When to Resole Climbing Shoes – Complete Guide

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Climbing shoes wear out quickly. But a new purchase is not always necessary. You can also have your climbing shoes resoled. It’s worth it in many cases. 

The short answer to when you should resole your climbing shoes is that there is no time X when you should resole. It all depends on the degree of wear and tear and the personal grip requirements of the sole. 

These are the first signs that you need to change the sole of your climbing shoes: 

  • The edge rubber becomes thinner
  • The sole becomes thinner and you feel the underground much more extreme.
  • The edge rubber at the tip of the shoe becomes noticeably thinner

In this guide, you will find all the important information you need to know about resoling climbing shoes, such as when, why, how and where to change the sole.

Wear & Tear – Constant Friction Causes Abrasion

Compared to many other sports, the wear of shoes in climbing is particularly high. The reasons are obvious. The shoe plays an important role in climbing. He’s under constant strain. 

You support yourself permanently with your feet when climbing. This leads to heavy wear on the sole. But also the abrasion on the sole is high. This is because rocks have different textures. This quickly results in cracks and minor abrasions, especially in rubber soles. 

Even if you climb in the gym, the wear is high. The smooth floor in the hall causes enormous abrasion on the soles. This is especially true if you glide over the climbing walls or floors or exert high pressure on the sole.

Wear Cannot be Prevented Permanently

You probably know it from other sports: If you take care of your shoes regularly, you will benefit from it for a longer time. This may apply to many types of sports shoes, but unfortunately not to climbing shoes. 

It’s a vicious circle! Whenever the shoe is optimally climbed in and fits perfectly, the first wear occurs. If the first signs of wear appear, then it usually happens very quickly. Especially after extensive climbing tours, the wear starts. Even intensive care of the shoe cannot stop the wear permanently.

Differences in the Quality of the Shoe

The market for climbing shoes is confusing. You lose the overview quickly. That’s why you should take a close look at the purchase. High-quality climbing shoes last longer and can also be resoled quickly and inexpensively. 

Related article: Top 6 Best Rock Climbing Shoes for Beginners

Usually only the sole wears out and the rest of the shoe is still in good condition even after long use. You can judge for yourself when the soling of a climbing shoe is worthwhile. Make sure that the following shoe parts are still in good condition:

  • Heel part, especially the upper part
  • Shaft and tongue
  • Lining
  • Edge rubber
  • Heel trim

Take a Good Look at your Shoe.

You know your climbing shoe best! You know exactly whether it has weaknesses or not. If you are generally not satisfied with your climbing shoe, it is not worth repairing the sole if it is worn. 

Of course, this looks completely different if your climbing shoe fits perfectly and has been climbed in optimally. Then you should take a close look at the shoe. One weak spot, for example, is the heel part. 

Make sure that the upper area is still in good condition. In this way you ensure that the grip in the shoe is maintained even after a new soling. The edge rubber should also have no higher wear characteristics. 

No larger cracks should be present. If your shoe already has a lot of thin spots on the edge rubber, it is no longer worth soling it. 

Take a good look at the lining on the shoe, too. Lining refers to the area in the front part of the shoe that is directly adjacent to the sole. Of course, shaft and tongue should still be in order. Especially the tongue contributes to the perfect fit of your climbing shoe.

The wear can be different and affects the sole.

The wear of the shoe does not always have anything to do with the quality. 

Every climber has a different technique and moves differently. Observe yourself climbing once. You will quickly notice that sometimes you also move differently. 

You can’t compare indoor climbing with outdoor climbing. The texture of the climbing surface is different. This also changes the abrasion of the sole. There are climbing shoes that get round on the sole after just a few climbing tours. There are climbing gyms with extremely rough walls. Here the abrasion of the sole is of course higher.

Related article: 🏆 The Best Climbing Shoes for Multi-Pitch Climbing Routes

The Sole is the Heart and the Weak Point of the Shoe.

The sole is one of the most important components of the climbing shoe. But it is also a weak point in terms of wear and tear. Basically, this applies to every type of climbing shoe:

The higher the climbing frequency and the softer the rubber of the sole, the higher the wear of the sole.

But you shouldn’t make the mistake of buying climbing shoes with a harder sole. It may be that you can use them longer with the same sole, but your climbing pleasure will be significantly reduced. When climbing, the shoe needs good friction. It makes sure you have a good grip. 

Soft soles are ideal for ensuring a firm hold. On the other hand, this also means that wear is higher due to the soft rubber. Hard and thick rubber makes the climbing shoe more resistant. But that affects sensitivity. Your sense of a secure hold is waning. 

