Do your new climbing shoes feel rather too tight or don’t just fit at all? Don’t give up on them just yet! Learn how best to break in your climbing shoes today.
So an order just came in. Alas, the climbing shoes you ordered the previous day have arrived. You’re ecstatic.
Time to put them on.
You put your foot in, it doesn’t fit. Bummer.
You make it try to fit by all means possible without somehow trying not to spoil your new set.
You’ve tried all you could and your shoe wouldn’t just budge.
Eventually, it cooperates with you and slides in. And now, your foot is in downright agony.
If this is you, you’ve come to the right place. This article covers all you need to know about how to break in your climbing shoes for a high-performance fit—without ripping them apart. Moreover, you might heard the term deadpoints, read how to master them in an easy way!
Breaking In Climbing Shoes
Not everyone is lucky to get their perfect fit, straight out of the box. Even if you are, you still need to break in your climbing shoes. In other words, get the upper to stretch out so it wraps well around your foot for easy sends.
Breaking in naturally works best for leather shoes as synthetic shoes are harder to stretch.
For the most part, unfit climbing shoes are often a recipe for disastrous and awkward climbing performance. So it’s best to break in your climbing shoes if you’re looking to establish a high-performance fit.
While getting a new set is the interesting part. On the other hand, the process of breaking them in can be pretty overwhelming and flat-out scary.
Not to worry, let’s examine how to break in your climbing shoes and not break them apart.
Yes, as obvious as it may sound, you do have to wear your climbing shoes to stretch it out.
If you find it rather tough to put your foot in your shoes, use a plastic sheet to help. Easily spread the plastic sheet to lie flat in your heel cup and then wiggle your foot in. Hold onto the heel tag behind your shoes and pull back as it slides in easily.
Have the shoes on for a couple of hours while you go about your daily routine; relax, watch TV, etc. This produces the heat needed to stretch out to half a size and conform to your foot shape.
The discomfort should ease out as you practice this method more often, till it’s no longer necessary.
Most times, desperate times do call for extreme measures wherein, you take a hot shower with your shoes on. This hack works like magic. The hot water produces warmth; causing the upper of your climbing shoes to stretch out.
You can as well stick your feet in a bucket of warm water. Leave for a few minutes to soak before taking them out. Either way, your shoes still stretch out.
As long as you don’t mind the dye of your shoes being lifted off, then this method is your go-to. Just be careful not to have it stain the flooring.
In and out of the shower, ensure to keep wiggling your feet. Walk around for a few hours as they dry. If you can, also climb in them before it completely dries out. After which you take them off and stuff them up with newspapers. This will help keep your shoes in shape as they dry.
After a series of trials, your shoes will stretch out and mold perfectly to your feet.
To stretch out your shoes, another fancy trick is applying a heat source.
A hair dryer or blower is a good heat source in this case. A dryer allows you to target the exact spots that feel too tight. Which in most cases, happens to be at the toe box area.
If you feel uncomfortable with the heat, you can stuff your shoes with socks as an alternative.
Some people often put them in ovens and claim it’s as effective. However, this method is not recommended as it doesn’t conform to all shoe manufacturer’s heat instructions. Given that prolonged heat can cause your shoes to delaminate. In other words, the glues of your shoes weaken, the rubber degrades and your shoe eventually falls apart. So you want to be extra careful.
Like the previous methods, leave your climbing shoes on for a while to cool. Strut around, flex, and wiggle your foot as you do so too.
You may need to repeat this process once or twice to achieve that perfect fit.
Putting your shoes in the freezer is, perhaps, the fastest way to stretch out shoes that are way too tight. For this method, follow these steps:
- Grab 2 plastic bags and place them in both climbing shoes
- Fill up with water and knot
- Put in the freezer and leave overnight – at most 24 hours
- When the 24-hour period elapses, take it out of the freezer. Ideally, the water should have frozen at this point.
- Leave to defrost before taking the bag out.
- Slide your feet in and strap it tight. Make as many foot flexes as possible. If you have access to a wall, climb to stretch it further
The idea is to freeze the water so that it expands and stretches the upper of your shoes. Although, as a result of not having used your foot to measure out your ideal foot size and shape, your shoes get stretched out of proportion. Making it not so reliable. So unless your climbing shoes are way too tight and need a lot of room, this method is not for you.
The first time climbing with your new shoes can feel a bit sketchy. Breaking your shoes in will give you that perfect fit and make sends even sweeter. Now you know how to break in your climbing shoes, it’s time to go rock climbing to your heart’s content!
Post-break in, make sure to identify any rubber damage that might require resoling.
If your shoes are still excruciatingly painful, then maybe you have to face reality and accept that you got the wrong shoe size.