Welp, do you wear socks with climbing shoes?
When it comes to footwear, socks are a must-have. Whether you’re wearing runners to a workout session, Oxfords to work, or even slides to grab your groceries from the car, chances are you’re rocking your favorite socks. If you don’t, you end up sporting more blisters than toes.
Knowing what you know, you can’t help but question the gym rats that refuse to wear socks with climbing shoes. What’s the deal with that? Back in the day, climbers used to wear thick boots fitted with nails and pair them with thick socks to better protect their feet from blisters, bruises, and pain.
But as climbing progressed as a sport and became more and more popular, companies started to engineer climbing shoes that didn’t require socks. Because of that, most climbers stopped wearing socks altogether.
Now, does that mean you can’t wear climbing shoes with socks? Read more down below!
The cut-to-the-chase answer: Do you wear socks with climbing shoes?
To sock or not to sock, that is the question.
The answer comes down to personal preference, to be completely honest with you. Climbing footwear has gone through a myriad of changes over time and, because of that, you don’t really need to wear socks with climbing shoes.
Modern climbing shoes are designed with the assumption that you will be going sockless. More times than not, they’re lined with non-slip, softer, materials to help your bare feet stay secure and comfortable.
Contrary to popular belief, though, you’re allowed to wear socks with your climbing shoes if that’s what you find more comfortable.
Whether you’re a seasoned climber or someone who sees climbing as a weekend hobby, chances are you aren’t climbing at a high enough level where socks will have any real impact on your performance.
With that out of the way, we do need to underline that there are a few pros and cons that might sway you one way or the other. So, do you wear socks with climbing shoes? Let’s find out!
FOR wearing socks with climbing shoes
1. Socks can make your climbing shoes fit better
Climbers with narrow feet, unite! We’re pretty sure there’s nothing worse than dead space and excessive movement messing with your climbing shoes.
Whether you’re trying to save up for a better pair or are unwilling to purchase another pair because climbing is nothing more than a hobby to you, wearing socks with your climbing shoes might be the right decision.
Socks can create a tighter fit and prevent you from slipping and falling out of your climbing shoes. If that’s the case with you, don’t shy away from giving socks a go.
2. Socks are great germ protection when wearing rented climbing shoes
If you’re at the beginning of your climbing quest, there’s a chance you’re rocking a sick pair of rentals for the time being. Rentals are great, but we can’t forget about the fact that they’re worn by other people, too. What does that mean?
Wearing socks with rental shoes can keep your feet safe from fungal infections, dermatological conditions, and athlete’s foot.
While rentals are disinfected in between each use, nobody can guarantee you that the person wearing them before you didn’t break a toenail or get a nasty cut that left a little residue behind.
3. Socks are a must when trying to break in your climbing shoes
Wearing socks with climbing shoes shouldn’t be frowned upon – there, we said it.
While there’s an unwritten rule among experiment climbers that you shouldn’t wear socks with your climbing shoes, there are a bunch of cases claiming otherwise.
Wearing socks with your first pair of climbing shoes, for example, allows you to break them in quicker. Brand-new climbing shoes have that unworn, rubbery feel that doesn’t go away immediately after the first time.
Because of that, you might want to break them in with a snug pair of socks and some applied heat.
4. Socks can make your climbing shoes more comfortable
Do you wear socks with climbing shoes when you’re an experienced climber with a reputation to uphold? Depending on your confidence, you do!
If socks bring you more comfort, there’s pretty much no reason not to wear them with your climbing shoes.
Socks can prevent uncomfortable rubbing and blisters from a too-tight fit or slipping and sliding from a wide fit. So, head to the nearest sock store and get that extra layer of protection.
5. Socks can act as liners for your worn, stretched-out climbing shoes
Climbing shoes can last a long time if you know how to extend their lifetime. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to throw your worn and stretched-out climbing shoes away – you can wear them for training purposes when warming up or practicing your footwork.
Well-worn climbing shoes are comfy, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear socks with them. Old climbing shoes don’t have the same structural integrity as out-of-the-box ones, and you might be able to get a tighter fit with a pair of thick socks.
6. Socks can manage sweat and prevent odors
Many climbers replace their climbing shoes due to odor alone.
Socks that help eliminate excess sweat and keep the odors at bay can make a world of difference. When you’re not wearing socks, your climbing shoes are the ones that absorb everything. Over time, they’re guaranteed to become too smelly to save.
Taking care of your climbing shoes in between climbing sessions can help prevent odors and bacteria from forming, there’s no question about that. That being said, though, socks can cut the amount of work you need to do in half.
7. Socks can prevent your climbing shoes from falling off
Sometimes, no matter what you do, your climbing shoes keep on falling off your feet.
Whether you’re working on your footwork or climbing a freakin’ mountain, you always feel like your feet are slipping and sliding. Rather than breaking the bank on better climbing shoes, try wearing your favorite socks to add thickness and bring a tighter fit.
Rest assured, you’re going to notice a difference right away.
8. Socks can provide you with warmth
When temperatures drop and the weather becomes too cold for comfort, you might want to wear something cozier than climbing shoes alone. Wearing socks with your climbing shoes during colder months can save your toes from freezing to death.
On a more positive note, wearing socks can make you a better climber, too – cold toes make it difficult to feel anything and can affect your agility on routes. Okay, socks!
AGAINST wearing socks with climbing shoes
1. Reduced sensitivity
We do, however, need to mention that not everything’s sunshine and roses when wearing socks with climbing shoes. Climbing shoes are meant to be worn without socks for a reason – they’re designed to help you feel the surface beneath your feet better.
When you’re wearing socks, your ability to do that decreases. Wearing socks makes it harder to sense cracks and holds. But, but, but… Lightweight socks shouldn’t reduce sensitivity and that’s why it’s a good idea to experiment with different socks before you make up your mind.
2. Slipping and sliding
Wearing socks can cause slipping and sliding which shouldn’t happen when you’re climbing a mountain. We know that comes as a surprise, but hear us out.
Sure, socks can absorb some of that excess moisture, provide you with a tighter fit, and prevent slipping and sliding. Socks can do the opposite, too. Depending on the type of sock you opt for, you might end up causing more harm than good.
3. Tightness all around when your feet swell up
We aren’t trying to confuse you, we’re simply trying to provide you with everything you need to know before you make up your mind. Socks can provide you with a tighter fit when you’re dealing with worn-out climbing shoes or climbing shoes that are a little too wide for your narrow feet.
But socks can make your climbing shoes too tight, too. When you’re climbing, your feet tend to swell a small amount. If you’re wearing socks with climbing shoes that otherwise fit perfectly, you might notice them getting too tight toward the end of your climb.
4. Dirty looks from other climbers
Unfortunately, we do need to address the controversy of wearing socks with climbing shoes. Seasoned climbers are against socks because of everything we’ve mentioned beforehand, and you might get a couple of dirty looks or snide remarks if you decide to go against the rest of the climbing community.
Approach these naysaying climbers and ask them “Do you wear socks with climbing shoes?” We’re kidding, we’re kidding. Just wear whatever you want to wear with confidence. After all, you know what works best for you.