Breaking in new climbing shoes can be a frustrating process. It’s often difficult to get the climbing shoes to conform to your feet, and it can take time and effort to make them feel comfortable.
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In this article, I’ll provide a range of methods on how to break in climbing shoes so you can get the best fit possible. We’ll also discuss other aspects of climbing shoes, such as how tight they should be.
How to Break in Climbing Shoes: The Best Method
With the right approach, breaking in new climbing shoes can be a breeze. However, there are a few things you need to do if you want to know how to break in climbing shoes properly; they are; wear them as often as possible, wear them when climbing, and have a little patience.
Here is my step-by-step guide on how to break in shoes, even if they are boulder shoes or general climbing shoes:
Step 1: Buy Shoes That Are Your Size
Before we get into how to break in new climbing shoes, make sure they’re the correct size. It’s vital to get shoes that fit snugly but not too snugly.
If the shoes are too tight, they’ll be challenging to break in and uncomfortable to wear. On the other hand, if the shoes are tight enough, they will provide the support you need when climbing.
You want comfortable climbing shoes that will also give you the best possible experience when climbing on a rock face.
When trying new shoes, ensure that you can wiggle your toes and that there’s enough room in the toe box. You should also be able to slide your foot out of the shoe without too much difficulty.
Once you’ve found a pair of shoes that fit well, it’s time to start breaking them in.
Step 2: Wear Them Around the House (Wear Them as Often as You Can)
The next step on how to break in new shoes is to wear them as much as you possibly can. Try to wear them for at least an hour each day. This will help the shoes conform to your feet and make them more comfortable.
If you can’t wear the shoes all day, try wearing them for a few hours at a time. You can also try sleeping in them. This will help the climbing shoe stretch to your feet more quickly.
Step 3: Climb in Them as Much as You Can
Of course, the best way to break in new climbing shoes is to use them for climbing.
Start by wearing them on easy climbs. Then, you can start wearing them on more challenging routes as you get more comfortable.
Climbing will help the shoes conform to your feet and make them more comfortable to wear.
Repeat Steps 2-3
Until the shoes feel comfortable, depending on the shoe and your foot, this process can take a few days or a few weeks.
- Use climbing chalk to help reduce friction when climbing. This will help prevent blisters and make it easier to break in the shoes.
- When first breaking in the shoes, avoid wearing them for more than a few hours at a time. This will help prevent blisters and discomfort.
- Be patient! Breaking in new climbing shoes can take time. But it’s worth having a pair of shoes that fit well and are comfortable.
How Long Does It Take To Break in Climbing Shoes?
It depends on the shoe and your foot, but it can take a few days or weeks to break into climbing shoes.
The best way to break them in is to wear them as often as possible and use them for climbing. Then, with the right approach, you’ll have a comfortable pair of shoes.
How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoes are often tight when you buy them, making them difficult to wear. By stretching them out, you can make them more comfortable to wear and help prevent blisters.
You can stretch climbing shoes using various methods, including the freezer bag method, toe socks, or a shoe stretcher.
The following methods on expanding shoes will work for stretching synthetic climbing shoes, leather shoes, and new shoes in general…
The Plastic Wrap Method
You can try the plastic wrap method if you have difficulty stretching out your climbing shoes.
Put some plastic wrap around your foot, and then put your climbing shoe over the top. The plastic wrap will help to stretch the shoe.
Make sure that the plastic wrap is snug but not too tight. You should be able to wiggle your toes and slide your foot out of the shoe easily.
Leave the plastic wrap on for as long as you can. You can even try sleeping in the shoes with the plastic wrap.
The Freezing Bag Method – Stretching Shoes in the Freezer
Another method is freezing shoes to stretch them. This may sound a little strange to try shoes with ice, but trust me, stretching shoes with ice works.
Put the shoes in a freezer bag and then in the freezer overnight. The cold temperature will help to stretch the shoes.
In the morning, take the shoes out of the freezer and let them thaw for a few minutes. Then, try them on and see how they feel.
If the shoes are too tight, you can repeat this process until they’re more comfortable.
The Heating Method
Another way to stretch in new climbing shoes is to use heat. This method is best used in conjunction with a shoe stretcher.
