Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gear Guy

Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and bundle up with Outside+

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

40% Off Holiday Sale, Ends Nov. 28
$4.99 $2.99 / month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.


  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

I have two pairs of rock shoes that are getting very slick soles. I only occasionally climb, so they are still in great shape and I can’t justify buying a new pair. What can I do to get another season or two out of them? 

———Jerry T., Indianapolis, Indiana 

The process that causes rubber bands, condoms and wetsuits to lose their elasticity—oxidation—also causes climbing rubber to harden and get slick as it ages. This is why factory-fresh shoes feel so sticky, while older shoes feel slippery. Oxidation is as unavoidable as the piles, but is usually offset by the simple fact that when you climb, you grind off rubber, removing the oxidation, continuously exposing a fresh layer of sticky rubber. In your case, you are in a cycle as vicious and predictable as a nuclear reaction: the less you climb the more your shoe rubber oxidizes, the slicker it gets, the less enjoyable your climbing experience, the less often you’ll go climbing.Break the cycle, Jerry! Freshen up your shoes by using a sheet of coarse sandpaper to scrub off that oxidized rubber. Depending on the depth of the oxidation, this could be an easy to difficult task. Stay at it until you are down to the good, sticky meat. You’ll know when. Worst case, the rubber is oxidized all the way through. If that’s so, you still don’t require new shoes—send those suckers to a good resoler such as the Rubber Room and let the pros reshoe them with new sticky rubber.

Whether you sand your soles or get your shoes resoled, you can slow oxidation by storing your shoes in a Ziploc bag. Put the shoes in there, press out the air, and zip the bag shut. If you have funky toe fungus, dust the insides of your shoes with foot powder before bagging them up. Alternately, you can just go climbing more often and avoid all of the above. Next!


This Gear Guy question appeared in Rock and Ice issue 188 (September 2010).


Got a question? Email: rockandicegearguy@gmail.com


Also Read

Gear Guy: Hot Versus Cold Forging

Gear Guy: Is a Flat Rope Safe?

Gear Guy: Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?