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Shoe Stretch and Fit


Original Post
Don B · · Gardena (South Bay) · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 20

Currently I use 5.10 Anasazi Guide shoes. My street size is 11.5-12 and my 5.10's are size 13. My toes are flat but touching the end of the shoe. These have leather uppers and I've climbed in the gym 2x's/week for the past 3 months and a few times outside.

The upper has softened and stretched a little but my toes still go right up to the edge. Everyone seems to buy shoes 1-1.5 sizes smaller and say they stretch to fit. 

How does the length stretch if the sole is rubber? My first shoe that I bought (Evolv Defy w/syn upper) were unbearable after buying them street size, toes slightly curled. The shoes were always off when I wasn't climbing. I sold them after one session.

When you buy them small and your toes are curled, do they stay curled the same amount even after broken in?

How your shoes fit overall after they're broken in? Am I crazy to not want my toes curled ever?

I see myself keeping my 5.10's for the gym and moderate multi pitch trad routes when I'm ready because I can wear them all day but I'm looking to get a slightly more aggressive shoe (to me) with a better fit. 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

Your toes should pretty much always be touching the end of the shoe. Toes that are tight together provide a lot more power than loose. The stretching that people are talking about is the leather upper, not the sole. The sole stays the same length. Most people have their toes curled at least a little in climbing shoes, again to provide more power on tiny holds. It is the material pressing on the top of the curled toes that stretches and provides a little more comfort after a few days or weeks of use. 

Evolv shoes are usually synthetic, as are most of the Five Ten Shoes and don't stretch much at all. So the fit  you get when you first try them on is pretty close to the fit you have after many uses; there is a small amount of stretch. 

If the Evolv shoes continued to bother you that much you may have purchased shoes that just don't fit you well. There are lots of shapes in climbing shoes. Most climbers find brands or models that fit them well. It's not always about the sizing, sometimes the shape of the toe box just doesn't get you the right fit. For example, Five Ten Anasazi shoes do not fit my toes well, but La Sportiva Kataki shoes fit them really well, even with smaller sizing. 

Try on a bunch of shoes, usually with some curl in your toes, though you don't need a ton, and buy some that fit well. I've also found that my tolerance for tight shoes has increased after a few years. I think that I've built up calluses on my toes that limit some of the pain. If your shoes hurt a crazy amount it's hard to climb well in them because you're afraid to put to much weight on them. Better to find something that fits and is sized correctly. Also be aware that sole stiffness plays a part in all of this. 

Doug Chism · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

I had a similar experience with the Evolv Defy in street shoe size, too painful. I purchased them a half size larger and within a month they were floppy and imprecise. Even though they are synthetic and not supposed to stretch, they did. I got newer smaller shoes with a bit of downturn and wow what a difference it made on small holds! I will never again purchase shoes that fit the exact way I want them to in the store. 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

The Evolv Shaman won't stretch at all really. They are one of the few Evolv shoes that fits me really well, best downturned shoe for my feet. 

Don B · · Gardena (South Bay) · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 20

Thanks for the insights. I have low volume feet so based on info around the web I'm going to check out La Sportivas. Katana Lace model in particular.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20
Don B wrote:

Thanks for the insights. I have low volume feet so based on info around the web I'm going to check out La Sportivas. Katana Lace model in particular.

Check out Kataki and Oktai (velcro) too. I have low volume feet and love the very slight downturn in these shoes. It doesn't feel downturned when climbing vertical but when you get to the overhanging stuff I can definitely tell, and appreciate, the slight downturn in the toe. Makes it so much easier to "grab" the holds with my feet. My street shoe is 11.5 and I got a size 44 (10.5+), comfortable fit with toes slightly curled, and kind of wish I would have gone with a 43.5 (10.5) because my right foot is slightly smaller and I don't have quite the fit that I would have liked on my right foot and I fee like my left foot would have been a little tight to start but that stretch we've been talking about would have been enough to get it just right after some good sessions. They also have a medium stiff sole, which is kind of perfect for all around climbing. The laces are nice for a more custom fit, but the velcro is great for gym sessions where you might take your shoes on and off more frequently, especially as you're getting used to the tight fit of climbing shoes. 

CThornton · · Boise · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 68

+1 on the Katakis. Easily my favorite shoe and surprisingly good at basically every style of climbing while remaining really comfy. They also don't stretch much at all. 

Don B · · Gardena (South Bay) · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 20

Good to know about the Katanas. Thanks for the heads up.

JulianG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 130

I have La sportiva Maura 42.5 that fit me well scarpa boostic 43 that are tighter than the my LaSportiva and some evolve 44 that I can’t even wear them more then a pitch. I think evolve shoes  are 1.5 sizes more then the street size.  There is no standard how climbing shoes are sized, I wish shoe companies will start using a standard for  sizing shoes. A sister based on the actual length of the shoe last would be good. Let us decide how tight we want our shoes to be

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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