Using a hairdryer, hot shower, shoe stretcher, etc. are the most common methods of breaking in climbing shoes. Breaking in is probably the worst part of trying on a new pair of climbing shoes. Sometimes, it even takes weeks to get comfortable in new shoes. However, there are a couple of methods you can try to accelerate the breaking-in process.
How Do You Break In Climbing Shoes Fast
The breaking-in shoe process tends to be lengthy. It is a continuous process that makes the shoes more comfortable as you start to wear them frequently. Climbing shoes take even longer to break in because of their strong and sturdy construction. But there are some ways you can make this process faster than usual.
1. Wear Your Shoes Around The House
The simplest thing to do is wear your shoes around the house. This is the easiest method as you don’t need to do anything special. Just wear your shoes whenever you feel like it and walk around the house to ease them in. You can also keep them on while doing normal daily activities like eating, watching TV, reading, etc.
It is normal for it to feel a bit uncomfortable and even slightly painful while wearing them the first few days. In that case, if the weather is cold, you can wear some socks as well. It helps with the pain and discomfort. Plus, it helps stretch out the shoes as well.
2. Use A Hair Dryer
Using a hairdryer to stretch out shoes is one of the old methods. However, it works just fine. The first step is stuffing your shoes with any old fabrics, socks, or shirts. Fill them up as tight as possible so it is bulging. Now keep them on a flat surface and start blowing hot air on them with the hairdryer.
It’s important to control the heat as not to damage the material of the shoes. Try to maintain a medium heat and hold it a few inches away from the shoes. Now remove the stuffing quickly while the shoes are still warm and put them on. Flex and bend them a few times so they aren’t too tight on your foot.
The heat from the dryer helps loosen the synthetic material of the shoes. So, when it cools down on your feet it helps them stretch and mold according to your foot shape.
3. Use A Hot Shower
Giving your brand-new climbing shoes a hot shower may seem fairly odd but it’s a very effective method to break them in fast. First, you need to remove all of the stickers and packaging papers from the shoes. Then put them on properly so they are neither too tight nor too loose around your feet.
Now what you have to do is take a hot shower. If you are not up for a shower then just put your feet in a bucket of warm water and soak them in for 10-15 minutes. The hot water stretches the fiber of the shoes and molds them according to the shape of your feet. Walk around with the wet shoes until they are starting to dry.
Once they have started to dry take them off. Now stuff them with newspapers and continue the drying process again. However, don’t complete the drying process and take them out for a small climb around before they are completely dry. Continue this process for a few days.
4. Use A Plastic Bag
The plastic bag method is more like a trick than a method. It decreases the pain that climbers are most likely to go through while trying on a pair of new climbing shoes. Climbers like Adam Ondra uses this trick while climbing with new shoes. So, it’s safe to safe that it’s effective to some extent.
The trick is to wrap a plastic bag around your foot before putting on the shoes. The wrap reduces the friction between your foot and shoes so you feel less pain than usual. Many climbers have claimed this method to be even more comfortable than other ways.
5. Wearing Socks With Climbing Shoes
Wearing socks with climbing shoes is something a lot of climbers do. It used to be the norm in the past. However, in recent days, more and more climbers are starting to lose their socks and go bareback.
One of the main reasons many climbers like to wear socks with climbing shoes is because reduces the friction between their feet and the shoes. It helps stretch out the shoes and protects your feet from possible pain. It also makes climbing in cold weather a lot easier by keeping the foot warm and protected.
At the same time, socks can be uncomfortable and burdensome as well. Especially because socks can’t give you that secure feel and grip on your shoes. Moreover, it causes your foot to sweat and slip around the shoe which can be very uncomfortable. If your shoes fit right then it’s better to not wear socks.
Does Stretching Shoes With Ice work
Stretching new shoes with ice is an old but effective method. It’s mostly used for slight stretching. The method requires two plastic zip lock bags. First of all, you need to fill the bags with water and put one inside each shoe. Make sure the bags are filled to take the whole space inside the shoes including the toe socket.
Lace them around the bags and leave them in the freezer overnight. This method works by freezing the water so it expands inside the shoes and stretches them out. Take out the shoes in the morning and let them sit for 30 minutes. Then remove the water bag and let them thaw before trying them on.
After the shoes are thawed and warm enough to wear, try them on to see if it’s stretched comfortably. If it’s not enough, repeat the method a few more times to get the desired stretch. However, be careful not to leave them in the freezer for too long as it is most likely to damage the shoes.
How To Use A Two Way Shoe Stretcher
A two-way shoe stretcher is the most commonly used professional tool to stretch out climbing shoes. It can be used to stretch your shoes both lengthwise and widthwise. Use a shoe stretch spray before using the stretcher. It prepares the shoes for the stretching process.
You need to start the main procedure by placing the stretcher inside the shoe. Make sure the stretcher is touching the toe box. Now rotate the wheel counterclockwise so the heel block reaches the heel counter. Leave them like this for 6-8 hours. After that check the fit and if you need more stretching, repeat it a few more times.
Similarly, you can also stretch the shoes widthwise. In this case, place the stretcher the same way inside the shoe so it’s snug inside the toe box. Now, rotate the wheel clockwise and you will notice the shoe expanding. Leave the stretcher in for 6-8 hours then remove them to check the fit. If not enough, repeat the process.
Frequently Asked Question
Q: How long does it take to break in climbing shoes?
Ans: It can take up to 2 to 3 weeks to break in a new pair of climbing shoes. However, it depends on the vertical angle you are climbing at. Different breaking in tricks and methods can also shorten the breaking in process.
Q: What is the best shoe stretcher?
Ans: Several brands manufacture great shoe stretchers. StyledRight, XYH, Storesmith, Formé, etc are some of the most popular shoe stretcher brands.
A comfortable pair of climbing shoes can make your climbing experience better than ever. But the breaking-in process is often lengthy and painful. However, all these tricks and methods can help you greatly with the process. And hopefully, it will prepare your climbing shoes to tackle more challenging routes in the future.
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