I just dropped by one of my local outfitters to try on some rock climbing shoes, with a lot of research and advice from friends and readers like you.
Keep in mind, I don’t climb these days and see that improving only marginally. The whole reason I’m shopping for them is so later I can have the pair of old, broken-in pair dad ought to have when he brings his child to the gym or crag when they older and so I don’t have to keep using rentals. After all, I write a climbing blog… It seems that I’m supposed to own a pair!
So I tried on and compared three all within an amazing 15 minutes. It was that short because I dropped into the shop on a whim while passing the store en route to more important errands, so my observations might have been rushed, but as a trial run to test out some rock climbing shoes it was a well used 15 minutes!
I tried on what they had available in my price range — under $100 US. The Mad Rock Phoenix is probably the most affordable shoe at this shop for men so I tried them on first. Mad Rock wearers either love them or hate them. They fit well. Plenty of room and could tighten them as needed by adjusting the laces.
I liked the Scarpa Thunder lace up the most. It fit my foot well and my toes had room, but I can’t decide if they were too snug in the toe box — I touched the end with a slight curl. Wasn’t intolerable. They certainly felt like a higher quality shoe compared to the Phoenix!
The La Sportiva Mythos was above my limit, so I tried on the Nago with the silver strip instead. That strip looks funny. A friend recommended these to me, so I’m glad they work for him. They were similar to the Thunders in fit.
Unfortunately they didn’t have anything else close to my size in the Five Ten Coyote and they only carried the lace-up model. They also did not carry the Evolv Defy… both of which I was hoping to don.
I tested each of them as best I could by taking a few short steps in them and also standing on the benches’ edge with my toes and insides of my foot. I don’t think that gave me any real solid observations, or at least nothing glaringly problematic came from trying these things.
I then tried them all on for a second time to compare them better and I made some judgments. First off, I preferred the Scarpa Thunders. They were clearly my favorite in this group. But I couldn’t decided whether I wanted a bigger size and I was wearing the largest in stock. I like my toes well surrounded by the shoe, but even that is left to interpretation. The Mad Rock Phoenix suddenly felt not only lesser quality to the Thunders, but also sloppier — at least in that they had more room for my foot to slide around in, even when I tried on a smaller size. The Nago… er… I still think they look funny to me so I’ll evaluate them again later if necessary.
If you’re looking for a new pair of rock climbing shoes and want to check back on my experience, read my last post on this subject by clicking here.