Exploit the Stickiness of your Climbing Shoe Rubber
Climbing gear can be categorized into two groups…performance gear and safety gear. Climbing shoes easily fall into the performance category. You can safely climb any route without them, but you won’t necessarily be able to climb as hard.
Ever since the first “sticky-rubber” climbing shoes hit the market, climbers have sailed the seven seas to find the shoes that are made with the stickiest rubber. Modern climbing shoe rubber offers the confidence we need to top out on a hard project. As climbers, we rely on our shoes to forge us upward, sticking to anything that crosses our path.
However, the stickiest rubber in the world won’t amount to much if it isn’t treated properly. If you want your climbing shoe rubber to perform it’s best, you’ll want to learn these basic tricks that will help your rubber perform at its max.
CLEAN YOUR RUBBER.
The cleaner your rubber is the better it will perform. The last thing you want is for your shoes to be covered in dust, mud, or even chalk. Refrain from walking around in your climbing shoes. When dirty, take a damp rag to your climbing shoe rubber before, after, or even during a session to make them look and perform like they are fresh out of the box…clean and tacky. Some people will even spit-shine their rubber before they jump on a route. Don’t be fooled into chalking up your shoes before a climb. The chalk only acts as a drying agent and the powder reduces the tackiness of the rubber. Remember, clean rubber is your friend.
FIGHT AGAINST OXIDATION.
As your climbing shoes get older, the rubber will start to oxidize, making it hard and glossy. To avoid this, store your shoes properly during the off-season. Clean them off and store them in a plastic tub. If your rubber does get oxidized, scruff it up a bit with a wire brush, sandpaper, or abrasive rock.
KEEP YOUR RUBBER WARM.
Warm rubber is pliable enough to grab onto really small crystals and jibs. Warm rubber on cold rock tends to be a great combination for sending. When climbing in cold temps, keep your shoes inside your jacket against your core to keep them warm when you aren’t climbing.
WEAR PROPERLY FITTED SHOES.
Even with the stickiest rubber in the world, the rubber on an ill-fitted climbing shoe won’t perform at its best if it isn’t being pressed up against the rock. A properly fitted shoe has practically no empty spaces. This allows the rubber to be sandwiched between the foot and rock in all situations.
USE GOOD FOOTWORK.
Good footwork prolongs the life of your rubber, allowing you to more fully benefit from its “stickiness.” Avoid dragging your feet, which causes unnecessary ware. Don’t overuse the toe area of your shoe by edging with the inside or outside of your foot whenever possible. Instead of tiptoeing on a small edge or crystal, try smearing to allow more rubber to be wrapped around the feature for stronger holding power.
In conclusion, remember this Latin phrase: quid pro quo. If you treat your rubber right, they will return the favor.
We are interested to know what tricks you use for keeping your shoes and rubber in tip-top shape. Leave us a comment and help us increase our list of ways to make full use of our climbing shoe rubber.