How to Size Approach Shoes – An In-depth Guide & Pro Tips

One of the most important factors is the size when looking for a new pair of approach shoes because size matters most for fit. And so, learning about how to size approach shoes is essential because that skill can get you to the best approach shoes for you.

Unlike street shoes and trail running shoes, approach shoes need to fit snugly to provide the best support and stability when approaching climbs. A good way to find the right size is to measure your foot and then compare the measurements to the size chart provided by the manufacturer.

Approach shoes should be snug but not tight around the ankle and toe area. On the contrary, if there’s too much room, they may slip off during use. If you go by pro climbers, you can go for one/half size down, unlike the super-snug climbing shoes. They also opine that your purchasing consideration may be identical to climbing shoes if you want to use them for difficult climbing. In this case, our guides on breaking in, stretching out and washing climbing shoes will be a great help.

Now, if you are in a fix what to do, let’s explore the methods, tricks, and precautions neatly presented here to help you find your approach shoe size.

Approach Shoe: Design and Different Parts

Approach shoes are specifically designed for hiking and covering mountain approaches and climbing. Made to provide traction and stability on rough terrain, they come in various styles to suit different needs. The most common style of approach shoes has four main parts: a midsole, heel counter, toe box, and lacing system.

Determining the size of the approach shoes right way depends much on the knowledge of the design and different parts of this footwear.

Design and Shape

Design and shape may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. But they matter like a narrow and wider shoe will not offer you the same fit, and their reaction and response, in action, would differ also.

If you purchase approach shoes keeping serious climbing in target, narrower ones are okay but walking, trail running, or bouldering will excel with the versions a little wider.

Mid Sole

This part of the shoe provides support by providing cushioning underfoot. It also helps stabilize your foot as you walk. Many different midsoles are available, including EVA foam, polyurethane foam, rubber, leather, etc.

Heel Counter

A heel counter is what keeps your heel in place when wearing high heels. They can be made of plastic, metal, fabric, or any other material that will keep your heel from slipping forward during walking. Depending on the purpose you want your target shoes to serve, they can be a bit relaxed or snugger.

Toe Box

The toe box protects your toes while keeping them comfortable to wear for long periods. This is crucial in sizing your approach shoes as touching the toe box end will offer a tight fit, while space between the toes and toe box end will provide edging ability.


These cushioned pads provide comfort and shock absorption. Some have a memory feature, so they mold themselves to each individual’s feet.


When trying your shoes, it’s important to make sure they fit properly, so there aren’t gaps between each lace hole. If the laces don’t slip through easily and securely, you might need new ones. You can size the shoes up and down by tightening and loosening while lacing up at need.

How to Size Approach Shoes: Crucial Factors to Consider

Before jumping on the crucial task, you may wonder, “Are approach shoes necessary?” Some people might only need an approach shoe for casual walks around the park or light hiking, while others might need a more durable and specialized approach shoe for more difficult climbs.

So, to say, finding the right size is a quest for the best approach shoe for climbing.  However, you have to consider several factors on two fronts if you want to end up with the right size of men’s approach shoes or approach shoes for running or the ones for difficult climbing.

  • Shoe Related Factors
  • Foot-Related Factors

Approach Shoe Upper

Shoe uppers are an important part of a shoe. They protect the foot and keep it in place in the shoe. Shoe uppers can be made from various materials, including leather, synthetic materials, or cloth.

The type of material used will affect the comfort and durability of the shoe as this is the part made of stretchable materials – leather, synthetic, and combination. Therefore, this part can warrant serious consideration while sizing.

Approach Shoes Fit

There are multiple factors you need to consider when choosing an approach shoe, but the most important is fit. The shoe should be snug with a small heel cup so that it doesn’t move around on your foot when you’re climbing. It’s also crucial to find a shoe with a good tread pattern that will provide traction on both wet and dry surfaces.

Approach Shoe Shape

There are three main shapes of approach shoes on the market today: the semi-rigid, the flexible, and the amphibious. Each shape has its advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the right one for your needs is important.

The most common shapes include the semi-rigid, which provides good stability but does not provide much flexibility; the flexible, which offers both stability and flexibility; and the amphibian, which allows you to walk comfortably in wet or muddy conditions.

Foot Measurement to Consider

There are three types of foot arches to take into consideration while measuring the foot: high, medium, and low. Knowing which type of arch, you have will help you choose the right size of shoes as different foot arches cause variation in the volume of the foot.

Take note of where each foot meets the ground when standing up straight with heels at least 1 inch higher than normal. This will help determine which length fits better. If both feet measure an equal distance from heel to toe, choose the longer measurement as the correct length.

Choosing the Length

Many people assume that all approach shoes are the same size, but this is not always the case. It is important to know what size shoe you need in order to get the best fit. There are three different sizes for running shoes – men’s 7-11, women’s 5-9, and youth’s 4-7. Approach shoes also come in these size lengths.

Choosing Width

When you start shopping for approach shoes, you need not avoid what width you need. You can find approach shoes in the right width – wide and extra-wide. Choosing the right width for your foot is important because it will affect your performance and comfort if the shoe is too tight or too loose.

There is no doubt that a good fit approach shoes can make a big difference in your climbing. But with so many options available on the market, it can be tough to know which pair is right for you. An expert feet measuring chart will help you choose the right size and style of approach shoe for your needs.

