You've Got Holes In Your Climbing Shoes...Now What? A Beginner's Guide to Resoling

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My Scarpa Technos in need of a little TLC.
About a month ago, I noticed that my well-loved Scarpa Techno rock shoes were developing holes in the toes. The rubber along the ball of my foot felt thinner than it used to, and the inner edges were looking a bit rounded. I've had the shoes for almost two years now, and prior to my purchase of the La Sportiva Miura VS shoes, they were my only pair. I'd use them for everything - indoor climbing, outdoor climbing, bouldering - and they were in desperate need of some attention. I finally made the decision to get them resoled and am so glad I did! In the process, I learned a lot about resoling and climbing shoes in general.

Why Not Just Buy New Shoes?
This is the obvious question. If your shoes are worn out, there's always an option to go buy new ones. But most of us take a while to break our shoes in. We love them. I have sentimental attachments to a number of intimate objects. Plus, good climbing shoes are expensive unless you're lucky enough to have a pro deal. I'd much prefer to resole my Scarpa Technos for $42.50 than pay upwards of $100 for a new pair.

DIY or Go With The Pros?
It is possible to resole climbing shoes yourself, though I don't know anyone who has. (If you have, tell me in the comments!) I read this article and decided that wasn't an option for me. After polling the twitter climbing community for the best place to send rock shoes for resoling, the obvious choice was Rock and Resole in Boulder. Aside from doing a bang up job on my shoes, they were incredibly helpful in explaining the parts of a climbing shoe, the different kinds of rubber, and what kind of resole I'd need.

Parts of a Climbing Shoe
The sole is the bottom part of the climbing shoe, and the rand is the rubber layer above the sole that wraps around the shoe, including over the toe. Most rock shoes have a tongue, heel and lacing or velcro, just like normal shoes. This page has a great illustration of the various parts.

Types of Resoling
Rock and Resole and equivalent shops will offer different types of resoles depending on the damage. Options usually include half and full resoles along with rand repair. A half resole involves just replacing the rubber at the ball of the foot while a full resole involves replacing, as you might guess, the entire sole. Shops will usually charge separately for rand repair, which you'll need if you've really blown through the toes. The folks at the shop will either grind off or release the rubber from the shoe and glue on new rubber while doing their best to maintain the shoe's original shape.

Bouldering at Earth Treks. (P. Esteso)
Types of  Rubber
This is an exhausting concept to learn about. Most long time climbers have a wealth of knowledge about how each brand of rubber wears and a subsequent brand preference. What I know is only a minuscule drop in the ocean that is information about rock shoe rubber. Rick Radliff wrote a thorough post about it and I'd highly recommend it. Rock and Resole carries what they consider the best on the market, and they believe the differences between rubber are minimal. They carry La Sportiva XS Edge 4 and 5mm, Five Ten C4, Onyx and can create a mix. I opted for the XS Edge 4mm because that's what my favorite bouldering shoes, the Miuras, come with.

Regarding thickness, the guys at Rock and Resole explained that thicker rubber will give you less sensitivity, but more durability. The majority of shoes come with 4mm rubber, but depending on the type of climbing you're doing, thicker might be better. Though thinner rubber wears out faster, it's often preferred because of the increased sensitivity.

The Verdict After My First Resole
The folks at Rock and Resole did a fantastic job. I ended up getting half soles on both shoes and one toe cap for $42.50 including shipping. I sent the shoes out from Philadelphia on January 21st and they made it back to me in less than two weeks. I'd consider that a pretty quick turnaround with shipping time included. The shoes look and feel like they've got a better edge than they did when I bought them. They're still soft, flexible, a lot stickier and a lot less stinky!

Have you ever resoled your own shoes, or had them resoled? Do you think it was worth it?

16 comments :

cadaverchris said...

a couple tips:

- resole before you get holes, this way you won't need to spend extra on a rand job. The shoes will also 'take' the resole better and easier.

- cheaper shoes, with thinner soles, and lower quality craftsmanship, generally are only good for one resole. But a high quality shoe, when resoled before holes, can take several resoles.

this info is from conversations i've had with a cobbler and my own experience.

-Chris

Katie said...

nice, thanks Chris! I definitely waited too long to get mine done, and good to know that cheaper shoes won't do well with more than one resole.

splitter choss said...

Like Chris said, good shoes, like Muiras, can take numerous resoles. I think mine are on their 3rd. Not like new anymore, but still a decent shoe.

