Wearing Socks and Climbing shoes…We need to talk.

Climbing shoes…and…Socks? you may be confused about the whole ordeal, Whatever side your on theres a few things to explain.

Should i wear Socks with my Climbing Shoes? Yes, wearing socks with climbing shoes can increase comfort or protect your feet during some climbing. Not wearing socks is more common nowadays however because it increases sensitivity.

Its always your choice, im just going to cover some technical reasons for and against, if youd like to join me…

firstly, its worth mentioning this cursed image is an argument against socks.

The Great Sock Debate

In the early days of climbing where the footwear of choice was Hobnail Boots no one would even think about going barefoot!

If you were climbing in big boots or canvas shoes you probably would wear socks too!

Now climbers are generally against wearing socks with your climbing shoes.

you might even have some climbers label you as a ‘punter’, but that doesn’t matter.

please never feel self concious about wearing socks with your climbing shoes.

climbers are all pretty nice mostly, and theres no harm in people thinking your a punter.

Theres lots of benefits to wearing socks over not wearing socks so its really just a matter of preference.

Socks On

sometimes I wear my socks climbing if its really cold and were outdoors.

Its so comfortable and you dont have to take them off and put them back on when your walking between boulders or belaying.

so whats wrong with wearing them, why doesnt everyone?

Climbing with socks on reduces sensitivity in your feet a significant amount.

This depends on the socks and the fit of your shoes but in my experience wearing a pair of mid thick socks reduces the feel in my toes A LOT.

This is why no one really wears them indoors.

The focus is generally on climbing hard and indoor gyms are pretty comfortable, you can walk around barefoot easily, there not cold and

  • Climbing shoes nowadays are designed to be wore barefoot
  • They fit so snug it would be counterproductive to wear socks.

We dont have to wear boots or tennis shoes for climbing anymore.

No one really wears them indoors, and you might be the only one wearing them in the climbing gym.

But theres planty of legit reasons for wearing them.

There are obviously reasons for wearing socks indoors, firstly if your climbing shoes are too big,

You might actually feel a benefit from wearing socks because they will ‘pad’ your shoes out to stop your feet moving around on the inside.

This can help you feel more secure on your feet, even though your wearing socks and Climbing shoes.

contrary to the idea they make climbing feel less secure.

Wet rock

So i recently discovered, while writing a post on wet rock climbingOpens in a new tab., linked just there.

A Kind of climbing… secret…

Apparently its actually better to climb wet rocks in a thick pair of socks and NO CLIMBING SHOES.

While i havent verified for myself yet, i can see how it would work.

You shouldnt climb wet rock because of the damage it causes from all the grit sticking to your shoes and you then grinding them on the foot holds.

So if you drove a long way and your projects wet… Socks for the win!

If anyone judges you just remember your saving the rock from getting destroyed!

Please let me know how it goes haha


If your shoes are getting a bit thin, or look like those im pretty sure you will be way more comfortable with a pair of socks on.

Climbing with your bare toespoking out your shoes is super uncomfortable and negatively impacts your foot work in a big way.

If your shoes are getting a bit thin, get some socks on,

They will protect your toes and let you climb harder.

Secondly, Climbing centres provide hire shoes for a good hundred people a day…

we just spray them with a cleansing / Freshener between giving them to climbers.

Do you want Athletes foot with that?

This is a pretty valid reason why people wear socks with climbing shoes indoors because a sweaty climbing shoe thats already been walked in by three people that day?

pretty unhygienic, im sure the risk of catching some fungal foot disease is actually pretty low,

but who wants to climb in a sweaty, communal climbing shoe?!

If your in rental shoes its pretty reasonable to wear socks!

No ones gunna call you a punter for wearing socks and rental shoes i promise, its a pretty sensible decision.

Equally, if your shoes are a bit uncomfortable, you can feel a seam on the inside or it rubs on a particular spot you should totally wear socks with your climbing shoes.

It will make your climbing experience more enjoyable so why not!

Cool socks

Probably the most viable reason for wearing socks and climbing shoes is wearing really cool socks.

If you just got a sick new pair of rock climbing socks, or they have little ninjas on them or something, please keep them on.

Socks Off

Going ‘Commando’ or just not wearing socks with your climbing shoes is the way for most climbers nowadays.

Id guess even 90% would vote ‘No Socks’.

This means wearing socks with your shoes for whatever reason you might feel like a minority.

ive even had people bring it up when im wearing socks as if im not allowed!

So why is no socks the way foward?

Everyone used to wear socks when climbing shoes were in there early stages.

Its because now climbing shoes are so advanced and well fitting wearing socks with them is generally detrimental to climbing performance.

The comfort they provide is also the reason people dont wear them,

The sock acts as another level of padding between you and the rock, providing dampened feedback about the quality of your foot placement.

This is why people barely wear socks indoors or sport climbing, because it decreases the sensitivity in your feet.

Sure you can still see where your placing and feel how much weight your putting onto the foot but you wont be able to feel the hold anymore.

I climbed this 7c+ with really small feet a couple months back and i had to feel the corner my big toe was in, or else I would slip riight off.

Im quite sure I wouldnt be able to climb it in socks because the feetback you get from the foothold is essential for feeling confident and secure on them.

In this paticular case there is no way i would have wore socks and tried to climb that route!

But on the 7b to the right were feet didnt matter as much, i did wear my socks because it was so cold!

When to wear socks.

There are times when climbing shoes are very normal or even recommended over not wearing socks. You might not believe it but its true!

Crack climbing with socks?

For example crack climbers have long been wearing socks with there shoes to protect there ankles from being scratched up in the crack climb and to provide some extra comfort between there feet and the crack. I dont know if youve tried crack climbing but with my limited experience i can safely say its uncomfortable!

your jamming your toes and your foot into the crack and then standing up on them, over and over. It makes complete sense for crack climbers to wear socks.

Big Wall climbing in socks?

Socks on Big walls is another great example, while im sure some demanding pitches would make you take them off, big wall climbers generally go socks on for there ascent as your climbing for such a long time. Comfort goes before precision and having optimum feel in the foot when your climbing for Hours at a time.

When big wallers arrive at the anchor they can pull there shoes off and still keep there feet warm and comfortable without faffing with extra gear while there hanging maybe 1000 feet off the ground.

Whenever you want to!

Socks or not is a matter of personal preference so its completely valid to wear socks just because you want to… Lets say you got a new pair of ‘Bruce Lee’ socks, in pink and green. APSOLUTELY wear them climbing!


Essentially, there is no right or wrong here.

Nothing matters, wear your socks…or not.

There are very valid arguments for both wearing socks and not wearing socks.

Socks provide you with a level of comfort not achieveable without for some people, and equally if you are focussed on climbing hard; wearing socks is a pretty bad decision.

Make sure your aware of the circumstances your wearing them in and why your wearing them and you will feel no shame!

There are no rules, climbing started as a counter culture movement so go ahead and wear some fluffy socks with your climbing shoes, or dont.

As long as you are comfortable, dont worry about other people opinions, you dont need any of these ‘real’ reasons for wearing socks or not.

Its completely down to your own personal preference.

The general of thumb is; for comfort, wear socks and for performance, go without!

Another one! lemme know if you like the content… i enjoy making these 🙂

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