Excruciating foot pain is something I’d only ever experienced before after wearing really uncomfortable heels until 3am on a night out. But that doesn’t even compare to breaking in climbing shoes!
When I was shopping for my latest pair, after my Tenaya Ra’s unexpectedly gave in (OK, it was actually well overdue, but I was still very upset!), I was already bracing myself for the pain of breaking the new ones in, which lasted a good few weeks with the previous pair.
It didn’t help that I was forced to buy them just before a sport climbing trip to Frankenjura (Germany), and I couldn’t even wear them in beforehand as I had managed to get myself injured the week before.
Buying climbing shoes makes you find out a lot more about your feet that you would have known otherwise, and I realised most popular brands were a massive struggled for me, because I have the flattest heels in the world. Turns out, this has always been an issue for me with shoes, and I haven’t even realised!
After trying on a bunch of La Sportivas in Ellis Bingham in Covent Garden with no success, the helpful shop assistant then suggested I make a radical change and go for 5.10 Anasazis. These seemed to be a much better fit at first try, but of course I decided to shop around before committing.
Not a shoe that’s considered to be the most technical out there, the Anasazi has a lot of reviews that describe is as an all-round solid choice for almost any kind of climbing.
For me, the flat heel and relatively narrow foot made it fit my tiny feet far better than the rounded heel of La Sportiva’s, which hangs off my heel like an empty sack. I couldn’t even dream of heel hooks in La Sportivas, or my old Tenayas, for that matter. The 5.10 was snug and fitted perfectly, for the first time in my climbing life!
The next question was the size, and that is almost as excruciatingly painful as the first wear. I was always taught to buy a smaller size than my street size as the shoe is supposed to stretch, so I forced my feel into a 3.5 (after torturing the poor girl at the Arch Climbing Wall, where I ended up buying my shoes, for about half an hour). Then I went home, tried them on again, and wanted to cry…
I took a few days to reconsider my decision, and then crawled back to the Arch to exchange my shoes for a size 4. Luckily, most climbing shops will allow you to exchange shoes even after you have had a climb on a couple of routes to test them, but it is well worth checking this policy before buying!
It turned out that the Anasazis are made of specifically non-stretching rubber and also are not leather on top, which minimises stretch. The shoe box actually suggests buying shoes that feel snug, but not too tight, as they do not stretch nearly as much as some other brands.
After the exchange malarkey was over, however, these shoes have been an absolute DREAM.
When we went to Frankenjura, I naturally worried about them being too painful on the first wear, so I brought my old, worn out shoes with me. I didn’t wear them for a second, because the 5.10’s felt perfect from the first moment I put them on. I haven’t looked back since!
They feel comfortable enough to wear on longer routes and take on long climbing trips, but are also technical enough to work on harder routes. I sent my first 7a indoors with them (on my third attempt!), and I didn’t have any trouble. Thanks, 5.10!!
What is your favourite climbing shoe? Or are you still looking? Please share your experience with me!