Climbing Shoes can be pretty nasty at the best of times. With hot weather and air-tight closures – even more so. If you get the right shoes, it could make all the difference!
Some people naturally sweat a lot more than others – regardless of fitness or weight. There is also evidence that fitter people sweat more and faster in response to physical load. Hyperhidrosis is a condition where you sweat more than you normally would and it can be quite hard on people trying to enjoy climbing.
The best climbing shoes for sweaty feet are generally the most breathable. Having a tight shoe that doesn’t breathe well can result in sweat getting trapped. Then that horrible squelchy, slippery fit doesn’t do your footwork any favors. So, what can be done?
Climbing Shoes For Sweaty Feet – Fit + Socks
You absolutely have to have the right fit for your climbing shoes. The wrong shape can be uncomfortable and lead to you buying shoes that are too large. The shoe then slips about and rubs. This hurts and causes friction and heat, leading to dead skin and sweat. Not all shoes are made equal and you aren’t just supposed to size down until they’re tight.
Wearing socks with climbing shoes can make them feel more comfortable – but adds more issues. The right socks can help and the wrong ones can make sweating worse. Synthetic materials like polyester increase sweating by repelling water and natural fibers like cotton absorb water. Both have good and bad properties.
We’d suggest if you are going to wear socks with climbing shoes, get an anti-microbial blend. Something made of merino wool, with CoolMax technology, or with anti-microbial blends.
Climbing Shoes For Sweaty Feet – Fabric
Most climbing shoes used to be made of a leather or suede material. In general leather shoes smell better than synthetic as they are more porous and breathable. Synthetic inner linings are used with leather shoes to help retain the shape and now some shoes are completely synthetic.
Synthetic climbing shoes have long had a reputation for smelling bad. However, modern synthetic shoes have the advantage in that they stretch less and can be infused with anti-odor properties. There are also modern synthetic materials with perforation for literal breathing holes.
A New Breathable Material
The latest tech to hit climbing shoes is having a woven synthetic-blend upper. The Engineered Knit fabric from Black Diamond was the first of the pack. A few of our recommended shoes are from BD. This is a woven polyester-propylene fabric that is incredibly breathable but still has a little stretch similar to traditional synthetics. It’s like the Nike FlyKnit and other similar running shoes.
To keep the shape of the shoe some extra work has to be done with the rubber. Shoes with woven synthetic material don’t tend to be very stiff. Other brands like Butora, Mad Rock, Boreal, and others are now using a similar woven fabric to help the breathability.
Tips For Reducing Sweating While Climbing
- Avoid caffeine and hot drinks before climbing – Both increase heart rate and perspiration
- Avoid sugar too – If you absolutely need the kick, try sugar free energy drinks
- No booze – Same thing, leave alcohol for after you’ve sent the proj
- Less Salt – Processed foods and sodium increase sweat levels
- More magnesium – Nuts, fruit, and veg all help
- Wear loose, breathable clothing – Reducing overall body heat will help
Tips For Stopping Smelly Shoes
If the problem is more about the smell of climbing shoes than the sweat then read on. Climbing shoes smell because bacteria thrive in warm, damp conditions. Bacteria that live on the skin transfer to our shoes. The bacteria then break down proteins – which causes the stank. This is a problem all climbers face but excess sweat can make it worse.
- Use shoe deodorizers – Buy something like the Sof Sole shoe inserts below as soon as you get new shoes! They absorb moisture, stop bacterial growth, and smell like lavender
- Take Your Shoes Off – In between climbs let your feet breathe a little
- Don’t Leave Your Shoes Wet – Leaving damp shoes in a gym bag in between sessions can kill shoes and relationships. Wear flip flops or slip on trainers for belaying
- Hang Them Up – Leave shoes hung up in a breezy place out of the sun
- Use Foot Antiperspirant – Made especially for feet – don’t use regular deodorant
- Don’t Put Chalk In Your Shoes – It gunks up and turns into a paste. Not good
If you suffer from smelly climbing shoes, it’s pretty hard to get them smelling nice once they start to pong. Getting a pair of shoe deodorizers when you first buy a new pair and using them religiously will really help!
Best Beginner Climbing Shoes For Sweaty Feet
|Rubber: 4.3mm NeoFriction||Downturn: None – Flat|
|Shape: Straight||Closure: Two velcro straps|
|Stiffness: Soft||Sizing: Buy your street shoe size|
The Black Diamond Momentum isn’t just a great entry-level shoe – it’s also the most breathable climbing shoe on the market. The reason it’s probably the best climbing shoe for sweaty feet is the Engineered Knit upper. All over the top and at the heel this synthetic “wool” style knit is very open and allows a tonne of airflow.
