5.10s are known to be more comfortable, softer shoes, but I've also heard they tire your feet out faster. Edging, in particular, is harder in these shoes because it's your toes' responsibility instead of the shoes' responsibility.

My shoes are nearly broken in by now. I've had them for about 3 weeks and have been climbing about 3 times a week. They slip on easily. Obviously, they were more painful during break-in.

My toes can hurt due to some nerve damage but indoor climbing through V3s has generally not been a problem at all. But advancing to outdoor climbing, particularly edging when my shoes aren't great for edging, is more trying.

How do I make sure I'm building strength in my toes and mitigating injury? What amount of discomfort would tell me I'm doing something wrong or need to back off?

  • What type of outdoor climbing are you talking about? Bouldering? Difficult sport climbing? In general, if it hurts, that's your body telling you not to do it.
    – user2169
    Commented Oct 4, 2014 at 17:52
  • 1
    @BenCrowell bouldering. I'm aware of that generalization, but we have to learn good sore after a day of weight training v. injurious, and the same for stretches, and the same for massages, and the same for aches during intense cardio... so I need to learn this about climbing shoes. Literally everyone I've talked to has told me that shoes should hurt during break-in. I have a softer shoe so I've heard they should be actually fully comfortable. Hence this question.
    – djechlin
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 1:23

2 Answers 2


Your climbing shoes shouldn't hurt at all.

Andrew Bisharat has a great article to read on the subject: http://eveningsends.com/climbing/climbing-shoes-tight/

In summary, here's what the article says:

  • It's a misconception that shoes have to be uncomfortably tight for good performance.

  • Using shoes that are too tight can cause various physical problems. It's especially important for children not to use shoes that are too tight.

  • The type of shoe you want depends on the type of climbing you do. You want a stiffer, looser shoe for multipitch trad climbing, and a softer, tighter shoe for technical bouldering and sport climbing.

  • Nearly all shoes on the market now have liners, and therefore they don't stretch. Don't buy one of these shoes expecting it to stretch and become more comfortable.

  • 6
    Thanks. As a matter of good practice on StackExchange, can you edit some key excerpts from the article or a summary into your answer? As of now if the link breaks this answer can become useless for future visitors.
    – djechlin
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 1:19
  • 4
    I added a summary of the article.
    – user2169
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 20:11

I think you bought the wrong pair of 5.10s. I've got some Anasazi Whites

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I specifically bought them for edging.

they have a thick(ish) sole area around the rim to provide better support when placing weight on the edges. I would suggest that the Moccasym's are a lot softer and are optimised for smearing on rough rock.

5.10s are known to be more comfortable, softer shoes, but I've also heard they tire your feet out faster

I'd dispute this TBH. 5.10 rubber is softer (stealth rubber). This is to aid friction not to make them more comfortable. What makes shoes more comfortable is buying the right shoe, regardless of make.

Every shoe will fit differently and everyone's feet are different sizes and shapes so it's hard to give advice in this area. Try on lot's and lots of different shoes and see which one's work for you. Look out for "hot spots" (where the foot feels hot in a particualr area). This is a sign that the shoe is a bad fit in this area. I wear my 5.10s tight. They're 2 sizes smaller than my street shoes but different people opt for different options in this regard.

You want your toes (somewhat compressed) in general. This aids your ability to place weight though your toes. How compressed is a martter of preference, it's about balancing comfort with performance. More compressed = more performance, less compressed = more comfort.

How do I make sure I'm building strength in my toes and mitigating injury?

You can't really build strength in your toes. There is no major muscle in your toes to build. This is why your shoes support your toes. I would suggest trying to train your toes is a waste of time.

If you're experiencing pain, The culprit is probably your shoes. You may need to buy a new pair. This could be because they are too tight, compressing your toes too much or too loose, not supporting your injured toes enough.

It's impossible to tell this from here. I would suggest going to a good climbing shop or local climbing gym and talking to someone experienced who will be able to offer advice based on your current shoe and foot shape, etc.

This article may provide some helpful insights also

Climbing shoes: is pain insane?

  • 1
    Great. I might be happy with them indoor but they're probably a flat-out terrible shoe/fit for me for outdoor bouldering. Indoor they're somewhat uncomfortable within a couple hours and I take them off every 30 min or so, but I think that's within common sense.
    – djechlin
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 16:55
  • Some people have different shoes for different occasions. Personally I prefer a good all rounder. Like I said it's hard to tell without seeing you wearing them, my gut reaction is that they are possibly too big. Does it feel like your feet move inside them?
    – user2766
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 9:10
  • 2
    Good answer, but I would dispute that you can't build strength in your toes/there is no major muscle in your toes. Try this: stand on the balls of your feet. Now push down with your big toes and try to stand only on your big toes. I can do this on 2 feet, but not one - because my toes aren't strong enough. I know people who can climb on small footholds barefoot - strong toes. But unless you actually want to climb barefoot toe strength probably doesn't make much difference.
    – aucuparia
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 11:26

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