If your favorite pair of climbing shoes is wearing thin, but you can’t bring yourself to give them up just yet, this is the article for you. In it, we’ll go over when is the best time to resole climbing shoes.
There are many reasons why someone might consider resoling their rock climbing shoes, including the cost and lifespan of the shoes. Keep reading to learn what it means to resole your climbing shoes, the process of resoling your climbing shoes, and why resoling your climbing shoes might be right for you.
What are the Different Parts of Climbing Shoes?
There are a few different parts of a climbing shoe to be aware of. The main parts of your climbing shoe that you probably already know are the upper leather or synthetic part and the rubber base. We’re going to focus more on the rubber base, and its specific parts, but if you need to clean up the upper leather or synthetic part of your shoes, feel free to check out our other articles on climbing shoe care.
Check out our post on how to clean climbing shoes here.
The main parts of the rubber of your climbing shoes are the sole and the rand. The sole is the part of the shoe that you should primarily be climbing on. This is the part that covers the sole of your feet. The sole is the part of your climbing shoe that is designed to be climbed on. It is also the easier of the two parts to replace, so it will be faster and cheaper to have only the sole rubber replaced, as opposed to letting the rand wear down as well.
The rand of your climbing shoe is the strip of rubber that connects the sole to the leather or synthetic upper part. It helps the shoe keep its shape, but it should not be climbed on as it is much thinner than the sole and can wear out way faster. If you wear holes in the sole rubber and start to climb on the rand of the climbing shoe, you are likely to cause lots of damage that will take lots of time and a larger monetary investment to fix.
Why Should You Resole vs. Buy a New Shoe?
Resoling your climbing shoes is much more cost-effective than buying new climbing shoes. It also is more sustainable, as with reusing and repairing anything that you already own. It’s much better to use something for its whole life, as opposed to getting rid of it while it can still be used or repaired so it can then be used.
This is a hard question to answer because it depends on a lot of things. In general, it will take longer to get your shoes resoled than it will to get new climbing shoes. On the flip side, it will cost less to get your shoes resoled than it will to invest in new shoes. These tend to be the main considerations, along with proximity and ease of either choice.
If you live in an area with a wealth of climbing or outdoor stores that carry climbing shoes, it may be easier for you to just buy new shoes. On the other side, if you live in an area that has very few climbing or outdoor stores and would have to order online, it might be easier for you to just mail your existing shoes in to get resoled. Other considerations might be if the model of shoe you have is made anymore, if you have your eye on any new shoe models, or if your old shoe’s leather or synthetic upper part is also in poor condition.
When Should You Resole Your Climbing Shoe?
There are a few things to watch for on your climbing shoes that will give you an indication as to when they need to be resoled.
One of the main things to watch for is if the rubber on the sole starts to wear thin in any place, but particularly around the seam with the rand.
If you can see any of the rand through a hole in the edge of the sole rubber, you will have to have both the sole and the rand replaced, making the process more expensive.
If you only have to replace the rubber on the sole and you haven’t worn through to the rand yet, it will help increase the lifespan of the shoe and keep the resoling cost down.
You can keep an eye on the line between the sole rubber and the rand rubber to help you to tell when to replace the sole. If you look at the seam between the two parts on an area that receives little wear, such as near your pinky toe, you will see how thick the sole rubber should be. As you follow the seam around to near your big toe, you are likely to see the sole rubber get thinner and thinner, depending on the amount of wear. This can be a good indicator to watch so you can tell how fast you are wearing through your climbing shoes.
Another thing to think about when having your shoes resoled is what it will do to the shape and performance of the shoe. In general, a resoling of the sole rubber but not the rand will increase the performance and maintain the original shape of the shoe.
Once you have to start replacing the rand of the shoe, you run the risk of the original shape of the shoe being altered in some way. This is just another reason to keep a close eye on the edge of the rubber sole to make sure you prevent wear and tear on the rand of the shoe.
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How Much are Resoles Typically?
Resoles typically start around $30 and can increase upwards of $80, depending on what you want to have done. Most resole places don’t recommend getting your shoes resoled if it’s going to cost $80 or more.
At that point, the amount of work that they will have to put into the shoes really isn’t worth it for what you’re likely to get out of it. That might be a good indicator that it’s time to invest in some new shoes. But in general, it should cost between $30 – $50 to get a pair of climbing shoes resoled.
The cost of getting a pair of climbing shoes resoled doesn’t usually include shipping, so if you will have to ship your shoes, make sure you take that cost into account. We will include the cheapest way to ship climbing shoes in this article, but remember that you will also have to pay for the return shipping after the shoes are done being resoled. Some resolers will offer discounts for frequent customers or for multiple pairs of shoes. Just make sure you check with your resoler for their policies.
How Long Does a Resole Take?
With the growing international interest in rock climbing, there are more and more people in need of climbing shoes. This means a few things, one that resoling places are becoming more common, but also that it can take a while to get your shoes resoled.
Many places will take between 2 weeks on the quick end, to around eight weeks, or two months on the longer end. This time frame is part of the reason why many climbers keep old shoes even when they replace them; that way, they still have shoes to use while their main shoes are getting resoled.
