Climbing can be a hugely rewarding activity, but also an expensive one. Most climbers share the same frustration at a blown toe, worn edges or stretched uppers, with it often resulting in another trip to the local outdoor shop to begin the search for a new pair. But with a bit of extra care, you can make your climbing shoes last longer by months or even years, making a big difference to your performance, your wallet and ultimately, the environment.
Dry after use
Whether you’re caught in a sudden downpour at the crag, or you’re breaking a sweat at the indoor wall, your shoes can be exposed to all sorts of moisture, making it important that hey are fully aired out and dried after use. Instead of keeping them squashed up at the bottom of your bag, take them out and leave in a cool, ventilated area so that moisture can escape. Moisture allows bacteria and fungus to breed and mildew to develop, which can eat away at the inner linings of your shoes. It’s also responsible for the overpowering stench that many climbing shoes manage to develop!
Sprinkling the inside of your shoes with baking soda helps to absorb both moisture and odours, prolonging the lifespan and overall condition of your shoes. Filling your shoes with scrunched up newspaper also helps to improve airflow, keeping them dry and maintaining their natural shape.
Keep out of sunlight and away from heat
Heat and direct sunlight can both have an impact on your climbing shoe’s overall lifespan. Heat from direct sunlight, a warm car boot or a radiator in your home can melt the glue which keeps the shoe’s upper connected to the sole. Heat can also cause the upper to dry out and crack. Always keep your shoes in a cool, dry place to prevent damage from heat, and never be tempted to dry wet shoes on a radiator- even a short amount of time in hot air can leave them completely unuseable. The best place to store climbing shoes when not in use is in a breathable bag in a shady, well ventilated area of your home, which will protect the glue used to keep them together and make your climbing shoes last longer.
Beware of salt water
Those who climb on the coast, beware! Sea water can be lethal to a pair of climbing shoes. Just like how heat can melt and damage the glue which holds your shoes together, salt can literally eat away at it, causing the sole to peel away from the rest of the shoe. Salt water, when left to dry on your shoes can also cause the uppers to become brittle and crack. If your shoes become wet with sea water, rinse them thoroughly in cold, fresh water before allowing to air dry.
Clean during and after use
Cleaning your climbing shoes after a muddy or dusty day at the crag makes sense, but just as important is cleaning while you climb. Not only do small pieces of grit and dirt erode away at your shoe’s sole, they can also make if more difficult for the rubber to grip the rock, making moves which rely on friction particularly difficult. Make your climbing shoes last longer by bringing an old towel or foot mat with you to the crag. Wipe your feet thoroughly before you climb to ensure a dirt-free surface to give optimal friction- after all, there’s no point in paying for shoes with sticky rubber if you’re not going to make the most of it. Taking care of your shoes also means taking care of the rock- softer rock such as sandstone can become polished and eroded when dirt and grit is repeatedly trodden into it. Keep your shoes clean to preserve routes and problems for future generations.
Sticky rubber and prominent edges can make a real difference when it comes to your climbing performance, so many climbers turn to a new pair of shoes once these start to wear away. A cheaper and more environmentally friendly option is to have your shoes resoled, restoring the edges and giving you high quality rubber with grip that rivals that of brand new shoes. Having a pair of shoes resoled costs approximately £40, less than half of the average price of a new pair of shoes. It helps to prevent shoes ending up in landfill sites, and means you don’t have to say goodbye to your favourite pair just because the edges aren’t as clear as they were. Resoling allows you to make your climbing shoes last linger, almost doubling the lifespan and giving them a new lease of life whilst saving you money.
Image sourced: Wendkunitagsclimbingmake your shoes last longeroutdoor gear