How to stretch climbing shoes/ featured image

How To Stretch Climbing Shoes (3 Best Ways)- 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Stretching Importance: Properly stretched climbing shoes enhance comfort and performance, reducing blisters and improving grip on terrains.
  • Stretching Methods: Techniques include heat application, manual adjustments, and using tools like toe spreaders.
  • Caution: Not all materials can be stretched, and incorrect methods can damage shoes. Consultation with a cobbler is recommended.
  • Common Mistakes: Rushing the process or using unsuitable products can harm the shoes’ integrity and fit.
  • Benefits: Stretched shoes offer better comfort, performance, and potentially increased durability.

Are your climbing shoes starting to feel a bit snug? Can’t seem to get the perfect fit? Don’t despair, because in this guide post, we have you covered.

Here you will find all the tips and tricks on how to stretch your climbing shoes and gain the extra comfort needed for an enjoyable experience.

So put on your comfortable socks and let’s begin!

Why you should stretch your climbing shoes

Stretching your climbing shoes can improve fit and make them more comfortable over time. Pair of climbing shoes that are too tight can cause blisters and calluses on your toes.

However, not all shoes can be stretched and some types of shoes should never be stretched.

It’s important to understand why and how you should stretch your climbing shoes, so you can make sure they are comfortable for long climbs and reduce the chance of an injury.

When you purchase a new pair of climbing shoes, it is important to break them in slowly by wearing them for short periods of time or alternating them with another pair until they become soft enough to easily slip on and off. If even after breaking them in, the shoes are still too tight then stretching may be necessary.

Climbing shoe stretching tools use either hot water (moisture), steam, or heat to loosen up the leather in different areas of the shoe so that it is easier to fit your foot inside. 

Each method requires a different set of steps but includes removing laces or any other padding and acting upon the affected areas with either moisture, steam, or heat until desired levels are achieved.

Depending on how much you need to stretch each shoe, this process could take anywhere from 15 minutes up to several hours over several days’ time.

It is important to note that if done incorrectly, stretching can cause permanent damage so it is best done by a professional at a store that specializes in shoe repair or stretching services rather than attempting it on your own.

Stretching may not be possible for all types of materials including Nubuck leathers which should only be stretched very gradually and never using enzymes or solvents as these could break down the material causing irreparable damage.

For synthetic materials such as PVC rubber, don’t apply any heat whatsoever. Be sure to consult a qualified cobbler before attempting any kind of stretching service yourself!

Check out these easy ways to stretch your rock climbing shoes at home.

Why you should stretch your climbing shoes/ How to stretch climbing shoes

How to properly stretch your climbing shoes

Stretching your climbing shoes is an important part of maximizing their comfort and performance.

If your shoes are too tight, it can cause blisters, pain, and a lack of control over certain features. Stretching your shoes allows for increased precision and overall comfort.

To Properly stretch shoes, there are several methods to choose from. One might try stretching the leather with one of the following:

  • Steam (using a hand-held steamer or other commercial option)
  • Warm/hot water
  • Shoe stretchers can be found in shoe stores or online.

Additionally, applying some sort of leather conditioner before stretching can help with the process.

It is essential to note that you must be careful when using heat appliances to stretch your shoes as it is easy to burn the material if used improperly.

Furthermore, tightening laces while performing this method may help facilitate the process but don’t go too tight

as that will cause pain. In general, only conduct simple stretches unless you know exactly what you are doing – extreme heating or stretching could cause irreversible damage!

Benefits of Stretching Your Climbing Shoes

When you purchase climbing shoes, chances are that they will feel too tight for your comfort. This is because the material needs to be quite snug in order to provide your feet with the most possible support as you climb.

Stretching your climbing shoes can help them fit more comfortably and make them even better for rock climbing. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of stretching your climbing shoes:

Improves Comfort:

One of the main reasons to stretch your climbing shoes is improved comfort during activity.

Stretching allows the material of the shoe to conform more closely to the contours of your foot, alleviating any hotspots or pinch points and providing a better feel overall during activity.

Increases Performance:

The second benefit is increased performance when you stretch your climbing shoes; this happens due to improved power transfer and feeling in the shoe when on a wall or rock face, which gives you greater control over demanding maneuvers on smaller holds or ledges.

Additionally, this also increases breathability in certain areas, helping keep feet dryer during long climbs in hot weather climates.

Improves Durability:

Lastly, stretching can help increase the lifespan of your investment by improving its durability and resilience against wear and tear from both usage and regular cleaning routines over time.

It’s important not to overstretch too much though, as doing so could create unwanted gaps between material/stitching where water can enter – permanently weakening spots that can never be fixed!

Benefits of Stretching Your Climbing Shoes/ How to stretch climbing shoes

Common mistakes people make when stretching their climbing shoes

When stretching your climbing shoes, it’s important to remember that it should be done gradually.

The most common mistake people make when stretching their shoes is trying to rush the process by stretching them too quickly and too far.

Doing this can cause damage to your shoes, making them uncomfortable and weak.

To get the best results from stretching, you want your shoes to stay dry as excessive moisture can lead to unpleasant odors and eventually damage the leather over time.

Also, you want to ensure that there is no use of cleaners or conditioning creams on the leather unless specifically recommended for use with climbing shoes.

3 best ways to stretch your climbing shoes

Climbing shoes that do not fit correctly can impede your climbing performance.

If they are too loose, you will not be able to secure the holds effectively and if they are too tight, you will be in discomfort and unable to push yourself as hard as you can.

Fortunately, there are several methods that you can use to stretch out climbing shoes and make them more comfortable. Below are some of the best ways to stretch your climbing shoes:

1. Heat Application

You can use heat on the material or leather of your climbing shoe to help expand it, allowing it to fit on your foot comfortably.

Directly using a hair dryer on low heat for about 15 minutes should give the desired effects for leather shoes.

For synthetic materials such as suede, you can use a bowl of hot water and soak them for 10-15 minutes before putting them on with thick socks.

This should make the material conform better to your foot shape after a few tries.

2. Tightening & Loosening

If you feel like parts of certain areas are still too tight after doing heat applications or soaking, another option is manually stretching those areas by tightening or loosening specific regions with a tool such as a hex key before wearing them around with thick socks again until desired tension is achieved.

3. Toe Spreaders

Toe spreaders provide stretching relief along both sides of the top of your feet which can increase comfort when standing firmly on small edges or footholds due to increased room inside the shoe near the arch area without compromising snugness around your metatarsals.

These toe spreaders will encourage more natural toe flexing which allows for more control when gripping micro edges or smearing onto slabs.

Watch the above video for an extra way to stretch the climbing shoes.


I hope you liked the article and are now well-informed on how to stretch climbing shoes, In conclusion, Stretching climbing shoes can improve fit and make them more comfortable, reducing the chance of blisters and calluses.

Different methods can be used to stretch shoes, including steam, warm water, or shoe stretchers. Before stretching, make sure the shoes are not too tight and the pressure is evenly distributed.

Furthermore, Stretching should be done carefully to avoid damaging the shoes and is best done by a professional.


How can I stretch my climbing shoes at home?

Stretching climbing shoes at home: wear thick socks, put shoes in a plastic bag & use a hair dryer on hot for a few minutes.

Do climbing shoes really stretch?

Climbing shoes do stretch, but only about 1/2 size or less. Stretching them more can cause them to lose support and shape.

How long to stretch out climbing shoes?

Climbing shoes can take several weeks to stretch out fully, wear them regularly and stuff them with newspaper to help speed up the process.

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