Luke said...

One downside to not getting a rand repair is that you don't know how worn your rand is. Shortly after getting a pair of shoes resoled I broke through the original rand. Now my shoes have lots of rubber on the bottom but a hole in the front. Lame!

Lizzy said...

My first pair of miuras lasted ~6 years and probably 6-8 resoles (I lost count). They finally died when the leather started disintegrating. I usually would rather pay extra and get the rand resoled if it's on the cusp, for a similar reason as Luke.

Katie said...

hmmm, interesting point, Luke! hopefully I won't blow through the other rand too quickly. and Lizzy, so glad to hear that your Miuras lasted that long! I'm hoping to keep mine for a while.

Gif said...

Great post here, Katie. I just got my Katanas back from Rock and Resole yesterday! They did an amazing job on mine too. This is the second resole on my Katanas (both R&R jobs). This time, I put "do all repairs needed" and they ended up putting toe caps on both shoes. There were no holes in the rands, but I guess they thought they needed beefed up. They look really good. Also, they glued the rubber back on to the leather on the tops of the shoes. Katanas always delaminate there. Good to hear you had a positive experience with Rock and Resole too. My first resole job from them lasted longer than the factory soles!

Katie said...

Nice, Gif! I'm glad to hear they've survived two resoles. I'm hoping to keep my Technos for a long time!

Stephen W. Weiss said...

I got a pair of evolvs that I have been contemplating resoling. I might just do it now...thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

Anybody know of a place in Minnesota that will resole climbing shoes?

Stephen W. Weiss said...

I got a pair of evolvs that I have been contemplating resoling. I might just do it now...thanks for the tips!

splitter choss said...

Like Chris said, good shoes, like Muiras, can take numerous resoles. I think mine are on their 3rd. Not like new anymore, but still a decent shoe.

cadaverchris said...

a couple tips:

- resole before you get holes, this way you won't need to spend extra on a rand job. The shoes will also 'take' the resole better and easier.

- cheaper shoes, with thinner soles, and lower quality craftsmanship, generally are only good for one resole. But a high quality shoe, when resoled before holes, can take several resoles.

this info is from conversations i've had with a cobbler and my own experience.

-Chris

JM said...

Can you resole a different type of sole?  For example I picked up La Sportiva Nago because I like the look and feel better and they seem better for beginner climbers based on the reviews I've read.  Eventually when I resole, can they somehow fit something more advanced like the muira vs has, if that is what I want when the time comes?  or is that not possible because of the shape of the rest of the shoe?

Katie L said...

Good question...I shot it out to another climber friend and we both agreed that you probably can't get them to fit like a different shoe. take a look at this link:

http://www.abc-of-rockclimbing.com/info/climbing-shoes-parts.asp 

When you get the shoes resoled, they usually just address the rand (if needed) and the sole. The mold the shoe is built around is what gives the shoe it's shape, not the sole. You can choose different thicknesses and types of rubber when you get them resoled, but I'm inclined to say they'll still hold their shape when you get them back. 

Rick said...

Hey Katie, how have you been? Been a long time. I was looking at my neglected blog and noticed a link from here. I didn't know it was your blog. Good stuff you got going.
Thanks for link to my old post. You seem to be doing sooper-dooper, and that's fantatastic :)

Since I'm here, let me throw out some info on the rubber thing. I'll use the comparison between Onyx and C4 to illustrate. The original C4 was, and remains great stuff. It is a bit softer (see hardness on my blog) Onyx. That means for all intent and purpose that it creates a better interlock at the interface of rubber/rock. That's great for friction, but the drawback is the rubber "deforms under load, like when smearing. It also doesn't edge as well. Friction is property that is affected by many factors (rock type, temp, adhesion, etc.).

If your a beginner, look for the harder rubbers. They wear longer because every noobs footwork sucks, and we tend to slide our feet all over the damn rock. It offers better edging too. Until your technique improves, softer rubbers won't help.

The thing with Onyx is Stealth's attempt to create a long wear version of C4, but C4 it ain't. Before I hijack the blog let me offer this; on steep face C4 will "creep" peior to letting go completely (a blow out). Onxy and other rubbers, like the stuff that came on Mythos, don't provide any warning, they just blow. Some like it that way, I hate it. I prefer feedback. It's how you dog-paddle up steep face.

Keep the spirit alive,
Be Safe, Live Long, Climb Hard