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How to Shrink Climbing Shoes

how to shrink climbing shoes

The climbing shoes are an essential accessory that provides the support and precision needed for standing footholds of different sizes. But when climbing shoes fit too big on your foot, it can be a liability for your climbing activity. The solution is to shrink your climbing shoes to make them fit both of your feet.

But how to shrink climbing shoes? There are various ways to shrink your climbing shoes, such as washing them, exposing them to heat, and wearing socks. All of the techniques mentioned and other methods will be discussed in detail below.

Method 1: Washing the Shoes

Washing the shoes in a washing machine is probably the easiest way to shrink them. However, the effectiveness will only last for a short time. When you wash your climbing shoes, it will make them stiff and will somehow shrink from their original size.

After washing them, you must let them dry for the best results. The results can vary from one person to the other. To some, the shoes shrink after washing and drying. However, some climbers reportedly said the shoes expand after wearing them again. So, this technique is easy to do but can produce varying results.

Method 2: Putting Them in a Freezer

Aside from washing, another way to shrink your climbing shoes is to expose them to cold temperatures. So, putting the climbing shoes in the freezer overnight can help in shrinking the shoes. Expect the shoes to be snugger as you take them out the following morning.

This method is effective, especially if the shoes are made of fabric and leather. The cold temperature inside the freezer can help tighten the fabric and the leather, which eventually can help in shrinking the shoes.

Method 3: Leaving Them in Heat

This method is exactly the opposite of the previous one. If the climbing shoes shrink in cold temperatures, they can also shrink when exposed to heat. This method is applicable when you are living in a hot and sunny state.

When I say exposing them to heat, I mean exposing them to natural sunlight. Exposing them to artificial heat from the oven or microwave is not recommended as it can damage the climbing shoes.

It is also not advised to expose them to direct sunlight since it can damage the shoes. You can put the shoes on naturally and leave them under the sun’s natural heat without directly exposing them.

Method 4: Wear Socks

wear socks climbing shoes

If your climbing shoes are too big, one of the ways to shrink them is to wear socks. You can try this method when you are trad climbing. The socks can fill the extra space inside the climbing shoes. Then, after a few hours of climbing, expect your feet to swell, allowing you to remove the socks and eliminate the extra space inside the shoes.

In this method, you can wear thicker socks than the usual ones you are using. If you do not have a pair of thicker socks, you can wear multiple pairs on your foot to fill up the extra space and make you comfortable before the climb.

Method 5: Stuffing with Newspaper or Any Other Absorbent Materials

This method is unique but has been proven by several climbers who have tried it already. In this method, you need to place newspapers inside the shoes after an hour of washing them. But you need to change or replace the newspaper every hour to maximize the result.

If you do not have a newspaper, you can try other materials that are absorbent in nature. The reason, using newspapers or any other absorbent materials can help soak up any moisture inside the shoes, which makes the shoes fit more snugly.

use shoe cushions

Method 6: Use Shoe Cushions

Cushions are usually used to make the feet more comfortable with the shoes. However, you can also use these shoe accessories to eliminate the extra space in your climbing shoes. One way is to use heel cushions at the back of the heel if your climbing shoes are too long.

On the other hand, you can also use a ball of foot cushions to fill the toe area of the climbing shoes. This method will help keep the toes in the same place when you are walking. The cushions will eliminate the space in front of your climbing shoes.


Learning how to shrink climbing shoes is easier said than done. However, there are proven methods that can help climbers shrink bigger shoes to make them comfortable during the climb. Some of them may work for you while other methods may not deliver the best results. You can choose the best one that will help you shrink the climbing shoes to make you feel better during the climbing activity.

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