The bottom line is that the harder sole lasts a little longer. Ultimately, however, you must expect permanent wear and tear here as well. Therefore in many cases it is worthwhile to resole your climbing shoe.

Time of Resoling

As a general rule, the right time for resoling the climbing shoe does not exist. Nobody can say when the sole has to be replaced. The market for climbing shoes is huge. Every climbing shoe is different. 

As a climber, you also make a significant contribution to how quickly the sole wears out. Ultimately, use also plays a major role. Anyone who climbs often and a lot also has to have their shoes soled more often. But there are some signs you should be aware of:

  • The edge rubber becomes thinner
  • The sole becomes thinner and you feel the underground much more extreme.
  • The edge rubber at the tip of the shoe becomes noticeably thinner

Don’t wait too long

Already at the first signs of wear you should keep an eye on your climbing shoes. Once the first crack has appeared or the rubber is thinner, wear progresses extremely quickly. It is not unusual for a hole to appear after a short time. A small hole quickly becomes a large hole. 

This is because the shoe stretches while climbing. The expansion of the rubber causes the edge of the hole to tear further. The hole gets bigger and under certain circumstances, more holes appear until even the inside of the shoe shows. You better not let it come to that. 

It is also possible to resole damaged climbing shoes, but the effort is much greater. In addition to the sole, parts of the edge rubber often have to be replaced. In the worst case, in addition to the new soling, the complete edge rubber has to be replaced or even leather patches are used. That delays the repair time. You also have to reckon with higher costs.

Resole Both Shoes

The load on your shoes is different. This is because everyone climbs individually and develops their own technique. Maybe you are one of those climbers who have different weights on their legs. 

This is comparable to the shooting technique in football. Some footballers can shoot from both sides. Others, on the other hand, only with left or right, otherwise they stumble over the ball. It is similar with the climbing technique. You put different loads on your legs. This also means that the wear and tear on the sole is different. The final difference depends on the individual climber. 

It can also happen that one shoe is more extremely worn than the other. Here it’s obvious that you only have to have the already worn shoe resoled. But experts advise against it. The soling of climbing shoes should only take place in pairs. Otherwise the performance differs aswell. 

You perceive each shoe differently. This can influence the feeling of stability. Therefore you should always resole both your climbing shoes at the same time. This applies regardless of how much wear there is on the respective shoe.

Resoling and Replacement of the Rubber Edge

Often the sole of the climbing shoe is already so worn out that the edge rubber must also be replaced. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to throw your shoes away, because experts can even replace a heavily worn edge rubber and a heavily worn sole. 

You alone decide if it’s worth it. Basically larger repairs are also more expensive. Almost all climbing shoes have the same construction principle. Take a good look at your climbing shoes. 

You will notice that the edge rubber starts just above the sole. Not only does it look nice, it’s for a good reason. The combination of sole and attached rubber edge keeps the whole shoe in shape. It remains stable and ensures a stable hold for you. The pretension remains low. 

You know your sport and of course you know that the climbing shoe is almost always in contact with the rock or the climbing wall. This contact causes abrasion on the shoe. Depending on the texture of climbing walls and rocks, this abrasion can be very strong. This is especially true if you rub your shoe against the wall or along the rock during your climbing maneuvers. This friction affects the sole less. 

Here the edge rubber is a real point of attack. Therefore, it can even happen that the repair on the edge rubber is larger than on the sole.

Resoling and Repair of the Upper Material

The upper material of your climbing shoe is also subjected to heavy wear. The manufacturer of climbing shoes knows these weak points and relies here on a good quality of materials and high-quality workmanship. 

As a rule, leather, artificial leather and plastic are used. The materials differ almost only in price. At the end you decide which material you prefer. The wear is almost the same. 

However, climbing professionals claim that artificial leather is more dimensionally stable. Imitation leather is also more suitable for outdoor climbers because it dries faster. Despite wetness and drying, the shoe remains stable. Others swear by expensive leather because it is more breathable and adapts better. 

However, the latter is not scientifically proven as each foot has a different anatomy. All these criteria naturally influence the longevity of the shoe. Is a new soling at all still worthwhile if damage on the upper material is already evident? 

Here the expert opinions diverge widely. Some say yes because it’s easy to repair the upper with patches. Others throw away shoes with damage to the upper material because the stability of the shoe is affected. Here you have to make your own experience. In principle, however, the following applies:

  • The repair and soling of a climbing shoe is still possible even if the upper material is damaged.
  • Damage and repairs to the upper material have no direct influence on a new sole of the climbing shoe.

