A Beginners Guide to Resoling Your Climbing Shoes
Rock climbing shoes… or modern torture device? Either way, rock climbers love to obsess over their shoes. The way a brand new pair of Miuras feel fresh out of the box can be intoxicating. But what happens when your fresh new shoes start to feel a bit less stiff, or a little worn through? TC Pros are expensive! There’s no way you’re going to shell out another $200 just because a little bit of shoe rubber has worn through.
This is where resoling comes in! It’s much cheaper to resole than to buy a new pair of shoes, and for some types of climbing, resoling can even improve your shoes and overall rock climbing experience.
Really, why not? You don’t need a brand new pair of shoes every time your current pair gets a bit worn. Take that money you were going to buy a new pair of shoes with, cut it in half, resole your shoes instead, and then also get like, seven burritos. It’s the same amount of money except now you also have burritos.
When to Resole?
Ah, a much more important question. This will all be personal preference. I’ve climbed with professional athletes who send a pair of shoes to get resoled before they ever wear them. I’ve also climbed with dirtbags who have two or three toes hanging out of their shoes before they will resole. Personally, I think that when you start to lose climbing performance is the time you should get your shoes resoled. That can be different for everyone, and also varys heavily on the type of climbing you do.
Joshua Tree slab climbers might wear out the shoe rubber on the pads of their feet first, Indian Creek Climbers can wear out the rands on the sides of their shoes, and Shelf Road Sport climbers might blow out a toe before anything else. If you’re trying to stretch your money, it’s worth it to have a few pairs of shoes and switch them around as the rubber starts to go. I have several pairs of TC pros, and when the rands start to go on one, I just switch them to my slab climbing shoes, and vice versa.
In the end, you should probably resole your shoes before you can see your toes poking out from inside the shoe, anything before that is personal preference.
Where to Resole?
Choosing where to resole can be a matter of trial and error. I’ve resoled my shoes at a few different places, but ultimately my favorite resoler is Yosemite Bum. I think they do good work, they are efficient, and not too pricey. Additionally, they have a “super rand” option for adding climbing shoe rubber to the top of their shoes, since I do a lot of invert offwidth climbing, the extra shoe rubber is crucial!
I’m primarily a trad climber and use Yosemite Bum to resole my larger floppy trad shoes for wide cracks. I have less experience getting shoes resoled for sport climbing or hard finger cracks.
Currently, there are a few major places to get your shoes resoled.
Weigh My Rack did a lot of work on this topic last year and made a master list of shoe resolers so you can support a local resoler if you’d like!
As with everything, you should do your own research and see what works for you. I would recommend taking a pair of shoes to one company and seeing how you like their work, then try out another company and see how you like theirs. Every person will be different and every shoe resoler will have a slightly different system.
A Note on Laces
One of the things I think all rock climbers–but particularly trad climbers–struggle with, is how to prevent your laces from breaking. I’ve found over the years that the La Sportiva laces, in particular, wear out very easily. I’ve tried to relace them with small cordelette, but that also seems to break quite quickly.
In the last 6 months I’ve attempted to find a better lacing option, and it turns out that waxed hiking laces are fairly sturdy. If you feel like taking your climbing shoes to the next level, I would recommend relacing them with waxed hiking laces. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
The Final Word
In a perfect world shoes would never blow out, and items we buy for climbing would be eternal. However, since we need to tend to our climbing equipment, I would highly recommend finding a resoler near you.
In a nutshell, resole your shoes when you start losing performance and do your best to find a resoler near you. Shopping locally for this kind of work is huge!