Climbing shoes are designed to have a good grip when you climb on rocks. There are many types, features, and fits of hiking boots, but the truth remains that these shoes will always fit your footwell. However, if you experience blisters, and bruising, there are methods to loosen and stretch your hiking boots.
First of all, why not consider different types of climbing shoes, because the best advice any climber will give you is to choose the right shoe for your foot and climbing style.
A brief guide to climbing boots
There are three types of hiking boots:
A neutral shoe is quite comfortable and offers more comfort than the other two. This is because your toe is always flat inside the shoe. If you’re new to rock climbing, these are the best options, but experienced climbers always use neutral-colored shoes for comfort. However, they are not always suitable for aggressive climbers tackling steeper mountain routes.
Moderate climbing boots have a different shape that turns down to facilitate technical and speed climbing. These all-purpose rubber boots are perfect for climbers who enjoy steep trails, multi-toe climbs, crack climbs, and athletic highs. These shoes fit better, but they will give you a solid foothold for challenging mountain routes. However, they are thinner and made of more rubber. However, these shoes are still more comfortable than aggressive hiking boots.
An aggressive climbing shoe has more downward curvature than the previous two shapes. These shoes are designed for challenging mountain routes with high elevations. These shoes curve towards the big toe and have a snug fit. Since they’re less comfortable to wear, you’ll likely only wear them for single-length athletic routes and exercise classes rather than all-day long routes.
Now that you know a little more about fit, it’s time to stretch your shoe to match your fit. One point to note is that all hiking boots are made of rubber, and they often retract after a period of not being used. This means you’ll likely have to repeatedly stretch your shoes before you start climbing.
Here’s a method to lengthen your climbing boots: socks
Step 1: Put socks in your hiking boots.
In this first step, you’ll wrap socks or other fabric to stuff them inside your hiking boots. It would be best if you tucked as many socks into your shoe as you could until every inch of the inside pushes against the frame. Then, when you store your socks, you’ll find your boots stretch to fit.
Step 2: Heat your shoes lightly with a hairdryer
Some methods say microwave your shoes, but that’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, you can use a hairdryer or leave them in the sun for an hour or two. The trick is to dry your hair faster because you can turn on the heat and “dry” your shoes in 12 minutes. You need to distribute the heat throughout the shoe.
Now check if the shoe is warm before proceeding to the next step. Again, it would be best to make sure you don’t spend too much time on one spot of the shoe, in case it’s the thin rubber that could melt.
Step 3: Insert more socks while the shoes are warm
Once the boots are friendly, they will melt a little, and you can insert more socks. Now you’ll let the shoe cool with the sock inside, allowing it to stretch and shape with the fabric inside. Once cool to the touch, take your socks off and try them on to see how well they fit. If they’re more comfortable, you’ve successfully stretched your hiking boots.
Method 2: Freezer Stretching
This method takes a little longer but promises better overall stretch. However, you may not want to stretch your hiking boots with this method if they’re just a little tight. Freezing your hiking boots will likely lengthen your toes considerably, but other parts will eventually bounce back due to the rubber material.
Step 1: Fill plastic sandwich bags with water
You will need several plastic sandwich bags with tight-fitting lids for the following method. After you have them, fill them with water so they can form inside your shoes. This means you don’t want to serve the plastic bag with water, as you’ll be packing multiple loads of water to form the inside of your shoe.
You will need to remove excess air from the bag before sealing and stuffing it into your hiking boots. The aim here is to ensure that there is no space inside your shoe other than a plastic bag filled with water. It would be best if you made sure that the plastic bags fit entirely over the shoe’s toes.
Thread your shoelaces after wrapping them in a plastic bag. Remember that this only works if the shoe has full water pockets on the sole and sides.
Step 2: Place your shoes in the Freezer
Keep the hoes in freezer and freeze them with water for at least 8 hours. Leaving it overnight before climbing helps. However, it is recommended to remove them before noon to avoid damage.
