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Go smaller or larger?


Original Post
Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

So I went to REI and tried on some shoes, and love how the Scarpa Force V felt. My runnding shoes are all size 10. I tired both the 9.5 and 10 in the Force V. The 10 fit perfect out of the box, and the 9.5 curled my toes just a bit- bit still pretty comfortable. Would you choose the 9.5 or 10 for a first pair? I'm not too sure how they'll stretch, if at all. Any help would be great! Thanks!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

9.5.  Curled toes is ideal, as long as it’s not painful.

Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Ted Pinson wrote:

9.5.  Curled toes is ideal, as long as it’s not painful.

Thanks, Ted. I also should have mentioned that in the 9.5, there is a bit of rubbing on my toe knuckles(? haha). The front is suede, so it may stretch a bit.

Dana Bartlett · · CO · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 890

I would guess that since you went to REI, there's no nearby shop that specializes in selling climbing gear?  

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Not sure how those shoes stretch, but scarpa usually uses leather, so expect about a 0.5 to 1 full size stretch.  If the 9.5’s were comfortable, they are probably the way to go.  But you might be swimming in them In a few months.  If you can try on a 9, expect them to feel more like the 9.5’s in a few months (depending on how often you climb).  You don’t want your toes to be too painful or too curled in your first pair.  But if you think you can put pressure on your toes without them hurting, go with the smaller size in a shoe made of leather.

My first pair were the scarpa helix.  They lasted me a month before I realized they stretched too much.  Luckily REI has s good return/exchange policy.  I had no trouble, but some others on this forum haven’t seemed to be as fortunate.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

Depends on what you want them for. If you're planning on crack climbing, I'd say 10. If you plan on climbing more face, 9.5.

That said, if you can, you should visit your local climbing shop to get properly fitted for a pair of shoes. REI is pretty famous for not having staff who can fit a climbing shoe correctly, and imho, most people don't know how a climbing shoe should fit your foot when you're buying your first pair. Fit is not the same thing as comfort and pressure is not the same thing as pain.

 If you're buying your first pair of shoes and you found the 10s to be comfortable, it's possible that they are too big for your foot. I'd also be slightly concerned that the 9.5s, while possibly the correct size, have revealed themselves to not be the right shoe for your foot. Or they could still be too big and are rubbing because of it. Hard to say without being there. 


Crushtian Black · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 295

I work at REI and fit new climbers to their first pair of shoes often. In my experience: 

Scarpas fit properly 0.5-1.0 size down from street shoe (assuming the correct foot shape) 

La Sportiva 1.5-2.0 sizes down

5.10 1/2 size down

Black diamond as street shoe size

Evolv as street shoe size to 1/2 size up. 

Again, these are just general guidelines that I’ve noticed from my 2 years working there and fitting climbing shoes, but there are exceptions sometimes. Hope this helps!

rockhard · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 65

I have the same shoes. They seem to stretch a lot once they are warmed up, then shrink back after you take them off and are cold.  Also make sure to buy the ones you try on cause I think the sizes are inconsistent.  I find them to be clunky.  Not great shoes but can be comfy for a really long multi pitch

Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

So I stayed with the 9.5 and wore them to the gym for 2 hours. Definitely, a tight fit. Not painful, but I can feel some pressure on my big toenail. Is this normal, and will that lessen with some more wear? I was also walking around quite a bit.

My feet definitely don't hurt after either. However, it did feel nice to take them off!

Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

Sounds like you made the right choice.  I wouldn't walk around much in your new shoes - not especially good for them

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 337

Sounds like you nailed the size. It’s not bad form to walk around the climbing gym without shoes, so pull them off if you aren’t going to be on the wall for a while. Enjoy! 

Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Chris C. wrote:

Sounds like you nailed the size. It’s not bad form to walk around the climbing gym without shoes, so pull them off if you aren’t going to be on the wall for a while. Enjoy! 

Thanks! I'm new to climbing and use the auto belay routes, so there are no breaks for me! But good to know!

Is it normal to feel a bit of pressure on the big toenail? 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
Michael Mancuso wrote:

Thanks! I'm new to climbing and use the auto belay routes, so there are no breaks for me! But good to know!

Is it normal to feel a bit of pressure on the big toenail? 

