How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last: Tips to Expand Their Lifespan

How long do climbing shoes last? Do we have options to maintain and expand their longevity? 

If you take good care of the shoes, they can last anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Professional climbers and enthusiasts have this one thing in common. They depend on good quality climbing shoes.

As a climber, I have learned a lot of tricks and I guess they work pretty well. For today’s topic, I talked to a few more experienced climbers to get more ideas.

So, let’s see the details of the lifespan of a pair of climbing shoes and how we can increase it.

Know These 7 Types of Climbing Shoes

First, you should have a clear idea of the types of climbing shoes based on their materials. 

It’s because climbing shoes with different materials usually have a different range of lifespan.

  • Leather Climbing Shoes
  • Made from natural leather. 
  • Some of them can have a combination of leather and synthetic materials. 
  • The leather can be unlined or lined with synthetic material to provide extra comfort and durability.
  • Synthetic Climbing Shoes
  • Made of different synthetic materials like synthetic leather, microfiber, and rubber. 
  • Designed in a way so that they can expose the similar characteristics of leather shoes.
  • Lined Climbing Shoes
  • Made of either leather or synthetic materials. 
  • It has an additional lining layer, usually made of a soft and comfortable synthetic material like mesh or cotton.
  • Unlined Climbing Shoes
  • Made of a single leather or synthetic material layer. 
  • No additional lining layer. 
  • These shoes offer a closer and more sensitive fit to the climber’s foot.
  • Knit Climbing Shoes
  • Simply feature an upper constructed from a knit fabric, which is a blend of synthetic fibers.
  • Hybrid Climbing Shoes
  • Combine different materials to balance comfort and performance. For instance, they may have a leather upper for comfort and a rubber sole for better traction.
  • Aggressive Climbing Shoes
  • Made from leather or synthetic materials, 
  • Characterized by their highly downturned shape and sharp, pointed-toe boxes.


How Long Do Climbing Shoes Last?

The lifespan of climbing shoes varies widely based on several factors. On average, climbing shoes can endure anywhere from 3 to 9 months for individuals who climb once or twice a week.

However, this estimate is highly dependent on specific circumstances. If you engage in more intense climbing or tackle steep routes regularly, your shoes might last around a year.

Conversely, climbers who scale less frequently could extend their shoe’s lifespan to an impressive 3 to 4 years. However, the exact time can’t be possibly figured out and the best way is to look for signs that you should buy a new one,

You will find a lot of signs when your shoes should have a replacement. The signs can be noticeable holes or tears in the rubber, a decrease in sensitivity, and a loose fit, all of which can negatively impact your climbing performance and safety.

Still, climbing shoes can have a different range of lifespan based on their variations in types. 

Here are the points that will give you a hint of how the lifespan range can be different based on the types.

  • Leather shoes tend to stretch and mold to the foot over time. That’s why they have extended lifespans which can be. With moderate use and proper care, they can last 2-3 years and 1-2 years if you use them regularly.
  • Synthetic shoes are good at durability and shape retention. They can last longer than leather shoes, often lasting 2-3 years or more.
  • Lined shoes, whether leather or synthetic, can last a bit longer because of the added protection and comfort. They may last around 2-3 years.
  • Unlined shoes offer good sensitivity but may wear out faster, especially if used frequently. They can last around 1-2 years.
  • Knit shoes usually have a shorter lifespan. They can last 6 months to a year if you use them almost regularly. As the knit fabric can wear out faster than traditional materials, you shouldn’t expect a longer lifespan from them.
  • The lifespan of hybrid shoes can be different based on the materials used. They can last anywhere from 1-3 years.
  • Aggressive shoes usually wear out faster because of the increased stress of their downturned shape. They usually last around 6 months to 1 year.

6 Signs You Should Change Your Climbing Shoes

Now, the question is how can you understand that you should replace your old climbing shoes? Are there any signs? Well, definitely, the old shoes will expose a lot of signs that simply tell you to buy a new pair.

Just check out the following signs and find out if your shoes have any of them. If yes, just buy a new pair.

  • The Rubber Gets Harder

Climbing shoe rubber is engineered to provide essential friction on rock surfaces. Over time, exposure to air and climbing conditions can cause the rubber to oxidize, resulting in a glossy and hard texture.

When you notice that your shoe rubber has lost its stickiness and become stiff, it’s a clear sign that your climbing shoes have reached the end of their useful life.

  • Loss of Sensitivity

Climbers rely on the sensitivity of their shoes to feel the texture of the rock and footholds. As climbing shoes age, the materials, including the midsole and outsole, can degrade.

It can result in a decrease in sensitivity. If you find it increasingly challenging to discern the texture of the rock through your shoes, you should stop using the shoes.

  • Holes or Tears in the Rubber

A more obvious sign that it’s time to retire your climbing shoes is the presence of holes or tears in the rubber of the outsole. These holes not only compromise your grip on holds but also expose your feet to potential injury risks.

  • Loose Fit

Climbing shoes are designed to fit snugly around your feet and to provide a secure and precise feel on the rock. Over time, leather shoes may stretch or synthetic shoes may lose their shape due to repeated use.

