Technical rock climbing shoes have come a long way since the inception of “sticky rubber” decades ago. Modern shoes allow climbers to scale walls so blank they were once thought impossible. Shoes have become more comfortable, too, including varying-density midsoles, asymmetrical builds, and shoes touted as “more anatomical” for the average climber.
All this is good news for climbers with normal foot anatomy. But what about climbers — like me! — with Morton’s Toe?
Morton’s Toe, in lay terms, is when the second toe is longer than the big toe. It affects more than 10 percent of the population, according to some sources. Apparently, the condition was thought of as the ideal foot shape by the Ancient Greeks, and it is forever immortalized in the stone feet of Lady Liberty. The U.S. Department of the Interior has even produced a pamphlet: “The Statue of Liberty’s Toes — or Why She May Wear Sandals.”
Climbing shoes were not built for Lady Liberty. Indeed, all the asymmetrical advancements in climbing shoes over the years have just meant more pain for people with Morton’s Toe.
Enter the Evolv DeMorto, a climbing shoe designed for climbers with feet like Lady Liberty. It has a symmetrical toe box, meaning that your longer second metatarsal won’t be as cramped. I’d been torturing myself — and my second longer toe — in shoes for years. When I heard about the DeMorto I jumped at the chance to try something different.
The DeMorto shoe is similar to most other climbing shoes on the market. It has 4.2mm of rubber on the sole, 2.2mm of rand, and an unlined leather upper, meaning the shoe will stretch a bit and conform to your foot over time. They are lace-ups and have significant rubber coverage on the foot top, making them ideal for crack climbing. They retail for $105 on www.evolvsports.com.
On my first try with the Demortos, they felt quite tight, but I was able to keep them on for the next few hours as I walked around my home to break them in. That’s something I’d never be able to do in my other climbing shoes. They were comfortable enough and fit true to size.
The next day I drove to Devils Tower in Wyoming for a test climb. (Trip report and video here: http://yogaslackers.blogspot.com/2009/08/devil-made-me-do-it.html) While not as sensitive and precise on tiny edges as some of my other shoes, including the Evolv Defy and Five Ten’s Galileo models, the Demortos were able to edge and smear well, and they excelled at crack climbing. I climbed five pitches on the Tower without ever removing my shoes — another first in all my years of climbing.
The Demortos don’t have the precise edging capability I need for technical steep sport climbs. But I’ll certainly be wearing them — without a grimace of pain — as often as I can on crack climbs and long routes.
Bottom line: The Evolv Demorto is a comfortable climbing shoe for people with Morton’s Toe. Finally! Unfortunately for Lady Liberty, Evolv has no plans to make them in a foot size 827.
—Jason Magness is a founder of the YogaSlackers.