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Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain
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otto6457


Dec 17, 2012, 8:58 PM
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Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain
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Hello to the forum and thanks in advance for any help. I've lurked awhile to try and learn as much as I can but I've run into a problem that I'm not sure I can solve without some help from more experienced climbers.

First off, I'm definitely an older beginner. I'm 55 and I hadn't climbed anything higher than a step ladder until a little over a month ago. An indoor climbing facility opened here in the flat lands of West Texas and I stopped by, gave it try, and got hooked.

Here's my problem. The shoes!!!

I went to the only local climbing retail shop here and the salesman measured my feet and explained that climbing shoes will be tight and that they will be "uncomfortable" for awhile until I break them in. I wear 11.5 in normal athletic shoes and he recommended either a 10.5 or at the largest, an 11.0. I tried the 10.5's on and it was unbearable after less than 5 minutes. I told him they were incredibly painful and he reluctantly got me the 11's. I wore them around the store for about 30 minutes and while they were painful, they weren't nearly as bad as the 10.5's. He told me that as I wore them and climbed in them, they would become perfect. So, I took them. They are Evolv Bandit SC's.

When I took them climbing the first time and got my introductory lesson, I had to quit in less than 30 minutes. It was just too painful to continue. I took the shoes back to the store and I was informed that there is NO return on climbing shoes or on any climbing products. So, I was stuck.

I started researching climbing shoes and it turns out that I have a "morton toe" (longer middle toe) and I need a symmetrical shoe. It also turns out that synthetic shoes like the Evolv Bandits don't really stretch out much so it's unlikely that my shoes will ever fit me correctly since the Bandits are both synthetic and asymmetrical. It also appears that 33 years of being an auto mechanic and working on concrete floors the whole time has given me some arthritis in both big toes which further aggravates the pain from really tight climbing shoes.

So, in my research, I have found two shoes that might help me to continue climbing since there is no way I can climb in what I have now. The Evolv Demorto is made specifically for morton's toe and the 5.10 Spire has a larger toe box which should help also. The Demorto is a synthetic shoe and the Spire is a leather shoe.

Since they are different materials it presents the sizing issue again. I'll have to purchase either online since I don't intend to give any more money to my local retailer after the last debacle.

The Evolv I have now is so tight I wonder if I shouldn't go to a size 12 in the Demorto, but if it fits my toes better due to being symmetrical , then would 11.5 be good? I would actually prefer to wear a sock to make a tighter fit if I had to rather than deal with this sort of pain. And if I go with the 5.10 Spire do I risk going smaller since it will stretch? If so, how much smaller?

I apologize for my post being so long. But if I can't find a shoe that I can wear without this level of pain, I don't see how I can continue to climb. My hope is that someone on here has struggled with similar issues and can give me a little advice.

thanks again


edge


Dec 17, 2012, 9:32 PM
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Re: [otto6457] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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I also have the longer middle toe, and had near-debilitating arthritis in one big toe a couple years ago (now gone) and I bought a pair of La Sportiva TC Pros. They have a stiffer sole which will help with the arthritis, are all around comfy for my Morton's toe, and climb like fiends without being too aggressive or painful. Highly recommended.

These shoes are pricey, but the construction makes them last a long time. As for sizing, I take size 12 1/2 to 13 street shoes, and wear size EU 47/ US 13 in the TCs and they are perfect.

And the clerk that sold you the other shoes is a tool.


bearbreeder


Dec 17, 2012, 11:24 PM
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Re: [otto6457] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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the only solution is to try one every pair at every store you can get to ...

if you cant then order from somewhere with no questions asked returns and free return shipping ...

its that simple Wink


Shanna


Dec 19, 2012, 8:48 AM
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Re: [otto6457] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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I agree you have to try on lots of brands of shoes to find one that fits. I have some pain/arthritis type in one of my feet due to breaking mutliple bones a long time ago, but after this I upsized my shoe 1 whole size and they work fine (I went from 34 to 35). I think the really tight shoe philosophy is a bit old-school.
Backcountry.com has free shipping, so if you need to order 2-3 sizes they are really cool about returns.
Also, the guy in the store, obviously does not climb if he sold you those shoes.


