Can you wear socks with climbing shoes? No. And yes.
Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions among climbers! So we’re here to settle the debate once and for all. Here’s what we found, ranked from most to least common reasons you should wear socks with your shoes:
1) It keeps your feet dry.
This is the easiest answer, at least in theory. A sock provides cushioning that keeps your feet dry and without blisters, plus they wick away sweat and provide extra warmth when it’s cold.
Plus, if you’re an indoor climber and climb with a rope, your shoes are going to get pretty warm anyway. So having socks inside them will keep your gear a lot drier
2) It can keep your feet warmer.
Again, a sock is going to provide padding and insulation. For this reason, some climbers could say socks will keep your feet warmer than barefoot. But if you’re climbing in cold weather, or for an extended period of time, then this will be negated by the next answer.
3) It prevents blisters and aching feet.
This is probably the most common reason for wearing socks with climbing shoes. Unless you’re climbing in a gym or it’s colder than 60 degrees outside, your feet are going to get pretty warm and sweaty. And that’s going to make your feet very sore by the end of your session.
So if you’re trying to climb for long periods of time or outdoors, socks are going to prevent blisters and deaden some of the aches in your feet from being swollen or sweaty all day long.
4) You’ll have a better grip on the rock.
Wearing socks with climbing shoes is especially important if you are climbing outdoors and it’s humid. If your feet get sweaty then they’re slippery. You’ll have a much harder time sticking to the rock, especially if it’s damp outside.
A sock can provide some cushioning and friction that prevents you from slipping off the boulder or route you’re climbing.
5) It keeps your shoes cleaner.
If you wear socks with your climbing shoes, then they’ll keep dirt and grit from getting into the shoe and getting stuck in the velcro. This is especially true if you routinely wear leather or canvas shoes on top rope, or when climbing outside in a gym.
6) Fit & Comfort
This is probably the least common reason given for wearing socks with climbing shoes, but in our opinion, it’s one of the best. If you have a shoe that fits your foot well and is comfortable, then you’ll enjoy climbing more. And if you’re enjoying yourself outside on top rope or bouldering areas, then all the better.
7) It Prevent Foot Slippage from Sweat
This is especially true if you are on something steep and you might slip down the wall as a result of sweat. This is less common on a horizontal surface as slipping while forcing your foot off the rock would cause friction stopping you from falling.
Do You Wear Socks With Rock Climbing Shoes
All in all, the only real reason to wear socks with climbing shoes is for protection of your feet from blisters and sores. If you’re going to climb outside, then it’s probably better to wear them all year long as it will keep your feet warm and will prevent friction from your shoes on the rock.
In short, socks are a nice thing to have in a pair of climbing shoes – especially if you use them for both indoor and outdoor climbing. But you don’t have to wear them as they won’t necessarily help you climb better.
When You’re Climbing Indoors
Socks are definitely not recommended for climbing indoors. The walls or bouldering area you climb at is probably dusty, dirty or has remnants of other climbers’ chalk on it.
Then, your feet will get very sweaty from the friction from the velcro pieces that hold your shoes in place. Plus the floor of most indoor gyms will be cold and you’ll probably slip and slide when your feet are wet.
If you wear socks with rock climbing shoes indoors, they’ll get dirty, grimy and will probably smell after one session. And if you have to take them off to finish your climbs, then they might get lost.
So you’re better off without them when climbing indoors and in the gym!
To Sum Up!
Your socks provide padding, grip and cushioning when you’re rock climbing. They also prevent sweat and dirt from getting into your shoe and provide increased insulation, especially when it’s cold outside.
And because your feet are going to be exposed, you’ll have plenty of time to wipe off the sweat from your shoes before climbing on something harder.
This should be enough reason to wear socks with rock climbing shoes for outdoor climbing or top rope. But if you’re in the gym, then you don’t need them! In the gym, your feet will get very sweaty and cold from being on a hard surface. So they’re really not necessary unless it’s cold outside and you use them for multipitch routes.
So what do you think? Do you wear socks with climbing shoes? What’s the reason you have? Let us know below! Want to learn more about your other equipment – check out our complete Climbing Gear Buying Guides.
Question & Answer
Q – Which socks should I wear with rock climbing shoes?
A – Any socks that are designed to be worn with shoes and don’t have a heel. Most men’s athletic supporters work well, as do some brands of women’s sports bras. You want something that’s not too tight around your foot and won’t cut off circulation or give you blisters on your feet.
Q – Do you wear socks with rental rock climbing shoes?
A – It depends on your taste. Many people don’t. But if you want to use the same shoe, then you’ll want to wear socks anyway to prevent blisters, scuffs and/or a worn out shoe.
Q – Do you wear socks with rock climbing slippers?
A – Most climbers do not wear socks with climbing slippers. So for this reason, it’s probably better that you don’t either if slippers are your preferred climbing shoes.
Q- Do you wear socks bouldering?
A-If you’re bouldering indoors, then you want to wear your socks inside the shoes. But if you’re climbing outside, then wearing socks with rock climbing shoes could cut off your circulation and make it harder for you to move. So some people prefer to use no socks when bouldering outdoors.