This is a question every climber has, ‘’When is time to buy new climbing shoes?” As you know, climbing shoes can make or break your climbing experience. So, you don’t want to take them lightly. We are here with a guide that will tell you how long do climbing shoes last, how to take care of them, and methods to repair your beloved shoes.
If you climb every week, your climbing shoes are going to wear out much quicker. A climber goes through about two to three different climbing shoes a year. While we recognize this is expensive, it is also necessary to change them as they are important to help you to climb better and get a good grip.
If you are an occasional climber that climbs once a few months, then your shoes can last up to 2 years. It also depends on the kind of routes you take. Tougher routes will wear out of your shoes faster.
If you climb once a year, then your climbing shoes can last you for 3-4 years considering there is no external damage caused to the shoes.
And if you are a gym climber or someone who climbs almost every day, then you are bound to go through about 3-4 pairs of shoes a year.
It is important to consider climbing shoes as investments. You take care of your climbing shoes and they will take care of your feet and will help you reach new heights.
In case the rubber sole gets damaged
Every climber loves their climbing shoes as they become a part of their body. You probably found the perfect pair of shoes that fit you like a glove. But there is an issue that the rubber is completely broken in. If that is the case then you don’t have to compulsorily buy new climbing shoes. You can resole your climbing shoes.
This is a cheaper alternative as resoling your shoes will only cost you about forty dollars for a pair of shoes. If you have to repair the rand, then that will cost you just about ten dollars. Whereas a good pair of climbing shoes will cost you a hundred dollars at least.
So if you don’t have the budget to buy new shoes and only the rubber sole has decayed, then you can try resoling your favorite shoes. It would be a good idea to keep at least two shoes with you in case one pair needs repairing.
What are the characteristics of good shoes?
The type of climbing you do determines what kind of shoes you need. If you do bouldering then you will need shoes that are suitable for bouldering, where gym shoes are different. If you are a pro then you will need climbing shoes with a thin sole so that you can reach every corner easily. For beginners, shoes with thicker soles are suggested. Every good climbing shoe must have the following characteristics-
Climbing shoes must fit you perfectly, that goes without saying. When the sport was relatively new, people would buy extremely tight shoes. They used to buy shoes at least two times smaller than what their actual size would be. But this has changed now. Now people are giving more importance to the right fit of the shoes. Try out the shoes once by getting the correct size, and then you can start buying them online.
While finding the right size of shoes, consider the following factors:
- Most climbers don’t like wearing socks, but if you do, then wear smaller shoes.
- We suggest that you buy shoes after your feet started swelling.
- A lot of stores have a climbing wall. So, you must try climbing with the shoes before you buy them. If they don’t have a wall then try stretching, pointing your toes, etc to make sure they are correct for you.
Synthetic shoes are better than leather shoes as they don’t stretch as much or at all.
Which is better – Velcro or lace?
This factor depends on what type of climber you are. Laces help as you can get them tight as per your preference. You can also loosen them if you need to. They help the shoes become a part of your foot. They can help you get a perfect fit.
The negative point is that it will take time to wear them and get them off. It can be a hindrance as no one wants to walk in their climbing shoes all day. This is where Velcro is helpful. It can be worn or removed in seconds.
A velcro is a great option for gym climbers as they have to remove and wear their shoes again and again. Climbing shoes can be uncomfortable, you will want to take breaks by removing your shoes. Velcro comes in handy there.
You might want to consider different styles of climbing shoes:
Flat: Flat or neutral shoes are suitable for beginners as these have thick soles and stiff midsoles on the shoes. One downside would be that the thick soles can affect the sensitivity of your feet.
Moderate: These shoes are definitely not for beginners. Your feet need to be in good and a fit condition to wear these kinds of shoes. These shoes help give you a better grip. They also come with thinner soles and thus you will have better sensitivity. But you will also have to say goodbye to comfort. They also get worn out quicker than flat shoes.
Aggressive shoes: These shoes are for pro climbers as there are foot curves. They can help you get a better grip on smaller holds. The rubber soles are very thin and thus will give you much better sensitivity. But this also results in the rubber soles wearing faster. The shoes will also give some tension in your heels.
