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Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman
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By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Jan 21, 2011
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013

I am looking into getting my daughter her first pair of climbing shoes. She has a size 8 street shoe. Are the shoes "designed" for a woman really different? As a beginner, I'm seeking in order, comfort, sticky rubber then performance for her. I was also thinking a 7.5

Any comments?


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By Wayne
From Superior, CO
Jan 21, 2011

Foot proportioning is supposed to be a little different, but everyone's feet are so different, so who knows for a specific person. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about the details will chime in.

On the other parts of your post: How competitive? How new to climbing. My son is not super competitive, he just enjoys being up on the rock on top rope, and has done some climbing every year for 5 years now. This is the first year he has not wanted loose fitting shoes that he could wear with regular socks. His old ones got a little small and they were more comfortable without the socks and he was ok with that finally. Prior to that he hated the feel of them without socks.

Unless she is very competitive, she will probably go for a looser fit than you would. I just let my son pick ones he would be happy in. I believe that the attitude is much more important than the best shoe fit for a child. So I agree, you have the right order of priorities when you put comfort first, and just be ready for her definition of comfort to be different from what you expect.


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By Dan Cucci
Jan 21, 2011

Women tend to have a higher arch, narrower foot and smaller heel and that's what woman-specific shoes account for. Scarpa has a very complete women's line from aggressive to comfortable.


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By brittany kruger
From Duluth, MN
Jan 21, 2011

Dan Cucci wrote:
Women tend to have a higher arch, narrower foot and smaller heel and that's what woman-specific shoes account for.



Exactly- but that obviously doesn't apply to all women's feet, so just don't assume that will be best for her foot. I (a woman) wear size 8 street shoes and have always purchased men's shoes since my forefoot is pretty wide. Size of course varies a TON with shoe brand- I'm a 6.5 in evolv, 36.5 in La Sportiva, and 39.5 in Scarpa, and those are all sized with a fairly tight/performance oriented fit in mind. Hope that helps.


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By Eddie Brown
From Tempe, Arizona
Jan 21, 2011

Adam Stackhouse wrote:
Are the shoes "designed" for a woman really different?



Yes. They are cut differently. In terms of quality I don't think there is any difference though. I know a few males that wear female shoes because they fit their foot better. Their shoes don't seem to wear out any faster than mine...


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By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Jan 21, 2011
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013

Eddie Brown wrote:
Yes. They are cut differently. In terms of quality I don't think there is any difference though. I know a few males that wear female shoes because they fit their foot better. Their shoes don't seem to wear out any faster than mine...



I'm not too worried about craftsmanship. Most all of the biggies make their shoes pretty well. I am finding that the vendor I would be purchasing them from (like others) have a ton of "mens" shoes and just a few for the gals. The emphasis of my question is about the cut and other design elements mentioned above.

She is 10yr old first timer, so comfort is what I want her to have so she can focus on the activity without being discouraged by ill-fitting shoes.


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By Brendan Blanchard
From Strafford, NH
Jan 21, 2011
Obi Wan Ryobi - Darth Vader Crag, Rumney NH

I would go to a local store and have her try on both gender specific and general shoes, find what she likes the best, and make sure the size feels just a little tight as first, and they should loosen just a little over time, even if they're synthetic.

As for stores, go for a local store that has a superb return policy. For New England that would be EMS, I couldn't tell you about anywhere else though. Any store that would let you try plenty of different shoes on, and would allow a return/trade for fit, or a totally different shoe. If the shoes don't loosen in a day or so, bring them back and try .5 size up.

Overall, I wouldn't worry about what the brand says they're for, go with what feels right for her feet.


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Jan 21, 2011

Have her try on some evolv rockstars, or the purple elektra. Obviously, evolv isn't helping anyone with their spelling, but their women specific shoes are great. The lower volume is excellent for any young person with a smaller foot.

Cheers,

Price


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By Darren B.
From Asheville, NC
Jan 21, 2011
Scenic view from the top of the second pitch.

Both of my young ladies (11 and 8) prefer comfy shoes over those high-performance constricting ones. I'd take her to your favorite outdoor store to try on a bunch of different shoes. Pick out her favorite and get it a size or two bigger than you would have if her foot were done growing. Most likely she'll not need the high performance of that super tight shoe, and she'll enjoy her early days climbing without feeling the pain in her feet.


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By Brent Butcher
Jan 21, 2011
route photo

Adam,

I would recommend the La Sportiva Women's Nago's, MSRP $89 dollars but you can probably find it cheaper, I think it is a good price to performance ratio. The comfort is unparalleled and the XS Rubber is great for stickiness. I would also not get your daughter 7.5's I would get her 8's so she can "grow" into the shoe, which gives you more bang for your buck.

Regards,

-Brent


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By thomas ellis
From abq
Jan 22, 2011
Mint jullop

I have been teaching my niece on and off since she was 3 (she's 9 now) and on my most recent visit bought her a new pair of shoes. She ended up picking Moccasyms because of comfort. A bonus is they stretch for a long time so they should last at least a year(kids feet growing and all). For consideration, my wife loves sportiva womens mythos. Comfortable and technical.
Good luck


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By Tim McCabe
Jan 22, 2011

Sounds like you are getting some good advice. I would wonder if it would make sense to buy the shoes a little looser even if she had to wear a thick sock to start out. As was pointed out above her feet are still growing.

Climbers tend to stuff their feet into extra tight shoes for an adult that's one thing. But for a kid it brings to mind pictures of foot binding en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding I know that's not what you have in mind just a mental picture that comes into my head when you say she wears an 8 so maybe 7.5.

Letting her make her own choice from a comfort standpoint seems like the best advice from above and don't let the shop guys influence her either.

When I was teaching in the Black Hills a local woman came out for her first day of climbing. She had already bought shoes and harness but said right away she didn't like the shoes she had. The shop guy had told her she had to wear them 2 sizes too small and she believed him. I told her I was going to waive the shoe rental fee and let her use a pair of shop shoes that fit snug but comfortably she did fine that day but what to do with the still brand new but way to tight shoes. I said take them back and demand and exchange she didn't want them that tight in the first place.


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