Should you wear socks on climbing shoes

Should You Wear Socks With Climbing Shoes?

Do you wear socks with climbing shoes? This debate has been going on for a long time among climbers. Some people strictly don’t prefer to wear socks with rock climbing shoes. And they have their reasons. While on the other hand, there are people who always wear socks before putting on their climbing shoes.

We’ll delve into this topic and discuss whether it is a good idea to wear socks while climbing and the pros and cons of wearing socks with climbing shoes.

Long ago, when specialised climbing shoes were not manufactured, the shoes used by climbers used to be thick boots with fitted nails. They had to wear socks to protect their feet and increase comfort.

As time passed, climbing gained popularity, and companies started making specialised shoes for climbing. Most companies make shoes with bare feet in mind. That is why most professional climbers wear their climbing shoes without any socks. According to statistics, about 95% of climbers don’t wear socks with climbing shoes. 

So are you supposed to wear climbing shoes or not? Let’s see both sides by discussing the pros and cons. 

Pros of wearing socks with climbing shoes:

Socks add to the comfort of your shoe

Most climbing shoes are designed for maximum performance while climbing. But it comes at a cost – comfort. The climbing shoes can feel tight and cause some discomfort. That is one of the reasons why people choose to wear socks with climbing shoes. 

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Socks prevent odor

A big reason why people wear socks in their climbing shoes is to protect their feet from getting smelly. If you wear climbing shoes without socks, it’s natural that they will get sweaty, and odor will form. Odor can be a source of discomfort. People prefer to wear socks because they absorb most of the sweat while preventing the odor-forming bacteria from growing. 

 Wearing socks protects your feet from blisters.

  Blisters can form on your toes if you’re a climber, either because of excessive sweating or the shoe being too loose. Wearing socks lessens the friction between your toes and the shoe while also curbing the sweat, which is the leading cause of blisters. Your socks needn’t be too thick. Nylon socks will work perfectly for you if you wear socks with climbing shoes.

Socks add warmth

Climbing in cold weather can be difficult. That is why you sometimes wear socks with climbing shoes to prevent your feet from getting numb due to the cold.

Socks help with the fitting of your shoe

Socks can significantly enhance the fit of your shoe. If you’re using a climbing shoe that is worn out and loose, you can throw in socks to improve the fitting. They can fill the space in your shoe, which could otherwise cause trouble during climbing

Ease of use

Climbing shoes are notorious for being a bit difficult to use. Due to their tighter fit, taking them on and off can be a bit of a drag, even more so when you’re climbing in hot weather, which can, on the one hand, make your feet swell and lead to a tighter fit. On the other hand, your feet will sweat a lot. When you wear socks, taking the shoes off and putting them on can become more accessible. 

Cons of wearing socks with climbing shoes:

Socks decrease the sensitivity of your feet

Climbing shoes are made to provide you with sensitivity and feel while climbing. It can be essential if you’re doing some tricky climbing; you need to have a better feel of the rocky surface and all the edges and corners. Wearing socks will cause you to lose that sensitivity and feel. 

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Socks will cause a tighter fit.

Wearing socks with your climbing shoes can change the fit of your shoe to some extent. If you’ve got a pair of tight-fitting climbing shoes, adding an extra layer of socks will make the shoe even tighter. Keep this in mind while buying socks for yourself. You should buy a shoe accordingly, meaning it isn’t so tight that wearing socks will cause discomfort. 

Socks lower the friction between your foot and the shoe

Friction between your feet and climbing shoes can be a significant factor while climbing. Friction gives you a better grip and can assist in your climbing. You want your feet to be firm against the shoe surface so you can climb easily without the slippage of your feet inside your climbing shoes

When you wear socks, however, there is a chance of slippage as the friction can be reduced. If you’re looking to climb in tricky terrain and want to take no circumstances, you should wear well-fitting, high-performance shoes without socks. 

Decrease the experience of high-end shoes

Most climbing shoes are designed with bare skin, as mentioned earlier. The ultra-premium shoes have lots of innovative features. They are especially noticeable if you wear shoes without socks. Then you can better understand those unique features by experiencing the bare-skinned shoe. 

You can experience the feel and fit of your climbing shoes better if you’re not wearing socks. You can see how your expensive climbing shoes hold up on different terrains and experience their full potential. Wearing socks means you will have to compromise on this. 

When to wear socks with climbing shoes

Suppose you’re renting your climbing shoes and are also worried about hygiene. You should wear socks. However, if you are serious about climbing and want to improve your skill and performance, you should invest in getting a good pair of climbing shoes for yourself that serve your purpose. The reason is that rental shoes are not of good quality most of the time and don’t fit well, which can cause discomfort and hinder your climbing experience. 

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Furthermore, if you do crack climbing, you should wear socks to protect your feet, especially those that reach above your ankles. 

If you are climbing at a place that is too hot, your feet are bound to sweat excessively. In such harsh conditions, it is better to wear socks to lessen the odor and sweating. 


Should you wear socks with climbing shoes? It all depends on you. Considering the factors mentioned above, you can decide whether you want to sweat socks with climbing shoes or not. What matters is whether it feels comfortable to you. 

If you feel that you feel more comfortable while wearing socks with climbing shoes. Then you go for it. After all, there are no hard and fast rules regarding this; it all depends on your preference and, to some extent, the conditions. Wearing socks will not make a huge difference in your climbing experience.

 If the upsides mentioned above are your priority, then you should go with wearing socks. If you care more about the sensitivity, performance and grip of your shoes and are looking to do some serious climbing – while enduring slight discomfort, you can go without wearing socks for your climbing shoes. 

In the end, it is just a matter of personal preference. You can choose to wear them or not. The rocks don’t judge. 

leah Leonard

Leah Leonard

Leah Leonard is a renowned author and seasoned climber, best known for her captivating book, “Perfect Climbing.” Her experiences scaling the world’s most formidable peaks have not only shaped her adventurous spirit but also lend a unique authenticity to her compelling narratives.

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