The climber, and newly minted Olympian, shares the nitty-gritty on her favorite La Sportiva climbing shoes for different disciplines.
Brooke Raboutou was part of climbing’s Olympic debut. She finished fifth in the bouldering event and in the women’s overall climbing competition.
On her feet in Tokyo, like most days at home in Boulder, Colo., Raboutou wore La Sportiva climbing shoes. And while her competitive climbing is on indoor walls, she’s comfortable in her shoes on rock too.
Who Is Brooke Raboutou?
Brooke Raboutou comes from a climbing family. This is not to say that climbing is hereditary, but she’s had guidance in her climbing since she began at age 2. Her house is dotted with holds, which puts a new spin on the concept of a family hangout.
Her mother, Robyn Erbesfield Raboutou, is an accomplished climber in her own right. She won the overall World Cup from 1992 to 1995 and coaches both Brooke and Colin Duffy, a fellow Olympic climber. Her dad, Didier Raboutou, was also a champion.
Her recent training revolved around the combined pursuits that make up indoor Olympic climbing, yet Brooke is no stranger to rock. During the pandemic, when gyms were closed, Raboutou found growth climbing with family and friends in Rocky Mountain National Park. On one outing, she tackled two V14 climbs, Jade and Two Ton Skeleton.
At 20, we’re sure to be hearing her name for some time to come.
And while she may be young, she is seasoned with plenty of experience on walls and in shoes. So we asked Raboutou her thoughts on climbing shoes. We know climbers are particular about their footwear, and we think you may find some insight into her preferences.
About Those Shoes
GearJunkie: What do you look for in competition climbing shoes?
Raboutou: The most important thing is that I trust my shoes. I like my climbing shoes to be quite stiff so I can stand on small edges. And I like them tight so I don’t have to worry about my heel slipping off when heel-hooking.
Assuming you use different style shoes for lead, bouldering, and speed climbing, can you tell us which models you use for each, and any that overlap the disciplines?
Have you switched to different La Sportiva styles over the years?
Yes, I have gone through many different styles and types of La Sportiva [shoes] throughout the years, as I’ve been wearing them since I was just 2 years old! Some of my past favorites were the Testarossa and Futura.
Velcro or laces?
Velcro, but I like both.
How many pairs do you have for competing?
I usually have a pair that I train in and then keep a pair that I have slightly broken in but is still quite stiff for competing.
What’s your ideal “break-in” period to get them to that sweet spot?
Since I like stiffer shoes, I honestly like my shoes straight out of the box. For competitions, I tend to wear them for around three sessions before saving them for the comp.
How long do your soles/rubber last given how much you climb at home/in a gym? Do you use shoes in rotation?
It’s hard to say how long they last since I rotate my shoes a lot, but I do go through them fairly quickly since I prefer them at the newer stage.
What’s your favorite local gear/climbing shop?
I love walking through Neptune Mountaineering.
What’s the difference in the size of your climbing shoes versus regular shoes?
I wear European size 35 in climbing shoes and 37 or 37.5 in street shoes.