Friday, July 13, 2018

The Number One Key to Successful Family Rock Climbing Days

Shoes. Good climbing shoes. End story.

Seriously though, we've had two successful climbing days this season, and two unsuccessful days (one a complete failure) - and my son's shoes were the number one contributing factor for success (or lack thereof) on all four days.

First overhanging climb on a 5.10- (Climbing Success Day)

Why Real Rock Shoes are Important 

Real rock shoes and a climbing helmet (Age 7)
When my son was younger he just used regular running shoes or his Keen hiking shoes when rock climbing (as many kids do.) This was definitely the cheaper option for us and meant we didn't have to buy a special pair of shoes every time his feet grew.

Wearing regular shoes worked at the 5.5 climbing stage and worked with moderate success at indoor climbing gyms. Progressing to 5.6 and 5.7 routes though was nearly impossible in regular shoes. We had to upgrade to real climbing shoes - and wow what a difference?

Check out the retro old school climbing photo below from 2014! 

My son is wearing a hockey helmet of all things!!

Both kids are wearing hiking shoes, and is that a Disney bike helmet on my son's friend?

All I can say is that we've come a loooooong way!

Retro shot from 2014 (Age 5)

The Only Rock Shoes my Son has Ever Known 

When my son was 7 we got him his first pair of climbing shoes, a pair of Mad Rock Mad Monkey Shoes from All Out Kids Gear in Red Deer. 

All Out Kids Gear is one of our go to sources for outdoor kids' gear and we love that we're supporting a local family business. They have a great shipping policy (orders over $40 have free shipping) and there are free returns within the first 30 days. Read the full returns and exchange policy here. 

Mad Rock Mad Monkey Shoes

Performance Review of the Mad Rock Mad Monkey Shoes 

My son is now in his second pair of Mad Rock Mad Monkey Shoes from All Out Kids Gear. We liked the first pair so much, we had no questions in our minds about which kind of shoes we'd upgrade to in a bigger size. After all, if it ain't broke... - and they are an awesome pair of shoes. We had no need to try different brands or styles.

There are 3 Big Things We LOVE about the Mad Monkey Shoes: 

1. They are super comfortable

Mad Monkey Shoes are super comfortable 

Owner Philip Lund of All Out Kids Gear says he's tried a wide variety of climbing shoes on his kids and believes the Mad Monkey shoes are the most comfortable - something I certainly can't dispute.

My son has never complained of sore feet (except when we tried to cram his feet in his old Mad Rock shoes at the beginning of this season - which was climbing disaster day one for this year.)

My son has also never had a blister in these shoes and can comfortably wear them while playing around at the crag between climbs (something I wish I could say about my own shoes!) 

I can't imagine trying to put uncomfortable tight shoes on a kid, and this year we're aiming to do at least one multi-pitch climb as a family - where comfort will be imperative.

2. They are easy to put on 

My son doesn't have the best fine motor skills and I don't want to be dealing with shoes that have laces to tie on top of everything else we have to do at the crag or climbing gym. The Mad Monkey shoes have an easy velcro vlap with great stickiness (this is GOOD velcro,) that makes them easy to put on (and stay on!)

The Velcro never comes undone and once the shoes are on, they stay on without becoming loose. You don't need to re-tighten laces during the day and the velcro doesn't ever lose its stickiness - something I can say with confidence as we're on our second pair of these shoes now. 

The shoes are so comfortable my son wears them even when he's not on the wall

3. They have GREAT grip on the rock 

My son maxed out at about 5.8 last year and has now just done his first 5.10- climb (overhanging at that!)

good climbing shoes make a big difference!
He never would have been able to do an overhanging 5.10- without good climbing shoes. He also tried a super challenging 5.9 route outside this year and killed it. (He took many many rest breaks going up, but it was a hard route and the shoes performed.)

On our second climbing disaster day of the season (the first being when we tried to cram size 3 feet into size 1 shoes) we had a shoe malfunction and accidentally brought one new climbing shoe, and one old climbing shoe. (I have since moved the old pair of identical looking climbing shoes somewhere else in the house until I can sell or give them away.) 

Since Noah refused to wear a shoe that was two sizes too small (on a multi-pitch climb at that) we decided he could just wear his Keen sandals. The route was only a 5.7, and an easy one at that, so we thought his sandals would be fine! 

We discovered very quickly that you can not climb in sandals! They were bulky, didn't flex, din't grip the rock in the same way as climbing shoes do, and Noah couldn't make it even halfway up the first pitch of our climb (a route he'd already climbed with easy success earlier this season in his real rock shoes.)

Lesson learned and we have learned first hand that good climbing shoes are probably the number one key to successful family climbing days. 

This route was easy in climbing shoes (impossible in sandals!)

If you want to get your kids a pair of good climbing shoes I'd suggest checking out the great selection of shoes from All Out Kids Gear. They also sell harnesses, including the Back Diamond Wiz Kids harness that my son wears, chalk bags, helmets (something we seriously need to upgrade for a bigger model,) climbing ropes, belay devices, and adult climbing gear. 

Good climbing shoes take you great places!

Disclaimer: We received a discount on our son's climbing shoes from All Out Kids Gear and I am an affiliate partner with the company. 

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