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I am looking at getting some shoes to start rock climbing, and I had a few questions about the shoes. I currently rent shoes, and use an indoor climbing wall, but I have a lot of friends that like to climb outdoors. Is there a difference in indoor vs outdoor climbing shoes, are there known hybrids if there are considerable differences?

Also is there any rule of thumb for how a shoe should fit and any brands that are known to cause issues (fall apart) or fit different compared to their size?

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your first pair should be cheap and as comfortable as possible. Evolv makes some good shoes; several friends started with the Evolv defy. My first pair was the La Sportiva tarantulace. You won't need any specialized shoes until you get much better. Once you start climbing v6/7 or 5.13 or so you'll start to notice that your shoes aren't really keeping up with you, and by then you should know what you want. Go to REI or somewhere that sells climbing shoes, and get a snug (but not tight) and comfortable shoe. You don't want to spend more than $100 on this usually.

  • Is there any difference in indoor vs outdoor climbing shoes? – Cameron Sloan Jul 30 '15 at 18:04
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There isn't any substantial difference between indoor and outdoor climbing shoes. In general people use more comfortable shoes during indoor training sessions, often could be an old worn-out laceless pair. I agree with @Robert, don't invest too much money in your first pair of climbing shoes.

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I highly suggest starting with a non-aggressive pair of shoes (i.e. something with a flat bottom rather than the more advanced down-turned toe style). Also, try different brands! Certain brands just fit certain feet better.

I second the point about the "snug but not tight" fit. Think: would you be comfortable walking around the gym for a few hours without taking them off. This will also be a good shoe if you ever want to get into doing long easy climbs or slab climbs outdoors (Unless of course, your friends only do overhanging sport climbs. To each their own I guess). I eventually got my first pair of shoes resoled and it was perfectly shaped to my foot for spending many hours on a climb.

When you get more advanced, you will probably want your second pair of shoes to fit your foot more closely and have a little bit of down-turn for those steep gym routes. Keep in mind that a shoe with a leather top should stretch out over time a bit more than a synthetic top.

I also agree with the sub $100 point, but they aren't making it easy these days. I see no reason why a beginner pair would cost more than that.

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