Climbing shoes play a very important role during your rock climbing journeys. They provide the friction required to help you push yourself to ascend further above the climbing route.
However, in the process of providing you with a good grip by clinging to rock, a bit of the rubber of the sole of the shoe gets worn off. When you push your foot against a foothold, you basically scrape a bit of the sole off. This is why rock climbing shoes usually wear out much faster than we anticipate them to, and you should know exactly When To Resole Climbing Shoes.
Has it not even been almost a year and your rock climbing shoes look like they’ve barely made it out of your most recent climb? There’s no point in arguing that climbing shoes are super expensive and buying another pair in such a short time-span would just be rather heavy on the pocket. There are other alternatives to help with this issue.
Damage to your sole plays an important role in helping you securely make your ascend. Once your sole loses its grip and begins looking receding or forms holes it is time to resole.
Resoling is a cost-effective and reliable alternative to simply buying a new pair of rock climbing shoes. Resoling is basically removing the damaged part of the original sole and replacing it with a new layer of rubber.
Before we get into the different types of resoling options and when and how (whether you can get the resoling by yourself or if you need to approach a specialist) to resole your climbing shoes, we need to take a look at the make-up of a shoe and the function of each part.
The construction of your rock climbing shoes
I will not get into tiny details of the parts of your shoe. For resoling, you need to be particularly aware of the ‘sole’ part of your shoe and the ‘rand’ of your shoe.
The sole of your shoe is the part at the bottom made up of stiff rubber. You make use of it when you require to step on a foothold. This is the part of the shoe that you will be making the most use of during your climb. And moreover, this is the part of the shoe that wears out the most.
The rand is a thin layer of rubber that wraps around the area of the toes and sides of the foot. Its role is to give added friction for toe hooking; to prevent toes from experiencing much movement during the climb, and also acts as protection for the stitch-work on the shoe.
The rand of the shoe is not meant to take on any damage unlike the sole of the shoe. If you begin to climb using the rand area of your shoe, the shoe is not functioning the way it is meant to. This usually happens when the sole of the shoe is worn out to a great extent such that the rand is exposed.
If you are met with such a situation and you end up using the rand to climb, the rand will wear out and the thickness of the rand will decrease. This damage can only be ‘remedied’ by wearing toecaps or having your climbing shoes undergo rand repair. Catching the damage in time will help you save big bucks.
Also, I forgot to mention, in between the rand and the sole is a visible parting line that helps you decide the extent to which your shoes are worn out and whether it is due for a resole.
Determining when it is the time to resole your climbing shoes
Deciding when to resole your pair of climbing shoes requires research and experience (which you will gain).
If you have just gotten into climbing, you can always ask one of your experienced peers to help you out in deciding whether it is time to resole. It is crucial to keep tabs on the damage sustained by your shoe because if you end up resoling too late, you will probably have to pay through your nose to get the resole job done or your shoes may even get damaged to a point beyond repair.
It goes without saying. If you are uncertain and decide to do an early resole, you will end up unnecessarily spending money to fix a shoe that did not require fixing at that point in time.
Different types of resoles
There are different types of resoling work that can be done to repair your shoes. The types available are dependent on the service provider. The most common is ½ resole. If you are not able to get the job you require done locally you can always have it shipped to a company that does that service.
For the ½ resole, the worn-out front half of the stiff rubber sole is removed and replaced with new rubber. This brings back the original edges to your climbing shoe and the much needed protection for the rand. In case your rand has also suffered damage and is thinned out, toe cap work may be required. Service providers will do this along with replacing your sole at an additional cost.
You can even have your shoes sewn if the stickwork has come off. Plus you can also replace the strap and velcro of your shoes if they no longer function like they are supposed to because of wearing out.
The availability of these services is dependent on the provider who you approach for the job. It is good to do research and ask around before entrusting the repair of your shoes to someone, as not everyone provides top notch fixes that bring your shoe to the same quality that it was when you first purchased it.
The pros and cons of getting your climbing shoes resoled
A lot of people get conflicted on whether they ought to buy a new pair or simply ‘fix’ the damage their current shoes have. To give you a little push in deciding what is best for you as an individual, below I have outlined some of the advantages and disadvantages that come with getting your shoes resoled.
