There’s a lot of mixed information about when it’s time to resole. Some people think shoes are ready for a resole when there's a hole in the front. While others might think resoles are only for performance shoes.
The fact is: rubber doesn't last forever and all climbing shoes need to be resoled at some stage. So if you want to continue climbing for the long term, knowing when to resole a shoe can help you save money, reduce waste, and avoid the painstaking process of breaking in new shoes.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about a resole.
WHAT IS A RESOLE?
To figure out when it's time to resole, we'll need to know what to look for first. There are two parts to a shoe:
The sole covers the entire bottom of the shoe and it's designed to wear down from contact with holds, rocks or the wall. While the rand is a thinner piece of rubber that provides structure and protects the upper material. It’s not designed to take much wear as the sole and can easily be damaged.
A resole is part of regular climbing shoe maintenance. It is the process of replacing parts of the rubber sole that have worn away. The most common place for rubber to wear away is in a small area, beneath the tip of the big toe. As the sole wears away, the visible line where the sole is glued to the rand will recede and appear to "dip". Sometimes, this line may even appear faint.
A rand repair replaces some of the rubber rand covering the toes. Repairs to this part of the shoe can affect the shoe’s shape, comfort and performance, as well as limit the number of resoles. We'll discuss this below.
WHEN IS BEST TIME TO RESOLE?
The best time to resole is when the sole recedes to a point where you’ll start climbing on the rand. Holes are common signs that you’ve been climbing on the rand and it’s possible to wear into the rand before the sole too; this is usually caused by stepping too close to the wall when you climb.
If you want to keep your shoes in the best condition possible, we recommend to always resole at the “ideal time” to avoid damage to the rand.
Here are some examples:
Slight wear and sole is in fair condition. It’s arguably a bit early, but there’s no harm if you wish to resole now.
The line between the sole and rand dips near the big toe. Rand is intact and feels firm when pressed. Resoling now will cost less.
LATE BUT REPAIRABLE
Sole has receded and a hole is worn in the rand. A rand repair is possible because the hole has not worn though the fabric.
A large hole is worn through to the upper material. Any repairs will depend on the resoler. Most people will simply buy a new shoe.
HOW MUCH DOES A RESOLE COST?
The total cost for a resole with postage can be anywhere between $90 - $140. Let’s break down some of the most common costs involved (click to reveal):
A standard resole is a “half sole” replacement where only the front half of the sole is replaced. Most people will stick with the same rubber, but you could also switch to a different rubber.
We recommend choosing a rubber that matches your climbing needs:
- - Stiffer rubbers are for thin edges and durability
- - Softer rubbers are for friction/smearing but can wear faster
You also have the option to choose the thickness of the rubber (i.e. 3mm to 5mm). You can get more climbs in per resole with a thicker sole, but keep in mind this can cost more and reduces the sensitivity of the shoe. Best to resole with thicker rubbers on training / gym shoes.
A rand repair or toe cap replacement is where the thin piece of rubber at the front of the shoe is replaced. Often it's a partial replacement where the affected section of the rand is cut out and replaced with new rubber. Resolers don't usually replace the entire rand piece because the rand tensions the shoe and maintains it's structure, so only a small section is cut to minimise changing the shoe's structure. The downside of a rand repair is that sometimes a repair may leave an unwanted pressure point above the toes. Overtime, this pressure point will soften, however this slight change could add too much pressure on tight performance shoe.
Keep in mind a rand repair is an additional cost on top of the standard resole and may take longer. You cannot repair the rand without a resole.
You can organise postage directly to the resoler with your local post office or split that cost with friends. The resoler will also charge a cost to post your shoes back to you. You can also save a bit on shipping by dropping your shoes off with bulk resole dispatches at participating Climbing Anchors stores, local outdoor clubs, or climbing gyms.
Resolers can also do other repairs like closure straps, full sole replacements, no-edge and extra sensitivity for high-end performance shoes. To get a better idea of the total cost, it’s always recommended to chat with your resoler.
HOW OFTEN CAN YOU RESOLE CLIMBING SHOES?
In my experience, climbing shoes can take 1 - 3 resoles and about 1 rand repair before they lose their shape. If you take great care of the upper material and rand, it’s possible to get as many as 6 resoles on some shoes.
A resole can’t fix bad smells!
If you want your favourite pair to last, then taking care of the upper material is a must. Whether it’s leather or synthetic, upper materials degrade with any exposure to heat and the buildup of sweat, dirt and grime.
10 Cleaning Tips
HOW LONG DOES A RESOLE TAKE?
The average wait time is 3 - 8 weeks with delivery.
This is the one downside to a resole with the limited number of climbing shoe resolers across Australia. Depending on how many other climbers might be putting their shoes in for a resole, the wait time can be difficult to predict.
Here’s what you could do:
- Most people purchase a second pair to alternate between when one needs a resole. Read more
- You could also pay extra for express delivery and turnaround to get your shoes back sooner
- Find out from your local resoler when's the best time to drop off your shoes for a quicker turnaround (i.e. resoling when it’s off peak climbing season)
- Hire rental shoes
IS A RESOLE WORTH IT?
So, should you resole your shoes? Well, it depends. Ask yourself these three questions:
The condition of your shoes play a large part in the total cost and the end results of your resole.
- The best results are on shoes with no holes and it’ll total around $70 - $100 AUD.
- If you’ve left it a bit late, mild rand damage is still repairable with the risk of change to the structure of the shoe. You should resole when it’s the first rand repair. Repairs at this stage now total between $90 - $140 AUD.
- The worst case scenario is when you can see your toes through the front of the shoe. It’s not worth a resole and you should purchase new shoes.
Pro tip: try to keep your shoes in a good condition and resole at the ideal time to avoid damage on the rand entirely. You’ll be able to decrease costs and maximise the number of resoles before needing to purchase a new shoe.
If you’ve discovered that your shoes don’t quite fit, it’s not always the best idea to run them into the ground.
If your shoes have stretched a bit too much, consider donating or giving them to a friend who could use them. If your shoes don’t have the performance for a project because they feel loose, you could always save them as a comfortable outdoor pair or to alternate between when your good shoes go in for a resole.
Most people with performance shoes will opt into a resole because a new pair can cost anywhere between $190 - $300 AUD. All-round shoes are cheaper to replace at $120 - $180 AUD. You don’t save much when resoling an all-round shoe, but why should you throw out a perfectly good pair?
It’s important to consider the environmental costs when purchasing new shoes. Even though the savings from a resole can be small, building new climbing shoes takes a considerable amount of natural resources (i.e. leather, textiles and rubber). So, investing in a resole is better for the environment and it saves used shoes from becoming landfill.
In a nutshell, it’s absolutely worth it if you take good care of your shoes and resole at the right time. You can keep your favourite pair in action for longer, reduce costs, and lower your impact on the environment. It’s also worth donating or giving someone else good condition shoes that might not fit any more.
But don’t just take my word for it! Drop your shoes off at one of our stores (when we're open) and we can send them to a resoler for you, or go check out these resolers below:
TREADLIGHTLY RECYCLING INITIATIVE
You can recycle your old shoes in the TreadLightly collection boxes located in Alexandria & Fitzroy stores. We kindly advise you to clean and/or wash your shoes before placing them in the box.
RECYCLE YOUR SHOES