How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last? (How To Tell They Need Replacing?)

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Climbing shoes have a lifespan, and it’s not terribly long. Just like any other piece of climbing gear, your shoes will wear out over time. But how do you know when they’re worn out? And what can you do to extend their life as long as possible?

Climbing can take its toll on the shoes. You can tell that it is time to replace your climbing shoes if the sole has worn down past the midsole of the shoe, if the toe rands have folded over and become rough or if the rubber on the front part of the shoe has worn away.

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

This is no one answer because how long climbing shoes last depends on the individual.

The lifespan of a pair of climbing shoes is fairly short, even if you take good care of them. A pair of climbing shoes will typically last for just 4-8 months of use, so you’ll find yourself needing to buy new ones at least once a year.

You should expect to be replacing your climbing shoes once or twice per year. If they last longer than this, consider yourself lucky.

However, some important factors are how often and where you climb.

  1. For example, if you climb outside once or twice a week, your shoes will likely wear out within a few months (you do have the option to resole and such if desired).
  2. On the other hand, if you only climb indoors in a clean space and don’t subject your shoes to mud, dirt, grime, water, etc., your shoes should last a lot longer.
  3. Of course, if you only climb a few times a year, your shoes could last for years. It is really about how much you use them and where you do!

How Do You Tell If Your Climbing Shoes Are Worn Out?

Telling when your climbing shoes should be replaced can be difficult and is largely subjective. Climbers get quite attached to their shoes, and many have a hard time giving them up even when they are clearly worn out.

But just like with any other type of footwear, you need to replace your climbing shoes when the rubber wears out and the sole is no longer sticky.

Worn or damaged rubber is often the first sign that your climbing shoes are wearing, but if you catch this early enough, you can resole the shoes up to five times before you have to retire them.

  1. Keep an eye on the toe rubber as your performance depends on a sharp toe, and this can often be one of the first things to wear out. If your toe rubber is worn down to less than 80 percent, it’s time to replace the shoes.
  2. Another sign to look out for is the shoe coming away from the sole, caused by brittle or melted glue. This is a critical issue to address before the shoes fall apart completely.
  3. They’re not sticky anymore. This is the most obvious sign that something is wrong with your climbing shoes – they just aren’t sticking to the wall anymore! If you’ve been using them for bouldering, this might mean that they have lost their small toe edge and no longer provide any support for the ball of your foot. If you’ve been doing routes, this might mean that the big toe area has started to lift off the front of the shoe, so in either case, you’ll need to replace them soon.
  4. Finally, ensure you regularly check the rand, as any damage to the rand can compromise the entire integrity of the shoe. By regularly checking the sole, toe box, and rand, you can prolong the life of your shoes and get the best from your climbing performance.

When Do I Need New Climbing Shoes?

You need new climbing shoes when you no longer have enough rubber on the soles or when other damage has occurred (like holes or rips).

Climbing shoes take a beating, and they don’t last forever. You should replace them if you have holes or tears in the material.

When the rubber runs thin, however, you have two choices. You can replace the shoes entirely, or you can opt to resole them. If you have not done this before, this is a good option (note you can only resole them so many times before they are totally worn out).

 

La Sportiva Men's Tarantulace Rock Climbing Shoes, Black/Poppy, 45.5

 

You need to replace your climbing shoes to avoid the following problems or if you are already experiencing some of these issues it is time to say goodbye to your old climbing shoes.

Preventing Blisters:

The best reason to buy new shoes is that your old ones have become painful. If you have a particular spot on your foot that is tender, it may be time for new shoes. I usually try to get about six months out of a pair of climbing shoes before this happens to me, but everyone is different. Many people will go the entire season without needing a new pair of shoes.

Tightness:

If you find that your toes feel like they are being pinched when you wear your current shoes, it might be because the shoe is too tight. This is an easy fix by simply buying a larger size shoe or by trying on different pairs until you find one that fits better.

Shoe Wear:

If the sole of your shoe has worn out and you can see your toes through the bottom of the shoe, it’s time for a new pair. A worn-out sole could cause injury if you fall while wearing them.

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last in Storage?

How long your climbing shoes last in storage depends on how you are storing them and whether you are willing to re-sole them once you want to use them again.

The rubber soles with age and becomes brittle over time. However, you can climb with a pair of 15+ years old climbing shoes with the proper storage.

How to Preserve Climbing Shoes

  1. Keep them clean by rubbing the soles and rands with a wet towel and drying them after climbing.
  2. Use coarse sandpaper or wire brush on areas that have lost grip.
  3. Avoid storing in high temperatures, so the rubber and glue don’t melt.

How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last Indoors?

Climbing shoes last between 3-12 months, depending on how often you climb, your climbing technique, and the quality of your climbing shoes. If you leave your shoes in proper storage without use, they may last years.

Indoor rock-climbing walls are created to match the traction of outdoor rock walls, which wear down the shoe after continuous use and rubbing.

You can reuse the same pair of climbing shoes for years if you have them resoled by a professional, but this can only be done once or twice in a shoe’s lifetime. To help your shoes last longer, improve your climbing footwork, keep the shoes clean and out of the sun, and make sure your shoes are the appropriate fit.

What Climbing Shoes Will Last the Longest?

The longest-lasting climbing shoes seem to be those made by La Sportiva according to various climbing shoe reviews. La Sportiva offers a variety of climbing shoe styles and designs for different tastes. The ones with the most durability include the Mythos, Katana, TC Pro, Miura, and Tarantula styles.

 

La Sportiva Men's Katana Lace Climbing Shoe 41.5 M EU (8.5 M US)

 

In general, climbing shoes with the thickest soles are usually the most durable since that is the first part to wear away. Other popular brands reputedly known for their durability include Scarpa Maestro Mid, Evolv Defy, Five Ten Anasazi VCS, and Black Diamond Momentum climbing shoes.


In summary, your climbing shoes won’t last forever, but you can prolong their life by making sure that you take care of them properly. Each time you use your climbing shoes, the leather and rubber become more worn down.

This is especially true if you often climb outdoors at limestone crags, where the rock is harsh on your shoes. You’ll also wear out the inside of your shoe faster than the outside from smearing, edging, and toeing in on small holds.

You may also be interested in… What to Do with Old Climbing Shoes?