What Should You Do If Your Climbing Shoes Are Too Big?

Climbing shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment for any climber. They need to fit snugly to provide the necessary support and stability while climbing. However, what if you’ve got a pair of shoes that are too big?

It can be challenging to climb in shoes that are too big, but there are some things you can do to make them work. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to take if your climbing shoes are too big.

Assess the Fit

The first step in dealing with climbing shoes that are too big is to assess the fit. How big are they? Are they just slightly too big, or are they so big that your feet move around inside the shoes? The severity of the fit issue will determine what steps you need to take to fix the problem.

If your shoes are only slightly too big, you may be able to adjust the fit using some simple techniques. However, if your shoes are significantly too big, you may need to consider getting a new pair of shoes.

Try Different Sizing Options

If your climbing shoes are only slightly too big, you may be able to fix the problem by trying different sizing options. Climbing shoes come in a range of sizes, and some brands may fit differently than others. It’s important to note that climbing shoe sizes are different from street shoe sizes, so it’s important to try on different sizes to find the best fit.

When trying on shoes, be sure to wear the socks you’ll be wearing while climbing. This will help you get an accurate fit. If you have wider feet or high arches, you may need to consider shoes with a different shape or sizing.

Add Insoles

Another option to fix the fit of climbing shoes that are too big is to add insoles. Insoles can provide extra cushioning and support to help fill out the shoe and prevent your feet from moving around inside. There are many types of insoles available, so choose one that’s appropriate for your foot shape and the type of climbing you’ll be doing.

When choosing insoles, consider the thickness and shape of the insole. Thicker insoles will take up more space in the shoe, while thinner insoles may provide less support. Some insoles are designed specifically for climbing shoes, while others are more general in nature. Experiment with different types of insoles to find the best fit for your shoes.

Use Socks

Wearing socks with your climbing shoes can also help to fill out any extra space inside the shoe. Socks can provide extra cushioning and can help to prevent blisters and hot spots. However, it’s important to note that wearing socks with climbing shoes is not always recommended, as it can decrease sensitivity and feel on the rock.

If you decide to wear socks with your climbing shoes, choose socks that are thin and lightweight. Avoid wearing thick, bulky socks, as they can take up too much space in the shoe. Make sure the socks fit snugly and don’t bunch up or slide around inside the shoe.

Adjust the Lacing System

The lacing system on climbing shoes can also be adjusted to help improve the fit. If your shoes have a lacing system, try tightening them to see if it helps to reduce any extra space. However, be careful not to over-tighten the shoes, as this can cause discomfort and restrict blood flow.

When adjusting the lacing system, start by loosening the laces completely. Then, put on the shoe and make sure your foot is positioned properly inside. Next, begin tightening the laces from the bottom and work your way up. Make sure to pull the laces tight enough to eliminate any extra space, but not so tight that they’re cutting off circulation or causing pain.

If your shoes have a Velcro closure system, you may still be able to adjust the fit. Try tightening the strap or adjusting the Velcro tabs to see if it helps to reduce any extra space.

Resole the Shoes

If your climbing shoes are still too big after trying the above methods, you may need to consider resoling the shoes. Resoling involves replacing the sole of the shoe with a new one, which can help to improve the fit and performance of the shoe.

Resoling can be done by a professional cobbler or at a specialized climbing shoe repair shop. It can be a bit expensive, but it’s often less expensive than buying a brand new pair of shoes. Resoling can also extend the life of your shoes, so it’s a good investment if you have a pair of shoes that you really like.

Sell or Trade the Shoes

If all else fails, and your shoes are still too big, you may need to consider selling or trading them. There are many online climbing communities and forums where climbers buy and sell used gear. You may be able to find someone who needs a pair of shoes in your size, while you can purchase a pair that fits you better.

Keep in mind that climbing shoes are a personal item, and some climbers may be hesitant to buy used shoes. Be upfront about the condition and fit of the shoes, and include clear photos in any listings you create.

Related: What Kind Of Shoes Should You Wear Rock Climbing?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Can you wear climbing shoes that are slightly too big?

Yes, you can wear climbing shoes that are slightly too big, but it may affect your performance and comfort. It’s important to try different techniques to improve the fit before deciding whether to wear them or not.

  • How much extra space is too much in climbing shoes?

It’s difficult to say how much extra space is too much in climbing shoes, as it depends on the severity of the fit issue and personal preference. However, if your feet are sliding around inside the shoes, it’s a sign that they may be too big.

  • Can you stretch out climbing shoes that are too small?

It’s possible to stretch out climbing shoes that are too small, but it’s not recommended. Stretching can damage the shoes and affect their performance. It’s better to find a pair of shoes that fit properly from the start.

  • Can you return climbing shoes if they don’t fit?

Many retailers have return policies for climbing shoes, but it’s important to check before making a purchase. Some retailers may not accept returns on shoes that have been worn or used.

  • How often should you replace your climbing shoes?

The lifespan of climbing shoes depends on how often you use them and how well you take care of them. Generally, climbing shoes should be replaced every 6-12 months, or when the rubber begins to wear down or lose its stickiness.


In conclusion, properly fitting climbing shoes are essential for both performance and safety while climbing. If your shoes are too big, there are several techniques you can try to improve the fit. These include using thicker socks, using insoles, adjusting the lacing or closure system, and resoling the shoes. If none of these methods work, you may need to consider selling or trading your shoes and purchasing a pair that fits properly.

It’s important to remember that every climber’s foot is unique, and finding the right pair of climbing shoes can take time and experimentation. Don’t be discouraged if your first pair doesn’t fit perfectly, and keep trying until you find a pair that works for you.

Happy Climbing!

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