The climbing feet of cats are, without doubt, one of the products of more complicated choice within the mountain material.
Finding the model that meets our exact needs and that also fits the foot as it should is not easy, especially for climbers who start or do not have enough experience.
The difficulty of choosing not only lies in knowing the benefits and appropriate uses of each model; There is an added handicap: the intrinsic discomfort of the cat’s feet.
In this way, we will have to know:
a-What kind of cat’s foot we need for our grade, and type of climbing and rock.
b- What size is appropriate, and what last is the most appropriate for our feet.
Combining these two factors, we will find those that have the best balance between adequate benefits and a size and last that, for the inconvenience, does not interfere in our escalation; more to the contrary: the benefit.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CORRECT CHOICE OF SIZE
Climbing has to try to be a footwork, based on the supports and balances and changes of forces that we make over them. The more we use the feet and the balance, the less force of arms and fingers we will have to make.
This forces the feet of the cat to be adjusted. They have to be a second skin that allows us to have sensitivity on the rock , lean on tiny prey, and can not move at any time.
Therefore, a first thing to be clear is that the feet of cats are not comfortable as a shoe. Let’s say that, when we put them on, our fingers should completely occupy the inner front area, usually a little shrunken in the form of a hook.
This will allow us a correct set of feet, both in adherence and in any type of line, dam, hole, etc.
We have to keep this in mind. We will not choose the size as the one that chooses a normal footwear, with its small empty area between the fingers and the toe, but we must fill it.
As important as the tip is “filled” is that the heel area fits us. If the foot moves during the climb inside the cat in the heel area, we will lose many benefits and unnecessarily force the area of the twins.
That said, there are those who think that, since cats are not comfortable in themselves, the more adjusted we take them, the better we will use their benefits. And there are those who choose cats a few sizes smaller than they should be.
This is not like this. It is true that it depends on each one. ButIf we force our size too much, we will find that, when making a support, we will feel real pain … that will prevent us from supporting as we should because our own mind will make it impossible.
At the moment when the adjustment of a cat’s foot bothers us so that the full support is impaired (in a gesture that can perfectly reflect) for fear of martyrdom that we may suffer by placing all our weight on foot, Our size is ridiculously small. The little we gain in sensitivity and grip will be lost by damaging our foot balance and technique.
It is true that the pros sometimes do this, but they are that: professionals, and you have to think long enough before following in their footsteps.
The cat’s feet must be adjusted. But they should not be bothersome enough to modify our footwork, or so that pain prevents us from enjoying climbing. That is what it is.
Of course, we must bear in mind that, as we will explain below, there are more or less technical cat feet, which usually coincide with more or less comfortable cat feet.
All this explanation is perfectly valid for those who practice sports climbing or the boulder, whatever their difficulty. However, lovers of classical climbing of several lengths usually choose cats with some slack.
The reason? Its pathways are characterized by length and commitment, not by degree. They can last for hours, full days. So they do not need such a radical adjustment, but the comfort that allows them to overcome such long times. Even if the cold tightens in alpine climbing, they may have to wear socks, something that would be impossible for a sports fit.
TYPES OF CAT’S FEET
There are different types of cat’s feet. And their differences arise from the need for specialization according to the type of rock, grade, type of climbing, etc.
According to its shape, we can distinguish between:
Symmetrical Cat Feet
Its last is straight, similar to that of conventional footwear. This gives much greater comfort, so they are destined to the classical climbing of multi-long routes, or to routes of low graduation.
It is not at all a bad idea that those who start in this of escalation buy this type of cats.
On the contrary: it is advisable. For the degree they can climb, it is enough, and will allow them to start in this exciting sport with comfort.
Its form penalizes the support in micro-dams, very small strips, holes, etc … but in the majority of classic routes, or of initiation and the medium level will not be necessary so much precision … and their incipient technique will not allow them Still solve those problems, regardless of the cats they use.
Your adjustment is more relaxed; the type of climbing also, which will also allow us to avoid a strong adjustment when choosing the size. Two good examples of this type of foot of cat are the Drifter Velcro, of Mad Rock, or the classic Mythos, or Mythos Lady, of La Sportiva.
Asymmetric Cat Feet
The sole and last have, practically, the exaggerated form of the foot, with a toe that “sends” the weight to the area of the big toe. In this way, by concentrating the support, it is achieved that they work especially well in minimum dams, holes, and irregularities of the rock, etc.
As it is easy to imagine, they are much more uncomfortable than those of symmetrical last but fundamental to face challenges of medium and superior degree. However, we insist again that discomfort does not mean pain or discomfort, especially after we have done them to our feet with the use.
In fact, we could say that the majority of cat’s feet that are used in sports climbing, to a greater or lesser extent, have quite accentuated the asymmetric shape of the foot.
Your adjustment is much higher. Not only because of the last itself; to work really well during the climb, we must buy the right size – and this means well adjusted – to squeeze their benefits.
In this category are excellent the model Booster S, of Scarpa, or the Speedster, of La Sportiva
According to its rigidity and hardness, we can distinguish between:
Hard (or Rigid) Cat Feet
They are the employees, mainly, in climbing in the plate and in vertical walls little or nothing extraplomadas. It is a technical climb, of less strength, with the great importance of footwork.
