how to break in climbing shoes

Are climbing shoes almost unbearably tight for you?

Many rock climbers want a tight fit on their shoes. This can prove quite uncomfortable and can ruin the experience for you.

Is there any solution? Yes, a solution exists, which is to break in your climbing shoes.

So now, some questions might arise. How to break in climbing shoes? What is the best way to break in rock climbing shoes? How long does it take to break in climbing shoes?

This article will seek to help you find the answers to those questions.

Lets Dive in:

how long does it take to break in rock shoes

How Long Does It Take to Break in Climbing Shoes?

It’s hard to give an accurate answer as some factors can affect the break-in period. But it is important to make it faster so you can have an experience of comfortable shoes. 

These factors include what rock climbing shoes you’re using and what method you’re using to break them in.

The break-in time for climbing shoes can vary from 12 hours to a week or two.

04 Simple Tips to Break in New Climbing Shoes

Let’s look at some tricks to break in climbing shoes. It’s recommended you try these out for yourself. Stick with the one that gives you the best results.

Perform Physical Activities While Wearing the Shoe:

The most basic way to break in rock climbing shoes (and shoes in general) is to wear them. Wear your new shoes and take a walk. It should be noted that this isn’t the fastest method to break in your climbing shoes. However, it is usually the most effective.

To get comfortable with your new shoes, you should perform physical activities while slowly increasing the difficulty. We recommend the following order for you to follow:

  1. Walking: After getting the shoes out of the box, you should wear it. Start by walking around the house in them.
  2. Jogging Outside: Next, you should try running or jogging outside with your shoes. Increase your distance each time.
  3. Practice Climbing:

    If your local gym has a wall to climb, then that is your next step.

This method is recommended if you have bought your new shoes well in advance. You’ll have more time to break them in.

Wearing Socks:

If you feel like your shoes need just a bit more stretching to be comfortable, you can try this. Usually, rock climbers don’t wear socks when climbing. This is because wearing socks can pose a danger of slipping

However, wearing socks before a climbing session can help you to stretch rock climbing shoes. So when you do wear shoes without socks, they prove a more comfortable fit. If your shoes need just a little stretching to become comfortable, this method is quite useful.

Taking a Hot Shower:

A strange but effective method is to wear your shoes and take a hot shower.

The heat can cause the shoes to expand. This will make them more comfortable to wear. For this method, follow the below steps:

  1. Wear your rock shoes and lace them up properly. Make sure you had gotten rid of any packaging and stickers they had when you bought them.
  2. Turn your shower on and let the hot water soak your shoe. If your shoe is dyed, some of the dye might come off. Be careful that you don’t stain anything.
  3. Before letting it dry, you will want to wear them. Walk-in them for 20 minutes. This will help mold them.
  4. Once you’re done walking, leave the shoes to dry. Put in some crumpled newspaper inside of the shoes. This will help with the break-in process. Leave it to dry for some hours.
  5. Try the shoes again. If you think it needs to break in more, repeat the process.

This is one of the best ways to break in climbing shoes. It causes your shoe to stretch more, and thus, the break-in period is less.

Freezing Them Overnight:

If you didn’t like the previous method, then this is a good alternative. For this, you’ll need two zip lock bags. Follow the steps below:

  1. Fill the zip lock bags with water. If you want to stretch the shoes more, use more water.
  2. Put the water bags into your rock shoes. Lace the shoes after this.
  3. Place the shoes in your freezer. The water will freeze and expand. This will also cause your shoe to stretch.
  4. Leave the shoes for 12 hours.

This is a bit of a slow method. However, it is effective and works well with dyed shoes. You can repeat the process if needed to stretch the shoes more.


Here we have the most commonly asked queries regarding the question at hand

You can use zip lock bags with water. Simply put them in the shoe and then the freezer. This will cause the shoes to break in before wearing them.

It depends. Climbing shoes are meant to be tight to avoid slips. If you feel uncomfortable wearing them, slightly breaking them in via physical activity can help.

The freezing them overnight and hot shower method will work. You will need to repeat them several times to stretch the shoes enough.

Tight enough that you don’t slip. Your climbing shoes shouldn’t be so tight that it hurts. And you should be able to securely climb in them.


A good climbing shoe can make rock climbing a lot easier. So knowing how to break-in climbing shoes is important. Rarely will a shoe be the perfect fit but properly breaking them in can help.


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