April 16, 2021

How to Make Climbing Shoes Sticky Again? (Stickies Shoes)

by Jullie

Do you often use your climbing shoes at the gym or on adventurous rappelling trips?

There is a high probability that you may end up wearing out the rubber of their soles sooner or later.

However, it depends upon the frequency of your trips and time spent in rappelling activities. 

After a while, it happens to all of us, whether beginners or seasoned rappellers.

You may lose your grip as shoes become less sticky with time.

Let us learn how to make climbing shoes sticky again.

Some specific areas of climbing shoes are under more pressure.

The ball of the foot, sides, and toes are the first ones to go.

Fine chalk and dirt particles start filling the rubber grains of soles.

It leads to reduced friction, thereby becoming less effective for outdoor sports. 

But don’t lose heart! You can fix the damage to recover your expensive pair of climbing shoes.

Here, we have compiled a few effective methods.

You can try some of these solutions depending upon the age of your shoes or your usage.


Table of Contents
How to Make Climbing Shoes Sticky Again (Stickies Shoes)
How to Make Climbing Shoes Sticky Again? (Stickies Shoes)

What Are the Two Main Parts of a Climbing Shoe?

Climbing shoes are different because companies make them with a specific function.

Most shoes have a design to improve comfort. It is not the case with climbing shoes.

Climbing shoes have a sticky rubber sole to hold the rocks.

Most athletes wear tight climbing shoes to increase grip on their feet.

Climbing shoe soles can also increase friction.

Most experts claim that there are two parts to climbing shoes.

  • Sole. It is the bottom part of the climbing shoes. The athlete’s feet and the rock comes in contact with this part. The Sole has a base layer of soft rubber. The layers at the bottom of the sole are rigid to resist damage from the rocks. Soles can change shape a little to fit in the feet of the athlete. Soles also help you avoid slipping by providing resistance.
  • Rand. It is the rubber part of the front end of climbing shoes. Rand is responsible for holding the feet from the sides. Rand starts from the front tip of the climbing shoes and goes to the sides. Sole can withstand a lot of stress due to its high durability. Rand cannot withstand such stress. If there is damage on the sole, the rand will damage fast due to stress exposure. It is better to avoid climbing when there is damage to the sole. Rand damage will cause disaster because it will not hold the rock surface. You can learn how to make climbing shoes sticky again to avoid climbing accidents.

How to Make Climbing Shoes Sticky Again: 7 Ways to Try

It is possible to use quick-fix solutions on relatively new or rarely used climbing shoes.

The following two methods will help improve the grip quickly.

1) Controlled Warming

Warming them up is the easiest method of making them sticky.

All you have to do is to leave your climbing shoes out in the sun for a while.

The logic behind this quick-fix is that rubber becomes stickier upon heating.

There is a rubber compound on all climbing shoe soles.

It will help gain friction on a sunny day, but please don’t leave them in the sun for too long.

The rubber may warp, and the glue may melt if you expose them for too long.

Learn more about the best climbing shoes rubber comparison guide.

There is one more way to warm your shoes up with controlled heating.

You may rub the soles together for a couple of minutes.

The rubbing action will generate enough heat to make them stickier. 

2) Washing and Scrubbing

Giving your rock climbing shoes a nice wash will always help.

You could revive the friction even if you bought them five years ago.

The best part is that washing does not damage your climbing shoes.

We suggest regular rappellers wash their shoes after every 2-3 trips.

Rappelling involves a fair amount of risk, and using rappelling shoes with reduced friction may increase the risk further.

If you ever feel that your shoes are losing grip, a good scrub will immensely benefit you.

You will require a bucket of warm (not hot) water with a nice scrubbing brush.

Please ensure that the water is not too hot, or it may damage the glue.

Once you scrub the sole, you can quickly notice the accumulated dirt.

Keep your shoes pointed down while scrubbing.

The dirty water will run off the toe point. You can use a towel or dry them in the sun.

3) Creating More Friction

If these quick fixes don’t last long, perhaps your shoes are on their last legs.

But the best thing is that there are other ways to fix them.

The next category of methods involves sanding or cutting to create more friction.

It consists of roughing up the rubber when it appears too smooth. 

But there is a minor issue with this quick fix.

If you overdo the roughing, the sole may quickly wear down and ultimately wear through.

We recommend using this method only if your shoes are on their last legs.

Also, use them as a last resort for rappelling, as you run the risk of reduced grip when you need it most.

4) Sanding

You will need a metal brush or sandpaper to roughen up the rubber sole.

These tools can quickly add some grip to an old pair of climbing shoes.

You can start by gently roughing up the entire sole.

The moment you see the shiny surface disappearing, you do not need any more sanding.

You can notice the fresh and dark rubber underneath, ensuring a better grip.

5) Cutting

It is an alternate method of reviving an old pair of shoes.

If a metal scrubbing brush or sandpaper is not readily available, cutting some new tread will get similar results.

You will need a small razor blade or a sharp knife. 

You can start by cutting a cross pattern.

Beware! You must be careful with this method. If you happen to dig the tread too deep, it may damage the mid-sole by cutting through the lower part.

6) Resoling Your Shoes

Use this technique only if you have enough patience and the ability to resole your climbing shoes.

You can try doing it yourself. Frankly, I don’t have that much patience.

Nevertheless, it can be helpful in situations where there is not much wear.

You can try some patchwork by using strong glue. 

You can also take help from a mountaineering shop or a local climbing gym.

But it is challenging to find someone who can resole the shoe. Instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, it is better to try yourself, provided you have the time, skill, and patience.

7) Buy a New Pair

If there is no hope to revive the friction or if the shoes often cry for help, perhaps it is time to dump your old shoes and buy a new pair.

