Do You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?


do you wear socks with climbing shoes

Socks are generally a must-have when it comes to footwear. Could you imagine running shoes, hiking boots, or ski boots without socks? Your toes and heels will be covered in blisters in just a few hours.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of wearing socks when climbing so that you can make an informed decision on what’s right for you.

So, Do You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?

Do You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?: Most climbers aren’t climbing at a high enough level where socks will impact their performance, provided they have the correct fitting shoe. So, wear them if you want to, and don’t wear them if you don’t want to.

If you find that they benefit you somehow, then great, keep doing it!

The History of Wearing Socks Or No Socks When Rock Climbing

do you wear socks with climbing shoes

The tradition of not wearing socks when rock climbing started back in the 1970s. At that time, shoes were designed more for comfort than performance and were generally made of leather.

As these shoes get wet from sweat, they often stretch and become loose-fitting. This led to many discomforts and even injury, as the shoes would slip off mid-climb.

To combat this, climbers started going sockless, as it provided a tighter fit and helped to prevent the shoes from slipping off.

The need to go sockless diminished as specialized climbing shoes evolved and became more performance-oriented. Today’s climbing shoe is designed to be comfortable and provide a good fit even when wet, so there’s no longer a need to go sockless to achieve a tight fit.

9 Reasons You SHOULD Be Wearing Climbing Shoes with Socks

1. Socks Make Climbing Shoes More Comfortable

This is the most common reason climbers wearing socks is still normal in the community.

If you’ve tried on shoes without socks, you’ll know they can feel quite uncomfortable. This is because the leather can rub against your skin, causing blisters and irritation.

Wearing socks creates a barrier between your skin and the shoe, making it much more comfortable to wear.

2. Socks Can Help with Foot Odor

If you suffer from foot odor, wearing socks with your shoes can help to keep the problem under control.

The socks absorb any sweat and bacteria your feet produce, preventing them from contacting the shoe itself.

This will help to keep your shoes smelling fresher for longer.

I’ve found this to be extra beneficial when climbing indoors on a climbing wall, as I sweat much more during these climbs.

3. Socks Can Keep Your Feet Warm

warm feet when climbing

In colder weather, wearing socks with your shoes can help to keep your feet warm.

The socks will provide an extra layer of insulation between your feet and the shoe. This can be particularly helpful if you suffer from cold feet.

4. Socks Can Absorb Shock

When you’re climbing, your feet are taking quite a beating. They’re constantly being banged against the rock, and they’re bearing all of your body weight.

Wearing socks can help absorb some of the shocks generated by these impacts. This can help to protect your feet and make climbing more comfortable.

5. Socks Can Help Prevent Blisters

As we mentioned, the leather in climbing shoes can rub against your skin and cause blisters. But, again, wearing socks will help to prevent this from happening.

The socks will provide a layer of protection between your skin and the shoe, preventing the leather from coming into direct contact with your skin.

6. Socks Can Help Keep Your Shoes Clean

People wear socks to keep their shoes clean after every climbing session.

Your socks will absorb any sweat and dirt produced by your feet, preventing them from coming into contact with the shoe itself. This will help to keep your shoes looking and smelling fresher for longer.

7. Socks Cause a Tighter Fit

tight fit in climbing shoes

When you’re wearing socks with your climbing shoes, it can create a tighter and much more snug fit. This is because the socks will take up some of the space inside the shoe and compress the foot slightly.

This can be helpful if you’re looking for a tighter fit in your shoes, as it will help to keep them in place. However, it can also cause discomfort if the shoes are too tight. If this is the case and you still want to wear socks, find thin socks to wear instead.

8. Socks Make Taking Shoes On and Off Easier

If you’re constantly taking your shoes on and off, wearing rock climbing socks can make the process easier.

This is because the socks will provide a layer of protection between your skin and the shoe, preventing the leather from coming into direct contact with your skin. This will help to keep your feet from getting sore and irritating.

