how long do climbing shoes last

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last: Tricks to Prolong Their Lifespan

A few years back, there was a time when I was really frustrated because my climbing shoes wouldn’t last longer like others. I wanted to know exactly how long climbing shoes last and what should I do to prolong the lifespan of my shoes.

I found out there are a lot of unnoticed factors that impact the lifespan of the climbing shoes. Also, there are some unnecessary truths.

Well, today I am here to share all those tips and facts with people who really want to know exactly how long climbing shoes last.

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

The lifespan of climbing shoes varies depending on usage frequency, type of climbing, and shoe quality.

Generally, well-maintained climbing shoes last between 6 months to 2 years. Frequent climbers who tackle challenging routes may see quicker wear, while occasional climbers may extend the life of their shoes.

Resoling can indeed prolong their use, as it replaces the worn-out sole. Signs of deterioration can cause decreased grip, stretched material, or visible damage.

Ultimately, proper care and rotation with multiple pairs can help climbers maximize the longevity of their climbing shoes, ensuring optimal performance and safety on the rock or indoor climbing walls.

Factors that Affect the Lifespan of Climbing Shoes

Just as I said a moment earlier, the longevity of climbing shoes depends on several factors. 

Let’s see what affects your climbing shoes’ longevity.

Frequency of Use

The more you climb, the faster your shoes will wear out. Intensive use can cause the rubber sole to deteriorate more quickly.

Type of Climbing

The type of climbing you do matters. Bouldering and sport climbing tend to wear shoes faster due to the aggressive movements and constant friction against the rock. On the other hand, short hikes won’t dent your shoes much. 

Shoe Quality

High-quality climbing shoes made with durable materials tend to last longer. That’s why you should always invest in well-constructed shoes for a longer lifespan.

Fit

Shoes that fit snugly but not too tight can last longer. Overly tight shoes can stretch and deform more quickly.

Climbing Style

Climbers who drag their toes or frequently scum their shoes on the rock may experience faster wear and tear.

Maintenance

Proper care, like cleaning, drying, properly storing, and avoiding exposure to extreme heat or moisture, can extend a shoe’s life. Here are some climbing shoe maintenance tips.

Resoling

Resoling worn-out shoes with new rubber soles can significantly prolong their lifespan. It makes them a cost-effective option for quality shoes.

Besides, if you have multiple pairs of climbing shoes, you should rotate them. It will distribute the wear and tear while extending the overall lifespan of each pair.

Signs That Your Climbing Shoes Need to be Replaced

Now, you must be thinking about when you should replace your old climbing shoes, right? Well, when it needs to get replaced, it must expose some specific signs.

Here are signs that indicate it’s time to invest in a new pair:

Worn-Out Soles

If the rubber on the sole has worn down to the point where you can see the underlying material or there are bald spots, it’s time for a replacement. The reduced grip affects your ability to adhere to the rock.

Decreased Sensitivity and Performance

As climbing shoes age, the sensitivity in the toe and heel may diminish. If you struggle to feel holds or edges, it’s a sign they need replacing.

Also, if you notice a decline in your climbing performance or struggle with moves you used to handle easily, consider it as another sign too.

Visible Damage

Any visible damage, such as rips, tears, or delamination of the sole or upper, compromises the shoe’s structural integrity and should prompt replacement.

Loss of Shape

Climbing shoes can stretch over time, losing their original shape and snug fit. If they no longer provide a secure and comfortable fit, consider replacing them.

Persistent Odor

The lingering odor that doesn’t improve with cleaning and drying might indicate a breakdown of the shoe’s materials. It simply indicates that the shoes are now less effective and hygienic.

Besides, if you experience discomfort, pain, or pressure points in your feet while climbing, it may be due to a misshapen or worn-out shoe.

You should keep an eye out for these signs and regularly check the condition of your climbing shoes. It’s essential to ensure your safety and maintain peak climbing performance.

If you are looking forward to buying a new pair of climbing shoes, here are some good options

Tips for Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Climbing Shoes

There are some tips that can help Maximize the lifespan of your climbing shoes. I’m not sure whether you believe how effective some of them are.

I always follow them to protect my favorite pair and also while choosing the right climbing shoe. Well, if you wish to prolong the lifespan of your favorite pair of climbing shoes, follow the tips below.

