Climbing shoe care, repair and modification tips

climbing shoe care

Climbing shoe care is often overlooked – until they get holed, too smelly and banished to the shed, or get dropped on a long route. Gear guru Andy Kirkpatrick, self-titled ‘Hull’s second best climber’, author, big wall exponent and internationally acclaimed suffering expert shares his top four tips to actually keep your climbing shoes, and maintain them in tip top condition to boot…

Never get fitted up:

Don’t confuse the pain of tight climbing shoes with the pain of shoes that don’t fit your feet. Slip new shoes on with the heel folded down first to check the profile is correct for your foot shape – after that you can think about length.

climbing shoe care

Multi-pitch modifications:

If you’re doing multi-pitch routes and want to be able to loosen your boots while belaying, then attach a thin strand of bungee cord through the clip loop at the back of the shoe and secure it around your ankle with a cord lock.

This means that when you pull the heel off you won’t lose your boots, and by having two strands through a cord lock instead of a simple loop avoids the risk of the loop accidentally clipping into a runner while you’re climbing, which would not be good.

Smell you later:

If you have a problem with really smelly climbing shoes then sprinkle baby powder in them after each session.

If they’re really bad and baby powder isn’t working then sprinkle baking soda in them, stick them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight. In the morning empty out the baking powder and scrub them with a toothbrush.

A stitch in time:

Climbing shoe resoling technology is getting better and better but you need to get your boots resoled before they go through onto the primary fabric or midsole.

Once they start to go it’s worth buying a new pair and getting old ones resoled for use on big, easy climbs where getting them trashed isn’t too much of a heartache.

These climbing shoe care tips are reproduced with permission from Andy Kirkpatrick’s latest book, 1001 Climbing Tips, published by Sheffield-based Vertebrate Publishing for the inexplicably excellent price of £21.77. Andy also posts regular and endlessly knowledgeable updates on his Psychovertical blog.  

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