To wear or not to wear- that is the question!
Wearing socks with climbing shoes has been an old controversy that doesn’t seem to disappear, and everybody has different opinions on the matter. But does wearing socks hinder your performance while mountain climbing, or does it help the climbers get a better experience- all these questions might come to your mind while contemplating wearing socks with climbing shoes.
In this article, we break down all possible scenarios and go into why you should and shouldn’t wear socks with climbing shoes.You will find expert climbers defending both notions, and they’re all right! You can choose to wear socks or not based on your preference and convenience. Despite the tug of war in opinions, socks are not likely to have a drastic impact on your whole climbing experience.
Keep reading to know more about the benefits and setbacks of wearing socks with climbing shoes.
Why Do Most Climbers Don’t Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?
Most experienced mountain and rock climbers prefer to go bare when it comes to wearing socks. The steeper you climb, the more you rely on the sensitivity around your toes. Socks add a barrier to the feet and the rocks and hinder the climb.
Almost all experienced climbers skip wearing socks to provide them better fit and contact. Climbing shoes are worn tight and act as a second skin that protects the feet and allows the climber to feel the crevice and footholds. Climbers want to feel their toes hit the right places while climbing steep walls or mountains. And wearing socks, even thin ones, come in the way of that.
The sole of climbing shoes is made with relatively thicker rubber soles. Wearing socks adds another layer and makes it harder to feel the rock beneath the feet. Socks also add friction, produce more heat, and get slippery when you start sweating, which the climbers can’t afford.
Although there is some argument about wearing socks with climbing shoes, going bareback seems the most accepted choice for most professional climbers.
When Should You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?
If you are new to climbing and practice at the gym, you might use the rental shoes at the gym. These shoes have gone through a lot of sweaty smelly feet and are a hub for bacteria and germs. Although they use an antibacterial spray to the shoes, adding a layer of socks might be wise to avoid fungal infection.
It is the most obvious reason to wear socks with climbing shoes. Old and stretched-out shoes lose the tight-fitting they once had. Wearing socks with old shoes makes the fit more comfortable. Keep your old shoes for practice runs only as you’d want more snug-fitting shoes while climbing up mountains.
You can wear socks while crack climbing, and it won’t hinder your performance as there is more space to place your feet between the cracks. Crack climbing can also be a dangerous sport where climbers are prone to injuries, so wearing socks also acts as a protective layer. Climbers can wear climbing shoe socks while climbing crack mountains.
If you’re new to mountain or rock climbing, you probably practice at the gym and haven’t made the transition to hardcore climbing shoes yet.
If you’re still learning the footwork and technique at the gym, you can use socks with your training shoes for added comfort.
Why You Shouldn’t Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes
Wearing socks with climbing shoes is generally looked down upon in the climbing community. Most climbers prefer to go without it and may snicker at you if they find you wearing socks with the shoes.
Climbing shoes are designed in a way that they fit snugly around your toes. Climbing shoes have rubber soles and are worn tight to allow maximum sensitivity to your feet. Wearing socks may take away some of that nerve sensation by adding another layer between your toes and the rocks. Socks can also reduce the much-needed grip of your feet and lower your tactile response.
Moreover, depending on the material of your shoe- socks can stretch your shoes resulting in a poor fit. Wearing socks can stretch up the material of the shoe- especially if the shoe is made of leather. Synthetic shoes do not stretch that much, so that you can wear thin socks with synthetic shoes.
Some experts also find that wearing socks makes their feet slippery, and they don’t have the exact grip. Some also find that the friction created by wearing socks makes the feet warmer and more sweaty. But that’s not always the case. If your shoes are well fitted, adding socks will not make them too slippery rather, they will help soak up the moisture when you start to swat.
Reasons To Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes
To Prevent The Smell
Climbing shoes get smelly from the sweat and odor from the feet being cramped up inside the shoe. Your shoes become ground for mycobacterial build-up, and it can damage the quality of the shoe over time. Wearing socks will soak up the moisture from the feet and also help in preventing the smell. Moreover, your feet will thank you for wearing socks as no one likes the feel of sweat-drenched feet inside their shoes.
To Keep Warm
If you live near colder regions or decide to go mountain climbing on the snowy mountains in the winter, wearing socks can be a great help. As the sole of climbing shoes is made of thin rubber, it is easy to get frostbite on your toes and feet. Your toes can also get cold due to a lack of circulation around that area from the tight shoes. Even if you’re climbing at the gym, your feet may get cold as the blood circulation decreases around the toes from the shoes being so tight.
To avoid that, you can wear thin foot-warming socks. Even regular ankle socks will provide a layer of warmth to your feet.
For Better Fit
Many climbers think that wearing socks may ruin the snug fit of the shoes. Instead, socks can sometimes help get a better fit if your shoes are old or stretched out. Be careful while buying climbing shoes and try them on with shoes to see how they fit. You can save a lot of money by replacing old shoes by just wearing socks to get a better fit. It also makes wearing and taking off shoes easier.
To Protect Your Feet
Wearing socks will not only add to the comfort of your climbing experience, but it can also protect your feet from those nasty blisters and injuries. Blisters are usually caused if the shoe doesn’t fit you correctly or if your feet get too sweaty. Socks help absorb some of the moisture from your feet and fit better in the areas where the shoe might be a little loose. It also prevents slippage inside the shoe from excessive sweat.
How To Lace Climbing Shoes
When it comes to fastening climbing shoes, you can either go for velcro shoes or shoes with laces. Both kinds have their specialty. While velcro shoes are easier to get in and out of, lace shoes provide that custom fit for your unique foot shape. Lace shoes are also more secure and won’t come off easily. You’d want to lace your climbing shoes in a way that is tight yet lets your feet and toes move inside the shoes.
For an in-depth tutorial on how to lace climbing shoes, check out this video.
After discussing the pros and cons and everything in between about wearing socks with climbing shoes, the jury is still out. There is no right or wrong answer to the question. Find out what works best for you or you may even switch them alternatively based on your requirements.
The debate on wearing socks with climbing shoes is a long-standing one. You can follow whichever you like based on your preference. We suggest trying both options before coming to a conclusion. Although there is sufficient argument for both wearing socks and going without them, yours be the best judge of that based on your experience while mountain climbing.