If you've tried rock climbing a few times with rented gear and enjoyed the experience, it might be time to start investing in your own equipment. While it's easy to focus on getting the right ropes and harness, you shouldn't discount the value of proper footwear. Regardless of your budget, it's important to spend adequate time looking for the right pair of climbing shoes. You want the shoes to feel like an extension of your body, rather than be cognizant of them when you're climbing and have more crucial things to focus on. Here are some desirable features to look for when you shop for climbing shoes
When you browse a variety of climbing shoes, you'll see some that have laces and others that have Velcro straps to tighten them. You might instinctively reach for the laced variety, given your familiarity with lace-up running shoes, for example, but the Velcro style is worth some heavy consideration. This type of enclosure is desirable because it rarely comes undone when you're climbing. The last thing you want to have happen when you're partway up a rock face is to notice that your lace has come undone — with Velcro climbing shoes, you won't have this worry.
Many climbing shoes have flexible soles, but you'll encounter varying degrees if you check several different shoes. Think about your climbing style as well as any specific instructions you've received from a teacher. Some climbers like their shoes to have very flexible soles, while others prefer a little more stiffness in this area. If you know your preference, hold different pairs of climbing shoes at each end and bend them between your hands. If you like your soles to be as flexible as possible, you'll want a shoe that bends with ease.
Many rock climbers favor shoes that have a low profile at the front end — that is, they're relatively thin from the bottom of the sole to the top of the upper part of the shoe. This type of shoe is handy for outdoor climbing in which you need to stick the toes of the shoe in small openings in the rock face. If you're climbing on an artificial wall indoors, though, it may not have cracks, and thus you might opt for a profile that isn't so low. Shopping at a retailer that specializes in climbing shoes gives you the chance to receive help from an expert who can help you find the right shoes for your next climb.