How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last? Honest Answer

Climbing shoes can be expensive. You will need climbing gears throughout your whole climbing career. 

Maybe you bought a new pair a couple of months ago. It’s already looking bad. So, it’s natural you’d wonder how long do climbing shoes last? This is totally normal.

The lifetime of climbing shoes depends on the usage. The more you use, the faster your shoes will wear off. You need different types of shoes for different surfaces as well- like indoor and outdoor climbing, for example.

How long do climbing shoes last

If you want your climbing footwear to last longer, you need to take care of them. We’re here to help you with that. Follow along to learn how long climbing shoes typically last and what you can do to extend their lifespan. 

What’s special about climbing shoes?

If you’re already a climber, you probably know why you need climbing shoes. However, if you’re a beginner you may not need them immediately. If you’re someone who doesn’t know much about climbing shoes, let us tell you.

If you’re just starting out as a climber, you should do it indoors. Trainers will do but you won’t get all the benefits of climbing shoes. Before taking your adventure outdoors, you must get climbing shoes! 

Climbing shoes are specially crafted to provide traction and keep the climber’s feet tight. It helps them to take small steps while climbing. Climbing footwear has different kinds of rubber outsoles for gripping rocks/indoor walls. The traction prevents them from slipping and reduces waste of energy.

How long do climbing shoes last usually?

As I said before, your usage determines how long your shoes will last. According to expert’s opinions, most climbing shoes may last 6-12 months depending on usage.

Please note the lifespan is estimated. It can vary from brand to brand. If you use your climbing footwear twice a week, you can expect similar results. But again, these are just assumptions based on experience. Your shoes can last longer or wear off faster.

Typically, most shoe manufacturers will advise you to change your pairs each year. Well, I don’t agree with that. In this article, you will learn how to take care of your shoes and how they can last longer.

It’s true if you use your pairs too much, they will last even less than a year. We’re here to tell you that you can keep using the same pair for years if you follow some guidelines. 

How often you use your shoes per week is crucial. If you use them 3-4 times a week, it will wear off faster. You can expect a lifespan of 2 years from your shoe if you wear them just a couple of times every month.

Similarly, if you barely use your shoes, they may last 5-6 years. However, keep in mind you need to store your shoes in an insulated place. All types of shoes have a shelf life. If you’re careless, your footwear will wear off fast!

You can use your climbing shoes for a long time if you know how to take care of the shoes and how to use them. 

You don’t need to get a new pair of shoes when it starts to wear off. You can simply replace the soles and some other parts of the shoe to make sure they last longer.

Read along to find out how to extend the lifespan of your climbing shoes.

How to make climbing shoes last longer?

It’s a big question. Isn’t it? Who doesn’t want their shoes to last longer? Getting high quality shoes is not the only thing you can do. All kinds of shoes will need to be replaced at one point. But you can make them last longer if you take some precautions. 

This applies to climbing shoes as well although they do not wear off like regular shoes. If you follow our guidelines, you can definitely increase the longevity of your climbing footwear.

Find the perfect fit

The basic difference with climbing shoes and other shoes is they are supposed to keep your toes tight so you can take a smaller foothold while climbing. But you shouldn’t do it at the expense of causing discomfort. 

If you wear really tight shoes, you can sustain foot injuries after prolonged wearing. So, think about comfort first. Your climbing footwear should be tight. But it shouldn’t be so tight that you feel pain.

Also, if your shoes are too loose, your foothold won’t be as strong. That calls for danger. You can easily slip while ascending. So, find the perfect fit to avoid injuries, protect yourself and your shoes!

Clean your shoes regularly

Everytime you go climbing, your shoes can get dirty. That’s not an issue. But you have to clean them when you get home. Allowing dust and dirt to settle for too long may damage your shoes and get tougher to clean.

If there is dirt on the treads, it can cause accidental slips while you climb. Please be cautious about cleaning your climbing footwear.

Cleaning your climbing gears is not hard at all. Just get a shoe cleaning kit and remove the dirt along the treads. Use a damp cloth to clean the mud and dirt from the other areas of the shoe. Let it dry properly. Now, store in an insulated place.

That was easy. Right?

Pick quality shoes

You just cannot skip on this. You should buy climbing shoes from reputed brands. In other words, buy shoes that are well built. Cheaper shoes compromise on the quality. You definitely don’t want your shoes to cause accidents.

The cheaper ones wear off quicker, have poor stitching and are not great for landing your feet. Climbing shoes from La Sportiva, Tenaya, Scarpa, Evolv are reputed for making shoes with excellent performance for rock climbing.

Wear your climbing footwear only when you climb

Just like some people wear their trainers all the time, some wear their climbing shoes all the time. Well, that’s not a wise thing to do. The rubber of the outsoles stick out to provide traction on rough surfaces.. 

These shoes are only for climbing, not for daily use. The more you use them, the faster they will wear off. So, please wear a different pair while you go out.

