I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Choosing and fitting climbing boots, by Stevie Haston.

Choosing and fitting your boots is one of the most important things you can do as a climber! If you pick a boot that fits badly, and doesn't do it's job, you can ruin your holiday. All your training will come to nothing if your boots dont work, your hopes turn to ashes, and your victory laurel turn to an embarasing crown of thorns if you stupidly buy and take the wrong boot on your mission/quest/thingy.   

So why do people pick boots like they pick football teams? Instead of careful consideration they just go for the most popular or their local team! Or if they are a girl or vain they go for the pretty one! Or Macho choice, or whatever. And the last thing you should consider is price! Price and money might be important in ordinary life, but this is climbing, and you can't just cant put a price on success and the pleasure of doing well.

Top photo is my favourite boot of the moment, it doesn't matter who makes it, what matters is that I have two pairs a size apart, Ok! And that's the minimum I will take anywhere!

Here are three different pairs that all fit me, I might take these away too. Why? Ok, trad shoe on the left, toes are flat(ish) in the shoe for comfort in jamming cracks, I might still prefer a less flat pair with a really narrow toe profile for thin cracks-middle photo. Right hand photo is a different boot, it's more asymmetrical lasted, with a big nose turn down, my favourite for really steep rock.

Here's a photo of the different lasting on the last two, it makes a big difference to me. There is also difference in how they stretch I prefer the bottom one, you might not if your foot is shaped different, the bottom one favours a wider foot with a more prominent big toe-me.

This photo shows the degree of downturn, I like downturn, but you might not, it takes some getting used to and some get cramp when they first try them, my tip is get over it. Theres a 0.5 mm difference in the rubber sole which actually means that the top boot will fit certain small pockets seams and cracks, better than the bottom one. The lower boot  edges a little better. You have to choose. You have to know what your looking for and make an educated choice. 
Heres a couple of things to consider, there is not such thing as a woman's boot, or a woman's fit, that's plain stupidity, they either fit, or they don't, you either have wide feet, or thin feet, or what ever TF feet!
Colour only matters in the degree that it sucks up sun heat, and will make you scream with pain. Oh yes we are back to pain. Pain in shoes is very important to many people, if you are cringing in pain, you can't push on your feet. However if your boot is not tight, you can't push either. You might want to compromise, I don't. Turned over toes in tight boots hurt, they can really hurt, and some climbers have bone spurs, and horrible feet due to over tight shoes, modern shoes are better than they used to be, you don't have to go so tight. I go tight, and lots of climbers do, tight might be right! I only wear tight shoes for a hard routes that dont take long, give your feet a chance. Slippers are really good for slipping half off to give your feet a rest, all day comfy shoes are really limited on harder routes, they are my last ever choice.
If you are into steep rock, you need a good heel that doesn't come off, and some toe rubber on top, the perfect shoe hasn't been made, but there are lots of good shoes out there, don't pick the wrong one! Some folk wear different shoes on each foot, it is that crucial at times.
Buying different shoes doesn't mean wasting money, because as you only wear one pair at a time, two pairs will last twice as long as one pair. Last tip, go to a good shop with a big selection of boots, that doesnt mind you taking your time and buy at that shop, dont find your size and buy on the net. Surport that shop, you may think you have the right size, but boots vary, and the edge of the shoe, the business end of the shoe can be badly or wrongly ground and this can make the boot worthless! Hope this helps.