Should I resole my climbing shoes?
An analysis on resoling vs buying a new pair of shoes.
Photo by Jesse Quant
Whether it’s poor footwork (me), or you are just climbing a ton, at some point you are going to bust a pair of shoes. The time will come when you are crushing it at the crag or gym in your La Sportiva Miura Lace ups and you see your gnarled big toe start to show through the rubber. What’s next? Do you go to REI and spend $165 on a new pair of shoes or do you explore resoling options? Most climbers being environmentalists (if you aren’t, maybe you should be) would probably want to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. But we also love a crisp sharp pair of climbing shoes. It’s a tough decision. I’ll try my best to explore the options.
I would say, if I go through two to three pairs of shoes/resoles a year, over a ten year period, that’s around 30 shoes! Damn! When you look at it like this, there is a good argument for resoling.
My method is to have two pairs of rotating shoes. Currently I have one good pair of La Sportiva Murias and one busted pair. As my good pair is starting to show wear, I bike the two miles to Rock n Resole in Boulder, Colorado and drop off my busted pair. By the time my good pair is wearing thin, I have a sharp new pair waiting to be picked up. Then the cycle begins again.
I never have to break in a pair of shoes and my carbon footprint is small and life is good.
Does resoling effect the performance of the shoe? In my experience resoling the shoe does not change anything about the performance, unless your shoe is completely torn or misshaped the most important part of the shoe performance wise is the toe box and the front half of the sole and that is what a resole is replacing. Most resolers have a variety of different rubber you can also choose from if you want to make a shoe higher performing, or better at edging vs smearing.
Let's now look at the cost. I’m not responsible enough to know when to drop my shoes off before breaking through the rand, so I usually just wait until I can see my toe. At Rock n Resole in Boulder Colorado, my total price is $58 vs $165 for a new pair at REI. If you time it right and you can resole before your toes break through, you will only pay $42. If you don’t live near Boulder, Colorado, you can send your shoes to Rock n Resole for $11.50 for shipping . Another place that does a good job that I’ve sent my shoes to is Yosemite Bum Resole, they charge $45 for rand and half sole repair and then shipping is around $15.
- Saves Money
- Better for the environment
- No break-in period
- Hold on to your favorite shoes
- Shoe Stank
- Quality control
- Timing. If you don’t time it right, you could go 2-4 weeks without your favorite pair of shoes.
There’s an argument for buying new shoes as well. If you don’t climb a lot, you may only need new shoes once every two years. By that time, your overall shoe might be worn enough where you may just want a new pair. There’s also pro deals. Working in the outdoors industry, I can actually get my favorite pair of shoes from Outdoor Pro Link for around $100. I can save the $13 shipping by picking them up at the La Sportiva store factory store in Boulder, Colorado. That closes the price gap a little between resoling and buying.
Climbing brands are also offering some pretty cool eco-friendly options. I have a pair of the La Sportiva Eco Cobra that have been a favorite of mine. They are made from 85% recycled materials, which is pretty damn cool. If you want to support your favorite shoe brand and the environment, you can always check out their eco-friendly options. Scarpa, another great brand. also has their Maestro ECO made from Biodegradable leather. Scarpa also does some pretty great things to be an environmentally friendly company, check out their Green Manifesto.
- Fresh new shoes
- Quality control
- Supporting your favorite brands
- Environmental impact
- Break in period
Final thoughts: I did some math and tried to figure out my yearly cost of climbing shoes, resoling vs buying.
Yearly price to Resole: $145, an average of 2.5 resoles and toe caps. Yearly price to Buy: $412 an average of 2.5 new pairs of shoes ($250 with pro deal). There you have it. I guess I didn't really give you a definitive answer but personally I am going to stick with resoling for a while. The choice is yours. Also consider joining the Access Fund! 1% of all our subscription box purchases is donated to them. Here are some helpful links:
Rock and Resole : Colorado
Yosemite Bum (by Evolve) : California
The Rubber Room : California
The Gear Room : Utah
New England Resole: New England