Change the sole of your climbing shoes periodically

You have to change the soles of your climbing shoes periodically to extend their lifespan. You must do it before it starts affecting the rand. A damaged rand will reduce the efficiency of the pair and increase the risks of slipping.

We recommend you to replace the sole twice and replace the rand once. After that, you need to get yourself a new pair. It’s dangerous to keep on wearing your climbing shoes after changing the sole twice and the rand once.

Anatomy of a climbing shoe

As I said multiple times before, climbing shoes decay differently than regular shoes or sneakers. You need to know which parts of the shoe get damaged the most.

Anatomy of a climbing shoe

The soles and the rand are usually the two parts of a running gear that deteriorate the most as you keep on going climbing.

The sole and the rand get damaged the most when you step on rocks and edges. The sole is the part that protects the bottom of your shoe. On the other hand, the rand is a rubber sheath that protects your toes and the side of your feet.

While you climb, you step on rocks and edges of the surface. So, your soles endure the most damage as you place your footing. If you damage your soles totally, you will end up deteriorating the rand as well.

The rubber sheath of the rand keeps your feet tight so you can stick out your landing properly. It’s not designed to deal with constant pressure. Keep that in your mind while you climb.

If you damage the rand severely, your shoe will lose its form and reduce performance. Not only performance, it’s dangerous to wear climbing shoes with a damaged rand.

That’s why shoe manufacturers put a line to mark the end point of the sole and the beginning of the rand. You can check it to determine how worn out your shoes are!

When to upgrade climbing shoes

So, how do you realize it’s time to change your climbing shoes? Well, you should change your pairs when you see the following conditions.

  • After you have changed the soles of the shoe twice and the rand once. It’s a clear indicator your shoe has reached the end of its lifespan and you need to get a new pair.
  • A good climbing shoe will have straps to improve gripping. The closure of the shoe is supposed to provide a tighter fit. When it starts to break, the shoes become unfit for climbing. We recommend changing the shoe when it happens.
  • When you are starting out, you will probably need shoes with aggressive support. As you become accustomed to climbing, you will probably want to transition into moderate-neutrally supported shoes. So, to improve performance, upgrade your shoes. Don’t let it hold you back!
  • These days, most manufacturers advise people to change their climbing shoes each year. It’s a safe option. You can do it to reduce the risk of wearing worn out shoes and prevent accidents.

FAQs regarding climbing shoes

Are rubbers important in climbing shoes?

Definitely. You need different rubber outsoles for climbing on indoor and outdoor surfaces. You need softer rubber for indoor climbing and sturdier rubber for rock climbing. 

Rubbers like XS Grip 2 grip better on indoor walls and XS Edge is ideal for outdoor climbing.

How long do climbing shoes last on indoor walls?

You need different shoes for indoor climbing. It’s because indoor walls have different textures. These walls try to replicate the sandy or porous textures of rocks to give you better grip.

Some walls use bare wood that has no grip. If you climb these surfaces, the rubber will wear off faster than rocky surfaces. A good indoor climbing shoe will have a softer grip like Vibram XS Grip 2. A specially crafted shoe for indoor climbing should last you 6-12 months without any problem.

How long do climbing shoes last on different surfaces

As I have said repeatedly, different types of rubber last longer on different surfaces. How long your shoes will last depends on the texture of the surfaces. 

Indoor climbing shoes with softer rubber wear off the fastest. If you go indoor climbing regularly, you may need to resole your soft rubber shoes within 3-4 months. 

A granite-like stuff is found on Yosemite. It’s a bit smoother and ideal for smaller footholds. A harder rubber is ideal for it and may last 12-14 months depending on usage.

You will find softer, porous rocks on the mountains in the North of the UK and sandstone like texture at Fontainebleau in France. Softer rubber is ideal for these surfaces but they will wear down much quicker.

You may need to resole your shoes every 3 months. After you have resoled your shoes twice, you should replace them.

Final Words

The longevity of climbing shoes depends on the amount of usage and the type of surface you climb. You need to clean your climbing shoes regardless of the surface you are climbing.

If you allow your shoes to remain dirty for a long time, it may be tougher to clean over time and sustain some permanent damage. It’s really easy to clean shoes after use. Just take a damp cloth and clean the dust and dirt. Let your pair dry and store!

You will need different types of rubber shoes for different kinds of surfaces. Simply put, softer rubber shoes are ideal for indoor climbing. Outdoor climbing requires a bit sturdier rubber-made soles for perfect gripping.

You can change a shoe each year to reduce the risks of wearing worn off shoes. But depending on your usage, you may need to change the soles and the climbing shoe rand way before that.

I have talked about all of these things in detail throughout this article. Follow them to make your shoes last longer and have a better climbing career! 

So now you know, how long do climbing shoes last? If you have any queries, let us know. 

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