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The Gumbie Guide To Climbing Shoe Resoling

Updated By Sam on 10th Nov 2023

We’ve all got some work to do on our sloppy footwork, but if your shoes are past their prime, there’s a good chance that their worn-out rubber is hindering your crushing potential.

Sure, we’ve all probably got some work to do on our sloppy footwork, but if your shoes are past their prime, there’s a good chance that their worn-out rubber is hindering your crushing potential. The truth nobody wants to hear is that every time we embark on a climbing adventure, we leave a piece of our beloved rubber-soled shoes behind. It’s a bit like breadcrumbs, except instead of leading you back home, it just makes your shoes look like they’ve been chewed up by a pack of wild wolves. 

There are things you can do in an attempt to keep your shoes sticky, but once you pass the point of no return, resoling climbing shoes is the best shot at giving them a new lease on life.

There are some pretty compelling reasons for opting for a resole. Not only will it save you money in the long run (the average price for a new pair of shoes is no joke) but it will also help reduce your environmental impact by extending the life of your gear. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of slipping your feet into a freshly resoled pair of shoes and the best part? You don’t even need to break them in!

So, grab your worn-out climbing shoes, and let’s dive into the world of resoling!

What Can a Climbing Shoe Resole Fix?

Before we get into it, there are a few things we need to understand about climbing shoe resoling. Climbing kicks are a very complex piece of kit that is made of multiple different parts, each playing a role in the overall performance and comfort of the shoe. 

When to resole climbing shoes

Climbing shoes are typically made up of an outsole, midsole, footbed, material upper, closure, rand, and tongue. When it comes to resoling, not all of those parts of the shoe can be repaired.

Typically, a resoler will only be able to repair:

  1. The outsole. The rubber that covers the bottom of your shoe that comes into contact with the rock. This is the part you use the most and wears down the fastest.
  2. The Rand. The rubber around the toes and heel helps to keep tension and structural integrity. It also helps prevent abrasion on the high-wear areas of the shoe’s uppers. 

Anything beyond that and you’ll probably need to get a new pair of climbing kicks. Having said that some resolers, like Rock and Resole, do offer velcro replacement, new laces, replacement buckles, leather patches, or heel tab replacements, but this will vary between resolers.

When To Resole Climbing Shoes

There’s a fine line between shoes that can be repaired and shoes that are too far gone. You don’t want to be overly cautious and send your shoes to the repair shop after a few sessions. It’s a waste of money and time, for both you and the resoler).

Similarly, you also don’t want to send your shoes when your toe is poking out. You will probably be amazed at what a resoler can do, but it will either cost you a small fortune to get it repaired, or your resoler will tell you they are too far past it. You just have to know when to hit that sweet spot and if you are new to resoling, you might not know when it’s time to repair your shoes.

The rubber around your toe and the ball of your foot, where you step on, is what you use the most and are the sections that wear down the fastest. Here are a few tells for when it’s time to resole your shoes. 

Stage One: Check the line around the toe

Where to resole climbing shoe

A brand new shoe straight out of the box will have a very thick and clean rubber. You will notice a seam running around the toe box where this outsole has been stuck onto the bottom of the shoe. If the line around where your big toe would be has disappeared and has receded down, this is a clear early warning sign that your shoes need a bit of TLC.  

Stage Two: Can you see the rand?

How to resole climbing shoes

The rand is meant to maintain tension and is not meant to take the same beating as the rubber or be climbed on. Once you start seeing the rand underneath the rubber, it’s definitely time to take a trip to your local repair shop.

Stage Three: Wearing through the material

Sometimes we keep climbing without realizing we have worn through the rand. Eventually, the rand will wear down, exposing the stitching and material lining of the shoe. 

Stage Four: Full Blown Hole

Climbing Shoe Toe Cap

Are your toes poking through? I don’t think there’s a more telling sign when to resole climbing shoes. If you can see your toes, then something has gone seriously wrong. Get your ass to the resole shop ASAP!

Don’t wait until you can see your toes before you repair your shoes. Chances are, the resoler will probably not even bother as it’ll be way past the point of saving them. Here are some tips on how to tell when a shoe needs to be repaired by a certified La Sportiva resoler.

What Does A Resoler Do?

