As like with any other apparel item, the size of climbing shoes can vary based on the manufacturer. Some brands make climbing shoes tighter/smaller than other brands even-though the shoes will be given the same US/UK/EU size. This article explores how popular climbing shoe brands fit compared to each other.
On average, La Sportiva climbing shoes run the smallest and are typically worn between 1.5 and 2 sizes smaller than climbers’ street shoes. Black Diamond climbing shoes on the other hand run relatively true to size. The shoe’s shape, downturn, and material cause individual shoe models of each brand to run smaller/larger than others.
Knowing how a certain brand’s climbing shoe sizing compares to other brands is very important when a climber is looking at getting a new pair of climbing shoes. If a climber is looking to change from a La Sportiva shoe into a Scarpa shoe, they likely will need to order a completely different shoe size. The typical shoe sizing for 11 of the most popular climbing shoe brands is detailed below.
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How Popular Climbing Shoe Brands Fit
It should be noted that each individual climbing shoe model will fit differently than others of the same brand. In general however; the shoe model sizing is relatively consistent within each brand. For example, a US size 10 La Sportiva Tarantulace will be approximately the same size as a US size 10 La Sportiva TC Pro.
Before we get any further, you should know that this article is not going to discuss how tight of climbing shoes you should buy. This article is only going to touch on how the sizes of the different climbing shoe brands compare to each other. How tight you should wear your climbing shoes can actually be quite complicated and is very climber specific. If you are curious to learn more about this, I recommend checking out my article that discusses the dangers of wearing too tight of climbing shoes.
The table below details the average amount climbers downsize their climbing shoes for each climbing shoe brand compared to their normal everyday street shoe size. These numbers are not set in stone and will vary based on the individual shoe model above. However, it gives a good idea of how small/big some brands run compared to others.
|Climbing Shoe Manufacturer||Typical Climbing Shoe Size Compared to a Climber’s Street Shoe|
|Black Diamond||0 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Boreal||1/4 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Butora||0 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Evolv||0 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Five Ten||1/2 to 1 size smaller|
|La Sportiva||1 1/2 to 2 sizes smaller|
|Mad Rock||0 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Ocun||0 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Red Chili||0 to 1/2 size smaller|
|Scarpa||1/2 to 1 size smaller|
|Tenaya||1/2 to 1 size smaller|
Using the table above, we can group the climbing shoe brands based on how their shoes typically fit.
The following climbing shoe brands fit relatively true to size and are not typically downsized substantially from a climber’s street shoe size.
- Black Diamond
- Mad Rock
- Red Chili
Climbers commonly wear shoes from the following climbing shoe brands slightly to moderately downsized from their street shoe size (1/2 to 1 shoe size):
- Five Ten
La Sportiva is known for having smaller shoes than the other brands and it is common for climbers to downsize 1 1/2 to 2 whole shoe sizes.
While these generalizations about the brand’s climbing shoe sizing will hold true and be applicable for the majority of climbers, it will vary based on each individual shoe model. The reasons for this are explained in more detail below.
Why A Brand’s Climbing Shoe Models Fit Differently
Each climbing shoe is designed with a specific purpose, intended use, and foot shape in mind. If all climbing shoes were the same then the majority of the climbing population’s needs would not be met. A beginner just learning how to top rope will have VERY different shoes from a professional boulderer looking to send a V16.
The different shoe designs cause certain models to fit tighter/run smaller than others. For example, the La Sportiva Pythons are frequently reported to run an entire size smaller than the La Sportiva TC Pros. So if a size 10 Python fits your foot well, then it is likely that size 11 TC Pro is needed for a comparable fit.
The downturn of a climbing shoe plays one of the biggest roles in a shoe’s fit. Aggressively downturned shoes are designed to be worn tighter than neutrally downturned shoes. If a climber wears an aggressively downturned shoe that is too big, their heel will consistently pop out of the back of the shoe. Therefore, these shoes are intended to run smaller than neutral shoes.
To account for the various different foot shapes that people have, climbing shoes tend to come in either a symmetric or an asymmetric last. Depending on a climber’s foot shape, these will fit their feet differently and cause some shoe models to feel tighter on the sides of their forefoot than others.
In addition to the last shape, the width of the shoe plays a large factor in how tight a shoe will feel on the sides of a climber’s foot. Obviously narrower shoes will fit tighter on the sides of a climber’s foot than others. Women’s shoes are actually designed to be narrower than men’s shoes. If you are interested in the differences between men’s and women’s shoes, then I recommend checking out my article that details the main differences between men’s and women’s climbing shoes.
If you know you have wide feet and are looking for your first pair of climbing shoes, check out my article that details the best beginner climbing shoes for wide feet.