How to Break in Climbing Shoes

How to Break in Climbing Shoes
Climbing shoes are used by rock climbers in indoor gyms, on boulders and for big wall climbs. Climbing shoes typically feature a tacky sole designed to provide secure foot placement while climbing. The uppers of climbing shoes are made from leather as well as man-made materials and most commonly feature laces. New shoes typically require some degree of a break-in period because the shoes will stretch during initial use.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Climbing shoes
  • Indoor climbing gym
  • Outdoor boulders
Step 1
Select climbing shoes that are appropriate for your climbing needs. A slip-lasted climbing shoe is a good choice because it incorporates the design of a climbing slipper with a stiffer board-lasted shoe. Make sure the shoes fit snugly and do not slip on your feet when walking.
Step 2
Wear the new climbing shoes around your house while doing routine chores or activities. New climbing shoes will typically stretch during the first few months of use. The amount of break-in time depends on the amount of wear as well as the type of break-in performed and will vary by shoe and person.
Step 3
Visit a local indoor climbing gym and wear the new shoes when climbing. A controlled indoor environment such as a climbing or rock gym will usually provide a variety of rock walls and allow for gradual break-in with a variety of climbing.
Step 4
Locate an outdoor short wall or bouldering area. Continue to break in the shoes by climbing in an outdoor location. Outdoor climbing will place more stress on the shoes and allow for further stretching.
Step 5
Wear the shoes as your would normally on a big wall or other climb. Expect to have some continued stretching of the shoes. The stretching should soon begin to decrease as the materials in the shoes reach their maximum stretch points.

Tips & Warnings

Use the time while wearing the shoes around your house to get a feel for whether the shoes properly fit your feet. If not, take them back to the store where they were purchased.
Lace the climbing shoes securely beginning at the toe and working up the shoe.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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