Proper Sizing

Choose climbing shoes that fit snugly but are not overly tight. Shoes that are too tight can stretch and wear out faster. Make sure your shoes are the right size for your feet.

Rotate Your Shoes

If you climb regularly, invest in multiple pairs of climbing shoes and rotate them. This reduces the wear and tear on each pair, extending their lifespan. Different pairs can also be suited for different types of climbing.

Avoid Walking in Them

Walking in climbing shoes, especially on abrasive surfaces like concrete, accelerates sole wear. Carry a separate pair of approach shoes or sandals for walking to and from the climbing area.

Clean Them Properly

After climbing, clean your shoes by brushing off excess dirt and chalk. Sweat and dirt can break down the shoe materials over time. You should use a soft brush or cloth to keep them clean.

Drying in the Appropriate Way

Let your shoes air dry after each use. Stuff them with newspaper or use shoe deodorizers to absorb moisture and prevent odor.

Always avoid direct heat sources like radiators, as excessive heat can damage the glue and rubber.

Store Properly

When not in use, store your climbing shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid leaving them in a hot car or exposed to extreme temperatures.

You can also resole your climbing shoes when the rubber on the sole is significantly worn. A quality resoling job can give your shoes a new life and save you money compared to buying a new pair.

How to Properly Care for Your Climbing Shoes?

No matter how effective tips you follow, they never work until you take care of them properly. So, how should I do that?

Taking care of your climbing shoes is easy and simple. You just need to know the right way.

However, here are some measures you should take for your climbing shoes’ maintenance.

  • After each climb, brush off excess dirt and chalk with a soft brush or cloth.
  • Remove insoles and laces, if possible, and clean them separately.
  • Air-dry them thoroughly between climbs.
  • Avoid exposing them to direct heat sources like radiators, as this can damage the glue and rubber.
  • Storage: Store climbing shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid leaving them in a hot car or exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • When the rubber on the sole wears thin re-sole them by a professional cobbler or climbing shoe re-soler.
  • Minimize walking in climbing shoes, especially on abrasive surfaces like concrete, to reduce sole wear.

Properly caring for your climbing shoes not only prolongs their lifespan but also ensures they maintain their grip and sensitivity, which is crucial for a safe and enjoyable climbing experience.

Different Types of Climbing Shoes and Their Durability

You must be aware of the types of climbing shoes. Well, different types have different ranges of durability.

So, you should have a learned idea of the types of climbing shoes along with their durability fact so that you can choose the right shoe.

Well, here is a table that shows the lifespan of all the types of climbing shoes along with the durability factors.

Type of Climbing ShoeDurability FactorLifespan
Leather ShoesStretch and mold over time2-3 years (moderate use), 1-2 years (regular use)
Synthetic ShoesGood durability and shape retention2-3 years or more
Lined Shoes (Leather/Synthetic)Added protection and comfortAround 2-3 years
Unlined Shoes6 months to 1 yearAround 1-2 years
Knit ShoesShorter lifespan, knit fabric wears out quickly6 months to 1-year
Hybrid ShoesVariable based on materials used1-3 years
Aggressive ShoesWears out faster due to downturned shape6 months to 1 year

What Are Some Common Myths About Climbing Shoe Lifespan?

Several myths surround the lifespan of climbing shoes, leading to misconceptions among climbers. You should be aware of them for sure so that you can avoid them.

Here are four common myths that actually damage your climbing shoes in the name of preserving them.

Climbing Shoe Lifespan is Fixed

Some believe that climbing shoes have a predetermined lifespan and will wear out after a specific period. In reality, the longevity of climbing shoes depends on factors like usage, care, and quality.

Well-maintained shoes can last longer than poorly cared-for ones. So, you shouldn’t stop caring for your shoes thinking that they will be worn out after their lifespan period is over.

Resoling is Always Worth It

Even though resoling can extend the life of climbing shoes, it’s not always the best solution. Resoling is cost-effective for high-quality shoes with good uppers but worn-out soles.

That’s why resoling is not a good idea all the time. Investing in a new pair instead of re-soling them may be a better choice for shoes with multiple issues or poor uppers.

Aggressive Shoes Wear Out Faster

It’s a common misconception that highly aggressive climbing shoes wear out faster than neutral shoes. It’s another lie.

