularly by climbers around the Climbing Works in Sheffield and for the price (£29.99!) thought they would be a great deal if they were even half-decent. I'm used to doing indoor circuits in Sportiva Miura's, try to climb hard steep things in Scarpa Boostic's and choose my (too small) Five Ten Anasazi's for slopey grit problems. ​​ First up I tested them on some well used volumes on the indoor comp wall. My first heel slipped off but after some more precise foot placement I found I could top out a number of problems, including using some good, strong heel hooks. I wasn't as trusting as I could've been just because I wasn't confident of their stickiness but if I went back I'm sure I'd do it again. Some of these problems included tiny, slopey foot holds on the side of volumes on the steeper section and with a bit of intent foot pushing, to my surprise I began to trust them. Foot swapping proved to be a little tricky as they have quite a rounded toe which I'm not used to, but not impossible. I spent the next hour doing the curcuits in them and found them to be as comfortable as slippers! ​ When the next sunny, dryish day came along, I took them out to boulder on some grit. I had wanted to take them up to Mark's Roof to test the heel hooking and performance on steep boulders but the rock was dripping wet so we headed for the Burbage valley suntrap. They were pretty sticky on a number of low-grade slab problems and I trusted them as much as I'd trust my Miura's. I tried a number of heel-toe jams on a few steeper problems and I found them to actually perform quite well. I'm gonna stick by my theory that if you're a good climber you can climb well in anything, because as a 'beginners shoe', I was surprised by their technical abilities. ​​ So, to break it down.. Comfort: These shoes are not designed to fit too tight. I chose a size bigger than my usual EU climbing shoe size and wore socks inside for extra comfort and warmth. They are well adjustable with the laces, easy to get nice and snug fitting, though the toe box is on the large side for my skinny feet. I could wear them comfortably for hours. Edging: Pretty stiff solid edges on the shoe, held me well on tiny edges. Smearing: Not the softest shoe but enough flexibility to move and grip. Totally flat sole. Heel hooking: Brilliant. Loads of well shaped rubber that gets a good, solid hold. Toe hooking: Basic as the rubber is limited. Rubber stickiness: The soles are made of a resin-rubber, definitely not as sticky as some rubber but stuck to grit better than steep indoor holds - which was possible with determination (good core work-out too!) All together, I think for their price these rock shoes are pretty decent. I'll definitely be using them for indoor circuits and training. I'll take them to Fontainebleau next month and challenge them (and my own skills) with the red & black circuits. I would recommend them to beginner climbers - indoor and out, and as a comfortable training shoe for advanced climbers.
Which climbing shoes are the best is a very personal choice. As all peoples foot shapes are different you need to take into account the arch type, comparative length of toes, width of foot, angle of the heel, what level they climb at, whether the person likes climbing with socks, if someone climbs indoor or outdoor, what type of rock, their preferred climbing style and whether or not they take their shoes off after each route. As you can see when it comes to what climbing shoe is best the answer is whats best for each climber. This is why Simond create a number of different climbing shoes at each level, with different fits and different properties to cater to all types and abilities of climber.
Climbing shoes are not strictly necessary but not wearing them will hinder you ability to climb. Climbing shoes a very different to any other shoes. They are made to provide extra grip onto rock surfaces, not just of the soles but on the edges, heel and toe of the foot is well. Climbing shoes also fit very differently to other footwear as they a made to have no extra space around your foot which allows you to get more power from you entire foot while allowing you to 'feel' the rock beneath you. In contrast to climbing shoes regular shoes don't do any of the above, if they did they would be very painful to walk around on day to day.
The best climbing shoes for beginners are ones that are flat soled and not very asymmetrical. This is because climbing shoes that are cambered and very asymmetrical can become very uncomfortable as they force the foot into a different position; this provides better precision and power but only if the technique is good. Beginner climbers who aren't use to the feel of climbing shoes and will be using larger holds won't get any benefit from a more advanced shoe and possibly find them painful.
It's personal preference whether you wear socks or not with your climbing shoes. When Bouldering indoor's many people don't wear socks but this can make the climbing shoes smell. Outdoors people generally wear socks more. If the rock is wet many people recommend wearing thick woolly socks over your climbing shoes to get some grip.