How to Make Your Shoes Sticky Again

The Ultimate Guide

If you are putting your climbing shoes through their paces, the chances are you will wear out the rubber out at some point.

The amount of time it takes for the rubber on your shoes to wear out depends on how much and what you are climbing, but after a while, it’s going to happen to us all.

The places which are under the most pressure such as the toes, sides and ball of the foot are usually the first places to go.

Over time, dirt and chalk start to fill in the grain of the rubber, reducing the amount of friction, making them less effective. There are several ways you can remedy this, which depends on the age and the amount of action your shoe has seen.

Here are a few of my favorite methods, take a look and see which ones suit you!

How to Make Your Climbing Shoes Sticky Again

If your shoes are relatively new or have just been used in the gym, the chances are there are a few quick fixes that will help improve the grip of your shoes.

1) Warm them up

By far the easiest way to make your shoes sticky again is to warm them up. All climbing shoe soles are made of a rubber compound that will become sticker when heated. If it’s a sunny day, leaving your shoes out for a bit will definitely help with friction, just make sure not to leave them in the sun too long or the glue will start to melt and the rubber will warp.

Another good way to warm your shoes up is to rub the soles together for a minute or two, you’ll feel the difference in heat when you do this.

So, if you are looking for an easy win, next time your getting frustrated with your footwork on your project, why not give this a shot?

2) Clean them

Whether you bought them yesterday or 5 years ago, your climbing shoes will always benefit from a wash. This is probably the best option when trying to revive some of the friction in your climbing shoes. This also does no damage to the shoe, which is a massive bonus.

If you are doing a lot of outdoor climbing, I would recommend giving your soles some TLC after every second or third trip. Even if you are just climbing in the gym, after a couple of sessions you may start to feel that your shoes will benefit for a good scrub.

With a scrubbing brush and a bucket of warm water (not too hot so that it will mess with the glue) start to scrub the soles of your shoe. You will quickly see the amount of dirt that has accumulated on the bottom of the shoe. When doing this I tend to keep them point down, so the dirt and water runs off the point of the toe.

Once you have scrubbed the entire sole of both shoes, set them in the sun to dry or with a towel. job done.

Create more friction

If your climbing shoes are on their last legs, the chances are that cleaning your shoes aren’t going to help you very much. The good news is that there’s another quick fix that you can try.

When the rubber on the bottom of your shoe runs smooth, you can always try to make more fiction by roughing up the rubber on your shoe. The problem with this remedy is that it will wear down, and eventually wear through, the rubber on your shoe if you do it too much. I advise only doing this is if your climbing shoes are on their last legs.


3) Sand them

If you have some sandpaper or a metal brush lying around – you are in luck – because these can be pretty handy tools for adding some grip to an old pair of shoes.

Gently rough up the entire sole until you start to see the shiny surface disappear. You will see the rubber become darker and fresh.


4) Cut them

If you can’t get your hands on sandpaper or a metal scrubbing brush, cutting some new tread into the shoe is another way to revive an ancient pair of shoes. With a sharp knife or razor blade start to cut a cross pattern onto the sole. Be careful not to cut to deep or you will cut through to the mid-sole of your shoe.

Resole your shoes

If you think you have the ability and patience (which I definitely don’t) you might want to try to resole your shoe. It’s worth mentioning that if there is only slight wearing to your sole and rand, you can use some strong glue to do some patchwork.

Depending on where you live, a local climbing gym or mountaineering shop may be able to provide this service for you but it’s really a needle in a haystack looking for somewhere that will do this.

Buy New Ones

If all hope is lost and your shoes have been around the block one too many times, it might be worth taking a look at getting some new shoes. If you are tempted to treat yourself to a new pair of climbing kicks make sure to take a look at some of our shoe reviews, there is something to suit every budget and climbing style!

The Verdict

When it comes to making your climbing shoes sticky again, you should definitely try a few of these tricks out before writing your shoes off.

It’s not always easy to find somewhere that will resole your shoes, it might be easier just to buy a new pair. If you are in the mood some for new climbing shoes, make sure to take a look at some of our shoe reviews!


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