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Indoor boulder climbing is pretty safe and climbing shoes are quite expansive. Are they really a necessity? Wouldn't my running shoes do the job just as well? Or even socks? Or ballet shoes..?

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Yes. You definitely need climbing specific shoes (either your own or borrowed/ rented). They won't slide around on your feet like other shoes and they provide edging stability that doesn't rely exclusively in the rigidity of your foot. While you may be able to climb very easy routes with regular shoes, if you were to try routes with smaller footholds you'll find out instantaneously why climbing shoes matter.

  • but is it really important for beginners? – Sparkler Mar 1 '15 at 23:33
  • Yes, I believe so. It's actually going to protect you from injury. Again, you don't have to buy shoes, usually you can rent them. That'll be best if you aren't sure you're going to commit. But I would categorically require anyone climbing with me to wear proper shoes. It's not about being purist or high performance, it's about safety and having the bare minimum equipment. – Robert1er Mar 1 '15 at 23:37
  • Climbing shoes are better on all types of holds, even larger ones, but there are often micro-holds even on beginner problems. Running shoes will be completely hopeless to use on these. I would recommend trying out climbing before buying climbing shoes though. – Mårten Mar 2 '15 at 8:09
  • I have seen a guy doing some of the harder problems barefoot, though. I think that's scary, but if you have sufficient strength (in your feet), callus and skill, it's apparently possible. – Raphael Mar 17 '15 at 21:39
  • @Märten - I agree, to a point. While I've climbed barefoot in the past, I don't think it would be very safe for a beginner to go barefoot. Your feet really get a lot of support and protection from a proper climbing shoe and if you haven't been climbing very long then edging would be difficult if not dangerous without the benefit of shoes. – Robert1er Mar 18 '15 at 0:11

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