When kids are first starting to learn how to rock climb, kids climbing shoes are necessary. The first holds they will learn on will be specially made to support their whole foot and sneakers will give enough support. After they have learned the basic safety rules and how to move their hands and feet in coordinated movements, they will start to focus on more technical aspects of climbing.
As they get older and become more practiced, experienced climbers, their feet will grow and change, and the initial sneaker appropriate holds will no longer be enough. When a child is ready for climbing shoes, they will be able to place their toes purposefully instead of using their whole foot to climb. They will slowly feel more comfortable and ready to take on more challenging climbs. Sneakers will no longer be enough as they will not grip on the more advanced holds and it will be time to move on to kid’s climbing shoes.
There are some specific things to consider when looking at kid’s climbing shoes. First, comfort is the most important part of the shoe’s fit. Adults will be able to cope with some initial discomfort for the sake of the grip, but if children are uncomfortable, they won’t want to climb.
Second, it’s best to go with a slightly larger shoe. Some kid’s climbing shoes are adjustable. If not, wearing socks to fill in the extra space will work. Kids grow quickly, so it’s best to get a pair that leaves a little bit of room for growth. Plus, kids don’t have the same level of foot control as adults, so they don’t need as tight fitting a shoe.
Third, the composition of the shoe is also important. Leather uppers are a little better than synthetic because they leather will stretch to their foot and be a little more comfortable. The sole should be thin and flexible. The toe should not be too curved because a kid’s foot isn’t developed enough for that. Lastly, the closure system should be simple enough for the child to be able to use it independently.