Your first pair of climbing shoes (on sale at this site) will likely be like your training shoes. Chances are, you’re going to be beating them up pretty badly. Most shoes wear about due to the rubber getting worn down by constant contact with the climbing wall or rock. So what kind of shoe should you get as your first pair? Well, if you don’t want to have to replace your shoes 6 months down the line, it’s probably a good idea to get one with thick rubber. You won’t be able to feel the foot holds as well but until you improve on your footwork, it won’t make too much of a difference.

As for cost, you should be able to find decent shoes for under $80. For now, just forget about brand and go for something you can afford to abuse. The most important thing when it comes to buying shoes for climbing is how it fits. Too loose and you’ll have issues on smaller foot holds as well as heel hooks. Way too tight and your feet will be hurting too much. The shoes should definitely be tight but not to the point where you need another person to help take the shoes off.

There are 3 types of shoes that you can get: Lace, strap, and slip-on. The ones with laces can give you a better fit but since climbing shoes can be quite tight, you’ll have to take them off every 20 minutes or so and having to untie and retie the shoes can be a hassle. The slip-ons are great in terms of snugness but putting them on and taking them off can be a real pain. The Velcro straps are probably the best in terms of ease and adjustable tightness. These are the ones that I personally prefer.

The best thing to do is to go to stores such as REI and try on a variety of shoes and sizes to see which ones fit your feet the best. You can ask the workers there for advice. From my experience, they have been very helpful as well as very knowledgeable. The prices at REI may be a bit higher than you want to spend so if this is the case, go their to test shoes in order to know what brand and size is right for you and then go online to find the best deals.

If you’re going bouldering for the first time, what should you expect? Obviously, everyone’s experience is going to be a little bit different but I’ll share with you some things you should know. In this post, I’ll primarily be talking about indoor climbing gyms and will save outdoor climbing for a later post. (Also see Elite Bouldering for more bouldering tips.)

Before you go to the climbing gym, what should you wear? Most people just wear whatever they wear when they go workout. You want to be comfortable. Wear pants or shorts that will allow you to stretch. Many people even wear jeans and roll up the bottom. Since you’ll be climbing indoors, it’s probably best to wear shorts. Long pants is okay too but is normally worn when climbing outdoors in order to prevent scratches on the legs. Now if you don’t already have any climbing shoes, then don’t worry, you can rent one at the gym. Remember to bring a pair of socks if you’re going to rent shoes though.

Once you get to the gym, you’ll need a pair of tight fitting shoes and some chalk. When choosing a shoe size, start with one full size lower than your regular street shoes. Yes, it will be tight, but it’s supposed to. You’ll get used to it after a while. If in doubt, just ask one of the workers there to help you pick a size.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the entire gym is padded. This is to help prevent any injuries by greatly reducing the impact of any falls. You’ll also notice these big pads as well. These are crash pads to further reduce the impact of falls. You’ll also see that the walls are covered with colored tape as well as numbers with the letter “V” in front of them. The number after the “V” corresponds to the difficulty level. The colored tape is used to designate the hand and foot holds for a particular route. This is done because there will be a bunch of routes that overlap each other so this helps you to distinguish which holds are part of the route you’re climbing on.

Before jumping on the wall, spend about 5 minutes stretching out. Focus on your forearms and fingers. While doing this, watch some of the other climbers climb. You’ll notice that they will start with both hands on the hold with the “V#” tape. Once they make it to the final hold at the top, most with complete the problem by placing both hands on the final hold.

When it’s time to climb, start with a V0. Put some chalk on your hands and begin. If you’re a bit scare of heights, have a friend spot you. This basically means they will put their arms out under you as you climb. If you happen to fall, they will make sure you fall straight down as well as prevent you from falling on your head. Don’t worry. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The height of most of these climbs are only about 15 feet and unless you’re at a gym that requires you to top out (climbing on top of the wall), your feet will actually be several feet lower than the top. Besides, the floor is cushioned so you don’t have much to worry about.

After climbing a few routes, you will probably start to notice your hands hurting a bit and even see some peeling skin. This is normal. Over time, your skin will get tougher and your hands won’t hurt as much. Another thing you will probably notice is your forearms burning. A bit of rest will help ease the tightness of your arms.

You’ll eventually get to a problem that you won’t be able to finish. Study the problem and try again the next time you come. If you need help, just ask other climbers. Most climbers are super laid back and friendly and are willing to help other climbers out.