How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

Climbing shoes can cop a heck of a lot of punishment. If you recently purchased a new pair of climbing shoes and already they’re not looking too healthy, you may be wondering if this is normal?

I can tell you from experience, that this is completely normal. So let’s answer the question of how long climbing shoes last, and also share some simple tips to get more longevity from them!

How Long Do Rock Climbing Shoes Last?

Although most shoe brands express that their shoes last about 1 year, a climbing shoe usually lasts between 4 to 10 months. This lifespan, however, does depend on how frequently you use your climbing shoes.

This occurs if you wear them at least twice a week, but they can deteriorate faster if you climb a wall 3 or 4  times per week.

This is the reason some climbers purchase three to four pairs of shoes in a year since they break down much faster.

Nonetheless, your climbing shoes can last approximately 2 years if you only wear them once or twice a month, and can even last up to 5 years when you only use them a couple of times a year.

This situation is only plausible if the climbing shoes have no form of damage.

Even though your climbing shoes can only function for a couple of months, you can replace their worn-out soles. If you do this, a pair of climbing shoes can remain in use for years and even decades.

How to Make Climbing Shoes Last Longer?

There are other factors that come into play when we talk about the durability of climbing shoes.

Although all gear and equipment are destined to be replaced after a determined time period, you can increase its longevity if you follow certain precautions or practices.

This also applies to your climbing shoes, and if you apply the following tips, they will last much longer.

Choose a Proper Fit

Most climbers select extremely tight shoes because they provide a stronger foothold when climbing, even if they cause pain and discomfort.

However, it’s now known that this practice can cause foot problems after prolonged use of wearing tight shoes. Ideally, you must choose a shoe size that feels snugly against your feet without causing any pain.

On the other hand, if they’re too loose, your shoes will not offer a strong foot-hold when ascending a rock wall.

Adequate Maintenance and Cleaning

Keeping your shoes clean also helps maintain their durability.

When dirt and residue stick the sole or rubber, it becomes less manageable. This will cause small pieces of rubber to stick the rocks every time you step on them.

It’s understandable that your shoes will not stay dirt-free on the trail, but you can use a damp cloth or pad every now and then to keep them clean.

Use them Only When Climbing

Some people like to wear their climbing shoes while walking or jogging, but this can also cause them to wear out quicker.

Remember that the rubber of the soles sticks to rough surfaces because it improves the grip, as it should when you climb a rock wall. Therefore, you should only wear your climbing shoes when you are climbing a mountain trail or practicing on rock routes.

Resole your Climbing Shoes

As said previously, you can replace the soles of your shoes to increase their longevity. You should always try to resolve them before it affects the rand.

When the rand is affected, it alters the structure of your shoes and ultimately reduces its performance. It’s recommended to only replace the soles twice and to change the rand once.

After this, it’s best to buy new climbing shoes. You can then go through the process of breaking them in.

When to Replace Climbing Shoes?

You should replace your climbing shoes and buy new ones if the following situations occur:

  • You have replaced the soles twice and/or change the rand once. This means that the lifespan of your shoes has come to an end.
  • The shoes are coming undone at the seams, which translates to delamination.
  • The closure systems break off, making them unfitted for climbing. Most climbing shoes have straps to improve the grip on your feet. If these are broken, they’re no longer useful.
  • You want to transition to shoes with better performance. Remember that there are three types of climbing shoes: neutral, moderate, and aggressive shoes. If you feel that your current shoes are holding you back when you climb, it’s time to upgrade them.
  • Some people use the one-year mark as the sign to replace their shoes. This way, they can reduce the risk of worn-out soles or accidents in the future.

Analysis of a Climbing Shoe

You must understand that a climbing shoe does not deteriorate the same way as normal sneakers or shoes do.

Usually, climbing shoes deteriorate from two specific locations: the sole and the rand. This is because of the position that your feet take whenever you step on an edge or rock surface.

The sole is the segment that protects the bottom of the shoe, while the rand is a sheath of rubber that envelops the front of the toes and the side of your feet.

Generally, the sole is the part of your shoe that wears off the most because you use it to place your footing. If you completely break down the sole, it can reach the rand and cause it to deteriorate as well.

However, the rand’s only function is to grasp your toes down; it’s not manufactured to withstand constant pressure.

A heavily damaged rand can cause your shoe to lose its contour, which will affect its overall performance when escalating a rock wall.

Because of this, there is a visible line that depicts the end of the sole and the beginning of the rand. This line will help you establish how worn your shoes are.

Your climbing shoes can be the difference between a pleasant climbing experience or an excruciating ordeal. Therefore, you should always assess your shoes’ overall performance every now and then to determine if it’s time to replace them. However, proper care can also increase their lifespan, which can help you reduce budget strains. This way, you can continue practicing rock climbing to your heart’s content!

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Nathan Barker

My wife and I are huge adventure seekers! We've traveled and explored over 40 countries and want to share what we have learned on our journey. We'll be talking about everything from hiking and camping, to guides, reviews and tips that we're sure will help any avid adventurer no matter what walk of life. So relax, grab a cup of coffee and we hope you enjoy the read!