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When to Graduate from Rental Climbing Shoes

Updated: May 31

You’ve probably heard how much climbers have to say about the downfalls of rental shoes and the benefits of investing in your pair of climbing shoes. No matter what kind of shoes you’ve got access to, you can still have a blast and get your workout in! However, a good pair of climbing shoes can make all the difference in your climbing experience. Here are a few reasons it might be time to graduate from rental climbing shoes.

Becoming a Frequent Climber

If you visit the climbing gym more regularly and have no plans of spending less time on the wall anytime soon, you’re probably ready to commit to your gear. If you’re spending lots of time climbing, it likely means you enjoy the sport and want to continue progressing! Even if climbing more advanced grades isn’t your goal, your skills will naturally progress as you climb. As this happens, the time will come when rental shoes restrict you more than they help you. If you are climbing multiple times a week or spending extended periods of time at the gym, investing in your pair of climbing shoes can be a wise decision as it’ll allow you to have a more enjoyable, successful, and comfortable gym experience overall.

An Extra Edge in Your Climbing Ability

As you progress in your climbing and begin climbing more challenging routes requiring more advanced technique, you may find that your rental shoes aren’t cutting it. Rental shoes are designed to accommodate as many foot sizes and shapes as possible, meaning they tend to be a much less aggressive style of shoe (usually with a flatter arch and less pointed toe). Because of this design, rental shoes have limits when advancing your performance ability and skill sets. Climbing shoes are essential for precise foot placements and edging, and having a pair that fits you well can significantly impact your climbing performance. If you start noticing that your climbing ability has suddenly hit a ceiling or that you need shoes that offer better sensitivity, grip, or support, it's a good indication that it's time to consider purchasing your climbing shoes more tailored to your needs.

Customized Comfort & Reliability

Like any other footwear, climbing shoes come in different shapes, sizes, and styles. Everyone's feet are unique, and finding the right fit is crucial for comfort and performance. Rental climbing shoes are often used by multiple climbers and broken in by many feet, making them unlikely to fit your unique foot mold. Climbing shoes that are too tight or loose can restrict your climbing technique and keep you from enjoying the climb! When you start to feel that your rental shoes are not providing the desired comfort or fit, investing in them allows you to choose a pair that suits your feet' shape and size and even customize them with different lacing techniques or insoles for added comfort. The opportunity to break in and climb with the same shoes each time you hit the gym will provide you with an individualized fit. It’ll help give you a reliable and predictable climbing experience. You’ll learn exactly how and where to place your feet and utilize your shoe type for successful climbing and practice with new skills.

Long-term Cost Savings

Finally, one of the biggest reasons many climbers decide to invest in their shoes is the savings it can provide compared to the costs of renting gear. The expenses may add up quickly if your gym has additional gear fees per visit. While the cost of new climbing shoes can feel daunting, remember that in the long run having your pair can save you money compared to renting gear. Let’s say your first pair is around $100. Shoe rental can range anywhere from $5-$15 depending on where you climb, meaning that you’ll surpass the cost of new shoes within as many as 20 or as few as 6 trips to the gym! Either way, especially if you’re newer to climbing, your shoes should last you several months, if not longer, carrying you far beyond those amounts of sessions.

So, still uncertain if it’s time to throw in the rental shoes? Ultimately, whether you’re a climber looking to advance in more challenging skills or know you have no intention of slowing down in your climbing in the future, investing in your first pair of climbing shoes pays off. To start the shoe shopping process, stop at your gym and talk to staff about their recommendations, tips, and any deals they might have! Welcome to this exciting, comfy, and cost-effective next step in your climbing journey!


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