New Climbing Shoes: The Best Way to Break Them in


New climbing shoes are essential for any rock climber, but properly breaking them in is crucial for optimal performance and comfort on the wall. Whether tackling tough boulders or climbing steep cliffs, the right pair of climbing shoes can make all the difference in your experience.

In this guide, you’ll learn the different types of climbing shoes, ways to break them in, and some tips for making this process easier.

Breaking in climbing shoes matters because it allows you to feel the holds underneath your feet. Many climbing shoes are pretty stiff right out of the box, making it harder to feel when you’re standing on a hold. You’ll want to break them in as soon as possible because it’s easier to make a mistake on the wall when you can’t feel your feet!

Types of Climbing Shoes: From Aggressive to Neutral

climbing shoes

Understanding the differences between climbing shoes is essential before you buy them. There are different styles of shoes, from beginner to advanced, so you’ll want to ensure you purchase the correct pair.

Aggressive: Aggressive climbing shoes can be described as downturned, like the curve of a banana. Many advanced climbers use aggressive climbing shoes because they’re great for step and technical routes.

Neutral: Neutral climbing shoes are flatter and are more suited for beginners because they perform well but don’t force your foot into a crazy position.

Break In Method

Now that you’ve found the perfect pair, it’s time to start the break-in process! Here are a few tips to help you break into climbing shoes.

Gradual Wear: The gradual wear method requires you to wear the shoes for short durations during climbing sessions or even while doing everyday activities at home. This gradual exposure helps the shoes mold to your feet’s unique contours without causing excessive discomfort. Short durations mean removing them after each climb or each t-shirt you fold.

Focus on Flexibility: To expedite the break-in process, use your hands to flex and manipulate the shoes’, especially around the toe box and heel cup. Squeezing and contorting these areas can help soften the stiffness and accelerate the shoe’s adaptation to your foot shape.

Use Climbing Techniques: Incorporate various climbing techniques into your sessions, such as smearing, edging, toe hooking, etc. This method will help you practice your climbing skills and encourage the shoes to conform to your feet as you perform different moves.

Adjust Straps and Laces: Experiment with tightening or loosening the straps and laces to find the optimal balance between comfort and performance. Fine-tuning the fit can alleviate pressure points and ensure a snug yet comfortable feel during climbs.

Tips for Break-in Success

Listen to Your Feet: Pay close attention to any discomfort or hot spots while wearing the new shoes. If you experience pain or excessive pressure, take breaks and adjust the fit as needed to prevent discomfort or injury. You can also adjust the laces or straps to give your feet more room where they need it. There’s no need to power through the pain and develop blisters; let your feet take a break!

Alternate Shoes: If you have another pair of climbing shoes, consider alternating between them during sessions. That allows your feet to rest and recover while gradually breaking into the new shoes. Plus, it lets you climb while taking a break from the pain of breaking in the new pair.

Consider Socks: Wearing thin, moisture-wicking socks can provide a barrier between your feet and the shoes, reducing friction and minimizing the risk of blisters during the break-in period. However, this will also make your shoes stretch a little faster, which may be more painful because you’ll have more room volume inside the shoe.

Be Patient: Breaking in climbing shoes takes time and effort. It requires patience and persistence to balance comfort and performance perfectly. Allow sufficient time for the shoes to adapt to your feet naturally, and don’t rush the process.

Breaking in climbing shoes is an essential step in ensuring comfort and performance on the wall. By following a methodical approach and using the provided tips, you can effectively break in your new shoes while maintaining their fit and functionality. Remember to prioritize your feet’s health and comfort throughout the process, as happy feet lead to confident climbs.