Climbing shoes are an essential part of any climbers gear.
Finding a quality pair that fits tightly to the foot and provides the necessary traction for maximum grip on footholds.
The soles of climbing shoes are crucial to the function of the shoes. Typically made of climbing rubber which is a mixture of synthetic compounds, the soles are designed specifically for high-traction climbing scenarios.
Over time, the soles will become worn down from constant abrasion, and as a result will lose their gripping capabilities and become less effective.
It is important to keep an eye on the condition of your climbing shoe soles, and be ready to repair or change them at the right time to ensure that you are always performing at your best.
Let’s discuss this further by going over the ins and outs of when to resole climbing shoes, and why.
What Is Shoe Resoling?
Shoe resoling is the process of replacing the soles, also known as the undersurface, of a pair of shoes or other footwear.
Why Resole Climbing Shoes?
Instead of going out and purchasing a new set of climbing shoes every time the soles become worn down, replacing the used soles instead will save you a significant amount of money.
You can resole the shoes yourself, or find a business that will do it for you at a decent price. Either way, you can likely save yourself anywhere from 25 to 100 dollars by resoling instead of buying a new pair of climbing shoes per pair of climbing shoes.
Just because your climbing shoes have taken on some wear and tear over time, does not mean that you have to throw them out and add to the environmental impact of your local landfill.
Replacing your shoes every time they wear down is a direct contribution to the ever growing waste issue that plagues our earth. Instead, resole your climbing shoes and in turn help reduce your overall carbon footprint.
When it comes to climbing shoes, experienced climbers know that breaking in a brand new pair can be both painful and time-consuming. It takes a number of climbs to work in a new pair of shoes and have them form properly to your feet.
Achieving that perfect climbing shoe fit will actually have a significant impact on the quality and comfort of your climbing expeditions. This is yet another reason to resole your nicely fitted shoes, instead of buying new ones and going through the tedious process of breaking them in.
When To Resole Climbing Shoes?
Deciding when to resole your shoes is an important part of maintaining their integrity and allowing them to last for a long period of time.
Sometimes it is quite obvious – soles are coming loose, large holes appearing etc.. Other times it is less obvious, there may not be obvious indicators, but the soles may have worn extremely thin without forming a hole, or the rubber will have lost its traction.
When the soles become worn down and lose their traction, they can start having negative effects on your feet and associated joints. A loss of traction in the rubber sole will also lead to a loss of shock absorbency. This means that instead of the rubber taking on a large part of the impact, it will be transferred to the feet, ankles, knees and even the hips.
These jarring impacts that aren’t offset by proper rubber soles will cause excessive pain and discomfort, especially during a high-intensity climb. In addition to the short term effects, improper soles can also contribute to long term complications like arthritis and tendonitis.
Traction is an obvious indicator of when soles need to be replaced. The tread on the sole will wear down and become smooth, increasing the likelihood to slip off of wet or irregular surfaces. Use your sense of touch to examine the soles of your climbing shoes and determine whether they have lost their traction to the point of needing to be replaced.
Resoling your climbing shoes will not only improve your performance, confidence and comfort while climbing, but it will also protect your body from unnecessary damage and potential long-lasting permanent issues.
What Happens If I Ignore Worn Soles?
So what happens if I ignore the worn soles on my climbing shoes, and decide to keep wearing and climbing with them?
As we discussed previously, there are a number of reasons why ignoring worn soles on your climbing shoes and allowing them to wear down while continuing to use them is not the best idea.
Ignoring the wear and tear on your climbing shoe soles and allowing them to take on excessive damage could result in them being too badly worn to be properly resoled.
You will then be forced to spend the extra money required to purchase a brand new pair, as many resoling businesses will not take on jobs in which the shoes are too far worn. Letting your shoes get to this point will end up costing you a lot more than catching it early and having them resoled either professionally or on your own with a proper kit.
Another potential downside to ignoring the worn soles on your climbing shoes is the potential for injury and the development of long-term physical conditions. Allowing your soles to wear down while continuing to use them for climbing can leave you significantly more accident prone. Soles with little to no traction will obviously be more likely to slip off of footholds, which in turn could result in unexpected falls and unwanted injuries.
As discussed earlier, allowing the rubber to wear down will decrease the shock absorption properties of your climbing shoes, and will put more impact strain on your feet, ankles, knees and other lower body areas. This can cause both immediate acute injuries, as well as long-lasting chronic injuries such as arthritis, tendonitis, and bone deformities.
The point here is, do your best to monitor the condition of your climbing shoes and their rubber soles. When it seems like you may be losing traction and the soles are thinning, be proactive and get the soles replaced before it affects your climbing!
DIY Vs. Professional
When it comes to resoling your climbing shoes you can choose the do-it-yourself route and save yourself some money, or recruit the help of a professional business in order to ensure a high quality finished product.
Taking on the challenge of resoling your climbing shoes on your own can be quite the task, and will often require a plethora of tools and materials. Not to say that it isn’t possible, but keep in mind that it isn’t the simplest of processes.
There are multiple different video guides on the internet that can walk you through the steps, however some of the methods may not work for you and your shoes in particular!
It is also possible to purchase a shoe resoling kit from a number of retailers, which will come with high quality products and some sort of instruction manual.
Instead of taking on the challenge yourself, having a professional resoling business or independent practitioner do it for you is never a bad idea. These people specialize in climbing shoe repair and will have all of the best tools, high quality materials and the expertise needed to deliver the best possible results.
Professional resoling services will inherently cost more than a do-it-yourself approach. Prices often range from 25 to 100 dollars depending on a number of factors including the condition of the shoe, and the materials involved.
If you are hesitant about your own ability to resole a pair of climbing shoes, it is better to have a professional do it, rather than risk damaging the shoes beyond repair.
Rock climbing is an activity that should always be done while using proper gear that is in optimal condition. Climbing shoes are among the most important pieces of gear that any climber owns.
Without a quality pair of climbing shoes that are in good condition, climbing can be painful, uncomfortable, and most importantly dangerous. The soles of climbing shoes will take on the most wear and tear, and will need to be replaced periodically depending on how often you are climbing.
We have discussed why resoling your shoes is beneficial, the pros and cons of doing it yourself versus professional resoling services, and how to determine when to have your climbing shoes resoled.
These are important aspects for all climbers to consider when evaluating their climbing shoes and determining the need for replacement soles. Take care of your gear and your body. Safe climbing to all!