My climbing shoe experience...


Original Post
anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

I have weird feet. 

Morton's Toe, and more extreme than what the wikipedia.org article shows. Typical second toe longer than the first, but then the third toe is the same length as the first, and the fourth toe being only slightly shorter than the first, and the fifth toe being signifcantly shorter than the rest. On top of that, the front of my feet is very wide and the right foot is a bit bigger. Not very much in climbing shoes fits me. I've tried a lot of models. I basically started in La Sportiva Mythos and have used them exclusively over the years. Only recently have I found Finale's and Tarantula/Tarantulace to fit somewhat. The former is tight and would likely be a long and painful break in, the latter fit similarly as the Mythos but I really dislike the Frixion FS rubber as not being sticky enough.

As I became more experienced I realized that they were not a very stiff shoe and that for standing on little chips things could get painful and I could use more support. It did though force me to gain strength in my toes. I even had one of my Mythos pair successfully modified to have a stiffer mid-sole which did help. Just recently after trying on all kinds of climbing shoes, I realized that for all these years I've over sized my Mythos rather significantly. I always wondered why there was so much dead air space in the heel and why I couldn't heel hook without the shoe wanting to pop off. When I bought my first pair of climbing shoes all those years ago, I didn't really understand the concept of how they worked, and I was looking for comfort. I bought a size that allows all my toes to lay flat and not experience any discomfort or pain. And I continued to buy that same size as I built a small quiver of shoes. 

Fast forward to recently, as I was trying on all these shoes, which most did not fit and being frustrated about it, I decided I should try on Mythos in smaller sizes just to see what happens. Turns out I could go down a full 1.5 euro sizes, but that was borderline painful. I opted to buy them again 1 euro size down from my normal. They are snug, but I can wear them for most of the gym session before the discomfort forces me to take them off. 

So what's the moral of the story?

I discovered that when sizing climbing shoes, if they don't cram your toes at the front, the sole is not as stiff and you'll have air space in the heel. I now enjoy my Mythos as what seems like a whole new shoe! The mid-sole feels much more supportive and much stiffer than in the larger size. There is little to no air space in the heel, and one of the sales people that was helping me who wasn't even a climber mentioned that perhaps that horizontal piece of lace exposed on each side of the shoe is to pass the ends of the lace up under them to lock in the heel. My mind is blown! I perceive to get the same edging stiffness and agility that the Finale's were giving me without the pain and discomfort. And in only two gym sessions they've noticeably gotten more comfortable as they've broken in. On top of that, that lace trick works with the larger sizes and holds the heel in. I never heard or had read anywhere about needing to do this with the laces. I just assumed since it was all one lace it would pull in as you tightened the shoe. There is nothing on La Sportiva's web site that I could find that mentions this lace feature at all. 

So there you have it. I learned far more advanced climbing stuff before I ever figured out the shoe fit part. Kind of embarrassing, but it is what it is.

I will say though that every single pair of my brown Mythos the rand has peeled on the sides of the front half of the shoe, some more significantly than others. I didn't know any better until recently I found out you can return them under warranty for this. But then La Sportiva tries to shame you by suggesting that it is user error and you shouldn't store your shoes near a heater or leave them in a hot car. Neither of which I've ever done. Most people I've talked too didn't know this, just accept it, and have the re-soler glue them back on. Perhaps if more people returned the shoe under warranty they'd correct this problem. 

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

Might want to try stonelands from five ten for mortons toe if you haven't already.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Nick,

Thanks for the recommendation. I didn't even know they still made the Stonelands. I've tried several different models of Fiveten climbing shoes so far and nothing has fit, even the Moccasym which I was the most hopeful for as they are they're most widest shoe. They generally tend to be too narrow, to small in length to have proper toe fit in length without having space in the heel, and far too asymmetrical. I'll try them on at the store if I have the opportunity. 

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 0

Check out Evolv offerings - the Spark is  semi-assymetric lace-ups. And, for a few more bucks Evolv will sell you split sizes.

