Yes, you can wear socks with rock climbing shoes. It all depends upon your comfort and preference. But to be very precise, ideally, you should not be wearing socks with rock climbing shoes. The majority of professional climbers do not wear socks or climbing shoes, which is actually how it is to be done.
Before climbing shoes, people used to wear Plimsouls and sneakers for climbing. Both of these shoes require socks for a better fit and performance. Climbing shoes date back to the 70s and 80s, and since then, with more improvements in designs for better performance. The need to wear socks has been outdated.
Consequently, the evolution from boots to climbing shoes has led to the debate of whether socks should be worn with climbing shoes. But you do not have to worry as all your queries will be addressed in this article. So, keep on reading.
Climbing Shoes with or Without Socks?
Climbing shoes have a very tight fit. This is because your foot should feel the rock so you can have a better grip. Wearing socks means you are adding a layer that will hinder your foot’s sensitivity.
Now imagine climbing a razor-sharp edge, wearing climbing shoes with socks. You will misjudge the thinness of the border because of the socks. Rock climbing is all about precise foot placement, and wearing socks will result in a poor tactile response.
Another reason why you should not wear socks with climbing shoes is that socks are slippery. No matter how tight your shoes are, socks will make the foot slide into the shoe.
Also, the added moisture due to socks will minimize friction, maximizing the chances of slipping, so if you want a firm grip while climbing a rock, never wear socks.
If you want to climb rocks like a pro, then buy climbing shoes that fit perfectly well. And by fit, I mean skin-tight fit.
They should feel like a part of your skin, and there should be no extra space between your foot and your shoe. Wearing socks will act as a barrier between your skin and your shoe. This will decrease your toes’ sensitivity, and you would never be able to climb like a pro.
When Should You Wear Socks in Climbing Shoes?
As I said, it’s not a rule but essentially a personal preference. You may have seen some professional climbers wearing socks. The first and foremost reason is comfort.
As they are habitual of wearing socks, some climbers feel more safe and confident climbing with socks. Apart from comfort, the following are some special conditions where you may see climbers wearing socks.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Climbing in cold regions is a very tricky job. The temperature freezes the foot, reducing the blood supply, and hence your foot won’t be feeling anything.
It is also very common for athletes performing in freezing temperatures to suffer from frostbite. This is why to keep the feet warm and sensitive; climbers have to wear socks with climbing shoes.
Rock climbing socks are also widely used in summer. Hot temperatures cause excessive sweating on the foot. Increased moisture means less friction and no grip on the rock. Socks absorb the moisture and keep the feet dry.
If Your Climbing Shoes Are Stretched
Climbing shoes get stretched for a number of reasons. It may be due to the influence of climate, which causes changes in the upper leather, disturbing the shoes’ fitting. Or your climbing shoes may get stretched due to overuse with time due to strenuous use.
So, if you don’t have the budget to buy the shoes, it does not mean you cannot rock climb. Wearing socks under stretched climbing shoes will reduce the extra space. This will provide you with much better control.
If You Hate Sweaty Feet
Sweat causes constant slipping of the foot. It does not allow your toes to adhere firmly to the rock. This usually happens in hot weather, so climbers wear socks.
Apart from weather conditions, some climbers wear socks anyhow. This is because they hate moisture. They like to keep their feet dry and clean. So, in short, hygiene freaks do wear socks regardless of grip problems.
This is again a matter of hygiene. If you have borrowed climbing shoes, then you must wear socks. This is because many people have worn the shoes before you. And you don’t want your foot to be exposed to germs.
So, it is wise to wear socks with borrowed shoes in order to protect your feet from infections and keep them clean.
For Crack Climbing
Crack climbing is a challenging and dangerous type of rock climbing where the climber has to follow the cracks of the rocks. This makes your foot prone to so many injuries.
So, for crack climbing, climbers prefer wearing climbing shoe socks. They act as a protective barrier against the rocky terrain and make you feel comfortable.
Which Socks for Rock Climbing Shoes Should You Prefer?
This is again a very important question as there are a variety of socks available. It is important that you should know which socks go well with rock climbing shoes. Cotton socks are a big no as they are thick and will reduce your foot’s sensitivity.
Go for socks that are specifically made for climbing, like La Sportiva climbing socks. The socks should not have an ankle cut as there is a higher chance of them slipping into the foot. Go for socks that are very thin and breathable, so they don’t limit your foot’s sensitivity.
They should fit tightly to your feet and feel like a part of your foot. But remember, don’t go for socks that are too tight to restrict your foot’s blood flow.
A Good Climbing Shoe Means No Socks
The whole discussion of which sock is suitable and which is not is useless if you opt for the best rock climbing shoes. Climbing shoes are naturally designed in a way that you won’t need to wear them with socks. So, investing in a good pair of climbing shoes is a very smart choice.
The first thing to look for in a rock-climbing shoe is its sole. The sole of good rock climbing shoes is made of thick rubber. Opt for full-length soles as they are stiffer and more comfortable.
Thick soles also protect your foot, preventing any foot trauma. The soles should feel stable and provide a non-slip grip. The best sole for rock climbing shoes is the one that prevents injuries but also provides feelings and pressure.
Another key point is to make sure that the shoes fit well. There should be no dead space between your foot and the shoe. The rock climbing shoe should feel like a second skin. Go for banana-shaped shoes as they fit best to the natural contours of the foot.
The midsole plays a key role in determining the weight and overall support of the shoes. So, rock climbing shoes that have a thick midsole that is also lightweight work best. The midsole should support and cushion the foot without adding to the overall weight of the shoes.
Now lastly but most importantly, you would have to choose from a variety of different types of rock-climbing shoes. You can opt for Velcro shoes, lace-up climbing shoes, or slip-ons. My advice would be to go for rock climbing shoes with lace-up closure as they fit the best. They allow you to custom-fit your shoes.
An Exclusive Guide for Beginners
A beginner may get easily confused by the amount of information that is available. As a beginner, you need to keep things as simple as possible. So, the answer to the question that do you wear socks with rock climbing shoes as a beginner is yes. For your first few experiences, you should wear socks as they will make you feel more comfortable.
Invest in a good pair of shoes that will provide you comfort and will protect your foot from injuries. Don’t buy too expensive shoes because as a beginner, you just have to master the skill, and in that learning process, you need to focus more on your foot’s protection. Wearing socks will also protect your foot from cracks and rocky surfaces that you are not usually used to.
So, summing everything up, whether to wear rock climbing shoes or not is your personal choice. Ideally, you should not because rock climbing shoes are crafted in a way that they don’t require any additional layering inside. The most important thing to consider is that your rock-climbing shoes should fit well. A well-fitted rock climbing shoe does not have room for any socks.
But again, I would say it all depends upon your choice. If wearing socks makes you comfortable, then don’t go by the books and just wear them. For a beginner, I would say it is indeed a tough choice but try rock climbing with socks on and off and then decide which way you are more comfortable and efficient.
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