by Brad

April 11, 2021

Can climbing shoes get wet

Many potential climbing enthusiasts ask themselves – “can climbing shoes get wet?” The simple answer is, yes, climbing shoes can get wet without damage. However, professional climbers advise that you should always keep your climbing shoes clean and dry. 

Rock climbing shoes are designed to withstand moisture from outside and inside. The main reason is that climbing shoes become moisturized as your feet sweat from inside unless you don’t wear socks with your rock climbing shoes. Also, any wetness from the outside will not affect your shoes. 

But for maximum safety and traction when climbing, use your climbing shoes when they are dry, as water can highly reduce friction against the rock. It’s also not safe to go rock climbing when it’s wet or raining. Besides, you should always choose your climbing and rappelling locations and routes wisely

Rock climbing shoes and water rappelling

Should I Wet-Clean My Climbing Shoes?

Prolonged use of climbing shoes without washing can result in a foul odor. So, you can always hand-wash or machine-wash your climbing shoes. But handwashing is always recommended as you can control the environment that you’re subjecting your shoes into.

The most important thing is to ensure that they are completely dry before use. Otherwise, wet shoes can accumulate molds rendering them useless or even shortening their life. It is important to know when to replace climbing shoes.

Simple Climbing Shoes Washing Process

During climbing, your shoes will attract mud, dirt, and other debris. Apart from these, the bad smell from using the shoes for an extended period needs to be eliminated. All this requires a thorough cleaning, and getting them wet is inevitable.

So, if you are still wondering, can climbing shoes get wet? Apparently, climbing shoes can get wet when you are washing them or when you go climbing during wet weather or in a wet environment. Here is a simple process of handwashing your climbing shoes.

  • Use a brush to brush off the dust from the outside gently;
  • Add a little detergent into a basin or tub full of lukewarm water;
  • Immerse the shoes in the tub;
  • Use a soft brush to remove all the dirt from the outside and a soft piece of cloth to remove dirt from inside;
  • Rinse them thoroughly in a clean freshwater;
  • Dry them in a warm area away from direct sunlight.
Climbing shoes and watter rappelling

The most important thing is to ensure that you dry your climbing shoes thoroughly after every climb or wash. If you leave your shoes wet for a long time, they will attract mold that will, in turn, damage your climbing shoes.

Do You Need to Re-schedule Your Climb Whenever It Rains?

Depending on the location or the amount of rain, you can still do your climbing in the rain. But if you see or feel some heavy rains on your way to your climbing location, make a U-turn and re-schedule. Although you can do this when it is raining, make sure that the overhanging jugs aren’t much affected by the wet conditions or rain.

What if it begins to rain when you are in the middle of your climb? If the rain comes unexpectedly, look for the climbs with overhanging roofs over them. Also, you can use overhang routes as they will not be easily saturated with rainwater.

These routes should have larger holds that you can easily grip even when they are wet. If you are going on a climbing expedition when it’s still raining, always consider climbing below your grade. Equally important, don’t embark on a long multi-pitch climb during wet weather conditions.

Can rock climbing shoes get wet

Also, shield your climbing shoes and rope from getting wet as possible to improve your climbing safety. Wet climbing shoes can significantly decrease the friction between the shoe and the rock. It’s always not advisable, but there are many factors involved—rock type, weather conditions, and shoe types.

For instance, some rocks like sandstone and limestone are dangerous than others in wet conditions. You should also avoid lichens during wet weather. Lichens can also reduce friction, and you should always avoid any routes with these life forms.

Always Keep All Your Climbing Gear Dry

To sum up, let’s ask the question once more, can climbing shoes get wet? Although climbing shoes can get wet during cleaning, you should ensure that they are dry before going for the next climb. Also, ascending a wall or a rock during wet weather is unsafe.

To ensure your favorite climbing shoes serve you for the longest time possible, ensure they are always clean and dry. Don’t also forget to keep your climbing ropes dry—climbing ropes also highly benefit from decent care, including dry storage.

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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