October 26, 2020

How to Stretch Climbing Shoes [FAQ]

by Bernice

If you have ever bought a new pair of climbing shoes that turned out to be too small or you didn’t like how tight the shoes are, you have a great chance to wonder how to stretch them.

This article will teach you how to stretch climbing shoes, especially climbing shoes for wide feet, to feel comfortable wearing them.

Table of Contents

The Truth about Stretching Your Climbing Shoes

Climbing shoes are a vital piece of equipment for climbers. They need to be comfortable, durable, and able to grip the rock. In order to get the most out of your climbing shoes, you need to know how to stretch them properly.

In this article, we will go through the truth about stretching your climbing shoes and how it can help you improve your performance in the sport.

We will explain four different ways how to stretch climbing shoes.

How much will your climbing shoes stretch

Method 1. To stretch climbing shoes, wear them while showering

It may sound a bit silly, but if you wear your climbing shoes in a hot shower, you can actually stretch them.

For this method to work, ensure that the shoes expand and conform to your feet’ size, which can’t possibly happen unless your feet are actually in them.

Yes, you got it right; you will need to shower in your climbing shoes. Don’t worry, though, because you will be the only one knowing about it.

Some people had also found very similar results when they decided to let their own shoes soak just a little in hot water, immediately putting them on afterward.

Try considering both of the options mentioned above to find the right one for you.

Related Article: How to Choose Climbing Shoes?

Method 2. To stretch climbing shoes, place them in the freezer

If taking a shower in your climbing shoes is not something you’d like to do, then try to place them in a freezer instead.

Unlike the first method, this method can provide gradual stretches to the shoes and may also require a few times to get the result you wish.

Fortunately for you, the process is straightforward; all you have to do is ensure that you’ve got enough time to dedicate to this process.

You will have to fill two plastic Ziploc bags with water to try this method. Then stuff them down into the shoes as if you were actually wearing them. 

Ensure that those plastic bags will end up being the size similar to your own foot. Finally, please place them in a freezer, letting them freeze overnight or for twelve hours at the very least.

After doing so, you may have to repeat the process several times until you get the desired result.

Related Article: Should You Wear Socks with Climbing Shoes?

Method 3. To stretch climbing shoes, use a hairdryer and wear thick socks

If you lack the patience the two above-mentioned solutions require, consider using a hairdryer.

But remember that you will have to wear a few pairs of thick socks; it will help protect you from a hair dryer’s heat.

After putting socks and your climbing shoes on, try placing the hairdryer right above the tight parts for two minutes.

Ensure you are holding a hair dryer very close to allow the heat to loosen the leather. This method will allow you to break into your climbing shoes easily.

How to make your climbing shoes sticky again

Related Article: Best Climbing Shoes for Narrow Feet

Method 4. To stretch climbing shoes, grin and bear them as you are hitting the rocks

If none of the already mentioned solutions sound good enough for you, then there are only two choices left for you: either wear your shoes on the rocks or buy a new pair.

You can also try to break your climbing shoes through a few long multi-pitch routes. This can be highly uncomfortable, though.

Related Article: How are Climbing Shoes Supposed to Fit?

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Stretch Climbing Shoes

We will answer the most frequently asked questions about how to stretch climbing shoes.

1. How much will your climbing shoe stretch?

The amount of stretch that your climbing shoe will have depends on the type of materials it is made from. The more stretchy the material, the more your shoe will stretch. If you are looking for a climbing shoe that won’t stretch, then you should look at shoes made from leather.

Different shoe models have different levels of stretch. Climbing shoes with a lower level of stretch will be more suitable for people who have narrow feet and climb steep routes.

Related Article: Best Climbing Shoes Under $100

2. How to make your climbing shoes sticky again

By far, the easiest method to make shoes sticky again is to warm them up. Another excellent method to warm them up is to try rubbing your shoes’ soles together for a few minutes. You will even feel the significant difference in heat while doing so.

3. What are the benefits of stretching climbing shoes?

Stretching climbing shoes is an important step in the process of preparing your shoes for use. It is also a good way to maintain your shoe’s performance over time.

There are different ways to stretch climbing shoes, and it is up to you to decide which method you prefer. You can either do it by hand or with a shoe stretcher.

The stretching process should be done before the first use of the shoe and every few months thereafter. It will ensure that the shoe remains elastic and will not lose its shape or performance over time.

How to Stretch Climbing Shoes

Related Article: Do You Need Climbing Shoes for Bouldering?

4. How many times should one stretch a climbing shoe?

It is important to stretch your climbing shoe before you put it on. You should do this at least three times. The length of time you should stretch your shoe depends on the type of shoe you have.

If your shoe is made out of leather, then you should hold the stretch for 10 seconds each time. If it is made out of synthetic materials, then you should hold the stretch for 5 seconds each time.

Related Article: Best Slipper Climbing Shoes

5. How do I know when to stop stretching a climbing shoe?

The best way to tell if you should stop stretching the shoe is by checking how tight the heel feels. If you can’t fit your thumb between the heel and your Achilles tendon, then you should stop stretching.

6. What are good stretches for climbing shoes?

A good stretch for climbing shoes should be able to stretch the shoe to around two inches in length. This is so that when you put your foot into the shoe, it will not cause any discomfort or pain.

The best way to test a stretch is by taking the end of the stretcher and putting it inside the shoe where your toes would be. You should then pull on both ends of the stretcher until you can feel it stretching out the length of your foot.

Final Thoughts on How to Stretch Climbing Shoes

As you can see, you don’t have to buy a new pair of shoes because there are several highly efficient and useful solutions which you can use to stretch your climbing shoes and finally feel comfortable while wearing them.

All you have to do now is choose a suitable method that feels right for you and apply it.

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


eBook: Rappelling Equipment Guide

 $ 29.99  FREE

Download our Rappel Rapport eBook: a Rappelling Guide for Beginners. It's free.