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Excruciating New Women's Solutions - when to switch sizes

Original Post
Taylor Fatherree · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 0

Hey all, I've been climbing for about 18 months total.  I mostly boulder, so I've been looking for a more aggressive shoe for months.  I'm a woman, and I've been in the Tarantulace for this whole time.  This weekend I tried on the women's Solution by La Sportive, and the shape felt way better than other shoes I've tried.  I ended up in a 37, although I wear a 7.5-8 street shoe - I think my 37s are equal to about a 6.  Anyway, they felt tight but ok in the store, but they're incredibly painful to climb in.  Especially my right foot, my toes are scrunched up against the end of the toe box, and the knuckles hurt, especially on the second toe.  Pressing down while bouldering is awful.  Even with all this, I can pop my heel out when they're on by kind of pointing my toe down and lifting my heel up.  So my questions:

Is being able to pop the heel out ok?  They feel kind of glove like some times but I can produce air when I push my ankle back and forth, not while climbing.

I've read everything I can online about stretch and sizing, but the information's incredibly contradictory - If it hurts significantly to toe down, are these still potentially be a shoe that I can break in?  Right now I feel like they're distracting me and making it impossible to use the full power of my feet - I can't enjoy the benefits, but it's only been one session.  Have others had their Solutions hurt this bad and had it work out?

Thank you!

a.blair · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 65

Usually my shoes are unbearable the first few sessions but you get used to them and the shoes stretches a little. Maybe try a couple more sessions?

GDavis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10

18 months in and you likely do not have the conditioning in your feet to be able to wear a shoe fit that way. Consider a shoe that fits snug and developing more strength and technique - shoes are great but less than 2 years in you shouldn't need to focus that much on footwear. You'll be surprised what projects of yours now you will be doing in approach shoes in two years.  

Been climbing 17 years, sold shoes for 8 and set at a gym / coach, that's my best advice. I could be off...

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Solutions are fairly soft and the uppers do stretch.  That said, pain is usually bad, and as others said, your feet might not be ready for that drastic a change.  7.5 to 6 is fairly standard downsizing and should be ok in theory, but everyone's feet and preferences are different.  It took me a few sessions to break in my Solutions, but now they are incredibly comfortable and I even sport climb in them.

PW Zenpw · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 10

Katana VS, Otaki, Skwama here.

Try to tape index toe, I've been doing this for over a year.

I've had a problem where the nail from the big toe would bite into my index toe.

Now the comfort is greatly increased, but I still have to put the shoes down after the climb.

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

If you aren't climbing "advanced" level routes then your shoes do not need to be uncomfortably tight. Even when people are climbing "advanced" routes they may choose to wear comfortable shoes. I wear 5.10 moccasyms for everything I do because they are comfortable.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

Sounds like a poor fit for your foot. Your heel should be very secure in a performance shoe, I have to pry mine out of my testarossas and even on my comfy size skwamas I can heel hook w/o fastening the velcro tightly. 

Taylor what type of rock are you climbing or are you mostly on plastic? I'd agree with Greg, except that when I get on something hard I do bust out the foot binding torture. That's for maybe 10% of the climbing I do though. 

Andrew Demaree · · Missoula MT · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 15

I wear a size 10.5 street shoe and my size 8 Solutions broke in faster than Futuras, Instincts, Shamans, or even my Moccasyms. I have wide feet, which means that the narrow toe box was extremely painful at first and I could barely get my foot all the way in them, but after two indoor bouldering and one outdoor sport climbing session they conformed to the shape of my foot and became quite comfortable. Now, after around a month of heavy use (climbing around 4 to 5 days a week), they are comfortable enough that I wore them up a 10 pitch 1000' 5.11- trad route two days ago and my feet didn't start hurting badly until the penultimate pitch (not a comfortable shoe for jamming in finger cracks). All of this is to say that for an aggressive shoe like the solutions, which have been sized aggressively, a certain degree of foot pain is to be expected for at least the first two or three sessions. Sometimes even pressuring the toe slightly can initially cause severe pain in the knuckles of the toe, but will eventually go away after the shoe breaks in. However, because it sounds like this is your first pair of aggressive shoes and you may not have been climbing long enough to develop the requisite strength in your arches and ankles, it is likely that your feet will continue to hurt even after the shoe has broken in, while your toes become conditioned to the shape and strain of tight fitting shoes. This process is undoubtedly bad for your feet in the long run, but for some of us it appears to be worth it. If the pain continues to be distracting to the point that it impacts your ability to climb after 3 to 5 sessions, then I would suggest getting a larger size or a different shoe. While aggressive shoes do help with climbing harder grades, they won't make you a better climber in the long run. 