If your climbing shoes no longer offer the snug fit they once did and have become loose, it’s a sign that they’ve reached the end of their functional life.

  • Excessive Wear and Tear

Take a closer look at your climbing shoes to check for signs of excessive wear and tear. If you find frayed laces, worn-out velcro straps, or a visibly deteriorating upper material, just stop using them.

  • Persistent Odor and Mold Growth

Climbing shoes can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi due to sweat and moisture. 

If you’ve tried various methods to eliminate persistent odor or have noticed mold growth inside your shoes, it may be an indication that they have reached the end of their usable life.

Also, if you’re finding it increasingly difficult to climb at your usual level or have lost confidence in your shoes’ ability to perform, it’s time to consider replacement.

How About Resoling Your Climbing Shoes?

Resoling climbing shoes is a viable option to extend the life of your favorite pair of climbing shoes. This process is all about replacing the worn-out rubber on the shoe’s outsole while keeping the rest of the shoe intact.

It can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to continue using comfortable and well-fitting climbing shoes.

However, you should resole your climbing shoes when the rubber on the outsole is worn thin, losing grip and sensitivity. 

Here are some essential facts you should consider while resolving the shoe.

  • If the upper material, stitching, or other components are severely damaged or worn out, resoling may not be a viable option.
  • Make sure to choose a reputable resoling service with experienced professionals who can deliver a high-quality resole.
  • Some climbing shoe models are better suited for resoling than others. Shoes with a welted rand are generally more suitable for resoling.
  • Choose the right one among different resoling options like full soles, half soles, and toe caps.
  • Remember that full sole replacements are the most comprehensive but may alter the shoe’s fit slightly.

Besides, it’s important to consider when to resole your climbing shoes. If you wait until the rubber is completely worn down and the upper part has lost its shape, resoling may not be as effective in restoring the shoe’s performance and fit.

8 Tips to Increase the Lifespan of Your Climbing Shoe

Well, I am sure you have got all your answers reading about how long climbing shoes last. Now, I would like to share some essential tips that will help you break the range.

That means, you can help increase the lifespan range of your climbing shoes by following the tips below.

  • Rotate Between Multiple Pairs

Climbing shoes tend to compress and lose their shape after prolonged use. To get rid of this issue, you should rotate between multiple pairs of climbing shoes.

  • Use Climbing Shoe Covers

Investing in climbing shoe covers or protective pouches is a smart move. These covers shield your shoes from dust and debris when they’re not in use, preventing unnecessary wear and tear.

  • Avoid Over-Tightening

Even though it’s important for climbing shoes to fit snugly, over-tightening them can lead to excessive stress on the shoe’s materials and decreased longevity.

So, your shoes provide a secure fit without causing unnecessary strain on the seams and rubber.

  • Resole Your Shoes

Climbing shoe rubber soles wear down over time and that can affect their performance. Instead of buying a new pair, you can get your shoes resoled by a professional cobbler.

  • Use Toe Caps or Toe Pads

Toe caps or toe pads are protective covers that you can put on the front of your climbing shoes. 

They will simply provide an extra layer of protection against abrasion and damage to the toe area.

  • Practice Proper Footwork

Climbing with proper technique simply enhances your climbing ability and reduces stress on your shoes. 

Make sure to avoid dragging your toes, especially on rough surfaces.

  • Clean and Store Your Shoes Regularly

After every use, you should properly clean your climbing shoes. Don’t know how to clean the climbing shoes properly? No worries.

Here is a comprehensive guide to cleaning your climbing shoes appropriately

However, make sure to store the shoes in a dry and clean place.

  • Avoid Chemical Exposure

Keep your climbing shoes away from harsh chemicals and solvents while cleaning the shoes. These substances can weaken the rubber and damage the shoe’s materials.

Besides, you should make it a habit to inspect your climbing shoes regularly for signs of wear, damage, or loose stitching.


Is it worth investing in more expensive climbing shoes for longevity?

Higher-quality climbing shoes often last longer and maintain their performance over time. The quality can make them a worthwhile investment for dedicated climbers. That’s why it’s worth investing more in high-quality climbing shoes.

Do climbing shoe materials affect their durability?

Yes, the materials used in climbing shoes can significantly impact their durability. Leather shoes may stretch and wear differently than synthetic shoes.

How should I wash my climbing shoes to prolong their life?

To prolong the lifespan of your climbing shoes, you should clean them properly and give them a hand wash. Gentle hand washing with mild soap and water can help remove dirt and odor.

Wrapping Up

So, the lifespan of your climbing shoes completely depends on their material, how you use them, how often you wash them, and simply how well you take care of them.

Usually, those shoes can last somewhere between 1 to 3 years. But if you rotate shoes and take good care of them, they will last longer.

Additionally, you should follow the mentioned tips properly to prolong the lifespan of your expensive climbing shoes. And my personal suggestion here is to use a shoe cover and toe cover. Besides, change the shoes as soon as you find specific signs.

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