If you’ve ever taken a somewhat closer look at climbing shoes or even shoes in general, you’ll most likely have already come across the topic of different feet shapes and types. 

Shoes are made on what is known as a last, a model of the foot that determines the shape of the finished product. As you can see if you take a look at our technology page, the shape of a climbing shoe, i.e. how symmetrical or asymmetrical the model is or the extent to which the forefoot area slopes downward (downturn), has a huge impact on its performance. 

However, the last also determines how wide or narrow a climbing shoe is, the height of the instep, and the shape of the forefoot area. These aspects directly affect the fit and comfort of a shoe. 

Our website provides the following information about every single Red Chili model:

High instep or low instep

If you look at different feet from the side, you’ll notice that some look higher than others. This is partly to do with the shape of the longitudinal arch. This is because the longitudinal arch raises the midfoot area and in turn the instep, so a high-instep shoe is likely to fit best. Those with a flat foot and a lower instep are best to opt for a low-instep shoe for a perfect fit.

Foot width

The width of your feet has a major influence on how well your climbing shoes fit. If you have wide feet, you’ll never really be happy with a narrow model because it will never fit comfortably. On the other hand, if you have narrow feet and try to climb in wide shoes, they won’t fit securely and your feet may even move around in them as they have too much room—not a good starting point for precise footwork. 

The following diagram appears under every model to show you whether it is wide or narrow:

As you’ve probably already realized, some shoes include the abbreviation LV in their name, which is sometimes misunderstood to mean ladies’ version. LV actually stands for low volume. These models are specially designed for narrow feet that don’t quite fill out normal shoes. If you have narrow feet and often find your climbing shoes too spacious or airy, we recommend filtering by LV/Low Volume in our online shop.

Foot shape (the arrangement of the toes) 

We generally differentiate between three main foot shapes:

  • Classic shape—Egyptian foot (50% of Central Europe) The big toe is the longest then the remaining toes evenly taper in length.
  • Center-shaped—Greek foot (40% of Central Europe) The second toe is longer than all the other toes.
  • Square-shaped—Roman foot (10% of Central Europe) The first three toes are the same length and the last two are slightly shorter.

The suitability of the fit can therefore depend on the foot shape and the shoe model. ‘Pointy’ shoes with a sharply tapered toe area are better for wearers with more pointed toes (Egyptian and Greek feet). ‘Squared’ shoes with a wider toe area are best suited for people with a square, less tapered forefoot area (Roman feet).