They’re quite a soft shoe with a flat sole. This means they’re comfy and won’t force your foot into an awkward shape. The double velcro straps mean you can take these off in seconds. If you’ve found that you’re feet sweat in gym hires or your first pair you might love these shoes.
Best Intermediate Climbing Shoes For Sweaty Feet
|Rubber: 4.3mm NeoFriction Fuse||Downturn: Medium|
|Shape: Medium asymmetry||Closure: Two velcro straps|
|Stiffness: Medium||Sizing: Half a size up from street shoe size|
The Zone from Black Diamond features the Engineer Knit upper like the Momentum so has that same awesome breathability. It also has the same simple velcro closure for quick breaks. Where they differ is the Zone jump up a notch in downturn and performance. If your climbing is moving much more into overhung sport climbs or short, hard boulders – these will be more suitable.
The toe box will curl up your toes and the downturn will aid in getting more power into the big toe. It’s quite a stiff shoe and won’t stretch much due to the synthetic material and a large amount of rubber. This means it’s brilliant at tiny edges on overhangs.
It’s our top pick for the best bouldering shoes for sweaty feet. These won’t stretch much so get the right size the first time – around a half a size up should be OK. If you have a slimmer heel at all then get the Low Volume (LV) version of the shoe.
Check out our latest picks for the Best Bouldering Crash Pads
Best Trad Climbing Shoe For Sweaty Feet
|Rubber: NEO Fuse||Downturn: Flat|
|Shape: Slightly asymmetric||Closure: Laces|
|Stiffness: Very stiff||Sizing: Size up one half to one full size from street|
Available in both wide and narrow fit. A mid top shoe in a similar vein to the popular TC Pro. The 100% Organic Hemp lining used means a natural, breathable fabric that has anti-odor properties but still holds like leather. No liquid adhesives are used in the upper for more breathability.
These are the most stiff of all the shoes in this article. They’re tuned to long days on tiny granite edges and being twisted about in cracks. The rubber up the sides of the leather will take a beating too. Don’t size down aggressively as these have a long break in because of the material. Comes in a tight fit version for slimmer feet too.
Best Bouldering Shoe For Sweaty Feet
|Rubber: NeoFriction Fuse||Downturn: Aggressive|
|Shape: Slightly asymmetric||Closure: Velcro strap|
|Stiffness: Medium||Sizing: Half size up|
Yes, another Black Diamond shoe! For sweaty feet you really need a breathable climbing shoe, and BD have just nailed it with their mesh knit uppers. If you’re getting into harder boulders and sport climbing routes then the Black Diamond Shadow could be the shoe for you.
With a molded printed rubber, the toe-box is the classic “boxed in” shape with a good hold to it. It’ll allow you to apply really good pressure onto tiny points. The middle is softer, meaning you can grad onto those little edges and put your heel up without slipping.
Overall it’s a really good sending shoe but with a fully breathable upper that will keep your feet from sweating on a hard session – indoors or out.
Best Technical Approach Shoes For Sweaty Feet
We’re going to give you two different picks for approach shoes. One for technical approaches, and one for easier walk-ins.
The La Sportiva TX3 is a versatile, fully-featured, and – most importantly for us – breathable approach shoe. It’s absolutely perfect for long days out trekking around the desert and up big routes in dry alpine conditions. It’s essentially the perfect medium between a hiking shoe and a climbing shoe.
The mesh upper allows great breathability which will help the sweatier among us. It also can get wet, but dries easily because of that same porous upper. It’s essentially the more open version of the leather La Sportiva TX4 approach shoe.
Best Casual Approch Shoes For Sweaty Feet
Yet another BD product. We’ve personally used the Black Diamond Circuits for over six months, and love them for their simplicity and breathable upper. Whether it’s for a fun hike in to the crag or a long day out in the city – the Circuits look good and perform well.
They’re suited more to simpler approaches, especially over large areas of rock – not mud. Having used and abused them in many situations, they also hold up very well. That upper is really good for keeping our feet dry as well. Read our full Black Diamond Circuit review for more.
We hope this article on the best climbing shoes for sweaty feet helps you pick the right pair for you. It probably doubles well as a good guide to the best climbing shoes for smelly feet too as the main problem is the air flow. Follow us on instagram or facebook for more great articles.