Step 3: Remove shoes from the freezer and thaw.
You will have to wait approximately 30 minutes to remove the bag from the shoe. Then, when it melts a little, you can take it out from the inside of the shoe. Climbing boots can get a little wet, so wait for them to warm up before putting your feet in. It may take an hour or two for the shoes to warm up to wear.
When the shoe melts, try it on and see how well it fits. They should stretch a little, especially around the toes.
Method 3: Soaking Shoes in the Shower
Experienced climbers developed this method to either put on their shoes in the shower or soaked them before climbing. However, there are particular ways to avoid damaging your shoes and to stretch as much as possible before lifting.
Step 1. Put on your socks first, and then put on your climbing boots.
Shoes must be lined by pulling a pair of socks before soaking. This will help you maximize your stretch. After putting on your socks, put on your hiking boots and tie the laces as you like.
Step 2: Shower with Climbing Shoes at
Turn on the hot shower, go inside, let the water seep into your shoes, and wet the fabric to the rubber soles.
Step 3: Stretch further in wet shoes.
Warm water already loosens the shoes. You will want to walk as much as possible and shake your feet to stretch your climbing shoes as much as possible. The longer you walk
in wet shoes, the faster they stretch.
Also, experienced climbers say that climbing in slightly wet shoes is the best way to stretch. With this method, the shoe adjusts to your foot as you enter the trail. However, shoes can be slippery if they are too wet. It’s up to you to decide if your hiking boots are dry enough.
Step 4: Remove everything, including your shoes, with newspaper.
You can fill the shoe with as much space as possible by tightening the newspaper to the inside of the shoe. This will help keep your climbing shoes loose and not tight.
How to Choose the Right Climbing Shoes
Now that you know the different types of climbing shoes and how to stretch them, you may be wondering if there’s a shoe type that’s right for the job you love. You may also need different features to make your shoes more suitable or more comfortable to wear. For example, some boots are prone to stretching due to the materials used.
Here are some tips for choosing the right shoes and features to consider when choosing the best hiking shoes.
Check Your Climbing Type
Most climbing boots fit 1-2 sizes smaller than your typical shoe size because climbing requires strong toes.
This article’s beginning talked about three climbing shoes: neutral, medium, and aggressive. Neutral shoes are most comfortable for everyday multi-step climbs, but bold shoes are best for handrails and demanding single upgrades like the gym. The
All Day Neutral Shoes are the most comfortable, but they can still stretch your toes. Aggressive shoes are the most difficult to stretch and may require special attention after climbing. Aggressive shoes will most likely need to be stuffed with socks and newspaper to keep them from shrinking with each climb. Climbing Boots
Features to watch out for.
- Lace-Up Climbing Boots: These are very versatile and popular. If your feet get hot and swollen, you can loosen the laces to make them more comfortable. But if you’re going up a tricky, steep, or uphill climb, tightening the straps to your fingertips can improve performance.
- Strap or “HookandLoop”: This style is more suitable for changing stats on the fly. If you are going bouldering or gym climbing, you can quickly tighten these shoes up with the strap or slip off between climbing.
- Slip-On: These are climbing slippers, and they have a simple elastic system that tightens and loosens the shoe depending on the climb. It’s honestly best to only wear slippers in the beginning when you’re training. They don’t have a very stiff sole so that you can climb a bit faster, but these aren’t for aggressive climbers.
Climbing Shoe Materials
Some shoes are made with leather, while others are made from synthetic materials. Synthetic options are for you if you prefer vegan climbing boots.
- Unlined Leather: These shoes are the most stretchy and can stretch up to your height. Choose a size so that your toes touch the front of your shoe. You can see the fingers of the fingers move over the skin.
- Lining Leather: Leather uppers are usually lined with less elasticity. Just increase it by half. Most manufacturers Only align the toes to reduce manufacturing costs, but this reduces the likelihood of the shoe stretching. These shoes can stretch further when frozen.
