How do I make my climbing shoes less tight?
Are the shoes leather or synthetic? The answer to this makes a huge difference, since synthetic climbing shoes only stretch up to about half a size at most, and may not even stretch at all. Leather on the other hand stretches much more easily and can actually stretch up to 2 size more.
I once bought synthetic climbing shoes that were about 1 size smaller than I needed, and no matter what I did, they would not stretch even the slightest. I had them for a few months until I decided to sell them. I have 4 other pairs of synthetic shoes and none of them have really stretched at all.
For leather shoes, there are quite a few methods for stretching them. These methods may also work for synthetic climbing shoe, though much less than leather.
Some of the common methods are:
- Washing your shoes with warm water and then walk around in them to help them stretch
- Putting your shoes in the freezer to help expand the shoes. Once they are defrosted, put them on and walk around in them
- Warm up your shoes with a blow-dryer on low heat (not too close and not too hot!), put them on and then walk around in them
- Stuff your shoes with things that will help them stretch
- Take your shoes to a tailor to get them stretched (could work well for synthetic shoes also)
- Just wear them and climb in them, if they are leather, they will loosen up while climbing
As mentioned, with synthetic shoes, you may not see so much stretching. With leather shoes, you will probably see more stretching, and soon. The main suggestion is to just climb with them. If you can, warm them up slightly with a blow-dryer or a heater of some kind before you put them on, and then start climbing in them. The heat and the movement while you climb will stretch them slightly so that they will at least be bearable for that session. As you climb in them more and more, they will continue to stretch.
Before doing anything with your climbing shoes, it is very important to check what they can and cannot handle. Too much heat may melt some of the glue, which is obviously not going to be great for the shoes. That, along with other methods such as washing them in the washing machine, which could damage them, should be checked with the manufacturer.