Soling and Repair of the Tightening Loop

Is a soling still worthwhile if the tightening loop is broken? Unfortunately, there is no general answer to this question. It depends on how and where the tightening loop shows damage. 

Even beginners will notice that the rather inconspicuous loop has an important function for climbers. Climbing shoes must fit tight so that you get a better feel for the kick. Through the narrowness your foot perceives the ground and the wall better. 

But tight shoes in particular are difficult to put on. The tightening loop is therefore a real tightening aid. But that also means that it has to withstand some stress. Therefore you should already pay attention when buying climbing shoes that the seam of the loop is of high quality. Nevertheless, it can never be ruled out that the seam will break with time. 

If at the same time the sole of the shoe is worn out, then you have to consider carefully whether a new sole is still worthwhile at all. If the seam is torn open, a repair is highly recommended. A seam can always tear and can usually be repaired without problems. 

The situation is different, however, if the loop has already been torn completely out of the shoe. Then you can usually already detect damage directly to the shoe. If the heel part or the heel trim is already damaged, a new sole is no longer worthwhile.

Resoling and Damage to the Lining

With small and hardly noteworthy damages at the lining a new sole is still worthwhile. Climbing shoes are usually only equipped with a thin lining layer. 

The lining ensures that the shoe is comfortable. It also absorbs sweat. If the thin layers of lining are broken, they hardly affect the wearing comfort. 

The situation is different with climbing shoes, however, which are manufactured for cooler areas and exclusively for outdoor use. These shoes have a thicker lining. If this lining is defective, pressure points will occur when wearing it. Climbing is influenced. 

In this case, resoling is only worthwhile if the broken lining is also repaired. The lining also has a warming effect on expedition climbing shoes. Here even small cracks can cause damage to the foot. Therefore, you should only have your expedition climbing shoes resoled if they show no further damage.

Resoling and Damage to the Tip of the Shoe

Climbing beginners almost always underestimate the importance of their shoe. Experienced climbers, on the other hand, take a close look at the shoe before buying it. 

In fact, you should test the function of your shoe carefully when you buy and also when you buy a new sole. Pay special attention to the tip of the shoe. Each foot is differently shaped and each climber has a different technique. 

In addition there are the different climbing areas. If you want to climb rocks in Alaska, you need a different shoe than when climbing in a heated gym in Western Europe. For example, experts recommend pointed climbing shoes for a perforated terrain. They are better suited to step into the holes in a targeted manner. 

On climbing rails and narrow steps you can also use less pointed shoes without any problems. In most cases soles and tips are separated from each other. They may look like a unit, but when you look closely you can see a seam. If the sole and the tip are worn out, you can have them both replaced without any problems. 

More elaborate work is necessary when sole and tip are processed in one. In this case the toe must always be replaced in addition to the sole.

New soling and Fitting Comfort

Some climbers claim that a new sole has a negative effect on the fit of their climbing shoes. 

You have to make your own experiences here. Of course it can happen that you feel a new sole on your foot and you have to get used to your own shoes again. But the shoe does not change in such a way that you have to climb it in again. On the contrary! 

You’re having your shoes resole because they’ve already climbed in. Even if, in addition to the sole, the lining, the toe or the tightening loop also have to be renewed, this has no effect on the fit comfort of the shoe. The shoe retains its worn shape. 

Only parts of the shoe are replaced. It has adapted to the anatomy of your foot. This adjustment is maintained even if the shoe is given a new sole.

New Soling and Friction

The feeling for friction can be perceived differently after a new soling. Basically, the friction surface also changes. A new sole is harder and has an even stronger profile. 

You’ll notice that as soon as you put on your shoes with new soles. They seem a little heavier and you first have to get used to the new grip again. The friction values are extremely improved and have the same status as with new climbing shoes. 

But already after a few climbing pulls you have your old shoes under control again. Some climbers even claim that a new sole brings a very special climbing feeling with it, because the shoe is already climbed in and adapted to the foot. 

In combination with the new sole, you get the feeling of a new shoe adapted to your foot.

The Differences of the Soles

The soles of climbing shoes differ in their manufacture. Therefore, you should only have a new soling carried out by a specialist. There are three major manufacturers:

  • Michelin
  • Vibram
  • Stealth

All manufacturers rely on rubber soles. The difference, however, lies in the rubber alloy. This creates hard and soft soles. 

You should prefer soft soles when climbing first line on friction steps. These include, for example, plate-like kicks and sloping kicks. You should choose harder soles if you climb on small steps.