Evolv Spark

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

So...when people talk about shoes "not fitting," I often wonder what they mean exactly.  I have rather odd shaped feet (wide toebox, extremely narrow heels), but have generally found a good range of shoes that fit fine, as long as I downsized.  There have been some (Scarpa Instincts) that I couldn't get to fit because either the heel would be too loose, or the toebox would be crammed to the point of being painful.  One thing I've noticed is that soft shoes tend to be much more forgiving...I downsized to a 44 (10.5 US) in Solutions, whereas I had to give up on a pair of Katana Laces in 44.5 (street is 12.5/13).  Also, if you have weird shaped feet, leather uppers are great because they will stretch to conform to your weird feet.  People like Moccs because they will literally fit any foot since they are soft and leather. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

It actually sounds like you might benefit from trying on Scarpas- they're pretty good for a wide toe box, as Ted describes.

That said, I'm glad you finally figured out how climbing shoes are supposed to fit. Sorry that no one told you that sooner.....

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks for the recommendation amarius. I've also been told that the Evolv Royale is another possibility for symmetric last with leather upper that fits people with Morton's Toe well. I'll see if I can try both at some point. Local gear stores only carry so many types of shoes. 

Ted,

I can't speak for others, but for myself not fitting means the shape of the shoe doesn't fit me properly such that I'm not able to fit my foot in the shoe somewhat comfortably, or even at all, and remove the dead space in the heel while comfortably getting the toe cram in the front without pain. Most shoes are too narrow, and too asymmetrical for me to fit anywhere near comfortably. Having Morton's Toe complicates the matter a lot. Case in point, the Butora Altura Wide would probably have worked well if the last was not asymmetric. Asymmetric lasts favor people with the toes that are each a bit shorter in length than the prior one. This is what most climbing shoes are spec'd for. For someone with Morton's Toe even if they can get their foot inside one of these shoes it very uncomfortably and extremely curls and squashes the toes. And if the toe box is too narrow it adds to the pain and issue.  I can get away with Mythos because they are low asymmetry and an unlined fairly flexible and stretchable leather upper. The Fiveten Moccasym didn't work because they made the toe box too narrow in height for me. It pushes painfully down on the top of my giant big toe on each foot. 

I feel rather left out in the majority of climbing shoes I can't wear, but I've learned to deal with it. 

John Wilder,

I've tried a bunch of their more popular models at a shoe demo once and got to climb in them. It was the Boostics, Vapor, Vapor V, Instincts,and a few other aggressive models that the rep said wouldn't even fit my foot. The only one that even came close to fitting was the Vapor V. Still not comfortable enough for me though. I suspect the Force X, or now Force V would work as I tried on an undersized used Force X once. I'm also curious about the Techno X but haven't been able to try on a pair. And yeah, thanks, I appreciate that. I don't think anyone was really able to tell me for sure. As without looking closely people don't know how your shoes fit, and even then it tends to be a personal thing of finding what works right. 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

Another one you might try is the Five Ten Quantum. It seems a little roomier than other five ten shoes and has a stiff sole so that you can stand on smaller edges without having to cram your foot in. I had turf toe for a couple of years (seems to be mostly gone now) so I had to wear stiffer shoes to compensate for a more loose fit and the Quantums quickly became my favorite shoe. The beauty of it is that it's slightly asymmetrical and slightly downturned, but feels like a flat last. Lets me climb a wide variety of terrain, everything from overhanging routes to crack jamming. 

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0

Just tried on some shoes. Fiveten Stonelands and Evolv Spark do not fit. They are too asymmetrical for my toes. I even tried them in larger sizes. Both shoes make my second, third, and fourth toes curl under themselves and still have all kinds of air space in the heels. I even tried some sizes up and it's a no go. The result is less curled toes and more air space in the heels. My observation is that Fiveten seems to make shoes for people with tiny feet. Too bad they can't diversify more. The evolve Spark, the width felt good, but again as previously mentioned my toes are curled under and a lot air space in the heels. I'm pretty sure I absolutely need to have symmetrical shoe lasts, or close to it like the Mythos. Preferably wide shoes and/or unlined leather uppers that will stretch a lot. 

Ryan,

Thank you for the recommendation. I would be surprised if the Quantum's fit me. They look more asymmetrical than the Stonelands that I just tried on. 

Edit: Tried on the Fiveten Quantums and they also do not fit. They are no different in fit than most of Fiveten's climbing shoe line up. 