To use this method, insert the shoe stretcher into the shoes and then apply heat to the shoes. For example, you can use a hair dryer or place the shoes in a bowl of hot water.
The heat will help to soften the shoes and make them more pliable. This will make it easier to stretch the shoes and get them to conform to your feet.
Wear Them in the Shower
Another way to stretch in new climbing shoes is to wear them in the shower. This method is best used with shoes that are made of leather.
To use this method, put on your shoes and then take a shower. The steam and moisture will help to soften the leather and make it more pliable.
After spending some time in the shower, try putting on the shoes again. They’re more comfortable and easier to wear.
Wear Toe Socks
One way to break in new climbing shoes is to wear toe socks. Toe socks have a separate compartment for each toe that has been designed as socks for climbing shoes specifically.
Wearing toe socks can help the shoes to stretch and conform to your feet. It’s also an excellent way to prevent blisters.
To use this method, put on a pair of toe socks and then slip on your shoes. Wear them around the house for short periods to get started.
Do You Wear Socks With Rock Climbing Shoes?
I’ve just touched on wearing socks for stretching out your climbing shoes, but do you permanently wear socks with climbing shoes?
When climbers get asked, “are you supposed to wear socks with climbing shoes?” the consensus is no. Rock climbing socks will decrease the precision of your footwork and make it more difficult to “feel” the holds. Additionally, they will make your shoes fit more snugly, which can be uncomfortable and may cause blisters. If you must wear socks with your shoes, go for a very thin pair.
Buy a Climbing Shoe Stretcher
If you’re having trouble getting the shoes to stretch, consider using a climbing shoe stretcher to help with shoe widening. A shoe stretcher is a tool you insert into the shoes to help stretch them.
To use this method, insert the shoe stretcher into the shoes and leave it overnight. The stretcher will help to stretch the shoes so that they’re more comfortable to wear.
You can find shoe stretchers at most sporting goods stores.
How Much Do Climbing Shoes Stretch?
Climbing shoes can stretch anywhere from half-size to full-size. The amount of stretch will depend on the materials that the shoe is made from.
Leather shoes stretch the most, while synthetic materials like nylon and neoprene stretch less.
The best way to find out how much your shoes will stretch is to ask the manufacturer or retailer.
Do Synthetic Climbing Shoes Stretch?
Synthetic climbing shoes tend to stretch less than leather shoes. This is because synthetic materials like nylon and neoprene are less pliable than leather.
If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that will stretch, opt for a pair made of leather.
Remember that all shoes will stretch somewhat, so don’t worry if your synthetic shoes seem to stretch less than you’d like.
Can You Shrink Climbing Shoes?
Shocking your climbing shoes by seriously damaging the material is possible.
If you’re having trouble with your shoes being too big, I recommend wearing thicker socks – though the best option you have, if you have the money, is to buy brand-new climbing shoes.
How Should Climbing Shoes Fit?
Climbing shoes should fit snugly but not painfully tight. You want the shoe to be tight enough that it won’t fall off while climbing but not so tight that it cuts off circulation or causes blisters. If you’re climbing shoes hurt, they are not the pair for you.
Most climbing shoes stretch about a half size after breaking in. So, if you’re planning on stretching the shoes, buying them a half size smaller than your street shoe size is best.
Climbing shoes will stretch more in width than they will in length. So, if you have wide feet, you should buy shoes specifically designed for wide feet.
If you need help deciding what size to buy, it’s best to try on the shoes in a store before you make a purchase.
If you’re still a little confused, I have written a guide on “How Should Climbing Shoes Fit” and some interesting details about the anatomy of a climbing shoe and how tight climbing shoes should be.
FAQs About Breaking into Climbing Shoes
Do Climbing Shoes Stretch?
Climbing shoes stretch but may stretch less than you’d like. The amount of stretch will depend on the material of the shoe and how tight they fit.
Climbing Shoes Too Loose? Do This!
There are a few things that you can do if your climbing shoes are too loose. The first is to try tightening the laces as much as possible.
If that doesn’t work, you can try stuffing the toes of the shoes with newspaper or some other type of material.
Can You Stretch Climbing Shoes in the Oven?
This is not recommended, as you’ll damage the shoe, but theoretically, you can do it. You’d heat them up a little, put them on your feet, and they will mold better.