This not only gives you an optimal hold but also protects your muscles. Your toe muscles, in particular, will be less stressed, as the harder sole means that the amount of force required is considerably less. 

So you see that the rubber compound is important. An experienced expert adapts the new sole to the mixture of the old sole. An optimal mixture of the rubber is of great importance when only a part of the sole is renewed. 

Therefore, make sure that the repair shop only uses the original rubber.

Terms you should know

Many repair providers offer their services online. They describe how exactly the shoe is repaired and how a new sole is attached. Professional workshops in particular are throwing technical terms around. Climbing beginners, but also some experienced climbers know

not always what the jargon means. Therefore you should know the following technical terms:

  • downturn
  • pretension
  • asymmetry

The term downturn refers to the forefoot. It describes the downfacing form the shoe has. The pretension is the area from the heel to the tip of the foot. 

It thus refers to the longitudinal direction of the foot or shoe. Also, the asymmetry refers to the feet and the shoes. It describes an inside rotation.

How often can I have a Climbing Shoe Resoled?

Some climbers buy their shoes and use them for half a life. It almost seems that the wear on these shoes passes without a trace, although the shoe is exposed to high climbing frequencies. 

Usually, these shoes are of high quality. Therefore you should already fall back with the acquisition on considerable manufacturers. But that alone is no guarantee that the shoe will last long. It also depends on the right care. Shoes that are of high quality can also be resoled several times. 

It depends here primarily on the entire processing of your shoe. There are shoes where the seams tear after only a few climbing tours and also lining and surface show signs of wear. 

In this case, it is not even worthwhile to use the first sole. If your climbing shoe shows hardly any signs of wear and tear and the seams show no cracks or similar, then you can also have the climbing shoes resole several times.

Price-Performance Ratio – Resoling or New Purchase

Once the shoe is worn out, good advice is expensive. Should I have the shoe resoled or do I prefer to buy new shoes right away? 

All you have to do is watch out for a few simple things. It starts with the purchase of the climbing shoes. High-quality shoes are more durable. So it’s worth spending a little more money on your climbing shoes. 

In general you should keep your fingers off cheap ones from Asia. Don’t let the price seduce you! These offers may sound tempting, but with these shoes the resoling is certainly no longer worthwhile. 

In many cases the repair costs even exceed the purchase price of the shoes. So you always have to look closely at the price ratio.

Finding the Right Repair Shop

You now know all the technical terms and aspects you need to consider when resoling climbing shoes. Now all you need is a suitable repair workshop. The Internet offers a multitude of possibilities here. 

But not every provider keeps his promises. Often it is even better to use local repair services. You have the following options:

  • Shoemaker’s workshop
  • Online repair services
  • Repair via climbing gyms and climbing clubs
  • Professional workshops

Shoemaker’s Workshop

Times have changed. Twenty years ago, a master shoemaker’s workshop was still to be found in every larger town. At some point, these businesses were replaced by repair shops. Today, you rarely find a good cobbler. The profession is almost extinct. 

If you still find a classic cobbler’s workshop in your area, you can have your climbing shoes repaired there with a clear conscience. A cobbler knows his trade and will resole your shoes in top quality.

Online Repair Services

There are a variety of online repair services for climbing shoes. But unfortunately, not everyone keeps what they promise. 

Please take a look at the evaluations before commissioning. Sometimes it is also advisable to look around in forums for climbing friends. Here you get tips which services are really recommendable. 

There are also huge price differences. However, this does not mean that a cheap repair service also works inferiorly. In any case, you must pay attention to what the included services include for a resole. 

Often the indicated prices are only valid for the actual repair. The costs for the sole then come on top again. Also, postage costs are usually not included in the price.

Repair via Climbing Gyms and Climbing Clubs

If you regularly climb in a gym, you should look for a resoling service there. 

Many gyms even repair in their own workshops. There are also gyms offering collective repairs. It is therefore worth asking in the climbing gym. Climbing clubs are also active in many gyms. These sometimes also offer shoe resoles for non-members.

Professional Workshops

There are a number of professional workshops in the alpine regions. If you are planning a climbing tour there, let your shoes be resoled right away. 

These workshops know their trade and offer other worthwhile climbing shoe repairs in addition to resoling. Under certain circumstances, you can also use the repair offer by shipping. 

You’ll be amazed at what these professionals do with your old climbing shoes. Some shoes look like new afterward and are almost back in their original purchase condition.

The Price for the Resoling

The prices for the resoling of climbing shoes vary considerably. It depends primarily on the supplier. You can get cheap repairs from 15 bucks per sole. 

