Expert Guide On How To Break In Climbing Shoes In 2023

Authored By Trekking Expert
Expert Guide On How To Break In Climbing Shoes In 2023

Climbing shoes are specialized footwear that can help you climb faster and with more efficiency, assuming you’re willing to learn how to break in climbing shoes.

Even though they’re designed for a specific activity, climbing shoes don’t require much breaking in. Many climbers will tell you these shoes should be stiff as soon as you buy them. So what are the best ways to break in climbing shoes?

Well, it depends on your preferences and the type of shoe.

The following information is an introduction to breaking in climbing shoes and not an exhaustive list of all possible methods.

However, these methods have been proven to be effective for most climbers




Yes, you could use a shoe stretcher to stretch your climbing shoes, but stretching your climbing shoes (especially the upper part of the shoe) won’t break the shoes in. In fact, it might even do the opposite and make your shoes fit less well.

However, you can use stretching as a pre-break-in method and, sometimes, as a method for softening your shoes.

The best way to do this is with a heat gun. With the heat gun, you can carefully melt the rubber on your shoes and make it a bit softer. This will make your shoes feel a bit nicer, but they will still be pretty stiff and won’t break in much at all.

If you want to make your shoes softer, you need to use a lower temperature than with the oven. With the heat gun, you can stretch the rubber a bit.

This will make the shoes a bit softer and more comfortable, but they will still be stiff.


Soaking in water

You can also soak your climbing shoes in water for some time. This is not recommended for all shoes because some materials can crack or break down when wet. However, leather is a very durable material and can withstand some water.

Soaking in water

After soaking the shoes, gently squeeze out the water, put them on a drying rack and leave them in a warm area to dry. This will soften the shoe and make it feel more comfortable, but it won’t break the shoe in.

This method is best for the synthetic upper since it will break the material down. If you use this method, try not to get the synthetic uppers too wet.


Bending the shoe

This method has been around for a while and is very popular among climbers. It can be used on any type of climbing shoe, as well as climbing slippers and approach shoes.

Bending the shoe

You can bend the shoe any way you want, but you should bend it in the direction you plan on bending your foot. For example, your toes will be bent when you’re on a steep wall and need to hook your foot on the wall.

Therefore, you should bend the shoe in the toe area. To bend the shoe, use your hands and carefully bend it until you feel a slight breaking point.

If you bend the shoes too much, they will break and be ruined. So, try bending them a bit and then testing how much they can bend before breaking.

Once you’ve bent the shoe, place them on the wall and let them dry. This will break the shoe in and make it fit better.


Running and climbing at the same time

This method might sound a bit strange, but it works.

The idea here is that running will make the shoes stretch out and more comfortable.

The best way to do this is to climb in your stiff, new shoes and run in them for a few miles. Running will stretch out the shoes, making them more comfortable and breaking them in.

Running and climbing at the same time

It’s best to run on a treadmill for this method since you want the shoes to be taut and not flop around. This method works best for stony shoes.

You can also use this to break in your approach shoes or rock shoes.


Using a rock shoe stretcher

You can use a rock shoe stretcher if you want to break in your shoes and make them more comfortable.

This is a device that hooks onto your shoe and stretches it out. It’s an old-school method that has been used for years.

Using a rock shoe stretcher

This device will make your shoes more comfortable, but it’s only effective on leather shoes. You can use it on synthetic shoes, but they will break down and not be very useful afterward.

You can find a rock shoe stretcher at climbing shops or online. To use it, you hook it onto your shoe and let it stretch out the shoe.

You can leave it on there for a few days and then remove it. Your shoe will be more comfortable and will break in.

Related Article

How To Clean Climbing Shoes

5 Tried and Tue Methods to Break in your Shoe

1)Toss your shoes in the dryer

1)Toss your shoes in the dryer

Toss your shoes in the dryer on high heat for 5-10 minutes. This will help break them in without causing any damage to the shoe.

2). Soak your shoes in water

2). Soak your shoes in water

Soak your shoes in water for 10-15 minutes. This will help soften the material and make them more pliable and comfortable.

3). Rub baby powder on the inside of your shoe

3). Rub baby powder on the inside of your shoe

Rub baby powder on your shoes to keep them fresh, prevent foot odor, and stop them from getting smelly. You can also sprinkle some powder inside your shoe before putting them on.

4). Break in your shoes gradually

Break in your shoes gradually to avoid blisters and other painful foot conditions. Wear them around the house first, then outside, and finally to work or on active days. After a few days or weeks of breaking in, you can wear these everywhere.

