April 12, 2021

How Much Do Climbing Shoes Stretch

by Brad

Table of Contents

You will hear many climbers say that tight climbing shoes equate to better climbing performance. This culture of tight shoes has taken hold of the climbing community from generation to generation. 

It has perfectly perpetuated the masochistic ritual of binding your feet in painful shackles of tight leather and rubber, enduring the discomfort and raving how much “fun” the climbing experience was. 

Tight, painful climbing shoes can make your feet shrink if you use tight-fitting shoes for more than ten years. Before you begin the journey, you will be as deluded as many are. But the bare truth is that tight, stiff, and painful climbing shoes might not only be holding you back but also causing permanent damage to your feet.

Do I wear socks with climbing shoes

If you have a pair of tight climbing shoes, up to this point, you might be asking yourself, “do climbing shoes stretch?” or “how much do climbing shoes stretch?” Read on to get more insights on this. 

Do Climbing Shoes Stretch?

This question, “do climbing shoes stretch?” is a common question that many climbers ask. To best grip a rock with your feet, climbing shoes are kept small. But if your shoes are too small, too tight, or painful, it might be hard to do rock climbing successfully in them. 

Even though it’s hard to stretch the rubber part of the shoe, you can still stretch the leather upper part for more comfort. Remember to remove any sticker or tag before you begin any stretching process—they can be hazardous. 

How Much Do Climbing Shoes Stretch?

If you are wondering the extent to which climbing shoes stretch, then you might be asking yourself, “how much will climbing shoes stretch?” Climbing shoes do stretch, but the extent depends on the shoe type. For instance, shoes made from softer materials like leather will stretch more than the ones made from synthetic materials.

Softer leathers like Anasazi Lace or Mythos can stretch up to four times over their lifetime. Materials like Katana Lace can stretch to a full size. Anything synthetic with lots of rubber might not stretch at all.

Can rock climbing shoes get wet

How to Stretch Your Climbing Shoes?

If your climbing shoes are very tight and painful, they can easily lead to a smorgasbord of maladies like a bunion, hammertoes, or Hallux Rigidus. To avoid all these irreversible conditions, you are advised to look for some ways of stretching your climbing shoes so that they can comfortably hold your feet. 

How much will climbing shoes stretch? Apart from the materials making your climbing shoes, the stretching method also matters. Here are different methods on how you can easily stretch your climbing shoes. 

1) Using a Shoe Stretcher?

If you are to get the best result from your climbing shoe process, go for the shoe stretcher. It might be an expensive option, but the results justify it all. It will help you to stretch your shoes to you’re the desired size.

More importantly, the device is very easy to use as you insert it in the shoe, leave it overnight, and get the results in the morning.

2) Hair Drier Method

Roll some socks into tight balls and stuff them into your climbing shoes. Maintain the pressure as you continue inserting more and more socks until the shoe is full. To help the shoe to stretch maximally, push the socks’ balls down as possible. 

Set the dryer to medium. Then heat your shoe for a minute. Move the dryer up and down to ensure all parts of the shoes are heated up. Turn off the dryer to check if the shoes have gotten warm. If they are yet to get warm, give them another minute shot and check them again.

How much will your climbing shoes stretch

To avoid damage to your shoe, avoid using high heat levels. While the shoes are still warm, add more balls of socks. Push as many socks as possible to the expanded space. Park the socks as tight as they can be to gain maximum expansion. 

Leave the shoes to cool down with the stuff inside. The tight socks balls will help your shoes to stretch. After it’s cool enough, you can try to fit it to determine if the climbing shoes feel comfortable

3) The Shower Method

This is another common method to help you stretch out your shoes. Bump into your bathroom with your climbing shoes on. Switch on the hot shower and get wet while you are in them. Allow the hot water to heat the rubber of your shoes.

When you get out, bundle some pairs of socks or towels in your climbing shoes and keep them as tight as you can. Leave them overnight to maintain the stretch. If you feel that your shoes are super tight and they need more stretch, wear a pair of socks with your rock climbing shoes in the bathroom to expand them a little more.

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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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