Resolers are like the fairy godmothers of climbing shoes, ready to wave their magic wand and bring that fresh footwear feel back. But what does a resoler actually do? Well, it all depends on the damage. If the outsole has just worn down a bit, the resoler can simply peel off the old rubber, grind off the glue, and stick a new rubber sole on. Jobs a good’n.

But, if there are big holes or tears, the resoler might need to patch things up before resoling. And let’s not forget about the rand – those also require some love and attention. Depending on how much you have worn through the rand, the resoler might just patch over it with rubber or, if you have worn all the way through to the material, they might need to replace the toe cap.

How long do climbing shoes last
A well-used shoe that has already been through multiple resoles. Notice how the toe rand has already been replaced?

This involves carefully removing the old toe cap and stitching in a brand-spanking new one. The resoler will select a suitable material for the replacement toe cap, usually using a durable and protective rubber compound. The new toe cap is carefully positioned and stitched in place, ensuring a perfect fit and complete protection for your shoes. Once the new climbing shoe toe cap is installed, your kicks will be ready to hit the crag!

When it comes to resoling climbing shoes with a full-length sole (usually neutral shoes), the resoler will assess the condition of the sole and determine the extent of the damage. While the entire sole could potentially be removed, in many cases, only the forefoot will need to be removed. This is where the most wear and tear typically occurs, so it makes sense to replace this section rather than the entire sole. 

The resoler will carefully cut away the damaged section and prepare the shoe for the new rubber to be applied. They will select the appropriate rubber for your shoes, glue it onto the sole, and trim away any excess before buffing the sole to a smooth finish.

Check out this resoler in action!

How Much Does It Cost To Resole Climbing Shoes?

The cost of resoling your climbing shoes can vary depending on what needs to be done, usually ranging between $15 to $100. For example, if you just need a partial resole to fix a small area of damage, you might pay as little as $10 for a specialty rubber.

If you need a full resole, the price will be a bit higher, typically ranging from $20-$20. And if you need additional repairs like rand repair or toecap replacement, the price can go up to $80. 

This doesn’t include any deposits you might need to pay and shipping, so really, you might end up paying anything between $50-$100.

At Rock and Resole, for example, a toecap is $12 per shoe, and rand repair adds an additional $45. Chuck the $55 deposit and shipping and you’re well over $100.

Is It Worth Resoling Climbing Shoes?

How many times can you resole climbing shoes
A shoe that was recently resoled. Can you see the line where the forefoot has been replaced?

I could ramble on forever on whether it’s worth getting shoes resoled or not. But ultimately, it’s a personal preference and you should decide whether it’s for you. To make it easier for you to decide, here are some pros and cons on whether it’s worth resoling climbing shoes.

Why Resole Climbing Shoes?

  1. You Save Money. If the damage is not significant and only requires a patch of rubber, it’s not worth buying a new pair for $200 when the resole could cost you $20.
  2. It’s More Eco-Friendly. Okay, you’re not exactly saving humanity with this one, but you are doing your part in reducing the amount of waste. Why waste a good pair of shoes for a small patch of rubber? 
  3. You Don’t Have To Break In Shoes. We have all been there, and it’s not fun. When you resole your shoes you don’t have that painstaking feeling of having to break in new shoes as they are already molded to your feet. Win.
  4. You Get To Keep Your Shoes. Do you have a pair of shoes that you can’t part with even though they are riddled with holes? Resoling lets you keep that pair you did your first V10 in. Another win. 

Why You Shouldn’t Resole Shoes

  1. It’s Not That Cost Effective. If you need a full resole, rand repair, and new toecap, plus shipping costs, you’re probably more than halfway through getting a new pair. Plus, the more you resole, the more money to spend on resoling the same shoe, so maybe that money is better spent on a brand new pair.
  2. You Might Not Get A Good Job. You are putting in a lot of trust on the resoler to do a good job, and don’t get me wrong, they are masters of their own craft; especially if you can find an official brand resoler, like Scarpa or La Sportiva. But sometimes we like to cut corners and go for a cheaper resoler, or one that is not certified to save even more money or get the job done quicker. More often than not, you’ll be disappointed. Do your research and find a good, certified resoler.
  3. It Takes AAAAAGES. If you’re in a hurry, resoling is definitely not for you. I’ve had a friend wait 6 months to get their shoes back. Yes, 6 MONTHS for a resole. By that point, I think she’d accepted that her shoes were gone forever. You can find resolers that will do a 24-48 hours turnaround, but you pay more and not every resoler provides this service.
  4. You Need To Send Your Smelly, Sweaty Shoes. Gross. I wear my climbing shoes with socks (criminal, I know), but my partner, who wears them without socks (like a pro) has some seriously disgusting shoes. I pity the resoler that has to touch his shoes…If that doesn’t bother you, at least use some Boot Bananas before you send them, for the sake and sanity of your resoler. 

