Our daughter E has been telling us she’s a ‘climber’ since our first canoe trip to Ross Lake in 2015. Part of the fun for her on Cat Island was bouldering around in her PFD above the water. It was a bit of adventure with the safety of water around her and parents out of site from time to time as she explored. Solo (or kid only) adventure is a key thing to childhood.
Finally in early 2016 I took her out to the indoor climbing gym near us in Abbotsford. If she’s really a climber like she says then it’s time to get her out climbing, and time for me to get back in to climbing.
Needless to say, she loved climbing her first times and decided that the ‘thing’ she was saving for was climbing shoes. Up to that point her savings jar was just saving for ‘something’ that kept changing based on the day of the week and what she was last playing with. This continual variance in her desire meant that her chores didn’t get done often and she didn’t get paid very much so her savings didn’t build fast. Once she centered on climbing shoes the chores got done and quick without complaining.
La Sportiva Stickit
Kids climbing shoes are fairly hard to find because so many parents that climb stop once they have kids because it’s hard to climb and have kids. That left us with really only once choice locally the Stickit from La Sportiva.
Typically climbing shoes fit really tight. Tight enough that it’s hard quite a bit of work to get your feet in a brand new pair. It was never my plan to get shoes that tight for E though. She’d never put up with it and I’d have to purchase new shoes again in a year, if not earlier. We ended up getting a pair that fit comfortably but didn’t jam he toes right tight. This leaves us room for them to get tighter as she grows and by the time she’s worn them out they will be about the right tightness. The next pair of shoes will be appropriately tight.
The biggest issue with the Stickit’s to start was the lace length. Even on the larger sized shoes they just barely had enough lace to fit across my daughters foot. The ‘proper’ sized tight pair didn’t velcro at all. This minor issue was easily rectified by heading to the shoe store and getting a set of laces in the colour of her choice.
Now the real question is, did the shoes help her climbing at all? Beginners have terrible footwork to begin with and a child is a child. They’re still learning to run properly let alone accomplish feats of balance on rock.
For my daughter they have helped her climb better. In our local bouldering area she went from not even attempting a slab problem to being able to rock over her foot (now in her new shoes) and stand up on a small nub of rock. The sheer joy on her face as she did it, and then later recounted it many times to anyone that would listen made the purchase well worth it.
This enjoyment means, we both get to climb more because I don’t have to drag her out. So yes, if you’re thinking of getting shoes for your young climber I think you should do it. The Stickit’s have been a great shoe for our little climber.