Stretching is a critical factor to consider while buying climbing shoes. The climbing shoe you buy might fit you well initially, but after the break-in period, it can become loose. Stretching depends on the materials used and its construction. Some shoes stretch up to a significant amount while others only stretch a little.
Leather climbing shoes stretch a great deal. A soft leather shoe like Mythos can stretch up to three or four sizes over its lifetime. However, there is some confusion around synthetic shoes and people often wonder do synthetic climbing shoes stretch.
Whether Synthetic Climbing Shoes Stretch Or Not
It is a misconception that synthetic rock climbing shoes do not stretch. They do stretch out as their seams expand and the rubber molds, but not as much as the leather rock climbing shoes.
They might seem very tight at first but as you climb in them, they will eventually soften up and you will notice some stretching. It is important to remember that you will not see a drastic change, as can be expected with the leather shoes. You have to choose the size while keeping this in mind.
There are some rock climbing shoes that are made with special synthetic uppers that can undergo considerable stretching. Synthetic materials like Dentex and Pacific used in some La Sportiva shoes can stretch quite a bit as compared to the normal synthetic shoes.
How Much Do Synthetic Climbing Shoes Stretch?
As we’ve stated earlier, synthetic climbing shoes don’t stretch drastically. They can stretch up to half a size normally. The maximum most synthetic rock climbing shoes stretch out is a whole size. This is, however, not the case with most synthetic shoes.
There are a few ways to stretch synthetic rock climbing shoes. If they feel awfully tight, you can count on a more snug fit after the break-in period.
The most common ways to break in synthetic shoes are:
- Climbing in them. This can feel really uncomfortable the first few times though.
- Taking hot showers with your shoes on. This can speed up the process of stretching out your climbing shoes.
- Freezing bags of water in them. It can be a great alternative to the hot showers option.
Without these methods, your synthetic shoes can take some time to undergo stretching.
As mentioned earlier, there are some synthetic materials that stretch out a lot; easily more than half a size. La Sportiva Katana is a good example. It is a synthetic shoe made of Lorica, which is a synthetic material that stretches. Katana can stretch to a considerable amount, almost behaving like a leather shoe.
Thus to answer the question we asked in the beginning, “Do synthetic climbing shoes stretch?” Yes, climbing shoes do stretch out but not as much as the leather ones. The exception is the shoes made with special synthetic materials, you have to watch out for those when choosing the size of your shoe. Usually, you only need to go down half a size with a synthetic shoe. However, you should get all the information you can about the shoe you are buying including the experience of fellow climbers, so you can avoid fitting issues. Happy Climbing!