To understand the concept, we can think of the mountaineering boots: they are rigid to allow our feet to remain horizontal when working vertically as if we were to reconvert our sole to a board on which we rest.
The same case, although the rigidity and hardness are much lower than that of a mountaineering boot. If the climbing is on a plate, we will be active hours holding onto the toe in tiny dams.
The stiffness of the cat’s foot will help us to hold on, and we will not have to force the twins as much. Also, this rigidity will prevent the gum from yielding in the smallest of bars.
As with mountain shoes, stiffness leads to a loss of sensitivity.
The Boreal Lynx model is a great example of this category.
Soft Cat Feet
They give much greater sensitivity. The first and old soft models were born for the adhesion, but as they are manufactured most of them nowadays, they were born for the boulder, although in very high degrees they are used by many in sports.
Although some people use them in other types of routes, they are the best in overhangs and high grades. Since we will need this sensitivity and a lot of agility for the feet in a type of climbing in which rigid support is not necessary, because the weight of the body does not rest on the foot as rest, but the feet are, practically, second hands.
We must bear in mind that, since they were born, there have been some models of “soft to pull,” more classic format, especially loved by adhesion lovers. In an eminently limestone territory, southern Europe has preferred other models. But do not forget that there are important areas of adherence, such as Pedriza.
Until not long ago, most of the soles were flat. They have a slight curvature, like any footwear, which in most cases was in favor of standing (i.e. upwards). They are the most used, regardless of whether they are hard, soft, symmetrical, asymmetrical, etc.
In recent times its curvature may be slightly down, but never in an exaggerated way. This allows taking better advantage of small dams, holes, etc.
They were born for the boulder and the very high grade. They are quite uncomfortable, but in block ways, very fast, this did not matter. At first most were soft sole; now there are all kinds.
They form a downward hook that can be quite important. This allows the climbers who employ them to maximize the possibilities of traction on minimum holes, etc., by bringing all the strength and weight of the body to the toes vertically, similar to a ballet dancer.
It is likely that, by imitation of the best, there are some novice climbers or media that think that this type of cat’s feet is what they have to use to look like them. Serious error: they serve what they serve; the rest will only find discomfort.
But the cat’s feet are not only differentiated by their shape, use, and technicality. They also do it for its construction. And, as is often the case, the details are much more important than it seems.
Thus, depending on its type of closure, we can distinguish between:
Cat’s Feet With Velcro Closure
They adjust something worse, but not much. The difference of adjustment is noticed especially by those who have, say, “rare” feet. The cords give them more possibility of personalization of adjustment by zones.
They have an advantage, especially when we talk about very tight cats of high level: as cats are, in themselves, uncomfortable, and some also force a lot. The velcros allow with a simple gesture of the hand to those who use these feet of cat “liberate” ¨ his feet in meetings, in the times between hits at the foot of track, etc.
An advanced climber who is trying a sporty route, or especially a block climber, may have to perform this gesture many times a day, so it would be impractical to wear laces. Especially when you have to release your foot in meetings on the wall, which can be in complicated places.
And in addition: in a footwear as tight as the feet of a cat, the natural swelling of the feet during activity and throughout the day can cause that, in a path of several lengths. We have to modify the adjustment of the feet of the cat during climbing; in this case, the velcros will help us greatly.
This does not mean that there are many climbers who use them. If they adjust well to your foot type, they are much more comfortable to put on and take off at any time. Actually, for the general level, the adjustment difference in normal feet is so small that it can weigh less on the scale than the practicality of Velcro.
Two paradigmatic examples are the Feroce models, by Scarpa, and the Velcro version of the legendary Miura, by La Sportiva, in its male and female version.
Feet of Cat With Lace Closure
They adjust better, especially, as we say, for those people whose feet are a bit strange. They are preferred by those who do not force their size to the maximum and are not forced to let them go so often. If you have to be releasing them and putting them constantly … well, it can be impractical.
Dancer Type Cat Feet
Although its use has decreased since the appearance of the feet of velcro, more versatile, the dancers are still used much in bouldering, and especially in gym and climbing wall.
The foundation is the same as the Velcro cat feet: you look for speed, comfort, and practicality when putting them on and taking them off, in situations in which this gesture has to be repeated many times.
The dancers, who lack a closure and use a rubber band on the instep to get the fit, are even quicker to remove and put on the Velcro cats.
Skin Cat Feet
The skin continues to be used a lot. They have a characteristic that, simultaneously, can be an advantage or a disadvantage: it yields more than the synthetic materials, which can be an inconvenience if we lose adjustment. But it can also be an advantage because in many cases it supposes that the cat will adapt with the best time at our feet.
And they also have a subjective advantage: normally, the feet of cats are used without socks. And for many, the touch of the split is more pleasant than that of a synthetic material, especially if we consider that our foot has to be in contact with the material for hours.
The Satori model, from Boreal, ultramodern, ultra-technical, but made of leather, is an example that shows how, despite the appearance of new fibers, the skin continues to be used.
Feet of Synthetic Materials
They give less, which is perfect if they fit us well when buying them, but they suffer a side effect: most synthetic products cause more sweating than natural ones. besides an odor that can be something strong according to people. But this is compensated with an advantage: they are completely washable.