Where To Get Climbing Shoes Resoled

When finding a resoler, there are a few things to take into consideration; quality and location. If you want to get the job done well, you want to find someone who is a certified resoler that will use genuine rubber. 

Location is also important. If they are within close proximity to you, sending your shoes off will cost less and you should hopefully get your shoes back pretty quickly. If you don’t have a local resoler, you might need to send your shoes across the country or internationally. 

You could risk it and go to a shoe repair shop and ask if they can do it, but you might not get the result you want. I would stick to well-known, certified resolers. 

And remember, if you are ever stuck, your local climbing gym and online climbing forums will be able to point you in the direction of a resoler in your area. 

Here is a directory of a few resolers in the USA, Canada, UK, and Europe.

USA

Canada

UK

Europe

How To Resole Climbing Shoes DIY Style

Are you feeling crafty and want to try your hand at resoling your climbing shoes yourself? Well, it’s definitely possible, but be warned, it’s not easy! DIY climbing shoe resoling kits are available, but they can be difficult to find and require a bit of research to ensure you have the right materials. 

You’ll need a few key tools like a utility knife, sandpaper, glue, and of course, the new rubber sole. But before you dive in, ask yourself if you have the level of expertise required to pull this off. Resoling climbing shoes can be a tricky process that requires precision and attention to detail. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it might be best to leave it to the professionals. But if you’re up for the challenge, give it a shot! 

Just remember to take your time, be patient, and most importantly, have fun (or cry because you’ve just ruined your favorite shoes). Who knows, you might just discover a new talent for cobbling climbing shoes.

The Importance Of Shoe Care

DIY climbing shoe resole

Climbing shoes are the trusty sidekick that helps us scale those towering walls and reach new heights. But like any trusty sidekick, they need some care and attention to keep them performing at their best. Don’t give your shoes a beating just because you know you can resole them afterward. To really increase their lifespan, before and after any resole, you need to look after them. 

Here are some tips to increase the life of your sidekicks. 

  1. Keep Them Away From Heat and Direct Sunlight. Like vampires, climbing shoes hate the sun. Our shoes are glued together with strong adhesive, but when they are exposed to heat, the glue reactivates and the rubber can start to peel off.
  2. Wash Regularly. Some people agree with this, others don’t. But I wash my shoes every few months to keep them fresh and clean and I have never had any issues with it. To find out more about how to clean climbing shoes, take a look here.
  3. Practice Better Footwork. We are all guilty of dragging our feet up the wall, not realizing we are leaving some precious cargo (rubber) behind. The better your technique, the longer your shoes will last. 
  4. Don’t Walk About In Your Shoes. Climbing shoes are not meant to be walked on all day. Take them off after each climb. 
  5. Don’t Belay In Them. Standing on your shoes will not only ruin the camber, but it will definitely destroy the rubber, especially if you are standing and belaying on rough ground.
  6. Store Them Properly. The best way to store your shoes is in a climbing shoe bag. It doesn’t have to be a fancy pansy bag, just one dedicated bag you use for climbing.
  7. Keep Them Aired and Use Freshener. Believe it or not, climbing shoes don’t actually like your smelly feet. When not in use, keep them aired or use Febreeze or Boot Bananas.

Check the climbing shoe resole FAQs!

1 thought on “The Gumbie Guide To Climbing Shoe Resoling”

  1. Valley Shoe Repair has been in business for 10 years (previously named Flophouse Resoles). They’re based in California, but receive shoes from all over the states through mail. Climbing shoes should be resoled to reduce waste and support small businesses and craftsmen!!! Not resoling for the sake of shiny new things is so wasteful and lame. Also, rand rubber doesn’t get stitched on, it’s glued.

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