If you have worn through the sole rubber and need to have the rand rubber repaired as well, this will add both cost and time to the resoling. In general, it is best to have your climbing shoes resoled before you need to repair the rand rubber. It’s much more intensive and time consuming to repair the rand as opposed to just repairing the sole.
How Many Times Can You Resole Your Climbing Shoes?
There isn’t a cut and dry answer to this question; it all depends on how well you care for your shoes between resoles. In general, you can expect any given pair of climbing shoes to last through around three resoles, but if you take really good care of your shoes and are attentive to when they need to be resoled, you can get five or more resoles.
What Types of Rubber are Available for Resoling Climbing Shoes?
The most common thickness of rubber used to resole climbing shoes is 4 mm, but if you are turning your shoes into gym shoes or tend to wear through them really fast, it may be a good idea for you to look into 5 mm rubber. Although there’s only 1 mm of difference in the thickness, you are likely to feel a difference between the two thicknesses of rubber, so unless you have a reason to go with the 5 mm rubber, most places will encourage you to go with 4 mm.
The most popular types of rubber on the market today are made by either Stealth Rubber or Vibram. Both companies offer different variations of toughness and stickiness of their rubber. Many La Sportiva shoes start out with Vibram rubber, while many 5.10 shoes start out with Stealth Rubber, but you can resole any climbing shoe with any kind of rubber. Ask your resoler what type of rubber they carry and what type of rubber they recommend for your specific model of climbing shoe and your usage.
While these are the most popular types of rubber available, most climbing shoe brands have their own type of rubber or their own preferred rubber for their shoes. This being said, you can have your resoler put most types of rubber on most styles of shoes. Some thicker rubbers may be harder to form to the shape of more aggressive shoes, so make sure you take the shoes desired performance level into consideration when picking which rubber to use.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Ship Your Shoes to the Resoler?
The cheapest and safest way to ship your climbing shoes to the resoler is by using a padded USPS flat rate envelope. It will cost around $6.50 for the size of the envelope that fits one pair of climbing shoes. You will have to pay for return shipping as well for most resolers, so keep that in mind when figuring out the cost. This is also the shipping method that is recommended and preferred by many resolers.
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How Can I Make My Climbing Shoes Last Longer?
Of course, there are ways that you can care for your climbing shoes to make them last longer before they need to be resoled, but keep in mind that none of these are forever fixes.
It’s best to store your climbing shoes in a cool, dry place, away from heat and moisture. Heat and moisture are the main things that can harm your shoes, so avoiding both of these can help you extend the life of your climbing shoes.
Another thing you can do is to only wear your climbing shoes when you need to. If you’re wandering between climbs or hanging out at the base, change out of your climbing shoes and into approach shoes or sneakers. This will give your climbing shoes time to dry out and relax.
The last important tip for making your climbing shoes last longer is to take them out of your pack and store them nicely when you get home from a day of climbing. Not letting the day’s sweat dry out well enough can cause the shoes to mold, which you certainly don’t want.
When you are wearing your climbing shoes, make sure that you wipe any excess dirt off the shoes before you climb in them. Climbing in dirty shoes will increase the amount of wear the shoes take on any climb and reduce their lifespan. You can wipe the soles of your shoes off on your pants or keep a soft cloth handy for this purpose. Make sure you also wipe off any dirt and debris at the end of the day too.
Where Should I Get My Shoes Resoled?
As rock climbing increases in popularity, so do the options for purchasing and repairing climbing gear. There are a variety of smaller shops that offer resoling as well as some larger companies. Many larger climbing shoe brands offer a list of places that resole shoes by their brand so you can find the nearest one to you, but there are also some well-respected shops that you can mail your shoes into.
If you are looking to repair any La Sportiva shoes, we recommend using Greater Tahoe Gripworks. They are the only La Sportiva exclusive resoler in North America and, as such, are extremely specialized in the brand. A full resole here will cost $40 – $55, with rand resoling costing an additional $12 per shoe. They will also resole La Sportiva approach shoes. We’ve used them several times and always been happy with the service.
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If you are looking for a good all-around place to get any climbing shoe resoled, we recommend Crescent Resoler and Rock and Resole. Both companies offer services starting at around $10 for redoing the rand on only one shoe and increasing in cost. They will also resole approach shoes for a lesser cost than a full climbing shoe resole, and both places accept shoes by mail.
If you are looking for the fastest option for getting your climbing shoes resoled, we recommend looking into Yosemite Bum. They advertise the fastest turnaround time in the business, with a current turnaround time of just one week. They use Evolv rubber but will resole any shoe. They do not currently resole approach shoes, but that isn’t to say that they never will.
Wrapping Things Up: When to Resole Climbing Shoes
If your shoes are looking a little rough around the edges, maybe it’s time to start thinking about getting them resoled. Overall, it will help your shoes last longer, and it is significantly more cost-effective to make one pair of climbing shoes last than it is to have to keep buying new climbing shoes. Resoling can also be a great way to bring some new life back into an old pair of climbing shoes.
Although resoling is always an option, the best thing you can do for your climbing shoes is to take good care of them. Make sure you always dry out your shoes thoroughly and avoid having your climbing shoes come into contact with either heat or moisture. We know this might take a little extra effort on your part, but trust us, your wallet will thank you when you don’t have to replace your expensive climbing shoes as frequently.
Looking for more climbing guides? Check out our selection of climbing tips here.
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