Last Updated on: 4th August 2023, 10:22 pm
Everyone has a favorite pair of climbing shoes that just seem to fit like magic. But when the rubber starts to wear and the liner starts to show, we’re struck with dread at the thought of dropping another $200 and having to break in a fresh pair of kicks. But fear not, there is an answer: resole climbing shoes.
From how to find a cobbler to when to look to getting your shoes resoled, we have all the info you need to give your favorite shoes a second life.
Table of Contents
- What is resoling a climbing shoe?
- How to resole climbing shoes
- When to resole climbing shoes
- Is it worth it to resole climbing shoes?
- Does resoling climbing shoes affect fit?
- Best climbing shoe resole shops
- What brands resole climbing shoes for free
- How to tell if the toe is blowing out too early
- How long should a climbing shoe resole last?
- Can you resole climbing shoes multiple times?
- How to make climbing shoes last longer
- Wrap up
What is resoling a climbing shoe?
Resoling is the process of replacing the rubber sole of a climbing shoe. This can be done when the rubber on the toe starts to wear down and holes start to form. By replacing the rubber, you can extend the life of your shoes and improve their performance.
Normally when people think about the sole of a shoe, they think about the bottom. With climbing shoes, the sole stretches up and around the toe box. 9 times out of 10, it’s the big toe that is going to get a hold first.
How to resole climbing shoes
Unless you’re a skilled cobbler, it’s best to not do the job yourself. Knowing how to resole climbing shoes is a delicate practice that takes years of experience to do right. To avoid lots of frustration and probably ruining your shoes, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
If you’re out climbing and blow out your shoe with no ability to get another one, you can try throwing a couple layers of tape over it. While this isn’t a great fix, it can take some of the force off of your toes and protect the shoe while you continue to climb.
When to resole climbing shoes
Knowing when to resole climbing shoes is vital to doing the job right. As the rubber starts to wear through, you’ll be able to see the inner fabric of the shoe start to show, generally on the big toe. At this point, you’ll want to stop using them to avoid further wear — the best climbing shoe resole takes place when the shoe is at this point. If you tear through the fabric, it might be harder or impossible to resole them.
A lot of folks will say you want to do it before wearing through the rubber to avoid a rand repair or fixing the piece of rubber at the bottom of the shoe. This approach is fine, but it does result in you sending in your shoes more frequently and can end up costing more.
When you climb, you’re inevitably going to put wear and tear on your shoes. The rubber on climbing shoes is built to last for a while, but over time all that friction against rock and gym walls will cause it to tear. The longer you climb, the better you get at telling when your shoes are about to go. Eventually, you’ll be able to tell when the toe is wearing out before you wear through all the rubber. Doing this will allow you to resole you shoes multiple times.
Is it worth it to resole climbing shoes?
Resoling climbing shoes is a great idea for all climbers. First off, a new pair of shoes can often cost between $150-$200 dollars, while resoling can be done for $50-$60. It’s a lot cheaper to give your shoes a second life than to buy new ones. Second off, reusing your shoes is much better for the environment and can make a large impact over the span of your climbing career. Not to mention, after all that trouble making stiff shoes comfortable, why throw them out when you can simply slap some new rubber on and keep climbing.
Does resoling climbing shoes affect fit?
Not all climbing shoes do as well with resoling. Some shoes have a more complex construction that makes resoling difficult. There are climbers out there that say resoling a shoe changes the way it fits, but I’ve never experienced that. Usually if you resole a shoe once, it will fit fine. The more times you resole it, the higher the chance a different part of the shoe will start to wear out. So if your planning on doing your 4rth resole, you might run into some problems.
The longer you wait to resole a shoe, the more likely it is the fit will feel different. Make sure to get your shoes sent to the cobbler before your toe is popping out the front.
Best climbing shoe resole shops
Finding a quality resoler can be tough. Unless you live in a big climbing town, there’s probably not even a store around where you can do it. And even if you do, it can be hard to find people that do a good job. It’s not uncommon for climbers, (myself included) to mail shoes to a cobbler you trust in order to get the best climbing shoe resole possible.
I live in Portland, and send my shoes to Dave the Cobbler in Seattle. He does a great job and comes in at around $50ish a pair depending on the damage. Gear fix in Bend, Oregon is another good one. I’ve met them at climbing festivals before and they are super rad folk that know there way around shoes.
For all the California and Nevada climbers out there (or really anywhere) looking for a shop nearby, you can’t go wrong with Valley Shoe Repair. They get great reviews for not only the job they do resoling, but the customer service they deliver along with it. They’re based just outside of Joshua Tree on Highway 62, so if you’re local or spending a season there, you can drop off and pick up. They also do Birkenstocks and cowboy boots if you happen to need help with those!
If you’re looking to save some cash, try finding friends that also need resoles can save you some money on shipping. Usually turn around time can be anywhere from 2 – 5 weeks depending on how busy they are. Most climbers have two pairs of shoes so when one is getting fixed they have something to climb in.
What brands resole climbing shoes for free
Most of the time, you’ll be on the hook for resoling your own shoes. But Evolve does have one shoe the Yosemite Bum that comes with one free resole! At a price point of $205, that’s a pretty great bargain. Plus, it’s a solid shoe.
How to tell if the toe is blowing out too early
Like we’ve talked about, climbing shoe takes a pretty big beating. Depending on how often you climb, where you climb, and your technique, you can go through shoes as quickly as 3 months. A general rule of thumb is if you climb less than 3 times per week and a pair of shoes wear through the rubber in under 3 months, there may of been sort of defect. This is extremely rare and even when it does happen, it is often due to poor technique or spending time on routes tough on shoes like slab.
If you believe your shoe was defective, it can be really hard to convince a retailer like REI or a manufacturer to send you a new pair of shoes or refund you your money. However, if you have a receipt that proves the shoes are less than 3 months old, sometimes you can make your case.
What’s more common is stitching, straps, or laces that fail. Often times, these are covered under warranty and you can get a new pair of shoes.
How long should a climbing shoe resole last?
The rubber on a climbing shoes resole should have the lifespan as a brand new shoe. So if you’re climbing a few times a week, it should last about 6 months. With that said, the way you climb has a lot to do with how long your shoes last. Poor technique can wear through rubber faster and make shoes unclimbable.
Can you resole climbing shoes multiple times?
The short answer is yes, though it really depends when you take your shoes in. Like we said the earlier you take your shoes in for a resole, the better chances that the structure of the shoes stays intact. If you’re careful and know when to resole climbing shoes (ie. before you blow too far through them), you may be able to resole them 2 or even 3 times. Some folks that take really good care of their shoes an even get more, but 3 is a noble number to strive for.
How to make climbing shoes last longer
If you’re finding that you go through shoes faster than your friends, chances are poor footwork is the culprit. If you drag your toe across the wall while moving between footholds (aptly named toe dragging) then you’re going to go through shoes a lot faster. Try moving from hold to hold with intention and placing your toe down rather than dragging it there. You may find this not only makes your shoes last longer, but improves your climbing as well.
In conclusion, resoling your climbing shoes is a great way to save money, reduce waste, and maintain the fit and performance of your favorite pair of shoes. By following the tips in this post, you’ll be able to find a resoler, determine when to resole your shoes, and keep your shoes performing at their best. So get out there and climb on!