5). Use foot talc to prevent squeaking between your toes

Squeaky feet are not only annoying but also terrible for foot health. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and reduces slipperiness between the toes, which means no more squeaky feet!

The Importance of Breaking in your Climbing Shoe

Breaking into your climbing shoes can be difficult if you’re not used to it. However, with a bit of patience, you’ll be able to wear them comfortably.

First, you have to try on your climbing shoes and stand in them for a few minutes. It’s essential that they are the perfect size for your foot. If they’re too tight, it will be harder to wear them.

Remain standing and try walking around in them for a few minutes. Rub them with your hands to soften the material.

Then, put on some thin socks and put the shoes back on. If the shoes are still too tight, keep trying different sizes until you find the perfect one.

After that, it’s time to climb! Always try to break in your climbing shoes while you’re actually using them.

Go up and down on walls or weightlifting platforms while wearing them – it’s the best way to get comfortable with them!

How long does it take to break in climbing shoes?

It’s impossible to answer that question, as every pair of shoes is different. Some people break in their shoes within a few days, while others may take months or years.

The best way to break in climbing shoes is by wearing them and climbing in them as often as possible.

Some people find that wearing their new shoes for prolonged periods (7–8 hours) combined with regular shoe stretching helps to break in shoes.

Other tips include wearing loose shoes and not tying the laces too tight.

Some people also find that rubbing the insoles with a pumice stone or soaking them in water can help stretch and fit.

Ultimately, it’s up to each person how long it takes for their climbing shoes to become broken in. But the advice is always the same: wear them as much as possible!

Resoling your Climbing Shoes

If you were to change the soles on your climbing shoes, (or if you’re buying a second-hand pair), the fit is likely to be a little different. Here are some tips for resoling your climbing shoes with a different sole:

Make sure that the new sole is slightly smaller than the one you’re replacing – this will help achieve a snug fit.
Take the climbing shoes to a cobbler who specializes in leather goods. He/she will be able to custom-fit the new soles to your shoes. Resoles can also be purchased online, but it’s best to have them fitted by a professional.
Once the new soles are fitted, secure them with leather or nylon stitching. This will prevent them from slipping during use and provide additional support for your feet.
Be sure to break in your resoled shoes gradually; give your feet plenty of time to adjust to their new fit and feel.


Breaking into climbing shoes is not a straightforward process.

Different shoes have a different fit and feel; this means that the shoes that fit your friend well might not be the best fit for you.

The best way to break in your climbing shoes is to wear them while climbing indoors or outdoors.

With time, the shoes will stretch and conform to your unique foot shape, resulting in a comfortable fit.

Additionally, if you’re in between sizes, you can wear two pairs of socks for added cushion and breathability.

Do climbing shoes need breaking in?

The general rule is that climbing shoes must be broken before use. The material used for these shoes is very stiff, so it can take some time to become flexible enough to be comfortable wearing them. Some people will never be completely comfortable in their climbing shoes, but a few tips can make wearing them more bearable. First, always wear two pairs of socks with your climbing shoes, one on top of the other. This will help distribute pressure and keep your feet from getting too hot and sweaty. Second, take your shoes on and off regularly while you’re at home or the crag so they can stretch out a bit before putting them on while you’re climbing. Depending on the shoe model, this process may take days or weeks, but it will definitely be worth it once they finally fit well!

Are climbing shoes supposed to hurt at first?

No, climbing shoes are not supposed to hurt at first. When you try on climbing shoes, it is important to find the pair that fits best. When you try on climbing shoes, make sure that both of your toes fit in the front of the shoe, and your heels fit in the back of the shoe. If the climbing shoes are too small, the blood circulation in your feet will be compromised, and you will develop painful blisters. Choosing a pair of climbing shoes that are slightly too big or too small is better.

Should toes curl in climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes are designed to fit snugly, with minimal slack in the toe box, so the toes will not slide inside the shoe. Some climbers find that their toes start to cramp after a few pitches, or their toes begin to feel numb. Climbers should loosen the laces of the shoe, so they have room to wiggle their toes. They can also try wearing two pairs of socks, one thin pair inside and a thicker pair on top. Test shoes against your foot shape and preference before you head out to the crag. It’s not worth it to have a painful experience on a multi-pitch route when you’re first getting used to climbing shoes.

Uttam Kapri
Uttam Kapri is a highly experienced trekking guide with over 10 years of experience in the tourism industry. He holds a Master's degree in Sociology and a Bachelor's degree in various fields, including English Literature and Travel and Tourism Development. Uttam is passionate about welcoming people from all over the world for trekking trips in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.