5 Crazy Ways on How to Break in Climbing Shoes

How to Break in Climbing Shoes

Tight climbing shoes can be a real pain. And it’s perhaps the most challenging part of climbing- how to break new climbing shoes. But hey, everyone loves new shoes, and new climbing shoes are very much welcome. You just have to break them in before climbing. Otherwise, you might be tempted to take them off once in a while.

One reason why your climbing shoes are too tight is that you bought a pair that’s just too tight that it almost feels like a second skin. It’s an old adage that you have to buy really tight  shoes because they will become loose eventually. Well, for climbing shoes that might not always be the case.

So if your climbing shoes are brand new, you have to break them in. Read our article to find out how.

Hacks on How to Break in Climbing Shoes -5 Ways

Take it to the shower

It may sound weird because we all take our shoes off when we shower, right? But this is a simple hack that can loosen those really tight climbing shoes.

  1. Take the shoes out of the box and make sure to tie the laces snugly. Wear them.
  2. Run the shower  warm to  slightly hot. Then step in the shower with your shoes on. Make sure to drench the entire shoe in hot water. It will also help if you’re going to wiggle your toes. This will help stretch them further.
  3. Get out of the shower and walk around the house while wearing your still wet shoes. Keep them on until they are starting to feel dry.
  4. Remove the shoes and stuff them with newspaper until they are thoroughly filled. This will help mold the shoe to your foot size. Repeat as needed
  5. This may seem like an odd and crazy way to break in your climbing shoes. But it works, especially if you desperately need to loosen those really tight shoes.

Use an ice bag

If you don’t like getting your shoes all drenched in the shower, this could be a more viable option for you. And If you just need to stretch your shoes a bit, this will do the trick.

  1. Remove the shoes from the box and also remove all the stuffings and packaging.
  2. Get two Ziploc bags, fill them with water, and freeze them. The bags should be the size of your foot. Take it out of the freezer and place each Ziploc bag on each shoe. Tie up the laces snugly. Then put your shoes in the freezer overnight. It might be odd, but since it’s brand new, it won’t harbor germs and microorganisms yet.
  3. Take the shoes out of the freezer. Then thaw your shoes completely. You may repeat as needed.

Use your trusty blower

If you find the above-mentioned methods too crazy, this is the best option for you. We will be needing your trusty hair blower and some socks.

  1. Stuff the shoes with socks or any fabric. You can use as much as you need until the shoes are fully stuffed. Make sure that you stuff fabric on the heel part of the shoes. This is where the common part of the shoes feels too tight for many.
  2. Turn on your blower and warm up your shoes until they are hot to touch.
  3. Wear your shoes for a while. If you have access to something that you can climb, try climbing to test it. 
  4. You can repeat all the steps for 2-3 rounds until the shoes have loosened comfortably.

Saran wrap your feet

New shoes are darn painful at first. To prevent your feet from getting all blistery, you can wrap them in a plastic liner or saran wrap. Then slide them into the shoe. You’d feel how easy it is to wear with plastic wrap. 

You can wear the shoes like this for several minutes. This will help stretch the upper part of the shoe. 

This method is only effective if you need to start the upper part of the shoe for just a little bit.

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Wear socks with your climbing shoes

And the thicker the socks, the better. The thicker shocks will help stretch the upper part of the climbing shoes. Thus making the shoes a bit looser. 

Climbing Shoes

How Tight Should Climbing Shoes Should Be

To prevent the need to break in new climbing shoes, here are some tips on how you would be able to tell that it’s the right fit for you.

  1. Knowing your shoe size is just the beginning. Hence your shoe size does not always dictate your climbing shoe size.
  2. There should not be any dead space. But the shoe should not feel too tight, instead, it should not create hot spots.
  3. Your toes should feel comfortable, they should not be overly curled or bent. If it is, then it’s too tight.
  4. It should feel nice and secure on the heel and the cup. But it should not be painful.
  5. The sides of the shoe should be snug enough it must not be loose. If it is, you have to go down a size.
  6. If one part of the shoe feels loose or too tight compared to the other parts, try on a different style. It might not be a suitable style for your foot shape.
  7. A too tight-fitting climbing shoe can hamper your performance. It will prevent you from seeing micro edges.
  8. Try on shoes at the end of the day. Your feet tend to swell to full size.
  9. Take note that synthetic materials do not stretch. And what we are trying to stretch mostly just the upper part of the shoe.

What Happens if your Climbing Shoes are too Tight

To discourage you from wearing  climbing shoes that are too tight fitting, here are some things that can happen to your feet. 

  1. It will definitely hold you back from climbing.
  2. It can cause damage to your feet.
  3. You can develop bunions and corn.
  4. It may result in blood nerve compression.
  5. It can result in Hallux valgus or when the big toe becomes angled in.
  6. For kids, it can affect the development of their feet. 

And there’s almost no evidence to prove that very tight fitting shoes can enhance your performance. 


Can women wear men’s climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes are mostly gender-neutral in terms of design. But due to the sizing difference, most men’s climbing shoes may not be suitable for women. 

How tight do climbing shoes need to be?

It should be a bit tighter than performance shoes. However, for beginners, you might want to start with a climbing shoe that feels comfortable but not too tight. But as you progress in your climbing, you can take on higher boulders. Thus, you might benefit from a tighter fit.  But it still should not be too tight that your toes become bent.

What climbing shoes are easier to break in?

Climbing shoes that are made of leather are more flexible. Thus, they can be stretched more compared to synthetic climbing shoes.

Final Say

Climbing shoes should fit like a glove. But it doesn’t have to be too tight that it hurts your toes. You will not be able to climb higher boulders with ill-fitting climbing shoes. 

So you have to know how to break in new climbing shoes. Our hacks may seem crazy, but hey, they work!

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