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This question was borrowed from a comment on this question. But what is meant by an "aggressive" climbing shoe? What is the difference in a non-aggressive shoe? And when would you use one over the other? Please use pics, I am a visual person.

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"The accepted answer will have Pics"? Kind of a harsh tone for something you could have easily Googled yourself. – DavidR Sep 13 '12 at 14:37
@DavidR Pics help a lot, and I know the answer. That's not the problem. Just wanted to say please use pics, it will really help. I should probably phrase it that way now that you mention it. I don't like to answer my own questions, so I usually give time for someone else to answer. As far as googling, I used to not post such simple questions until I read this – MaskedPlant Sep 13 '12 at 14:43
:) OK, fair enough. – DavidR Sep 13 '12 at 14:51
Good thing the question got asked or else I would've never found this place=] – Oak Nov 3 '15 at 23:10
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Aggressive Climbing shoes are often also referred to as Cambered. The Arch of the foot and/or the toe point downward. Non-aggressive shoes have a flat bottom. Images compliments of

Some people will use the term aggressive to mean tighter as well, but I have seen that to be less common. You want your shoes to be crazy tight, regardless of their shape. Also, the more aggressive the shoe, usually the longer break in period and the more painful.

This shoe is tilted but you can see the bottom is pretty flat. It is "non-aggressive" Flat Shoe

This shoe is definitely not flat. It is "Aggressive" Aggressive

So visually that is the difference. An aggressive show can have a down turned sole like the one in the pic or it could just have a down pointed toe.

Your Mileage may vary, but I have found the below to be true.

Flat Sole: The basis against which all others are judged. Not really bad at anything. Good for smearing.

Down turned Sole: Better for overhangs and roofs.

Flat Toe: Better for foot and toe jams.

Down pointed Toe: Good for Front pointing and Pocket Pulling as well as overhangs.

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