Breaking in rock climbing shoes is often tougher than that route you are trying to get.

Rock climbing shoes certainly don’t get any points for comfortability. Most climbers simply tolerate the minimal wiggle room for the sake of the climb. It is no secret that having your feet squished into a tiny rubber shoe-like contraption is not a pleasant experience. This is especially true for brand new climbing shoes. Finding your correct size for rock climbing shoes is stressful enough, as sizes vary greatly depending on the brand. A helpful tip is to always try on rock climbing shoes in person before deciding which to purchase. Once you select your perfect pair, you are going to want to know how to break in climbing shoes.

When you first size your rock climbing shoes, you might think they are too small. Keep in mind that they are supposed to feel this way. Granted, if you are cutting off the circulation to your toes entirely by wearing these shoes for two minutes, it might be a sign that you need to go up a size. However, if they feel just a little snug, this is fine. While breaking in new climbing shoes is certainly uncomfortable, there are some things you can do to ease the process.

Check out these helpful tips on how to break in climbing shoes.

1. Turn up the heat.

How to break in climbing shoes - Turn up the heat

You might not know it, but rubber shoes like Crocs sometimes shrink when exposed to significant temperatures. Ironically, the way to get these shoes back to size is to immerse them in a pot of boiling water. Once you do this, you need to stick your feet into them, so they mold back to the right shape. Kind of a crazy concept, but it works. There are similar methods that you can employ when it comes to breaking in your climbing shoes. For a heat-based approach, put on your new shoes and then step into a hot shower. Get your shoes nice and soaked and then walk around in them for a while. The heat makes the shoe more malleable and gives your feet a chance to re-shape them.

2. Wear socks.

How to break in climbing shoes - Wear socks

Many rock climbers prefer not to wear socks when they rock climb. Before you turn up your nose at the thought of not wearing socks with shoes, consider the reasoning. If you wear socks with your climbing shoes, your feet can slip around inside. This leads to less security with foot placement, which is critical when climbing. Wearing socks long-term can also negatively affect your shoe shape. However, this method might help you with how to break in climbing shoes. Put on a pair of socks before you slip your feet into your new pair of shoes. If you would rather not climb with socks and shoes, then try walking around with them. The extra bulk helps to stretch out the inside of your shoe if you need a little more room.

3. Try a cooler approach.

How to break in climbing shoes - Try a cooler approach

This trick is a tried and true way to expand that space inside your shoe. Once you unpack your new rock climbing shoes, take two large zip-lock bags and fill them with water. Place one bag into each shoe and then stick your shoes into the freezer overnight. Open up the freezer the next day for those rock climbing shoe popsicles, with hopefully some extra space. The water expands as it freezes, which in turn stretches the inside of your shoe. After you let your shoes thaw out, try them on for size. You may have to repeat this method multiple times to see significant results, but rest assured, it works.

Let these useful methods help you as you learn how to break in climbing shoes.

When you practice how to break in climbing shoes, keep in mind that it takes time. Remember that your old rock climbing shoes didn’t become your favorite pair overnight. It is going to take a while for your shoes to conform to the size and shape of your feet completely. For now, you can enjoy the perks of having brand new rubber soles on your shoes. Strap on your chalk bag and tackle your latest climbing problem with ease and Spiderman-like shoe grip on that wall.

If you have any helpful tips of your own that you use to break in rock climbing shoes, be sure to let us know.

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