(This post was edited by Shanna on Dec 19, 2012, 9:02 AM)


climber511


Dec 19, 2012, 7:21 PM
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Re: [Shanna] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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Forget the sizes on climbing shoes - they serve as a starting point only until you become familiar with each companies sizing and lasts. Most salesmen don't know much about fitting all purpose shoes - they are usually young and if they climb at all (some do and some don't) - they climb in shoes that they take off between sport routes. Fit your shoes the way YOU want them to fit 0 not the salesman. There are shoes that will fit a second toe is the longest out there - find one. The major companies like Mountain Tools and Mountain Gear are both really good at fitting you over the phone and have no problem with you ordering two pair and returning one. I recently bought a pair of Tenaya Masai from Trango and they fit perfectly and climb great - and I have second toe long - might be worth looking into.


shockabuku


Dec 19, 2012, 7:55 PM
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Re: [otto6457] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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If you can't get to a store and try them on I would order multiple sizes of the same shoe that you think will fit and try them on at home. I recently did the same thing, unfortunately it turned out the shoe I was looking at didn't fit well in any size.Frown

But I ordered multiple pairs from Backcountry and was able to return them for only $7 so no big loss. It's way cheaper than driving to where I could try on that particular model of shoe.

Keep in mind that all leather shoes stretch more than synthetics or lined leather shoes. That means you can potentially stretch leather ones to fit (length and to some extent width) and synthetics will predominantly continue to fit the way they are when you try them on.

Specific to your foot shape I can't really help.


jeepnphreak


Dec 20, 2012, 9:50 AM
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Re: [otto6457] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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The demortos are great shoes for those with long middle toes.

Also check out the La Sportiva Mythos. They are super soft leather and will comform to your foot very well. They do stretch a size to size in a half. BUT if they are just a bit too tight...they are leather, take a hot shower wearing your shoes and it will really help form fit the shoes.

5.10 Moccasyms are good and symetrical as well....ansd leather so again a hot shower can help form fit.

As suggested try on as many brands and style shoes you can.
If there is an REI near by thats a good place to go.

just remember that "comfortably snug" is the general rule for begginers and shoes. No need to get the super tight aggressive shoes. Ask for something for all day multipitch style of climbing.
Its ok to wear a sock with climbing shoes if they over stretch a bit. Any schooled climber will think that you are an old school hard man.


SE_climber


Jan 3, 2013, 8:04 AM
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Re: [otto6457] Shoe Choice For a Beginner in Pain [In reply to]
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I have a morton's toe too--and low volume feet, which makes fitting shoes a challenge. My first pair of shoes was 5.10's women's fox--similar to the spire. I found I quickly blew through them. The toe rounded out very quickly, making precise footwork difficult (and as someone who's just getting into climbing, you will want to really work on placing your feet just right). I do, however, fully recommend 5.10s Anasazi line--amazing shoes. I'm sending my Anasazi LVs to get resoled pretty soon--they've lasted about a year.

I will just, perhaps, further clarify the difference between climbing shoe stretch and breaking in. Leather shoes will stretch--actually getting bigger in size, making your foot slide around inside if you don't account for the stretch when you first buy them. Meaning that for unlined leather, you will want something that's on the edge of your pain tolerance at first because a month down the line, they will be that perfect "climbing shoe tight"

For synthetic shoes, the size of the shoe, by and large, won't change over time. But the shoe will break in after a few weeks, meaning the material will get softer and form to your foot. So a shoe that may be painfully uncomfortable your first couple times climbing in it will feel much better in a few weeks because the stiff material has relaxed.

Regardless of which material you choose for your shoes, during the break in period I tend not to wear the shoes the whole time I'm in the climbing gym. After doing a few boulder problems or a couple routes, I take the shoes off and walk around a bit, get some water, basically give my feet a break because on any new shoe, the material will inevitably cause you pain somewhere due to it's stiff nature.

All that said, if you're buying online, choose a store will a really good return policy (and maybe free return shipping?) and choose maybe two shoes that you think you might like in the two sizes you think (based on reviews and sizing charts) might fit you. I like backcountry.com, but I've also bought shoes from Zappos (limited selection, but will often have good sales and great return policy) and moosejaw.com.


hyhuu


Jan 3, 2013, 9:21 AM
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OP - I too have Morton toe but generally can tolerate many types of asymetrical shoes. That said, I'm a big fan of Evolv shoes and have used the Bandit (first generation), Kaos I, Demorto (first and second generation) and K-Lace. I ordered my street shoe size and they fit very well. The Demorto were the most comfortable one.

Just a warning: I ordered 2 pairs of Demorto but somehow one pair was half a size smaller than the other. It must have been a quality control issue or someone put the wrong size tag on it. I decided to keep it anyway for sport climbing/bouldering.


otto6457


Jan 3, 2013, 7:50 PM
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Thanks to everyone that responded. I finally got some shoes that fit and don't hurt. I called Evolv directly and talked to one of their reps and explained the problem I had with their local dealer. He sent me a new pair of Demortos in size 11.5 and exchanged them for the Bandit SC's I was sold here and apologized for my bad experience with one of their retailers . They even paid the shipping. I wore the new Demortos for over 4 hours last weekend at the climbing gym and I was pain free.

So, I'm a happy beginner that can focus on learning and not on hurting.


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