When You Should Replace Your Climbing Shoes: 5 Signs!

Best Time to Replace Your Climbing Shoes

As a climber, your mountain climbing shoes are one of the most prized possessions in your climbing gear. Not only did you pay a hefty price for them, they significantly enhance your climbing experience. It is natural that you have a hard time letting go of your favorite shoes, but sometimes shoes become too worn out and are best if replaced with a fresh pair.

While caring for climbing shoes, you need to know when they’re in their best condition, when it’s time for a resole, and when they just need to be replaced. Climbing shoes provide you with the grip and support you need while climbing harsh mountains. So replacing climbing shoes at the right time when they lose their grip is essential. In this article, know what signs to look for to replace your climbing shoes and how to make them last longer.

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

The lifetime of a climbing shoe depends on many factors. If you are an active climber, your new shoes should last about a few months to less than a year, depending on the use and footwork, before it needs a resole. However, after the first signs of wear and tear, buying a new pair could put a heavy dent in your wallet.

That is why climbing shoes are resoled a few times and even go through a rand repair before they are ready to hit the landfills. But how long a climbing shoe lasts depends mainly on the user and the frequency of use.

If you take good care of your climbing shoes, they should last about 3-9 months before needing a resole. An average climbing shoe can take up to two/three resoles and one rand repairs if they are taken to the resoler at the right time. These maintenances definitely increase the lifespan of the shoes by several months to a year. You should check them after every climbing session.

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

If you wait too long before visiting the resoler or there are visible holes or signs of deformation in the shoes, it’s time to say goodbye to your favorite pair. But hey, this also means getting new shoes.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Climbing Shoes

Your climbing shoes are not going to last forever. So at some point, you will have to get rid of your shoes. But you also don’t want to let go of them while you can still get some use out of them.

 If you notice the following signs of wear and tear on your climbing shoes, it might be time to replace them. A good pair of shoes improve your climbing abilities and experience.

Signs It's Time to Replace Your Climbing Shoes
Signs It's Time to Replace Your Climbing Shoes
  • Worn out rubber

When climbing, the rubber sole at the bottom of the shoe gets in contact with the rock and pebbles and after a while the soft rubber sole starts to wear out. The sole becomes hard and brittle and loses its grip. You might also notice a glossy sheen on the shoe rubber surface. If there are any holes near the toes, it means the rand had also become worn out. At this stage, the shoes need to be replaced.

  • Delamination

If your climbing shoes seem to be tearing apart from the seam, it is called delamination. It would be risky to wear such shoes on the mountain as they may fall apart during the climb. You could take your shoes to your local shoemaker to get it repaired, but if it happens more than once it needs to be replaced with a new one.

  • Sole worn out

The sole of the climbing shoe is what gets damaged the quickest due to excessive wear and tear. But you can probably get your shoes resoled a few times before it gets completely damaged. But your shoes can only be resoled if the rand is in good condition. If the sole and the rand are both damaged and worn out, resoling won’t work, and it’s time for a new pair.

  • Worn out Rand

The rand is the rubber layer placed on top of the climbing rubber. A rand is used to protect the sole and the upper part of the shoe near the toes. If the rubber of the rand is worn out or blown, there may be some holes in the front part of the shoes. In which case you can get them repaired, but eventually the rand wears off, and the shoe becomes unsuitable for use. After a couple of rand repairs, you’ll have to think about replacing your shoes.

  • Worn out toe-box

Your toes are the first thing that hits the rock while climbing. So naturally, the toe box faces a lot of wear and tear. For this reason, it is vital to check the edges of the toe-box after every climb.

If there are any signs of damage, they need to be fixed immediately, and if the damage is excessive, the shoes need to be replaced.

Tricks To Make Climbing Shoes Last Longer

Once you have your desired climbing shoes, you want to make them last as long as they possibly can. Only climbers know the painstaking process of breaking in new shoes. The hard and rough mountain tracks can take a toll on your precious rubber climbing shoes. As a result, they might wear off quickly.

Here’s a list of tips that can help you increase the lifespan of your climbing shoes and make them last longer, so you don’t have to replace your shoes every few months.

Choose the Correct Shoe

While buying climbing shoes, you need to keep some factors in mind. Choose the best kind of shoe according to your level of expertise at mountain climbing, your ideal shoe size, and the type of track you follow. Many people run through their shoes quickly for not having the right size or the right type of shoe based on their specific necessities. A shoe that meets your specific criteria will last longer and perform better.

Keep them clean

Keep the sole of your climbing shoe free from dirt and mud to keep their grip and stickiness intact. You might give them a rinse from time to time to keep them clean. If there is excessive fungal and bacterial buildup on your shoe, it can damage the rubber. Take off climbing shoes and air them out after every climb to get rid of the smell and bacteria. Your climbing shoes are not walking shoes, so do not walk using them to make them hold the shape and performance for longer.

Tricks To Make Climbing Shoes Last Longer

Give Them a Resole

The original sole of climbing shoes can wear off within 3-9 months based on how you use them. To avoid having to replace shoes that often, you can get them resoled at your local shoe repair store. Resoling is basically replacing the worn-out rubber sole of your shoe with a new one. A pair of climbing shoes can take about 2-3 resoles and one rand repairs before they’re completely damaged. But until then, a resole will increase your shoe’s lifespan for a few months.


Store Them Properly

You can make your shoes last a lot longer just by storing them properly. After every use, let them out to dry in a cool and dry place. Avoid direct contact with sunlight. If you leave your sweaty shoes in the bag, not only will they smell really bad, it will also damage the structure of the shoe. Take them out after each use and let them breathe. Proper storage and maintenance will keep your shoes clean and make them last longer.

All these will help you take better care of your climbing shoes and make them last longer. But eventually, it will be time to replace your shoes. Look for the signs mentioned above if you suspect your shoes won’t last much longer. Sometimes replacing old climbing shoes might be the best option as it could get risky for you on the boulders otherwise.

Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive

Climbing Shoes So Expensive

Climbing shoes are more expensive than regular shoes for a number of factors, including their high-quality materials, for being completely handmade and the market for climbing shoes being very limited compared to regular shoes.

If you have shopped for climbing shoes before or you’re looking to replace your old pair of climbing shoes, you may have noticed that climbing shoes are a bit more expensive than other types of shoes. A good pair of climbing shoes will cost you somewhere between $90-$200. This price is seemingly more when you can find regular shoes for as low as $50. But upon further inspection, the price of climbing shoes doesn’t seem too expensive after all.

Climbing shoes are made out of rubber soles with extreme precision and care. And they are handmade by some of the best shoemakers in the world. Making climbing shoes is a time-consuming and laborious process. It’s not made in bulk quantities in a factory like other shoes are. If we consider the cost of the materials and the time and effort required to make each pair of climbing shoes, the cost makes sense.

Another factor is that mountain climbing is a relatively small extreme sport which is not as popular so the market of climbing shoes is not as large as other active gear. Climbing shoes are not endorsed by some Hollywood A-listers or NFL players to increase their sales.

Considering the time and craftsmanship that goes into making each shoe by hand and the cost of the overall production and distribution, the cost of climbing shoes is not too expensive. A good pair of climbing shoes can last you years if you take good care and have them resoled from time to time.

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