Robbie Phillips: Choosing Your First Pair of Climbing Shoes | GUIDE

Robbie Phillips: Choosing Your First Pair of Climbing Shoes | GUIDE

Campusing 101 | Guide Reading Robbie Phillips: Choosing Your First Pair of Climbing Shoes | GUIDE 6 minutes Next The Next Step: Choosing Your First Technical Pair of Climbing Shoes

In this 4 part blog series Robbie Phillips- SCARPA athlete, climbing coach, motivational speaker and all-round nice guy- shares his insights into choosing and getting the most out of your first pair of SCARPA climbing shoes…

This is a classic Scarpa Blog entry – some models and specifications may have changed – see our website for the latest models of Climbing Shoes.

SCARPA Rock Shoes: A Definitive Guide

One of the most highly debated topics of conversation at the crag or wall is the climbing shoe! These tight, rubberised footwear come in all colours, shapes and styles and it can be confusing even for an experienced climber to know which shoes are right for them. In this article I’d like to try and guide you towards making a better decision, whether it’s your first pair or your thirty-first pair.

It’s important to understand that there are different needs for different climbers. What somebody starting out in the sport requires will be different to what a seasoned climbing vet needs. Just as someone who climbs a lot of Gritstone compared to someone who climbs a lot of steep limestone, the demands on the climber and the shoe are very different and this must be realised.

Since I started working with SCARPA, I have come to understand that the technology of climbing shoes is not as simple as I had once thought. Just as with any technical product, improvements to design and the utilisation of new technology are constantly being tried and tested by those in the forefront of the game and it can be confusing to the climber to understand the minute details that make one climbing shoe better than another. It is my hope that this article will not only guide climbers in this way, but that it will also enlighten many to the wonders of climbing shoe technology as well as showcasing SCARPA as leaders in the industry!

Beginners: How to Choose Your First Pair of Climbing Shoes

You’re new to climbing; you’ve been doing it a few weeks to a few months, probably renting climbing shoes from your local wall until now and you feel you’re finally ready to drop some coin on your very first pair…

So where do you begin?

Comfort is Key

A massive myth in climbing is that your shoes have to be painful to work. You won’t believe me how many climbers I’ve spoken to over the years who told me they got the tightest shoe they could withstand in order to stand on the smallest footholds possible.

If you do this, there are a few potential outcomes:

1) You wear the pair for a couple of weeks until you can’t withstand the pain anymore and have to buy another pair

2) You force yourself into them and potentially do lasting damage to your poor wee tootsies (toes)

3) You get put off climbing because you think it’s too painful for you!

fit and end use characteristics
Start with comfort and work your way up the table

I’ll be dead honest here… I don’t climb in shoes that are painful. If I climbed in shoes that hurt me it would be more difficult to stand on tiny footholds. But there also must be a distinction between what is “uncomfortable” and what’s just a “tight-fitting shoe”.

A shoe can be comfortable and also tight fitting, but the confusion happens generally with beginners who aren’t used to having their feet in such tight-fitting shoes and therefore believe that it is uncomfortable. It is generally a case of just getting used to wearing climbing shoes.

Choose Flatter Shoes to Begin with

As a beginner there is no point in going too extreme with the “Down-Turned” or “Asymmetrical” climbing shoes to begin with. As I said above, beginners generally find the transition between “street shoes” and “climbing shoes” difficult enough without forcing their feet in the most extreme types of climbing shoes designed for the most technically advanced forms of climbing. As a beginner, go for a flatter pair of shoe first as it will make the transition easier.

Click to see the whole Rock Comfort range
Maestro, Velocity and Helix are perfect for your first pair of shoes

The SCARPA beginner models are designed with several key functions:

• Comfort
• Durability
• All-Day Performance

They are built with a flatter body that contours to the natural shape of your foot rather than forcing it into a specific shape. This means that you’ll be comfortable whilst climbing and will be able to wear them for much longer.

The general materials used such as leather, synthetics and rubber are all built to last. As a beginner climber, your technique won’t be as smooth and therefore your climbing shoes may suffer wear and tear quicker, but a Beginner model will be capable of withstanding this.

See the Comfort Line for SCARPA models that would suit a Beginner climber


  1. Reflex V
  2. Reflex V Woman
  3. Reflex V Kids
  4. Velocity V
  5. Velocity V Woman
  6. Helix
  7. Helix Woman
  8. Veloce
  9. Veloce Woman

*(The Maestro could also be considered as a Beginner shoe as it is very comfortable, although considerably more expensive than those in the COMFORT LINE)

Hopefully this gives you some insight into choosing your first pair of rock shoes. Read the next step here:

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