I strongly advise trying all the other methods before deciding to buy yourself new shoes. 

Who knows, you might be successful and save some money.

Still, if all hope is lost and you feel tempted to treat yourself.

We have something for every climbing style and budget.

Is Resoling Climbing Shoes Worth It?

Many factors can decide if the resoling is worth the effort and money.

You can estimate the resoling value by calculating the cost.

Most professional resoling technicians change a lot of money.

You may also have to pay the delivery cost if a technician does not live near you.

Many technicians will charge thirty to forty dollars for resoling when the climbing shoes are not in worse condition.

People pay a delivery cost of seven to thirteen dollars if the repair technician lives near them.

If we take an average, it will take fifty-eight dollars to resole the climbing shoes.

It is unsuitable for resoling your shoes if you have a low-quality and cheap pair.

Buying high-quality climbing shoes will cost you more than 200 dollars.

It will take some time to settle according to your feet.

We recommend that you resole if you have an expensive pair.

The repairing cost is unjustifiable when you have cheap climbing shoes.

The Problem with Worn Soles on Climbing Shoes

It is impossible to prevent wear on the shoes.

Soles are the most crucial part of the shoes because they hold the weight of all other pieces.

You can delay the signs of wearing for some time by buying shoes with high-quality soles.

Even the highest quality soles will wear within a few months.

You will see signs of wearing sooner when the manufacturer uses softer rubbers in the sole.

There is no guarantee that the shoe will hold rock when it has sole damage.

Some companies replace old shoes with new ones if you pay them some money.

It is an expensive way to ensure safety during climbing.

You can also do it in cheaper ways without losing quality.

Many experienced climbers choose sole repair and replacement instead of getting the shoe replaced.

Everyone knows you cannot bring the same quality back when you repair the climbing shoes.

You can get almost the same quality as the new pair. Resoling is better in some cases.

You will not lose the shape of the climbing shoes that fit your feet after using them for a long time.

You can care for your shoes better to avoid the slippery situation.

Old rubber loses grip to reduce the shoe surface friction.

Essential Rules to Maintain Grip

An essential rule to maintaining the shoe grip is to clean your shoes every time you use them.

Some prefer to clean their shoes only when they climb outdoor.

It is better to clean the shoes when you climb in indoor settings.

You can clean when there is no sign of stress on the shoes, as shoes will take some time to show the signs of stress.

Experts explain that indoor climbing is more stressful for your climbing shoes.

It is due to different synthetic materials on the indoor gym surface.

Powder, dust, rough surfaces, polishing agents, and wax can leave a mark on the sole.

It is harmful to the shoe sole and other parts.

Most climbers regret not cleaning their shoes often as shoes lose grip fast without cleaning.

You can increase the grip for a short time by rubbing the soles of the shoes together.

This technique will not work for long as deep cleaning is the only way to maintain the stick surface.

You can learn the proper technique to clean the climbing shoes if you want to know how to make climbing shoes sticky again.

Some climbers spit on their hands and rub it on the sole of the climbing shoes to get an eraser effect.

It will remove most of the dust from the sole.

It is also a good technique for emergencies.

Resoling is the better option to make the sole sticky again.

You can use the hot water and a brush to clean the sole if there is dust in the deeper layers.

You need to remove all the dust particles and small stones from the sole to increase grip.

You can rub the brush faster to remove most dust particles.

Worn Rubber Shines and Becomes More Porous

When the dust penetrates the deep parts of the rubber, it makes small fissures.

These fissures can increase the oxidation process.

This process can increase rubber shine as it becomes smooth.

Most experts will tell you about the shoe condition by looking at the sole.

You can use sandpaper to remove the top layer of the climbing shoe sole.

The deeper layers mostly have higher resistance.

You cannot do it frequently as it increases wear on the sole and cause sole failure.

You will not find many people talking about the sandpaper to improve the stickiness of the climbing shoe sole.

Are There Climbing Shoes with Soles That Don’t Lose Grip?

There are no climbing shoes with soles that don’t lose grip.

All of them lose grip after some time due to the surface damage.

The surface becomes smooth and shiny as it loses grip.

Scientists tried different ways to make shoes that never lose grip.

They got no success in their experiments till not.

You can use some techniques to increase the life of soles.

Avoiding sunlight and cleaning are some of the best ways to avoid losing grip.

What Should You Do If the Sole Rubber Shows Cracks?

Some climbers keep on their climbing shoes in the gym other than the climbing time.

It can increase the wearing as sole rubber will show crack.

Some climbers like small cracks because they increase the grip of shoes.

You should not go on a risky climbing wall when there are minor cracks on the surface.

These cracks can increase in size and break the toe part of the shoes.

Some shoes can also suffer due to dandruff formation.

It affects the rubber sole by decreasing grip.

Emergency Resoling and Repair – Last Resort?

Due to their low durability, you need to care for the soft rubber climbing shoes more than the hard rubber climbing shoes.

You should not throw the climbing shoes if they lose grip due to wearing.

Resoling and repairing can help you avoid losing money and time.

There are some do-it-yourself repair kits on the market.

These kits have rubber patches, glue, and parts of the climbing shoes.

You can use them in emergencies when there is no help around.

It is better to keep one for emergencies.

It does not match the repair quality of the shoe repair companies’ expert technicians.

Final Thoughts on How to Make Climbing Shoes Sticky Again

You just learned methods about how to make climbing shoes sticky again.

You may try some of these solutions before giving up on your old shoes. 

If you decide to resole, you may not be able to do it yourself or find a suitable person for doing the job. In that case, it is better to buy a new pair.

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About the author 

Jullie

Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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