Climbing shoes are an essential part of your climbing equipment, and you need a shoe that can be flexible and durable enough to offer you protection, grip and comfort as you climb.
Most climbers are used to being told 'if they aren't pinching, they aren't working'. In some senses, this is true, because for climbing you need a very close fit that would be unacceptable with general shoes.
However, your toes should always rest on the toe box at the front of the shoe, and when resting flat, your shoes should not curl up.
This can be more damaging than beneficial. Your toes should be a compromise between being flat up against the front of the shoe so you get a firm grip whilst edging, yet your toes shouldn't ball up uncomfortably. Your toes should touch the end of the shoe, but should not be uncomfortable.
You should not be able to see your toes on the outer of the shoe. Make sure you have a firm grip on the back of the shoe so your heel is flat to the back of the shoe, without being too cramped.
The aim is to find a pair of climbing shoes that are rigid enough to get a strong hold on a rockface and overhanging rock. For beginners this is achieved by using firm soled shoes with very little flex.
Many climbers do find that as their climbing style progresses climbing shoes with more flexible soles are a more favourable option.
Women specific climbing shoes have a narrow fit, ideal for anyone with slimmer feet.
Found between the footbed and the sole of the shoe, the midsole of a climbing shoe is designed to give support to the feet.
Flexible midsoles are ideal for extra smearing capabilities, and for beginners who don't need as strong footholds, whereas stiffer, less flexible midsoles are ideal for edging work.
Leather: The best thing about a leather climbing shoe is that it is supremely easy to care for. Lined or unlined leather can stretch a size (unlined) or have little stretch (lined) so you can buy to suit your needs if you require but can't
Leather is a long lasting fabric that can withstand abrasion.
Synthetics: Synthetics in climbing shoes generally have less stretch than a leather shoe, making them less suitable for beginners. Synthetics shoes may cost more than leathers, and are generally more capable than leather at absorbing sweat and excess moisture.