Climbing Shoe Resoles
Climbing shoe rubber is not exactly like rubber on the bottom of a regular pair of shoes. While rubbers have similarities, climbing shoe rubbers are special compounds that are relatively softer and 'stickier'.
Like all shoes, your climbing shoes have soles that wear down with use. Because climbing shoe rubber is relatively thin (3–5.5mm thick), it can wear down completely, exposing the material underneath – and, in the worst cases, your toes!
Hence, climbing shoe soles can last anywhere from two to three months to a couple of years.
How often should I resole my climbing shoes?
It depends on several factors. For instance, if you're light and your footwork is extremely delicate, you may never need a resole before wanting a shiny new pair of climbing shoes. If you're heavier, or long mileage sessions at the climbing gym are a thing for you, or you climb five days a week, or you can't shake the habit the ol' foot drag, you may need several resoles over the lifetime of your climbing shoes.
Shoe Type Matters
Beginner climbing shoes typically have thick rubber (usually around 4.5–5mm, e.g. La Sportiva Tarantulace, Red Chili Sausalito IZ). The type of rubber that's used is also typically of the harder and more durable variety, e.g. FriXion® and RX1 rubber.
Rubber on aggressive climbing shoes doesn't necessarily last longer. In fact, it's often softer and sticker for better grip (e.g. Vibram® XS Grip) and in some cases thinner for more sensitivity (take a look at the La Sportiva Python).
The advantage of buying more expensive and better built shoes means higher quality uppers, which have the potential to be resoled more times.
The nature of gym climbing accelerates wear on rubber. Climbing gyms typically have textured walls. This sandpaper-like surface literally wears down rubber.
The footholds on an indoor climb are mostly the same shape and size, too, which means that wear often gets concentrated on the same spots on your shoes.
Projecting Routes or Boulders
Similarly, 'working' a sequence can wear soles down faster, because the wear happens repeatedly in the same spot on your shoes.
Your Climbing Style
Pay attention to how you use your feet. Avoid scrabbling up the wall. Also, if you tend to flag a lot (lean one foot against the wall as a counter-balance), this can speed up wear on the rand.
How Often You Climb
Remember, if you're climbing four times a week, you'll go through soles four times as quickly as a person climbing once a week.
When Should I Resole My Climbing Shoes?
Climbing shoes don't need to look hacked before you consider a resole. In fact, it's better to resole them before the damage is irreparable. It's too late for a resole if you've worn a hole through the toe box, the upper material, and you can see your own skin. It's before this happens that you need to get your climbing resoled.
Pay Attention to Worn-down Areas
When you're considering a climbing shoe resole, don't just look for overall wear. You need a resole when the area of rubber with the heaviest wear is 20% of its original thickness. Typically, this happens in the toe-box area, though not always.
"When I first got my climbing shoes resoled, it was when I'd been living at Araps for a month," says Bogong staff member, Georgia. "They were starting to feel thin under my foot. I could feel bumps in the rock, and climbing was hurting my feet because the rubber was thinning."
How much does a climbing resole cost?
Expect to pay around $60–$70 if you're replacing the sole. If you've worn through the toe rand, expect to add around $30-$40 per shoe for a toe cap.
How long does a climbing shoe resole take?
Usually around three to six weeks.
Recommended Climbing Shoe Resolers
- Sticky Rubber Resoles: 0450 490 197; Gwynneville, NSW; https://www.stickyrubberresoles.com/
Did you know? Bogong Equipment is a Store Collection Point for Sticky Rubber Resoles. You can find out more about dropping off your shoes for resoling at the Sticky Rubber Resoles website.
Need help chosing a climbing shoe? Check out our article, here.