If you have your shoe repaired in a specialist workshop, you’ll have to dig deeper into your pocket. Here you often pay around $50 per sole. You have to pay extra for other services. Depending on wear, the replacement of the edge rubber costs from 15 bucks per shoe. Additional costs are also incurred for the shipping of the shoe. Some workshops also offer a complete conversion of the climbing shoe. You should consider this service if the size of your feet is different. You can reduce almost any shoe up to half a size.

Related article: In Which Size should I buy Climbing Shoes?

How Long Does a New Sole Last?

It is not possible to say in general how long a new sole will last. That depends primarily on the workshop. The shoe model also plays a role. Shoes with new technology are significantly more expensive to buy. 

Here also the price for the resoling increases. Not all workshops repair shoes with new technology professionally. You can avoid unpleasant surprises by clarifying in advance what kind of climbing shoes can be repaired in the workshop. 

If it is a professional resoling, then the sole has the same longevity as with new shoes.

Related article: How to make Climbing Shoes Sticky Again – All Methods

Resole Climbing Shoes on Your Own?

Basically, it is not advisable to resole the climbing shoes yourself. You lack any specialist knowledge. 

You might do even more damage. But there’s nothing wrong with an emergency repair. You can buy a repair kit for climbing shoes at amazon*. In an emergency, a bicycle tyre repair kit is also sufficient. But you should always be concerned that a repair of the sole is almost impossible. 

With the repair kit you can usually only repair small holes and cracks at the shaft or at the tip. This works like repairing a bicycle tube. You briefly sand the area and cover the holes and cracks with vulcanizing agents and rubber patches. 

You can also buy sole glue in specialist shops. It’s ideal for an emergency repair. Imagine you are on a climbing tour in a remote area. Here such an emergency adhesive is a real helper. Nevertheless, you should have emergency patched soles professionally repaired later. 

Whether the sole can be bonded at all depends on the structure of the shoe. Soles that form a unit with the upper or tip and are processed without seam cannot be glued themselves.

With the Right Care, the Sole Lasts Longer

The sole of climbing shoes wears out sometime. However, you can delay this wear process if you take proper care of your shoes. Basically, you should let the climbing shoes dry thoroughly after each tour. 

In this case, drying means letting the shoe air dry in a warm room. Drying with a hairdryer or heating is not recommended. This could cause the sole to become porous and cracked. 

In specialist shops, you can buy so-called shoe cushions, which you put into the shoe. They absorb moisture and also inhibit odors. Alternatively, you can use newsprint. Even small fabric bags with salt fight moisture in a flash. Extreme sunlight damages the shoe. 

Therefore you should not leave your shoes in the car when it is hot and avoid direct sunlight.

Related article: How to Clean Climbing Shoes: Washing and care instructions

The Perfect Cleaning

Besides the care, you should also pay attention to the cleaning of the shoes. That’s especially true when you’re climbing outside. The weather doesn’t always play along. Wet climbing surfaces leave unattractive stains and traces of use on the shoes. 

Under no circumstances should you wash your climbing shoes in the washing machine. Not even in the delicate wash cycle. Washing with hot water or a brush is also not recommended. 

In both cases, the adhesive may come off. Once the adhesive is softened, the destruction process of the shoe is usually set in motion. The glue continues to soften and at some point the sole loosens. 

Therefore it is better to clean the shoes carefully with a damp cloth. You can also use a brush to clean the sole. But only in the lower area, please. You should only wipe the adhesive seams with a cloth.

Prevent Wear and Tear of the Sole

If the fit of the shoe is right, the wear and tear on the sole are usually lower. This applies in particular to one-sided wear. 

In addition, the shape of your foot also affects the wear of the sole. Even the anatomy of your body affects the climbing shoes and thus also the wear of the sole. 

Lace-up shoes, for example, give you a much better feel when you step on them. Velcro fasteners sometimes prevent the shoe from sitting firmly on the foot. This leads to incorrect loading and the sole wears out more quickly. 

The shoe should always be tailored to your needs. This prevents the sole from wearing out quickly.

The Right Climbing Technique Protects the Sole

With the right climbing technique, you can significantly contribute to the longevity of the sole. Over time you will almost automatically develop your own climbing feeling. 

Nevertheless, you should always make sure that the tip of the shoe comes up precisely on the kick. It is optimal if there is no noise when you step on the floor. In any case, you must avoid slipping down or abrasion along the wall. 

Finally, one last tip: climbing shoes are really only intended for climbing. Always take your shoes off when you interrupt your climbing tours.

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