If these are your first pair of climbing shoes ever, you’re in for a treat! If you're updating your climbing footwear or are purchasing a “second” pair for specific application you'll realize an instant boost in control and ability - shoe manufacturers are continually designing better and better products and utilizing new high tech materials. Lace up, then read on.

Out of the box, shoes have the shape of the "last" or form that they were made on but will stretch (to a degree, depending on materials and construction) and conform to your unique foot's shape. The fit should be very snug but not painful. Some models of bouldering and sport climbing shoes & slippers are designed for your toes to be bent over (like your fingers curled around a hold) to strengthen your toes stiffen the shoe and also grab the rock. Crack shoes should be sized for a relaxed fit (with toes lying flat) to wiggle into thin-to-fist cracks and as such will perform better. Likely any climbing shoe will seem tighter than any other shoes you have worn - a good thing when you are trying to stay balanced on a small or sloping hold. The optimum fit is best imagined - pretend (for the moment) that your foot was made of sand...and that you could pour it into your climbing shoes filling the shape completely. Voila! no air pockets, dead spaces or points of excessive pressure but rather an even, efficient connection between you, the shoe and of course the rock.

If you haven't already laced up - take a moment and try them on. Spend time with them. Hang out. Make sure you are happy with the fit. It will take several hours (and a couple weeks of climbing) for your new shoes to "conform" to the exact shape of your foot. Some shoes don't stretch at all and some unlined split leather shoes may stretch 3 whole sizes! Don't get confused by the numbers (EU, UK or US) which are way different from brand to brand and model to model. What we want at this stage is confirmation that your foot fits the shoe and can be held securely by the closure system (laces, velco or elastic). Wear them indoors to get used to them... if you have any questions whatsoever (or need reassurance) give one of our Sales Guides a call. If together you determine that another size or model would suit you better we can send them to you to compare (billed to your CC, but without any additional shipping charges) as well include a label and instructions for returning your initial pair. Remember, we can only exchange shoes in the new condition that have not been worn outside or climbed in, so wear them indoors and keep 'em clean until you are happy with the fit.

In addition to being the correct length, you want to wear a shoe that has a similar shape to your foot. For top performance a shoe should fit close, without “dead space”. If this is your first pair of real climbing shoes, you’re going to want them to be comfortable. Beginning climbers don’t need the distraction of pinched toes or painful feet while trying to figure out the moves! Sometimes climbers prefer wearing a light sock for comfort, but this compromises performance to a degree. There is a myth about shoes stretching to fit... some unlined slippers do in fact stretch, but most shoes are lined to prevent stretch (or made from synthetic “Leather” that doesn't stretch) and provide a more comfortable bare foot fit. Generally you can expect the length to remain unchanged, the width to soften and the shoe to take on the shape if your foot after several wearings. If in doubt, go up 1/2 size - this won’t compromise your initial climbing and will greatly contribute to your focus on other matters...and having fun.

For experienced climbers wanting more performance - a snug fit is essential... if you’re climbing micro edges or powering plastic you probably can’t get your shoes or slippers too tight! Beware though, cramming your feet into shoes "too small", then cranking on sub atomic size holds will cause shoes or slippers to break down faster and not last as long, not to mention damage to toenails and the possibility of developing hammer toe or bone spurs. Better to discuss a couple models you're interested in, your fit requirements and goals with our Sales Guides then together decide what's best for you. Most seasoned climbers will own several pairs of shoes: a comfortable high top for long crack routes, snug fitting moderately stiff low tops for face climbing and skin tight slippers or lace ups for bouldering, gym work outs and pockety routes. Regardless of style, shoe shape is very important for advanced climbers - this is why we carry several different manufacturers and models. If you feel the shoe you ordered is not fitting because of its shape - call your Sales Guide who has "feet on" experience with all models we sell - chances are we can match the shape of your foot (fax us the outline of your feet) to a model with the proper shape and performance criteria.

Congratulations, if you made it this far, you are probably wearing the correctly sized shoes and are ready to go out and flash the next test piece on your tick list. Remember, if you take care of your shoes they will provide good performance and value. How long they last is a function of how much you climb, your technique and the care you give them. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your new shoes:

1. Always air out your shoes after a day's climbing - don’t leave them crammed into your pack.
2. Store shoes out of direct sunlight and extreme heat (never in the back window or trunk of your car). Heat is what cobblers use to remove the soles from shoes!
3. Keep your shoes clean and dry: store and carry in a Mountain Tools Boot Bag. If shoes become excessively soiled or muddy they can be scrubbed inside and out with mild soap and water then air dried in the shade (do not use chemicals which can destroy rubber, leather & glue).
4. Brush sole clean (or spit and rub) before charging the moves on the next problem or route. This will give you maximum sticktion.
5. Keep shoes out of the dirt - use a square of carpet, your Yo-Yo Pad, or Dirt Bag rope tarp as your “launching pad”.
6. When planning for a resole, don’t let the soles or rands wear through before
sending them in. It makes the job more difficult, more costly and in the case of slippers - sometimes not practical. Be sure to order another pair - well in advance - so that you can still climb while your "old favorites" are at the resolers for a week or three!