Climbing Shoe Resoling: the Good, the Bad, and How to Get It Done

climbing shoe resole

Whether it’s your favorite pair of warmup slippers or those toe-crushing, precision-pulling monsters that got you up your first V7, it’s a bummer when you see even the tiniest hole in your climbing shoe rubber. When this inevitably occurs, you have a few options: retire your shoes immediately, gift them to be fully destroyed by some unsuspecting newbie, keep wearing them until your toes bust through, or get them resoled.

Not familiar with resoling? Here’s a look at the process, as captured by Just Go Climb:

Now that you have an idea of what it looks like, let’s dive into the pros of resoling, the cons, and how to get it done.

 

4 reasons you should resole

1. You save money

Compared to buying new, resoling is typically light on your wallet. Depending on your resoler, the extent of the damage, the original cost of the shoes, and whether or not you have to pay for shipping—you could save anywhere from $25 to $100+. Some resolers, such as New England Resole, also offer discounts on shipping for resoling 2+ pairs at once. See the resoler map below to compare prices in your area.

2. You reduce your waste

Why throw out an otherwise perfectly usable pair of shoes simply because the left toe is missing a pinhead-sized patch of rubber? Replacing your lightly-used shoes with a new pair creates an unnecessarily large environmental impact compared to just adding a new layer of rubber. Each pair of your shoes can be resoled at least three times, depending on the damage sustained.

3. You don’t have to break in a new pair of shoes

This is especially nice for more aggressive models, which can take up to ten pitches of toe-pinching pain to break in. I’ve even heard of climbers finding their rubber better post-resole than it was fresh out of the box.

4. You get to hang onto (and use) your favorite pairs of shoes

You know, that pair that got you up your first 5.7 crack, first 5.11 crimp-fest, or maybe your first 7c in Spain … Don’t let those shoes rot unused in your closet just because of a little missing rubber. Instead, get a good-as-new sole and another season in your favorite pair.

 

4 resoling drawbacks

1. It can take a while

This process doesn’t happen overnight. Depending on your proximity to a resoler, you’ll likely need to mail them in and then wait for them to be shipped back. Depending on the season and your resoler’s backlog, it could take up to six weeks to receive your resoled climbing shoes.

2. You don’t have new shoe quality control

I’ve had some resoles that made my shoes look as good as new, and then a year later, the same resoler did a sloppy job. Try asking around to see who climbers in your area recommend, and creep on the quality of your friends’ resoled shoes to ensure you’ll get a long-lasting repair.

3. You don’t always save that much money

If you have to pay for shipping to get your originally $80 warmups resoled for the fourth time, paying an extra $30 for a new pair might actually be the better deal. Explore our deals page for current discounts on new shoes to help you decide.

4. Smelly shoes …

You have to send your heinously smelly, never-been-worn-with-socks shoes to someone else to repair. And if that doesn’t bother you, you get the same smelly pair (sometimes a little less smelly due to the resoler otherwise not being able to stomach working on them without disinfecting spray and Febreze) back in the mail with slightly newer smelling rubber.

 

How (and where) to get your climbing shoes resoled

First, you must determine when your trusty climbing shoes need a new coat of rubber. We all like to get the most out of our gear, but waiting too long can render your shoes un-resoleable.

In general, you want to resole your shoes before the rand, the rubber on the tow of the shoe, is worn through. So, if you see a small (even pinhead-sized) nick in the rubber, your edges are rounded and slick, and/or your rubber feels thin, you should immediately stop wearing them and send them in.

slack-for-ios-upload-2-min
These are starting to show a little wear but have enough rand left for a few more weekends outside before they need to be resoled.
slack-for-ios-upload-1-min
Don’t wait until your toes are peeking through your shoes to think about resoling. When your shoes look like these, they’re too far worn to be resoleable.

Remember, if your goal is to get the most out of each pair of shoes, then completely destroying your shoes for “just one more day” of climbing isn’t worth not getting another season out of them, when you could instead commit yourself to a timely resole. It’s helpful to have two wearable pairs of climbing shoes at all times; to have one pair to climb in while the other is in the shop.

Find a climbing shoe resoler near you

 

The takeaway

In general, all shoes can be resoled multiple times, and, if you’re climbing in moderate-to-expensive shoes ($100+), resoling can be an excellent option for both your wallet and the environment compared to purchasing the same pair new. However, if you’re crunched for time or looking to replace a well-worn, low-priced shoe, the benefits of resoling may not outweigh the associated costs.

Nevertheless, if you do decide against resoling, it’s worth asking:

Could I sell or donate these shoes to a gear store or gym for others to enjoy?

Or are they really worn out after seven previous resoles and smelly enough that they haven’t entered your backpack in months? Then, maybe it’s time for the landfill … that is if you can’t find another creative way to reuse or recycle them instead.

Want to learn more about resoling? Explore additional information on resoling basics and general climbing shoe care.


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