Tricks, Tips, and Precautions to Size Approach Shoes

It may seem overwhelming where to start when choosing the right size for your feet, given the rows and rows of shoes in all different shapes and sizes. Here are a few precise points to make the process a little easier.

  • Sizes can vary significantly from brand to brand, so it’s important to try several pairs to find the best fit. Walk, jump, and twist the shoes of your target on the store area designated for trials.
  • Always measure your feet before buying shoes because wide and narrow feet matter a lot in fit. You should measure from heel-to-toe with an accurate tape or ruler. It’s recommended to take two measurements, so you have more options if one measurement doesn’t fit properly.
  • For men, it is important to know that a snug fit is key. Men’s feet tend to change shape more than women. So, make sure the target pair of shoes will conform to your feet’ size and shape.
  • Both men and women should note different widths in shoes; narrow, medium, and wide.
  • Many styles come equipped with adjustable laces, but it’s easy to add some if your one lacks. Simply tie them in a knot on either side of your foot and pull until you find what works best for you. You’ll know when you’ve found the right fit because there will be no more sliding down the back of your shoes once laced up.


How do approach shoes fit?

An approach shoe is a climbing shoe designed for use on low-angle terrains, such as scrambling or bouldering. They typically have a more relaxed fit than climbing shoes and are made from more durable materials for a wider range of activities.

When choosing an approach shoe, it is important to consider the shape and size of your foot and the type of terrain you will be using it for.

Are approach shoes comfortable?

Approach shoes are designed to provide comfort and stability when hiking or climbing. They typically have a stiff sole and a Vibram tread for better traction. While they are not as comfortable as running shoes, approach shoes are more comfortable than hiking boots.

They are also less bulky and can be worn for a longer period. Approach shoes should always be chosen with care because if they do not fit properly, they may cause blisters on your feet.

Approach shoes are designed for a specific purpose: to make walking on uneven, rocky terrain easier.

Do you wear socks with approach shoes?

No one knows when the trend of wearing socks with approach shoes started. It could have been as early as the 1990s when Chuck Taylors (or Chucks) were all the rage.

And climbers started using them as their go-to shoes for both indoor and outdoor climbing. Or it could be a more recent phenomenon, spurred by the popularity of bouldering and people’s desire to take their shoes to the crag.

Can you use approach shoes for climbing?

Approach shoes are shoes designed for hikers and climbers. They are meant to be comfortable and provide good traction when walking on rocky terrain. Because of their design, many people wonder if they can get the shoes for climbing.

The answer is yes – approach shoes can be used for climbing, but they are not as effective as dedicated climbing shoes.

Approach shoes don’t have enough support or grip to hold onto cracks and edges well. Instead, these shoes should only be worn while hiking through rugged terrain where there isn’t much rock available.

Will Approach shoes stretch?

Many people wonder if approach shoes will stretch out over time, and if so, how much. Exploring tricks to stretch climbing shoes may help you get deeper exposure to this factor. The answer also depends on the brand you choose.

Some brands have come up with clever designs that allow them to make their shoes last longer by keeping the material from stretching too far. Others add extra layers of leather to keep it strong.

How long should approach shoes last?

You have no fixed answer to the question. It relies on several factors ranging from the make and model of the shoes, the type of terrain they are being used on, and the weight of the person wearing them.

However, a good rule of thumb is that approach shoes should last anywhere from 500 to 1,000 miles. This means that if you wear your approach shoe for 200 days in a year, it will likely outlast its original lifespan. If you only use one pair at any time, this number goes down significantly.

Quality construction and premium materials offered by trusted brands can extend the lifespan. La sportive approach shoes and 5 10 approach shoes are among the myriads of manufacturers to back the claim.

Can you use approach shoes for bouldering?

Approach shoes are designed for long approaches to a climbing area, such as walking up a trail. They have sticky rubber soles that grip well and are lightweight. Because they are not as stiff as climbing shoes, they are not ideal for bouldering.

However, if you are bouldering on a short, easy route, approach shoes may work well for you. Approach shoes do not provide the stability of traditional rock-climbing shoes, so care must be taken when using them.

Are approach shoes good for everyday use?

Approach shoes are designed to provide a stable and comfortable platform when hiking or climbing.

They are built with a stiffer midsole to provide underfoot support. The tread is typically more aggressive than what you would find on a traditional running shoe, making them better suited for uneven terrain. However, this does not mean that you cannot use approach shoes as everyday sneakers.

However, many people find them more comfortable and supportive than traditional running shoes.

Wrap Up

When looking for a new pair of approach shoes, it is important to find the right size. Many people wear shoes that are too small or too big, which can lead to discomfort and injuries in the beginning. So, mastering the tricks on how to break in approach shoes is essential, and the in-depth guide on breaking in climbing shoes may be a great help.

Still, how to size approach shoes is crucial knowledge, especially for novice climbers. If you are an aspirant climber and wondering about all the tricks, tips, and precautions on how to size approach shoes, all your answers are here.

Afzall Rahman

Afzall Rahman is a college teacher by profession and is a rock-climbing enthusiast from his early childhood. So, anything on climbing keeps him glued to for hours - be it a movie on or related to climbing, book on or by climbers, article or podcast on climbing destinations, skills, gears, or the likes.

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