Can You Get Climbing Shoes Wet? (Can You Wash Them?)

While it’s true that most shoes won’t soak through for regular use, if you’re planning on spending a day climbing in long routes where you’ll be in the water multiple times, or if you’re just looking for something with extra protection from water, consider a shoe with a Gore-Tex liner.

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Climbing shoes are designed to get wet. They’ll dry quickly, and they won’t be damaged by contact with water. However, some designs are better than others in this regard.

That’s right, you can get your climbing shoes wet without them falling apart! Just make sure to make them completely dry before using them again. This also includes climbing in the rain, so just remember to bring a towel to dry your feet off and keep them dry while you hike in.

Can You Get Climbing Shoes Wet?

You can absolutely get your climbing shoes wet since they’re designed to withstand harsh conditions. It won’t ruin the shoe’s integrity, but there are some precautions to take if they do get wet. There are two main reasons why you should be able to get your climbing shoes wet.

  1. Firstly, many climbers like to wear their climbing shoes for activities other than just climbing (hiking, trail running, etc.).
  2. Secondly, most climbing shoes are made from a synthetic material and so getting them wet won’t hurt them in any way.

The only caveat is that if you are going to be wearing your climbing shoes for a long period of time in wet conditions then it is probably worth giving them a quick clean once the climb has finished.

 

Black Diamond Equipment - Women's Momentum Climbing Shoes - Black/Alloy - Size 7

 

Let Them Dry

Make sure to fully air out climbing shoes between uses so that any moisture doesn’t lead to mold. The best way is to air them out for a day or two after each use. You may even need to do this when you first get the shoes so that they don’t have any lingering smells from the factory or shipping process.

Watch for Blisters

What about the risk of getting blisters or fungal growth? Well, there is no evidence that getting your climbing shoes wet will increase the likelihood of you getting a blister or fungal growth as long as they are properly cleaned after you have finished using them and they are allowed to dry properly before being stored away.

Wet socks often lead to blisters, so prepare ahead with foot powder, bandages, etc.

Take Care of Odor

If you have had your climbing shoes for some time and they have become quite smelly then it is recommended that you give them a good clean with an odor removal product such as anti-fungal spray so that your climbing shoes smell nice and fresh.

Wet shoes will start to smell bad, so you can neutralize the odor with powders safe for skin contact.

Are Climbing Shoes Waterproof?

You can submerge climbing shoes in water, but it’s essential to ensure that you dry them out completely to avoid mold, and, depending on the type of water you have exposed them to, they may need a thorough clean first.

Due to the high-quality rubber soles used on climbing shoes, they often do well when wet, but the leather uppers can stretch out of shape when wet, so it’s important to let them dry out completely and ensure that they maintain their shape.

 

La Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe - Men's, White/Yellow, 43

 

As saltwater and chlorinated water can both be harmful to climbing shoes and compromise the actual integrity of the shoe, your shoes need to be thoroughly rinsed with clean or freshwater to prevent damage.

Climbing shoes are often exposed to moisture and water, which is perfectly fine as long as you take adequate steps to protect them.

Should You Shower with Climbing Shoes?

You can shower with climbing shoes and they won’t fall apart on you any more than if you just wear them in your house or around outside. As a matter of fact, many people actually like to break in their shoes this way before their first session.

Climbing causes your shoes to conform to your feet, which causes them to stretch out. Showering causes the material on the inside of the shoe to absorb water, causing it to swell and conform more quickly to the shape of your feet.

After showering and letting your feet air dry, put on a fresh pair of socks and climb some easy routes for a couple of hours.

Can Climbing Shoes Be Washed? (Are they machine washable?)

Climbing shoes can be washed, but only certain kinds are machine washable. If you have synthetic climbing shoes, they can be machine washed. Leather climbing shoes, on the other hand, will be destroyed by being put through the washer!

If your shoes are leather, stick to hand washing. If they are synthetic, be sure to use a toothbrush to clean them off prior to putting them in the machine.

Be sure to use a mild detergent to avoid damaging the shoes. Finally, set the machine to delicate or synthetic prior to starting it to ensure a gentle cleansing for your shoes.

Can You Swim in Climbing Shoes?

Yes, you can swim in climbing shoes if needed. The tight fit of the climbing shoes helps you move your feet appropriately through the water. This might be necessary if engaging in underwater climbing.

Of course, climbing shoes are not a recommended or needed part of a swimmer’s gear! They are not going to help anyone swim better or provide an advantage when swimming. Instead, climbing shoes do not actively impede you from swimming.

So, if you are planning on underwater climbing expedition, fear not, as your climbing shoes will be okay if you have to swim some!

Can I Wear Climbing Shoes Outside?

Yes, you can wear climbing shoes outside. The important thing to consider is whether you have climbing specific shoes.

Obviously, if you have outdoor climbing shoes, there is no issue as they are made for the outdoors. However, if you have non-climbing shoes you have used successfully in indoor climbing gyms, it is best to leave those inside.

The reason you should not take regular shoes is that outdoor climbing presents more rugged as well as unpredictable terrain, necessitating a shoe designed to cope with these challenges and keep you safe while doing so.


In summary, climbing shoes are very durable. They are made with a tough synthetic material. The glue is designed to stick to the rubber and synthetic materials, but not the leather.

However, after extended use, climbing shoes may become more susceptible to water damage and will lose some grip. This is why it is advised that you replace your climbing shoes every 6 months or so.

Climbing shoes should be kept in a cool, dry place when not in use to protect them from exposure to heat and moisture. When storing climbing shoes, do not store them in plastic bags, as this can cause mold to develop.

It is also recommended that you wash your climbing shoes after each use with mild soap or detergent in warm water then allow them to air dry naturally.

You may also be interested in… Can Climbing Shoes Be Used for Walking? (What About Approach Shoes?) and What to Do with Old Climbing Shoes?