• Can a Belay Device Jam Open?
  • Marking the Middle of a Rope
  • Fitting Rock Shoes to Problematic Feet
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • When Your Partner Steals Your Gear...
  • Can You Climb on a Wet Rope?
  • Can You Decrease Fall Factor?
  • Should You Be Allowed to Practice Lead Falls in the Gym?
  • Rope Certifications: Twins, Doubles, or Both?
  • Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • More, on the EDK
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • Can You Recommend A Self-Release Knot?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
  • Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?
  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
  • Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?
  • Can You Use Cams As Passive Pro?
  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
  • Am I Using a Daisy Chain Wrong?
  • Should I Buy a Plastic or Foam Helmet?
  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • How Often Should You Place Trad Gear?
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Trouble With Glue-In Bolts
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
  • How Durable is Trad Gear?
  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
  • The Worst Gear Ever Invented
  • Rap Ring Strength
  • Spinners and Losers
  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
  • Is it Ethical to Clean a New Route?
  • Aid Climbing = Moped Riding
  • Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are My Modified Crampons Safe?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip Ice Screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • How to Place Ice Tools and Crampons - Will Gadd's Tips
  • How to Place Ice Screws - Will Gadd's Tips
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your Fingertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • How to Toprope
  • How To Rig Trad Anchors/Belays
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • How to Hand Drill
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Will sports drinks freeze more slowly than water?
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • How to Train for Rock climbing
  • How to Rappel
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
  • Video Spotlight
    Joe Kinder On the First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
    Joe Kinder On the First Ascent of Bone Tomahawk (5.14d/5.15a)
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: 60-Footer on Castleton Tower (Trad Fall)
    Weekend Whipper: 60-Footer on Castleton Tower (Trad Fall)
     



    Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?

    11-Oct-2016
    By

    I have noticed that hardly anyone wears socks in their rock shoes. Hardly is an understatement. Actually, I may be the only climber on Earth who wears socks. To me, socks make sense. Rock shoes, even expensive ones, are uncomfortable and socks add a bit of cushion and a hygienic layer. Am I wrong to wear socks?

    —Jesse Dank, Enumsclaw, Washington

    “Fashion changes, style endures.”The fashion of not wearing socks—or going “commando,” raw doggin' it, etc.—in rock shoes is, like sagging pants, a recent phenomenon. When I started climbing in 1973, almost everyone wore socks with E.B.s or P.A.s, non-sticky-rubber shoes that were smart accessory footwear to the thumbscrew, but of limited value on rock. When you wore shoes such as these, said to have been cast on a men’s dress-shoe last complete with point, socks provided padding for your tortured dogs.

    Yet sometime around 1983, when sticky Fires hit the market, most climbers refused to give up their socks. This might have been because we had been trained to wear them, or we wanted to look like John Bachar, who famously sported calf-high tube socks with his Fires, or because back then everyone climbed long routes and had to carry sneakers and socks anyway for the certain-to-be-really-long descents.

    Then, curiously, some climbers began rocking their shoes bareback, and wearing socks branded you as either a noob, someone who climbed without regard for gender identification, or Eastern European—and probably all three. This holds true even today.

    Assuming you are merely a practical person rather than one who falls into any of the above categories, wearing socks, as you noted, does protect your feet from a shoe’s harsh stitching, seam tape and other interior sharpies. If I were climbing El Cap, or any bit of long stone, or cracks, I’d size my rock shoes slightly larger and wear socks for comfort.

    There is, of course, the question of sensitivity. Performance demands a skintight fit, and that demands that the skin of your foot press right against the interior of the shoe. It can be said that going sockless gives you a better “feel” for the holds, that socks dull the sensation, like wearing a raincoat in the shower.

    Pshaw. Saying that you can feel the rock through a slab of rubber and a midsole is to confuse “sense” with “feel.” You do develop a sense for how your shoe contacts the rock, how the edge sits on holds, for example, but it is a stretch to believe that you can actually feel the texture and shape of the holds through the shoe sole. This is especially true for board-lasted shoes, which have the feel of wooden clogs (and which I prefer, really). There are exceptions, of course, such as the new Gummies (Team VXi) by Five Ten, a condom-like slipper that I doubt you could get on over a socked foot.

    In most cases, though, there is no rational reason for not wearing socks. Instead, it all comes back to fashion, and as they say, “fashion changes, style endures.” If you like socks, fly them with pride. Next!

     

    This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 220 (August 2014).

     

    Find More Climbing Gear Advice Here

     

    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

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