rock climbing

Have you ever tried to run a marathon in a pair of ski boots? Wearing the wrong crack climbing shoe can make your life just as miserable. Today’s climbing shoes are specifically designed for many types of terrain and there are a few things that you need to know about crack climbing’s demands on your feet.

  1. The shoe needs to fit comfortably. This means that your toes should not be curled up in the front of the shoe. The toes need to lie flat on the bottom of the sole. Your heel should fit snug in the back and not allow for any vertical slip while you move.
  2. Most of the time a crack shoe should be on the stiffer side when it comes to the sole. Sport climbing and bouldering demand a better touch and a softer feel from the shoe when on the rock for short periods, but an all-day climb over a variety of terrain requires your foot to have the necessary support.
  3. The top of the toe should have plenty of rubber or durable material covering it. If the laces or Velcro run to the tip of the shoe, jamming will destroy the front of the shoe very quickly.
  4. The height of the shoe up toward the ankle can vary, but a higher boot like design will protect your upper foot and ankle.
  5. Ultimately, the brand of the shoe doesn’t matter, so buy the shoe that fits your foot. That is why there are so many shoe companies in the market. When your feet are happy you can then begin to demonstrate the foot, techniques required by the cracks.

Rob Pizem

Rob’s climbing accomplishments include over 25 big wall ascents in the USA and internationally. He climbs and has established climbs up to and including 5.14 crack and sport. During his nearly 20 years as a sponsored athlete, he has taught hundreds of people how to climb through clinics and gym events, and mentored climbers of all ages.


  • The Infinity Round 5.14 – Unaweep Canyon first free ascent
  • Back to the Earth 5.13+ – Mt. Evans, CO first free ascent
  • Human Centipede 5.13 – Zion National Park first free ascent
  • Arcturus 5.13+ – Yosemite National Park first free ascent

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