18 October, 2011
How to Make Climbing Shoes Stick Better
The rock climbing shoe was reinvented in 1982 when the first "sticky-rubber" climbing shoes became available. The sticky rubber shoe improves the friction between your foot and the rock, making rock climbing easier than when using traditional athletic shoes. Most rock climbing shoes are made with sticky rubber on the sole, rand and the heel of the shoe. However, these surfaces get in contact with the rock the most and thus, also wear off, making your shoes to lose the "stickiness" or friction. Improve the properties of your climbing shoes with few tricks that will increase the "stickiness" between the rubber sole and the rock.
Warm the rubber of your climbing shoes. Cold rubber does not stick as good to the rock as warm rubber. If climbing outdoors, place your shoes on the sun, bottoms upward, for few minutes. If climbing indoors, place your shoes just behind the front window when driving to the gym or use a heat blower, found in many restrooms, to apply hot air to heat the rubber.
Resole your shoes with a new, sticky rubber. As you use your climbing shoes, the rubber wears off, making the rubber soles lose their friction. Send your shoes to a shop that resoles climbing shoes or, if you are handy, you can also do it yourself, according to the Rockclimbing.com website.
Increase the friction of your old, worn-off rubber soles, with a razor blade or a stiff-bristled brush. As the rubber wears off, the resulting rubber soles are smooth and offer no or only little friction. Use a razor blade to cut a crisscross pattern into the bottom of your climbing shoe to create traction, which can increase friction.
Clean the rubber soles of your shoes. Dirt, oil, sand and rocks can affect the sole's performance and make your shoes less sticky. Simply wipe the bottoms with dry towel or use rubbing alcohol, to remove tougher dirt and improve friction.
Ensure proper fit between your shoe and your foot. If your climbing shoe is too loose, your foot can rotate inside the shoe, which can make you lose the feeling to the rock that will appear as lose of friction. Wear socks to ensure proper fit and prevent foot rotation.
- A Falcon Guide; How to Rock Climb; John Long
- Rock Climbing; Timothy W. Kidd & Jennifer Hazelrigs
- Rock Climbing: From the Gym to the Rocks; Stewart M. Green & Ian Spencer-Green
- Daniela Schraml/iStock/Getty Images