Another factor you should consider is the material of the shoes. Every climbing shoe has a sole and an upper sole made from sticky and soft rubber. The rubber should be soft and they should be able to have friction and should also adhere to the rockface. Hard rubber cannot do so and it will just slide off.
If you want to jam or crack climb, then thick rubber shoes are great. These will also last longer than shoes with thin rubber. Thin rubber soles have great sensitivity and will help you find corners easily. The upper can be made of synthetic, leather, or lined leather materials.
The leather upper is considered more comfortable as it ages really well and also has great breathability. This helps keep the stench away. But leather stretches and it can stretch to a level that the shoes can grow a size bigger.
This is why synthetic shoes are better as they don’t stretch at all. But synthetic materials trap more heat and it can start smelling easy.
How to Choose Climbing Shoes?
The kind of shoes you wear should depend on where you are planning to climb. There are three main types of techniques- sport climbing, trad climbing, and bouldering.
If you are a sport climber then you will need shoes with a stiff midsole. This will help you when you have to scale on vertical climbs.
For bouldering, you will need flat or neutral shoes as you will jam a lot in cracks while trad climbing. These shoes will give you good protection for your ankles and are also more comfortable. Having laces on those shoes is also better.
For bouldering, you need aggressive shoes. Yes, they are not comfortable but bouldering isn’t comfortable either. These shoes will help you get better sensitivity.
How to take care of your climbing shoes?
Becoming attached to your climbing shoes is very natural. When the shoes are worn enough and they fit you properly, they will help you succeed in climbing. These shoes are definitely cheap to buy, so, you want to make sure you make them last for a long time.
By taking good care of these shoes, you are making sure you can enjoy your favorite shoes for a long time.
Take some preventive measures
By taking only a few preventive measures, you can make sure your shoes stay with you for a long time. Consider the following measures:
- You should buy shoes that will fit you correctly. If they don’t fit you perfectly then they can wear off easily.
- Practice your footwork. Clumsy footwork will lead to unnecessary wearing and tearing. You should not drag your toes at all.
- Wearing our climbing shoes for walking is the worst idea ever. Climbing shoes are meant to be worn only and only for climbing.
- Jumping is a bad idea. Don’t try to jump the last steps. Jumping is very rough on your climbing shoes and will reduce your shoes’ lifespan.
Maintain good hygiene
Rocks are definitely not clean and they will get your shoes dirty. If you don’t clean the shoes, they will decay the rubber on your shoes. So, keep them clean to save the rubber. Clean shoes will also help you to get a better grip. If your shoes have dirt stuck to them then they will come in between your shoes and the stickiness of the rubber will be affected, in turn affecting the life of the shoes. Here is how you can keep your shoes clean:
- Always get a few pieces of carpet along with you. The carpet will help you clean the dirt very easily from the rubber. A plus point is the carpet pieces are cheap to get and very light in weight.
- After you are done climbing, make sure you wash your shoes with warm water and also a wire brush. Use warm water as hot water can cause damage to your shoes.
- Some climbers like washing their shoes in a machine. But we don’t recommend that as it can damage the rubber soles and remove the stickiness.
Preserve the stickiness of the shoes
Climbing is all about having a good grip on the rocks for bouldering or any other type of climbing. The rubber soles in your climbing shoes help with that grip as they are made from sticky rubber. If your footwork is poor, you can easily reduce the stickiness of the rubber. It is natural that you may cause some damage to it if you are a beginner. But don’t worry, it can be treated in the following ways:
- We again recommend using warm water with a wire brush. When you are scraping your shoes and cleaning them, you are basically removing a few worn areas. This will help maintain the stickiness of the rubber just like they were new. Don’t use hot water or submerge your shoes,
- The sandpaper also helps. There might be some tiny tears on the rubber and wire brush just won’t make a difference. What you should do is, take sandpaper and gently brush it against the areas that you think are losing its stickiness.
- Like we said earlier, sloppy footwork is going to reduce the stickiness of the shoes drastically. So, practice your footwork well.
Climbing shoes are probably one of the most important gears out there. How long they will last depend entirely on how much you use them and how you use them. Constantly check for tears, the stickiness of the shoes, maintain good hygiene and you will have shoes that last for a long time. Also don’t neglect any major tears as it can severely affect your climbing.