9. Socks Prevent Foot Slippage from Sweat

If you suffer from sweaty feet, wearing rock climber socks with your shoes can help to prevent your feet from slipping inside the shoe.

The socks will absorb any sweat produced by your feet, which will help keep your feet from sliding around inside the shoe. This can help to improve your climbing performance, as well as prevent foot fatigue.

5 Reasons You Should NOT Wear Socks With Rock Climbing Shoes

1. Socks Add Space Between Your Feet and the Wall

Wearing socks with your climbing shoes will add a layer of space between your feet and the wall. This can make it more challenging to feel small footholds and make your feet more likely to slip off.

If you’re looking for a tight (comfortable) fit in your shoes, socks are not the way to go.

2. Socks Decrease Friction Between Your Foot and Shoe

lack of friction in climbing shoes

When climbing, you rely on the friction between your foot and the shoe to keep you in place. Wearing socks will decrease the amount of friction that is generated, and this can make it more challenging to stay in business. However, even if you wear thin socks, this problem can still occur.

3. Socks Make It More Difficult to Feel Your Footwork

Wearing socks with your climbing shoes can make it more difficult to feel your footwork as your foot sensitivity will be lacking. This is because the socks will add a layer of padding between your feet and the shoes, making it harder to feel the ground beneath you.

This can be particularly problematic if you’re climbing on small footholds or going for heel hooks, as you may need help to feel them.

Again, even with a thin pair, your climbing ability will slip.

4. Socks Can Make Your Feet Sweat More

Wearing socks with your climbing shoes can worsen the problem if you tend to sweat a lot.

This is because the socks trap the heat and moisture inside the shoe, making it more difficult for your feet to breathe.

This can lead to an increase in foot odor and an increased risk of developing blisters.

5. Socks Change The Fit of Your Shoe

Wearing socks with your climbing shoes will change the fit of the shoe. This is because the socks will take up some of the space inside the shoe and compress the foot slightly.

This can be helpful if you’re looking for a tighter fit in your shoes, but it can also cause discomfort if the shoes are too tight already.

When Is It A Good Idea to Wear Socks In Climbing Shoes?

There are a few situations where it might be a good idea to wear socks with your climbing shoes.

  • Rental Climbing Shoes – If you don’t have your pair, you can get other climbers’ shoes left behind in the gyms. But if you’re using rental shoes from a gym climbing location, it’s a good idea to wear socks. This is because you don’t know who has worn the rent shoes before in the climbing gyms, and you don’t want to get your feet dirty.
  • Old Shoes – If you’ve had your shoes for a while, they may start to stink. Wearing thicker socks will help to absorb some of the odor, and it will also help to keep your feet clean.
  • Wet Shoes – If your shoes are wet, wearing socks will help prevent your feet from slipping inside the shoe. This can help to improve your climbing performance, as well as prevent foot fatigue.
  • Big Walls – If you’re planning on doing a lot of climbing in one day, wearing socks can help to prevent your feet from getting too sore. This is because the socks will provide a layer of protection between your skin and the shoe, preventing the leather from coming into direct contact with your skin.
  • Crack Climbing – If you’re planning on doing a lot of crack climbing, wearing socks can help to protect your feet. This is because the socks will provide a layer of padding between your foot and the rock, making it less likely that you’ll hurt your feet while climbing.

How About Climbing in Bare Feet?

Climbing bare feet is generally not a good idea, as getting a good grip on the rock can be challenging. It can also be painful, as your feet will be more likely to get scraped and bruised.

If you’re planning on doing any serious climbing, it’s best to invest in a pair of good-quality climbing shoes.

So, Are You Supposed to Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes? – Conclusion

Should you wear socks with your climbing shoes? It depends on the situation. If you’re renting shoes or if your shoes are old and stinky, it’s a good idea to wear socks. However, if you’re looking for a tight fit and optimal friction, you should skip the socks; unless of course you prefer to climb with socks on, then you do you!

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