- Synthetic: If a shoe tag says “synthetic,” it means that it will not stretch as much as a leather shoe. The fit is likely to change very little, but if your toe is a faux upper, you might give up a bit. Faux hiking boots should be more significant to fit your foot as they usually have more breathing space.
Types of Climbing Shoes
If you’re new to climbing, “last” is the foot shape the shoe is made of. This gives you the dimensions of the toe, width, heel, and the height and volume of the shoe. Most climbing shoes are slippery, but there are others.
- Slip Lasted Climbing Shoes: These shoes are sensitive and not as tight as other shoes, especially when riding. They will also Have no insoles but will have midsoles to support the body. It’s right above the sole.
- Board Lasted Climbing Boots: This is a stricter option and doesn’t have the same slack as slippery climbing shoes. However, they are usually made in a snug fit to the body, making them more suitable for everyday wear and not swaying too much.
In addition to the final shape and fit of the shoe, you can also consider climbing shoes in terms of their condition. Different forms are better for various climbers. Here is a brief guide to choosing the right climbing shoe shape. To know more about a different types of climbing shoes, read this article.
Climbing Shoe Shapes
- Straight Climbing Shoes: These have a “straight last” or a flat last that is more relaxed and offers a fit that isn’t too tight around the foot. If you are facing a long day of climbing, then these are the best option. These flat last shoes also work best for crack climbing. These typically match a neutral shoe fit.
- Asymmetric Climbing Shoes: This shape has a curve, and it places the longest point right over the big toe. This gives the climber more power on the edge of the shoe and makes it easier to grip a single point on a rock. These shoes typically fall into the moderate or aggressive fit category, depending on their curve.
- Drop Edge Climbing Shoes: They are called “curved” climbing shoes because their shape bends to the toes. This aggressive shoe fit is best for climbers who use the toe and heel hook when climbing. If you need more control over your climb, these shoes are perfect for you.
Mountaineering Shoe Sole
Each mountaineering shoe has a multi-level sole. In some cases, there is only a midsole and an outsole, while others may have only a sole, depending on the thickness of the shoe. Here’s a quick guide to understanding how the sole supports your shoe and which one to choose.
- Rubber Sole: This shoe uses rubber on the outside shoe. This provides an excellent grip, but some rubbers are poor quality and can become sticky or soft. Durable rubber offers maximum support for your feet as you climb the edges. Cheaper hiking boots can use thinner rubber that wears out over time.
- Thick Sole: You need a sole that helps hold the edges when climbing. If the sole thickness is too thin, performance may be affected. The thickest soles range from 4mm to 6mm. Provides excellent support and durability for long-term climbers. But if you choose a thicker sole, you won’t get the same sensitivity with a thinner rubber sole. Before selecting a thick sole, you need to properly train your footwork.
- Thin sole: A thin sole offers several benefits. Usually, the thickness is 3-4mm. If you want to stain your tiles, these hiking boots are for you. As your footwork and skills improve, you may like thinner soles because you can feel the edges of the rocks as you climb.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How much will climbing shoes stretch?
Climbing shoes will stretch up to half their size due to the rubber molded around your foot during use.
How much do unlined climbing shoes stretch?
The shoe comes in three different uppers, all of which stretch differently. The rimless cap (leather and suede) can be stretched to full size. Lined bushings only expand to a size of about ½. Synthetic stems may become slightly softer over time and “break”; however, they will last very little, if any.
How do I know if my climbing shoes are too tight?
In general, for athletic/cobblestone/exercise shoes, look for a fit where all of your toes are touching the front and are snugly tucked into the shoe. You need to be able to press with all parts of your foot, not just your big toe. It’s important that you want it to fit snugly, not too tight.
How can I stretch my climbing shoes fast?
To stretch my climbing shoes fast, check out this video.