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What is normal wear and tear for climbing shoes?

I bought a pair of climbing shoes from the outlet in late February and one of them has a hole in the toe now. I climbed with them in the gym for a little under a month before Covid closure, climbed 3-4 times outside, and have been back in the gym since June 1. So that's like 2ish months going 3 times a week to the gym and a couple small outdoor trips. 

I know the return policy doesn't cover wear and tear so I guess the question is: is this normal wear and tear or can I get them replaced? MVIMG_20200629_130544.jpg

4 Replies

Hey there @addygkruse!

We appreciate you reaching out to us in the Community!  The simple answer is yes, this could be considered normal wear and tear.  The main contributing factor is likely from your foot dragging down the wall, whether in the gym or outside.  Depending on your current skill level, you may see your climbing technique evolve and as a result less of this wear pattern. 

Climbing shoes can also be re-soled, but typically this is more cost effective before the leather is showing through.

Hope this info helps and it is pretty rad that you are getting to climb so often!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @addygkruse ,

To add to @REI-AlyS and her excellent advice, I'd highly recommend reaching out to your climbing gym to see if they contract with someone who can offer resole services. In my area, many of the local gyms have a member who provides those services. Note that third-party resole would void any warranties offered by the manufacturer.

Enjoy your climbing!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@addygkruse climbing questions are my favorite!

You have already received great advice from @REI-PearlD and @REI-AlyS.

Like @REI-AlyS said, depending on your skill level this can be a normal amount of wear for what you have described. I've worked at Tucson's Rocks and Ropes climbing gym in the past, and the kind of wear that you have in your photo is something we would often see with beginner climbers, particularly due to footwork. As @REI-AlyS said, the hole in the toe rubber typically forms from your toe scraping against the wall as you place your foot on a hold. This type of wear can also be accentuated by dragging your toe along the wall as you continue your movement vertically on the wall (i.e. as you keep climbing and your foot comes off of a hold, it drags on the wall). I would suggest observing how your feet interact with the wall when you climb, and if you find yourself doing either of these two things, working to improve your footwork. It will make your shoes last a lot longer. Here is a video that talks about basic climbing footwork in case you are interested. Here is another video that I love that gives you some drills for practicing footwork.

As both REI employees mentioned as well, re-soling your shoes is often more cost effective than buying a new pair of shoes altogether. If you decide to resole your shoes, I would recommend looking into getting toe caps for your shoes. This is basically a firmer piece of rubber that a re-soler will put on the toe of your shoe which can hold up better against wear and tear than a shoe without a toe cap. A lot of people will put toe caps on their gym shoes because the roughness of the walls and holds will tend to wear the rubber down faster than climbing on real rock. I would highly recommend Onsight Resoles as a re-soler, but they travel around, so they may not be in your area for a while. @REI-PearlD gave great advice in recommending you check with your local climbing gym.

Hope this helps!

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one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@addygkruse I also just wanted to point out that based on your photo it looks like the rand of your shoe is pretty worn down and the seam that connects the sole to the toe of your shoe is also starting to separate. Regardless of the hole in the toe, once a shoe reaches this point in its rand/sole, I would suggest re-soling it. Left in this condition too long, the shoe can reach a point where it is no longer able to be re-soled.

Also, here is the link to the website for Onsight Resoles. Ian is a rad dude and a great re-soler. He has re-soled all of my climbing shoes and did a fabulous job on all of them. He is currently accepting mail-in orders due to COVID-19.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.