Breaking in a New Pair of Climbing Shoes

Breaking in a New Pair of Climbing Shoes

For those of you who found this article because you are breaking a new pair of climbing shoes, that sucks. This is because you probably purchased you climbing shoes 1 to 2 sizes smaller than your street shoe expecting that the shoe will stretch to fit like a glove. However, after wearing them for a day, you have come to the discouraging realization that your shoes are just too tight to climb in right now.

Part of the idea behind starting my Climbing Blog was because I woke up one morning and realized that after 3 years, I had never invested the time into breaking in my “new” La Sportiva Venoms.  When I began climbing in them 3 years ago, they were killing my feet and I kind of gave up on them. With that said, it has been one month since that morning and my unconventional efforts to break in my shoes seem to be paying off.

How To Break in your Climbing Shoes

While nothing compares to stretching your shoes by climbing in them, this may be too difficult to do at first so the following methods should help get you started.

1.) Wear your shoes as frequently as you can around the house.

  • Tip: Put your toes into the tip of the shoe in the position you would like the shoe to form to while climbing and then attempt to pull the back over your heal. This will help to stretch your shoes. Repeat this process until it becomes too painful.

2.) Tape up the tops of and sides of your feet. This will help to protect them while pressing your feet into your shoes and also keep them from forming blisters.

  • Tip: Wearing thin socks is also very helpful; However, at first they may not fit because the shoe is still too tight.

3.) Stretch out the shoes using rocks or taking them to a shop where they have a stretcher on site.

  • Tip: Use household items that you can position into the places that you need stretched. I used my folded climbing knife and jammed it cross wards into the toe box of the shoe and used a Weather Radio from the 90’s to hold it in place (this worked amazingly).

4.) Fold them up into a ball and wrap them with some rope or cord – Think Baseball Glove. You will be surprised at how good this works.

  • Tip: I used an old NES plug to wrap them up with.

5.) Climb repeatedly. Ultimately, nothing will compare to this; plus, it is a lot more fun than sitting in front of the TV while you stretch them out.

  • Tip: Wear them on shorter climbs removing your shoes in between climbs.

Other Methods I have heard of but never used

  • Getting them wet and wearing them until they dry.
  • Putting a plastic bag in them, filling it with water and then freezing it; the idea is that the water will expand and stretch out your shoes.
  • Leave your climbing shoes in the sun and wait until the rubber has softened, then put them on with a pair of socks, repeating as needed.

Beginners Guide to Training for Rock Climbing

I think that doing either of these is risky. It is not a good idea for the adhesive on your shoes to get wet. Also, freezing your shoes may not give you enough control over how much your shoes eventually stretch. Plus, mixing shoes and food is never a good idea. I actually tried leaving mine in the sun but they became very hot and it hurt my feet to wear them.

Good luck with breaking in your shoes. It requires an investment, but it is worth it to have a pair of climbing shoes that fit correctly.

Keep enjoying the Adventure!


12 Responses to “Breaking in a New Pair of Climbing Shoes”
  1. Dave says:

    Can you explain more about the whole “tooling your boots into a ball” method??

    • SBClimber says:

      Hey Dave,

      I figured that when I was rolling them into a ball, the rubber would stretch a bit. This worked and was quite easy to do. I just found a length of cord that I could wrap each shoe lengthwise with and then folded the shoe onto itself. After leaving it there for a bit, the rubber on the shoe would slightly stretch and soften for that matter. Hope that helps! Breaking in a pair of climbing shoes is a huge pain, literally, but still part of the process.


  2. Jonas says:

    My shoes became all tied in a knot when I saw that Breaking in a New Pair of Climbing Shoes Breaking In My Shoes appeared to be the actual title for this particular post. My shoes mean just about everything in my opinion. One of the preferred ways to evaluate any kind of principle would be to put your own self within the others shoes, broaden your own mind and attempt to enjoy pretty much everything from a completely different position.

  3. Ruby says:

    Thanks ,These tips are exactly what i need

  4. Great article. Thanks for the tips. I’ll definitely try a few.

  5. mhairiastewart says:

    Haha, excellent. Thanks! 🙂

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