NWNINJA · · Nederland, CO · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 80

Solutions take some patience to break-in. Especially if sized correctly. 

I wear a size 40.5-41.5 in Solutions, depending on what I'm climbing. My street shoe size is 44.5. 

It is unlikely that you need such an aggressive shoe. You can easily climb up to 5.11+/V4 in the Tarantulace, if sized properly. I would check out the Finale, Mythos, or Miura if you want to up the quality and performance of your climbing shoe without the harsh adjustment of an aggressive shoe. 

S. Neoh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 0

Consider the possibility that Solutions are not a good fit for your feet or sz 37 is simply too small for you.  Perhaps stating the obvious here; not all Sportiva fit the same.  I was wearing Sportiva shoes exclusively until 3 years ago (22 years).  The Miura VS and Solutions do not fit me right plain and simple.  It is either the severe downturn or the asymmetry that troubles me.  I wear Men's 6.5/7 street shoe (so same size as you).  My performance shoe is Katana Lace sz 38.5.  Which took me 5 to 10 gym sessions to break in somewhat.  For 'everyday' gym use, I am now wearing Scarpa Vapor V size 40.  Quite comfy but my toes are still slightly curled.  Wider toebox than Katana Lace.  Tell you the truth, I took them outdoors, and did not perceive any performance degradation on real rock unless I needed to stand on dime edges.  Even heel hooking with the new Vapor V feels secure, better than the older orange VV (which I had sized 39.5).  Of course, YMMV.  Good luck.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

It's possible that downturned shoes are not for you. If your heel pops out when appplying pressure on your toe, the shoe is probably not too small. When I was progressing, I repeatedly attempted to switch to more aggressive shoes because, you know, that's what good climbers are supposed to use. I could never get past the pain, which was nearly identical to what you are describing. For me, I have a very narrow and pointed foot geometry. So Instead of having balanced pressure across the front of my foot, my big toe carried all the load, so ouch!   I'm now using Tenaya Masai. The fit is super precise across my forefoot, with a consistent pressure across all my toes. Part of the reason for the good fit is a last that is friendly to my foot shape, but the other asset is full length laces. They allow for very refined fit adjustment. All my toes are just barely curled, but well supported. My toes don't splay at all when climbing.

FYI, one of my climbing buddies is a solid 5.12 climber, and he's in Mythos, so it's not the shoes.

NWNINJA · · Nederland, CO · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 80

FYI, one of my climbing buddies is a solid 5.12 climber, and he's in Mythos, so it's not the shoes.

Agreed, I have friends who boulder V10 in the Mythos, V4 drunk in flip flops on Squamish granite... The Mythos was a high performance shoe when it was released over 25 years ago. 

S. Neoh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 0
NWNINJA wrote:

The Mythos was a high performance shoe when it was released over 25 years ago. 

Agreed.  They were my first performance shoes (1992).  Onsighted quite a few .11 and redpointed a number of .11d to .12b sport routes in them BITD.  Can't do any of that now, in spite of the fancier downturned shoes.  Oh, yes, for me at least, it is not all about the shoes.  I know folks (near immortals in fact) who climb .12's barefoot.  So there.

If I were to turn to alpine routes,  I would reconsider the Mythos and the TC Pro.

It is worth noting (again) that climbing shoes are highly individualized.  Good all around fit should be placed ahead of all other factors, incl how much one downsizes ones shoes.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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