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Learning To Get A Grip On Rock Climbing Shoes

Aug 17, 2007
A type of footwear specially designed and used for climbing rocks and cliffs are known as climbing shoes. These are also known as kletterschuh. The requirement while climbing a rock face is to increase the grip of the foot, as it acts as an anchor while climbing. Regular sneakers and trainers are not designed for this specific purpose. So, a first timer might use some basic hiking shoes, but if interested in rock climbing and planning to climb quite frequently, it would be advisable to invest in a good climbing shoes.

Climbing shoes are designed for the kind of enhanced grip that is usually required while climbing. For this, the shoe is covered with a rubber layer and is usually only few millimeters thick, to provide the required flexibility. The rubber protects the feet from sharp, rough rock. The increased friction, as compared to bare foot, provides more maneuverability. A climbing shoe should fit very tightly around the feet. A pair of climbing shoes usually looks like bowling shoes, but is specially designed with rugged material and firm grip.

Any person who has ever tried his hand at rock climbing would know the importance of toes when climbing, which at times might take more than half the body weight. The toes of climbing shoes are designed with soft rubber, keeping this factor in mind. The rubber feels sticky and provides maximum grip. A first timer would be really amazed to find the kind of grip that these shoes provide.

Apart from usual climbing shoes, there are certain special kinds of shoes that are used by climbers for a particular style of climbing. Various high performance shoes are soled with special vulcanized rubber, which becomes increasingly flexible with increased warmth due to friction while climbing. This provides additional grip due to increased surface area between shoe and the rock. The soft rubber gets frequently worn out by the rough rock and might need resoling from time to time. Some shoes come asymmetrically shaped, to enable the climber to stand on smaller ledges.

Climbing shoes cannot be usually worn for any other purpose. Climbers usually wear hiking shoes at the base of the rock and only put on the climbing shoes while climbing.

Earlier, climbing shoes were nothing more than modified hiking shoes with different soles. But over a period of years, with the advancement in material technology, climbing shoes have evolved a lot. Today the shoes are more carefully crafted, keeping in mind the requirements of climbing. Approach shoes, which are hybrids between climbing shoes and lightweight hiking shoes, are also gaining increasing popularity. Climbing rubber is extensively used in these shoes, which could be used for hiking and some basic climbing. These are more suitable to those who enjoy hiking and only occasionally climb, as the footwear can be comfortably used for long distances.

Climbing shoes should be worn fairly tight and its not uncommon for people to buy shoes which are one or even two sizes smaller than their regular shoes. There should be no extra space between the foot and the shoe, as this would cause the shoe to dislocate and would reduce the grip. Without being uncomfortably tight, climbing shoes are expected to fit snugly around the feet. Many climbers tend not to wear socks, as this gives increased grip and enables increasingly difficult moves while climbing. A pair of climbing shoes usually costs between $100 and $150.
About the Author
Extreme Engineering is the industry leader in Climbing Walls including: Rock Climbing Walls, Portable Climbing Walls, Mobile Climbing Walls and Auto Belay Systems. The Spider one is our own proprietary system that handles 300 children per hour. Check out our photo gallery at http://www.extremeengidneering.com
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