What to Do with Old Climbing Shoes? (Recycle? Repurpose? Donate?)

Every year, climbers around the world toss out perfectly good climbing shoes because they got too small or they’re too worn to be useful. But there are lots of people who could use these shoes, and your old shoes might make a huge difference in their lives.

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Repurpose them into something else that you can use around the house or in your yard. Recycle them. Donate them.

Climbing shoes are a great example of how even the most basic gear can be valuable to someone else. If you’ve got old climbing shoes, there are lots of ways to put them to use. Most climbing shoes have a lot of life left in them…

What to Do with Old Climbing Shoes?

There are multiple things that you can do with your old climbing shoes, like resoling, donation, or recycling.

Since climbing is a dangerous sport, it isn’t wise to continue to climb in worn-out shoes, but a good resoling can make your climbing shoes perform like new!

You can also donate climbing shoes that are still in decent shape to donation centers like Goodwill. If your shoes are too damaged to resole and you’re ready for a new pair, it’s best to just recycle the shoes so no one gets hurt climbing in lackluster donated shoes.

You could give them away to…

  1. Close friends. You might want to give your best friends a couple of pairs of your old climbing shoes, especially if they’re having trouble getting any.
  2. Community groups. Non-profits and other community groups can put them to use for their members and often times have many more people who could benefit from them (e.g., women’s shelters).
  3. Schools/students. Schools can use them as part of their PE programs or even as fundraisers to support new equipment, uniforms, and other needs. They can also benefit kids who are struggling with foot problems.

Can You Recycle Climbing Shoes?

There is a mountain of climbing shoes being thrown out every year; this is mostly due to the fact that climbing shoes may only be used for a short time before they wear out and are deemed unusable.

Currently, most climbing shoe companies do not offer programs to recycle worn or unwanted climbing shoes. However, there are some small businesses that specialize in recycling old shoes, as well as large companies that will take your old shoes off your hands.

Yes, you can recycle your climbing shoes either by donating them or using a recycling service.

Since climbing shoes are used for climbing, which is inherently dangerous, it’s unlikely that a climbing gym will take your old shoes as a donation. Instead, donate them to donation centers in your town, or if they are in really awful shape, recycle them with your local recycling company.

Be aware that climbing shoes with metal spikes may not be accepted by a recycling company since they might cause harm if they are excessively sharp.

If you decide that you would like to donate your climbing shoes, try contacting the shoe manufacturer directly; they might have a recycling program set up that you may be able to utilize.

Can You Repurpose Climbing Shoes?

If your climbing shoes are old or worn enough to not be your primary choice for hiking any longer, you may be wondering if you can repurpose them. Well, of course, you can. It all comes down to what shape they are in.

Choices for Repurposing Climbing Shoes

If your shoes are still usable but you don’t want to use them for your regular hikes, you could still use them for something like deep water soloing, or just walking on less than favorable terrains, such as through mud or the woods.

You can really use your climbing shoes for almost any other activity if they are in good enough shape, so of course, you can repurpose them.

Old climbing shoes make great art projects. You can cut up your old climbing shoes and use the soles as stamps or stencils. Paint the inside of your climbing shoes and then roll them on paper to create cool prints. You can also use old sticky tape wrapped around a paint roller to “paint” on the sides of your shoes.

Can You Donate Climbing Shoes?

Like most equipment, it is possible to donate climbing shoes. But whether or not you should depends on the condition of the shoes. Donations are appreciated, but no one wants shoes that are in such bad shape they cannot be used without repairs. If your climbing shoes are still wearable, there are many places you can donate try donating them.

Who Can You Donate Climbing Shoes Too?

Local gyms, climbing clubs, schools, and non-profit organizations may all accept donated climbing shoes, If all else fails, Goodwill will take almost any item as long as it can be used.

If your local climbing gym doesn’t accept donations, or if they are not interested in your used shoes, then there are other options. For example, some online auction sites allow you to donate items to various causes in exchange for tax deductions.

You can also give away old climbing shoes at climbing meetings and events. This is one way that you can help out the climbing community and possibly meet other climbers who would be interested in buying any remaining pairs that you may have.

So What Do You Do with Old Climbing Shoes?

What Options Do You Have With Old Climbing Shoes?

It all depends on how old your shoes are and what you want to do with them. If they are just old but still usable, you can donate them to an organization to be used by someone else. If your shoes are damaged to a point where they can’t be used, you can repair or resole them to keep using yourself.

 

La Sportiva Women's Tarantula Rock Climbing Shoe, Coral, 38.5

 

Even if they are old, you can try selling them to a company like Re-Routed Coop, which will resell or donate the shoes themselves. All of these options are viable, but it depends on the shape of your shoes and whether or not you want to keep them or just get rid of them.


In summary, whether you have a pair of old climbing shoes that have been sitting in your closet for the past few years or an entire collection, it can be tempting to just toss them. But there are some creative ways you can repurpose those old climbing shoes!

But recycled or not, you can throw them in the trash when they’re worn out. The rubber is kind of nasty stuff to throw away though, and recycling is always better than trashing something.

You may also be interested in… Do Climbing Shoes Have Insoles?