How To Break And Stretch Climbing Shoes?


Whether it is winter running shoes or snowshoes, among other types of footwear, breaking in is important for your comfort. This is a process that stretches the shoe to improve the fit. It will make it easier to get used to the shape and size of the shoe. This is also important to be accustomed to your climbing shoes. 

Looking for the best solutions to break in climbing shoes? Keep on reading and we’ll let you know some of the best things to do! 

The Best Ways to Break In Climbing Shoes 

Don’t be left guessing about the best things to do. Here, we’ll round up some of the most promising solutions that are worth a shot! 

1. Give it a Shower 

Like with breaking in hiking shoes, using water is effective for stretching climbing shoes. This is quicker than most methods. 

  1. Take your new shoes out of the box. Get rid of the stickers and the papers inside the shoe. Wear the shoe and put on the laces in such a way that it is snug but not too tight. 
  2. While wearing your new climbing shoes, get a shower. See to it that the water is hot and make sure that the shoes are soaked. The hot water will help to mold the main material of the shoe. 
  3. With the shoes still wet, walk around until you feel that they are getting dry. 
  4. After walking, take off the shoes and stuff them with newspapers. This will mold the upper material of the shoe into the shape of your foot. 
  5. Do not wait for the shoe to dry completely. While it is still slightly wet, take it out on your next climb. However, make sure that it isn’t dripping. Otherwise, it can make your foot wet and will make the climb uncomfortable. 

2. Use an Ice Bag 

This is one of the most popular methods of breaking in any other type of footwear, not just climbing shoes. It is a perfect alternative if the shoe needs only a bit of fine-tuning. 

  1. Fill two small Ziploc bags with water and seal. Insert the bags into the climbing shoes. Tie the laces but make sure that they won’t be too tight. Once everything is ready, put your shoes in the freezer. Leave it overnight. 
  2. Next, let the ice inside the climbing shoe thaw. At this point, the shoe has already expanded, making it slightly stretched compared to its original fit. 
  3. Repeat the process above if your shoes are still too tight. 

3. Use a Hairdryer 

The heat that comes from the dryer will be effective in stretching climbing shoes. This will also work for breaking in water shoes for hiking. However, make sure that it isn’t too hot as this can end up damaging the material of your shoe. 

  1. Start by stuffing your shoes with socks. Roll it into balls and exert pressure to fill the interior of the shoe. Make it as tight as possible, which will help the shoe to stretch more. 
  2. Let the shoe rest on a flat surface. Plug a hairdryer and turn it on. Select medium heat and direct the heat straight to your climbing shoes. Ideally, the dryer should be about six inches away from the shoe. Heat the shoe for about one minute. 
  3. While the shoe is still warm, stuff it with more socks. At this point, the material will be more stretchable, so it will be bigger. 

4. Buy a Shoe Stretcher 

If you are looking for a less complicated solution to break in climbing shoes, a shoe stretcher can help. A shoe stretcher is a simple tool that you have to put inside the footwear, and this will help to make it slightly bigger than the original size. 

  1. Start by applying a shoe stretcher spray inside the shoe. As it saturates the interior, this will relax the material and will make it easier to stretch.
  2. Insert the toe block of the stretcher inside the footwear. Push to make sure that it gets in. Once it has a snug fit, turn the stretcher two to three times, which will stretch the material. 
  3. For the best results, leave the stretcher inside the shoe overnight. 
  4. Turn the handle counterclockwise. This will retract the block out of the shoe. 

5. Use Potatoes 

This may sound funny, but this is another promising solution if you would like to break into climbing shoes. The secret is to choose a potato that is big enough to stretch the material of the shoe. Otherwise, this will be a futile and useless method of stretching climbing shoes. 

  1. Peel two potatoes that are larger than the space inside the shoe. Use a paper towel to dry the potato. 
  2. Once the potato is ready, insert it into the shoe. Use one large potato for the left and another one for the right shoe. Leave it overnight. 
  3. The morning after, take off the potatoes from the shoe. Make sure to wipe off the excess moisture. Wear the shoe and see if it is already bigger than the initial size. Walk around to stretch it more until you feel more comfortable when wearing your climbing shoes. 

6. Wear Your Shoes 

Like when breaking in new ski boots, one of the best solutions for stretching climbing shoes is to wear them. This will give you a real feel of the shoe. It can be painful at first, but this will be all worth it once you are accustomed to the fit and shape of the shoe. 

  1. With your socks on, wear your climbing shoes. 
  2. Start rock climbing or any other type of climbing that you wish to engage in. At this point, you will most probably end up in pain or discomfort. Your shoes can be too tight or stiff right out of the box. The more you wear it, the more it will stretch. 
  3. After wearing the shoe, take it off and stuff it with socks. This way, it will stretch more. 
  4. Wear your climbing shoes at home even when you are not climbing. Wearing the shoe while you are walking around the house can help to stretch its material. 



Got questions about breaking in and stretching climbing shoes? We’ll try to briefly answer some of them below. 

Q: Do you need to break in climbing shoes?


Yes, you need to break in climbing shoes. Similar to breaking in hiking boots, this is important to be more comfortable with your footwear. It will stretch the main materials of the shoe to improve the fit, making sure of your highest level of comfort. 

Q: How uncomfortable should climbing shoes be?


Your climbing shoes should never be uncomfortable. It should be tight but not uncomfortable. Otherwise, this can end up compromising your performance. Wearing climbing shoes that are too tight can exert unnecessary strain on your foot and can limit your blood flow.

Q: Can you stretch rock climbing shoes?


Yes, you can stretch rock climbing shoes. This is recommended to improve the fit of the shoe. By stretching the climbing shoe, you can be sure that the fit will be snugger without limiting your foot movements. If you don’t stretch, the shoe can be too stiff.

Q: How are rock climbing shoes supposed to fit?


Your rock-climbing shoes should fit perfectly. Your foot should be flat, and your toes should not curl. As a common practice, you should choose climbing shoes that are half a size smaller than your regular shoes. They will be tighter but not uncomfortable. 

Q: Should your toes be curled in climbing shoes?


Your toes should not be curled when you are wearing climbing shoes. It should be flat. If it is slightly curved, it should not be too tight. If your toes are curled, they will end up being uncomfortable and this can limit your climbing performance.

Globo Surf Overview 

From hill walking to rock climbing, the right shoes can make a lot of difference, especially for your comfort. Before you go, make sure that you know the basics of stretching climbing shoes. By doing the things mentioned above, your shoes will be more comfortable and there’s a lesser chance that you will end up with blisters.

From freezing Ziploc bags inside the shoe to using a hairdryer, pay attention to our recommendations above on how to break in climbing shoes. They will help to unlock your full potential and peak performance when you are climbing!

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!