Yes, but I'd recommend keeping your toenails trimmed as closely as possible (and your fingernails!). 

To maximize the lifespan of your shoes, don't wander around the gym in them and don't wear them when you're not climbing. You'll likely burn through them in 3-4 months anyway (get them resoled), so not wearing through the rubber when you're not climbing is a good idea.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 337
Michael Mancuso wrote:

Thanks! I'm new to climbing and use the auto belay routes, so there are no breaks for me! But good to know!

Is it normal to feel a bit of pressure on the big toenail? 

If you are new to climbing completely, that probably isn’t something to worry about. You’ll probably have lots of little pains like that come up. If you start to have serious pain or see discoloration in the nail a few hours after, you probably should look for a different shoe or just back off of it a little bit. 

Really the only pain you need to seriously consider is joint/tendon/ligament pain. Make sure you stretch a lot and keep hydrated! 

kevin neville · · Oconomowoc WI · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 15
Chris C. wrote:

It’s not bad form to walk around the climbing gym without shoes, so pull them off if you aren’t going to be on the wall for a while. Enjoy! 

Depends on the gym. Adventure Rock in Milwaukee explicitly prohibits bare feet. But you can bring a pair of sandals or loose tennies or something.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 337
kevin neville wrote:

Depends on the gym. Adventure Rock in Milwaukee explicitly prohibits bare feet. But you can bring a pair of sandals or loose tennies or something.

  1. Weird
  2. Flip flops?
Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

if your toenails are longer than the tip of your toes, trim them back (that could cause some pain).  but trim them straight.  Some people on this site are aware of my problems with  ingrown nails.  I'm actually a few more days of pain away from needing x-rays to see if there's a bone infection that would require losing the tip of my middle toe.  I want to keep anyone else from my experiences.  

If they are trimmed, that could be growing pains as you get used to climbing shoes.  All new shoes will have quirks you get used to or stretch out.  Every new pair I've gotten needs a few weeks to get used to.  And when I take breaks for various reasons, it's a few hours before I get used to a pair that is already broken in.  

I agree with taking them off if your are not climbing.  It'll give your feet some time to breathe.  And you won't stretch out the last as quickly (this is much more important for shoes with a downturned sole).  If you don't want to walk around barefoot where everyone else is, get some flip-flops.  But remember that you're grabbing holds that everyone else grabbed and bled on barehanded.  I know of at least a dozen holds at my gym that have my blood all over them

Michael Mancuso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0
Baba Fats wrote:

if your toenails are longer than the tip of your toes, trim them back (that could cause some pain).  but trim them straight.  Some people on this sight are aware of my problems with  ingrown nails.  I'm actually a few more days of pain away from needing x-rays to see if there's a bone infection that would require losing the tip of my middle toe.  I want to keep anyone else from my experiences.  

If they are trimmed, that could be growing pains as you get used to climbing shoes.  All new shoes will have quirks you get used to or stretch out.  Every new pair I've gotten needs a few weeks to get used to.  And when I take breaks for various reasons, it's a few hours before I get used to a pair that is already broken in.  

I agree with taking them off if your are not climbing.  It'll give your feet some time to breathe.  And you won't stretch out the last as quickly (this is much more important for shoes with a downturned sole).  If you don't want to walk around barefoot where everyone else is, get some flip-flops.  But remember that you're grabbing holds that everyone else grabbed and bled on barehanded.  I know of at least a dozen holds at my gym that have my blood all over them

Thank for the info! I have to be especially careful too being a diabetic...I'm going to just pay extra attention to my feet as I break them in. If they give my feet problems, I'll just exchange them for the next size.

Baba Fats · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

If you start feeling any numbness, take your shoes off.  If the feeling comes back, you might just need to take them off after each problem/route.  But it might be that the shoe size is just too small.  Or a different shoe will fit better.  Early on, its trial and error finding a specific shoe that fits just right. That’s why many people say to look for a climbing specific store instead of REI.  Unfortunately, those stores seem to be harder to find than people make them out to be.  

Some people (myself included) tend to stick with a specific company.  Evolv fits my feet perfectly, but the designs I like lack the sensitivity that I am looking for.  Scarpa fits second best, and performs great for what I use them for

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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