Even though they may wear quicker if used extensively on aggressive terrain, the rate of wear depends more on usage and care than shoe shape.

Old Climbing Shoes are Ineffective

Some climbers believe that older shoes lose all their effectiveness.

Though shoes may lose some sensitivity and performance over time, they can still be useful for certain climbing styles or as backups, especially if they’ve been well-maintained.

Besides, you will find people saying that non-brand shoes have no lacking like branded ones and that’s the biggest lie. When the matter is about climbing, your shoes should be your top priority.

So, never compromise the quality of your shoes when you are hoping to use them for climbing.

Why Would You Replace Worn-out Climbing Shoes?

I am sure there are many of you who don’t like to replace their old shoes so easily. This section is for them. I mean, you should learn why replacing shoes is so essential.

  • Safety: Worn-out climbing shoes may have compromised grip and reduced sole thickness, and finally, increase the risk of slipping or losing traction while climbing.
  • Performance: When they wear out, their performance deteriorates and it becomes difficult to execute precise moves and maintain good climbing technique.
  • Comfort: As climbing shoes age, they can lose their original shape and fit, finally, resulting in discomfort and pressure points on your feet.
  • Ineffective Edging: Worn-out shoes often have rounded edges on the sole, and that makes it harder to edge on small holds or narrow features.

Also, older shoes may lose their sensitivity, making it harder to hold and adapt to different rock types and textures. They can even hinder your ability to read the rock and plan your moves effectively.

What to Look for in Climbing Shoes?

I have one more thing to warn you about. It’s about being cautious while choosing the right climbing shoes. The longevity also depends on your selection of the shoe.

Make sure to check the following facts while buying climbing shoes next time.

It Should Fit Properly

A snug but not painfully tight fit is essential. Climbing shoes should feel like a second skin, with minimal dead space inside.

Different brands and models have varying shapes, so try on several to find the one that matches the contours of your feet.

Choose the Right Type

Consider your climbing style. Neutral or all-around shoes are versatile, while aggressive shoes are designed for precise footwork and overhanging terrain.

So, choose a type that suits your climbing objectives.

Select the Appropriate Size

Climbing shoe sizing often differs from street shoe sizing. Sizes vary between brands and models, so it’s essential to try them on.

Keep in mind that sizing may vary between climbing shoe types as well.

Check the Closure System

Climbing shoes come with various closure systems, like lace-ups, Velcro straps, or slip-ons. Make sure to choose the one that provides the best balance of security and convenience for your climbing style.

Check the Sole Thickness and Rubber Type

Thinner soles offer better sensitivity but may wear out faster. Make sure to look for high-quality rubber with excellent grip and durability

Also, consider the types of rock you’ll be climbing on.

Asymmetry and Downturn

Aggressive shoes have an asymmetric and downturned shape for precise foot placements on small holds. The level of asymmetry and downturn varies, so choose one that matches your climbing ability and preferences.

So, the best climbing shoes for you depend on your climbing style, comfort, and fit.

Try on multiple pairs and seek advice from experienced climbers or professionals at a climbing shop that can help you find the perfect fit and style for your needs.

Wrapping Up

The entire lifespan of your climbing shoes depends on their material, fit, how you take care of them, how well you use them, and also, how frequently you use them.

So, if you want to increase the lifespan of your favorite climbing shoes, you need to take care of them properly. Try to rotate them while using them and dry them out after every use.

Only with proper care can you increase the lifespan of your shoes from 2 to 4 years, based on the material. Hopefully, you have got the point.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do leather climbing shoes last longer than synthetic ones?

Yes, leather climbing shoes tend to last longer and mold to your feet over time. But the lifespan also depends on usage and care.

Is there a difference in lifespan between lined and unlined climbing shoes?

There are differences in lifespan between lined and unlined climbing shoes. Lined climbing shoes generally last longer because of added protection and comfort compared to unlined shoes.

Do climbing shoe materials affect their lifespan?

Yes, the type of material used in climbing shoes can significantly impact their durability and lifespan. The better-quality material your shoes have, the longer they will last.

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Behind Best Darn Product is Kevin Pena, a passionate blogger and e-commerce enthusiast based in Atlanta, Georgia. With his finger on the pulse of the ever-growing online marketplace, Kevin is dedicated to sharing his extensive knowledge and genuine enthusiasm for the products and services that shape our modern lives.

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