Want to know how to stretch climbing shoes? It gets surprisingly interesting once you get down to the details. I’ve been rock climbing for years and I wish I knew half of these tricks when I started.
How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
The first thing to stretch climbing shoes is to make sure you found a pair of shoes that fit you correctly. After that, the next step in stretching them is to wear them rock climbing more often. If that isn’t enough to break them in, you can stretch climbing shoes by doing anything from wearing them in a hot shower to using an old-fashioned shoe stretcher.
Here’s how to stretch climbing shoes
Did you know that rock climbing is an ancient sport? Well, we’ve certainly got better climbing shoes than they used to have, but they can still be pretty tight! Here’s how you can stretch them out.
First Up: Should You Stretch Rock Climbing Shoes?
Before we talk about how to stretch climbing shoes, you need to make sure that you need to.
Rock climbing shoes are tighter than almost any other kind of footwear. They also position your feet in a way that you might not be used to. This leads people who are new to rock climbing to think that their shoes are just too tight.
The ideal pair of rock climbing shoes should be very snug, but not painful to wear. Give some time for your feet to get used to this new kind of footwear before deciding you need to stretch them.
Just Wear Them While Climbing—Trust Me
This is the hardest step in stretching out new rock climbing shoes.
I’ve seen plenty of beginner climbers want to jump right ahead to one of the more dramatic climbing shoe stretching methods, but trust me when I say that this one gets the best results.
Wearing your climbing shoes will break them in naturally. When you buy a new pair of rock climbing shoes, make sure to put in more hours at your local climbing gym to break them in faster.
This will make sure that these climbing shoes not only break in naturally, but also in a way that helps them to fit your feet better.
The Old Ice Bag Trick
Here’s an old trick designed to stretch out just about any type of shoe.
Fill a Ziploc bag up with water. Make sure that the Ziploc bag is able to fit snugly into your climbing shoes. Place a Ziploc bag full of water in your climbing shoes then place them both in the freezer.
As water freezes, it expands. This will help break in the shoe a little quicker. You won’t be able to get a dramatic size change with this method, but it can help to make the shoe a little more comfortable.
The Hot Shower Method
This next method is pretty easy.
The next time you go to take a hot shower, just put on your rock climbing shoes beforehand. The hot water will help the leather in the shoes to expand and become supple. Your feet will act as natural forms for the shoe, and they will loosen up just a little as you wear them.
There are two things to keep in mind with the hot shower method. The first is that you need to be careful to not slip. You can even do this in a hot bath or with a hot bucket of water just to be on the safe side.
The next is that you need to let your shoes dry out completely before you can rock climb again. Climbing with wet shoes is incredibly dangerous.
Old-Fashioned Shoe Stretches (Sometimes)
Have you ever seen those old-fashioned shoe stretchers that are made out of wood? It turns out that they can also work for rock climbing shoes.
They typically only work with rock climbing shoes that have less curvature to them. The more your rock climbing shoes just look like a pair of flat sneakers, the better the old-fashioned shoe stretchers are going to work.
Frequently Asked Questions for Stretching Climbing Shoes
Rock climbing shoes are completely different from every other type of shoe. In fact, they’ve got more in common with ballet shoes than they do with hiking gear. It’s only natural to have some more questions about this specialty footwear.
How Long Do Climbing Shoes Take to Break In?
The answer to this question depends on how much you climb. It should only take somewhere between two and three weeks to fully break in a brand-new pair of climbing shoes. This equates to about 8 to 10 different climbing sessions. If you only climb once a week, it’s going to take you 8 to 10 weeks to break in your new climbing shoes. Climb more often when you buy a new pair of rock climbing shoes, and they will break in quicker.
Are Rock Climbing Shoes Supposed to Be Tight?
Rock climbing shoes are supposed to be tight and snug. Finding a good fit for your rock climbing shoes is more of an art than a science. The general rule is that there should be as little room for air in your rock climbing shoes as possible. The more snug your fit is, the more performance you’re going to be able to get out of your rock climbing shoes.
How Should Rock Climbing Shoes Fit?
Rock climbing shoes are supposed to be snug to the point of being a little tight. I’ve heard plenty of old time rock climbers say that a little bit of pain is just part of the performance of a good pair of rock climbing shoes. However, this isn’t necessarily correct. Rock climbing shoes are going to feel very uncomfortable if you’re new to them. They do force your feet into a shape designed less for casual walking, and more for rock climbing. However, it shouldn’t hurt to wear, and you should be able to get used to this new position over time.
Final Thoughts on Stretching Climbing Shoes
Here are some final thoughts on how to stretch climbing shoes.
The easiest and best way to stretch out your rock climbing shoes is just to wear them more often. After that, you need to make sure that you’re wearing the right size of climbing shoes because there’s a limit to how much you can stretch.
If you are still determined to stretch your rock climbing shoes, you can try one of the methods here and let us know which one worked best for you.