Can Rock Climbing Shoes Get Wet? Facts To Know [In 2024]

Written By Mahia

Outdoor activities like rock climbing require a lot of essential things to make things smoother. Among them, climbing shoes are the most crucial element.

Normally, climbing shoes are pretty expensive and need extra care.


When you go for climbing, your feet needs to be protected, and if you are hiking around water, your main concern is if your rock climbing shoes can get wet.

I went on a few hiking trips and faced the same situation. Now, I am going to share my experience, and along the way, you’ll get answers to your questions.

Keep reading till the end to know more about the waterproof nature of rock climbing shoes.

Can Rock Climbing Shoes Get Wet?

Yes, your rock climbing shoes can get wet depending on your shoe’s materials, and the depth of water damage can be measured.

If your shoes are made of synthetic materials, you don’t need to worry much.

Water doesn’t damage synthetic that much. But when it’s leather, the case is different and salty water can damage your shoes. It makes your shoes hard or stretches a lot more and changes the fitting.

So, when you are going for deep water soloing in leather shoes, leave them on until they are a bit dry.

Follow our guide to know Can Birkenstocks Get Wet?

How Climbing Shoes Perform When Wet?

Climbing shoes are designed in such a way that they can go through harsh weather conditions without much difficulty.

But still, when these shoes get wet, their performance and versatility change. The material is the leading cause of it. Synthetic materials get less damaged rather than leather.

In hot weather, the rubber of climbing shoes gets dry quickly, and it’s not comforting.

When wet, it changes the fit of your shoes as water can stretch out leather. And if, in this situation, you are going through slippery terrain, be careful about the grip of your shoes as it is prone to slip.

I prefer to dry my shoes and then use them to avoid any kind of accidents.

Read more on how to Dry Wet Work Boots.

Do Climbing Shoes Get Damaged By Water?

Yes, water can damage climbing shoes.

When I first went hiking wearing leather climbing shoes, I got them wet accidentally; since then, their color has changed, and the fit is not the same.

It’s so unfortunate how negatively salt water can affect leather shoes. But with synthetic shoes, it’s less damaging.

You don’t need to worry about high-quality rubber shoes as these are a one-man army on their own.


With rubber shoes, you can climb comfortably in any weather conditions.

The rubber outsole of these shoes is sticky enough to perform on wet or dry surfaces. The grip of these shoes is fantastic.

One thing to keep in mind is that water soloing in salt water will slowly worsen your shoes and make them smelly. So, you need to know how to take care of your shoes properly.

How Long Does It Take To Dry Your Climbing Shoes?

It is evident when you hike around water, your hiking shoes will eventually get wet. So to wear climbing shoes comfortably and get the maximum use out of them, you need to dry them properly.

It takes a couple of hours to dry your climbing shoes for you to wear them again.

A hair dryer comes in handy if you want to dry them quickly. Just make sure it’s in a low-heat setting. I tried to dry my shoes on a high heat setting, and it damaged them.

So, before trying any DIY techniques, be aware of the consequences and research about it first.

Can Climbing Shoes Get Moldy?

If you don’t rinse and dry your shoes after using them, your hiking shoes can get moldy and gradually, they’ll start to stink.

Molds grow in a place where the PH level is neutral and has low light.

I use warm water, mild detergent, and a brush to get rid of mold from my shoes. You can use soap with fewer basic ingredients. I wash my shoes thoroughly, and it takes a few rinses to wash everything.

After washing, you need to let your shoes air dry until they are ready to use again. It helps to prevent molding and reduce smells.

Put a few newspapers inside of your shoes.

I do that all the time and change them every now and then. Don’t ever put your hiking shoes in front of a heater or direct sunlight to dry them.

This will melt the glue and damage your shoes more.

Do You Wear Climbing Shoes When Deep Water Soloing?

DWS is a very nerve-racking game in the climbing world, and its popularity is on the rise.

The basic idea of this game is to climb without any rope using only water as your protection.

Climbing up and then jumping into the water is great fun.

You won’t need climbing shoes for primary levels of deep water soloing, but for more challenging activities, you need to wear an old pair of climbing shoes.

The high-quality rubber soles of these shoes do very well to maintain balance and grip. Towel off the rubber on your shoes, and it’s ideal to start the route from water as the rocks under the water can be pretty slimy and cause accidents at any time.

And wear synthetic shoes rather than leather shoes to reduce the maintenance process.

How To Stretch Out Climbing Shoes?

When it involves a lot of movements like climbing, your shoes or boots need to fit like a glove. Otherwise, it can cause several foot injuries and discomfort.

The best way is to buy a pair that fits perfectly to your size, but if necessary, you can stretch them a bit.

Synthetic shoes are made with such materials that they don’t stretch or shrink much when wet. So, it’s pretty tough to stretch them, but overuse, they will be easy to wear.

It is easy to stretch out leather hiking shoes. You can wear them while you’re taking a warm shower to stretch out a leather upper.

You can towel dry your climbing shoes and wear them around the house to get more flex. Then, you need to let them dry thoroughly and put newspaper inside them to absorb any excess moisture.

In this way, the newspaper helps to maintain the shape as well.

I wore them during the drying process a few times to get a snug fit. And it helped a long way and was practical too.

Can You Wash Your Climbing Shoes?

It is obvious that when you wear any footwear for outdoor activities, it will eventually get dirty.

So after a few wears, you have to clean them.

Rock climbing shoes are safe to wash. You won’t face many issues even if they get submerged in water.

But your leather shoes will stretch while wet, though you can maintain their fit by following a few precautions.

The appearance of them remains unchanged if appropriately dried. Most climbers don’t wear socks; as a result, sweat and dirt can start to build up inside your shoes. You need to clean your feet before wearing these shoes.

This way your shoes will still get dirty, but the process will be much slower.


Changing your footwear along the way also helps your feet to breathe.

Another way to wash your climbing shoes is to use mild soap and a wet cloth. If you practice these prevention processes, you don’t need to soak them in detergent water to clean them.

Odor neutralizers are a great way to balance the smell.

When it gets dirty, you can instantly wipe the inside and outside of the shoe to prevent any bacteria and harmful germs from growing.

Final Thoughts

To ease your climbing days, your shoes play the most crucial part, and their maintenance should be your first priority.

During hiking, your shoes are meant to get wet, and the exciting part is you can restore their previous condition with proper knowledge.

I hope I gave you enough reason to be assured and you got the answers you wanted.

If you are a fan of rock climbing and have faced similar situations, let me know how you got your shoes dry and what the after-effect was.

About The Author
Since childhood, Mahia is a shoe freak. And this is what lead her to do more research and gather knowledge about shoes.Mahia has always wanted to share her skill and knowledge about footwear with a mass audience, which ended her up in this amazing workplace.When Mahia is not writing, you can almost always find her in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes to upgrade her catering menu.

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