AMcKay · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 0

I would describe my foot symmetry exactly like you described yours.  Morton's toe with long 2nd toe, but also 3rd and 4th quite long. Narrow foot.  It can be very frustrating to try on 30 climbing shoes and find that nothing fits!  Most of my projects right now are 5.12b/c sport routes and 5.11a/b trad - and it feels like I'm often overgripping with my hands to compensate for poorly fitting shoes.  I often resort to using wearing socks so I can get a tighter/more agressive fit without destroying my 2nd toe.  The Muira lace-ups work pretty well once broken in (with socks).  For the past year or so I've been using the La Sportiva Katana.  I like this better than the Muira - they work for me with and without socks.  Not perfect, but the best I've found so far.  

Still dying to find a good crack and trad climbing shoe (where my toes can lay totally flat - a tough feat with a really long 2nd toe).  Someone said Evolv Astroman is good for Morton's toe?   Gotta try that one.  Mythos fit great but durability is a deal killer - the laces and leather going all the way to the front allow it to fit about any foot symmetry but they get destroyed with any foot/toe jamming in finger/hand cracks.  I keep trying to love my TC Pros - they kind of work with the right socks if I'm really edging, but I can't put them in any cracks without getting them so goofy-ish loose that it defeats the purpose.  Still looking for that moccasin like shoe for odd-shaped foot folk.  Thanks for your post. I feel good knowing I'm not the only one!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

What is the problem when they are "goofyish loose"?  Heel slipping?  I had the same problem (wide toebox, and my 2nd/3rd toes are longer than my big toe, but extremely narrow heels), and in the larger size I managed to get a decent fit by really cranking the laces and using an alternate way of tying that runners use (thread last two eyelits backwards to make a loop, then pass Laces through that).  They don't edge as well as tight Miuras but they do reasonably well for a crack shoe.

anotherclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 0
AMcKay wrote:

I would describe my foot symmetry exactly like you described yours.  Morton's toe with long 2nd toe, but also 3rd and 4th quite long. Narrow foot.  It can be very frustrating to try on 30 climbing shoes and find that nothing fits!  Most of my projects right now are 5.12b/c sport routes and 5.11a/b trad - and it feels like I'm often overgripping with my hands to compensate for poorly fitting shoes.  I often resort to using wearing socks so I can get a tighter/more agressive fit without destroying my 2nd toe.  The Muira lace-ups work pretty well once broken in (with socks).  For the past year or so I've been using the La Sportiva Katana.  I like this better than the Muira - they work for me with and without socks.  Not perfect, but the best I've found so far.  

Still dying to find a good crack and trad climbing shoe (where my toes can lay totally flat - a tough feat with a really long 2nd toe).  Someone said Evolv Astroman is good for Morton's toe?   Gotta try that one.  Mythos fit great but durability is a deal killer - the laces and leather going all the way to the front allow it to fit about any foot symmetry but they get destroyed with any foot/toe jamming in finger/hand cracks.  I keep trying to love my TC Pros - they kind of work with the right socks if I'm really edging, but I can't put them in any cracks without getting them so goofy-ish loose that it defeats the purpose.  Still looking for that moccasin like shoe for odd-shaped foot folk.  Thanks for your post. I feel good knowing I'm not the only one!

No problem! I guess us folks with unusual foot shapes are the minority and have to settle for far less shoe choices or otherwise deal with discomfort and pain. I'm quite amazed that you can even wear Muira and Katana shoes. My feet don't fit into those at all. My own personal opinion and experience from trying the painful Finale shoes is that you will climb harder and enjoy it much more in comfortable shoes. Foot pain and discomfort don't help you at all. Look for shoes that are symmetrical to low asymmetry. This I find to be critical to get the toe box to fit right with Morton's Toe. With the right shoe your toes can absolutely be comfortably crammed with no pain or discomfort at the front and not have to wear socks, which I've never done. Having your toes flat just leads to less edging power, space in the heel which leads to your foot floating in the shoe. Astroman might be a  possibility, but they are discontinued and you might not be able to find your size. Evolv Royale is another symmetrical shoe possibility that I have not tried yet. If you don't mind crappy rubber on them until you re-sole them, La Sportiva Tarrantulace, Tarantula, or Oxygym are another possibility. Although perhaps that more durable rubber on them might last longer for foot and toe jamming. I have also noticed that Evolv uses a thicker rand rubber than La Sportiva so they may also be more durabable for foot and toe jams. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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