- The most obvious advantage of resoling your climbing shoes is that you save big bucks by not buying another pair of expensive climbing shoes.
- You are being a responsible individual who cares about the environment by reducing the waste you generated. This is because instead of dumping a good pair of shoes you are replacing a small part of your used shoe to make it usable and functional again. This way good rubber gets saved and you help reduce the environmental resource wastage.
- Good news! You don’t have to agonizingly suffer through that nasty break-in period with your shoes.
- If you are one who gets attached to your little climbing buddies, you don’t have to go through the trouble of throwing them away just because of a little damage. Resoling allows you to hang on to your favorite pair of climbing shoes.
- Sometimes you are not really saving money when you total up the cost of repair plus shipping charges. It could almost go as high as the equivalent of purchasing a new pair of shoes.
- When you ship your shoes to get it resoled, you have to wait a long time, depending on the location of the resoler, before you can get the resoled version back and begin your climbing adventures once again.
- You can’t expect to always receive a good resole job done. Sometimes the same resoler who did an impeccable job the first time you sent your shoes in, may do a sloppy job the next time you send it in.
- Not going to lie, but with use your climbing shoes are going to stink. When you send your stinky shoes in for resoling, you are going to receive the same stinky shoes back; the only difference being the new layer of rubber.
Can you resole your own shoes?
Yes, you can resole your own shoes at home although it may be difficult initially. Although resoling your climbing shoes at home is probably not the most efficient or easiest at the beginning but with practice you do not have to be dependent on someone else to get your shoes resoled. Doing it at home removes the wait time until you can get your shoes back from the service provider and lets you begin your climbing adventure ASAP. Plus you get to show off your great handiwork skills (provided the resoling handiwork does not give away too soon!).
The gist of doing it at home would include you melting glue in the microwave, then peeling off the worn out rubber from the sole using a knife and pliers and finally applying the new rubber using a strong adhesive material, usually barge cement. You just need to be willing to keep aside some time to make this fix.
Also you will probably need to purchase additional items like rubber paint, or some other tools that I may not have mentioned, or special tools that are exclusive for the make of your shoe. You might also have to do some stick work here and there. For that you require a special sewing machine. But this can always be done at a cobbler shop.
I have mentioned before that resoling requires experience and understanding of the parts of your shoe. Not all damage taken by your shoe requires you to get it resoled. If the rubber of the sole is still thick but has lost its sharpness, you can use sandpaper to sand down the rubber to once again make it rough around the edges.
Instead of going through the hassle of buying individual items for your DIY resole operation, you can purchase ready-made resole kits that feature all items necessary, including rubber, to resole your shoes. Just make sure to check if the type of rubber is what you want to resole with, if not you can always purchase it separately.
The advantage of doing your resole by yourself is that you get to dedicate yourself to understand your shoe better, be independent when it comes to repairs and also save a little cash (as it is relatively less expensive than sending it to a dedicated resoler).
However, some climbers claim that doing the resoling at home does not produce quality results. The shoes tend to give away relatively faster than that of a shoe which was resoled by an expert. But that is ok. If your resoling job at home did not turn out as excellent as you had expected it to, you can always send it to an expert to remedy the mistake (redo the resole job).
How many times can a pair of shoes be resoled?
The number of times a pair of climbing shoes can be resoled is dependent on the frequency of usage and the care taken of the shoes. It requires the climber to have keen insight and observation to determine when is the right time to have the shoe resoled; you do not want to resole your shoes too late or too early.
On an average people usually get about three to five resoles done before they switch to a new pair of shoes. If they are extremely cautious and diligent they may even be able to get more than ten resoles out of the same pair of shoes. It is all dependant on the care taken by the individual.
Your budget and what you expect out of your shoes also plays a role in influencing whether you get a resole or donate your climbing shoes and buy a new pair.
Good luck on your future climbing adventures. Don’t forget to take good care of your shoes by keeping an eye on the damage taken by the sole and rand. A stitch in time saves nine.