Okay, you’ve looked at your rock shoes and determined that you need new rubber soles. You have two options.
One is to do it yourself. You can buy resole kits from both Mad Rock and Five Ten, but you get what you pay for—usually a lot of work and a bad job.
For not much more dinero than a resole kit, you can have a professional cobbler who specializes in rock shoes do the job and do it right. They’re usually pretty fast too so you’ll have your new soles on the rock in no time at all. I once had a pair of shoes resoled at the Verdon Gorge in France by an itinerant cobbler who had a mobile van, which he drove to different climbing areas every week. He did a perfect job on the shoes in a mere three hours, then told me not to climb in them until the next day.
Find a rock shoe specialist by asking around for recommendations or picking one that advertises in the climbing magazines. I’ve always used Rock and Resole in Boulder, but Rubber Room in Bishop and Flyin’ Brian’s Resoles in Las Vegas are great too. Visit your cobbler’s website to get the beta on prices and shipping. Most cobblers will analyze your shoes and then do whatever work is necessary unless you tell them otherwise.
There are three basic rock shoe resole repairs.
- Full-Sole Resole This is the full monty—the whole sole from toe to heel is replaced. You almost never need a full sole replacement. A full-sole repair should cost you around $40.
- Half-Sole Resole This, the most common and the cheapest resole, is when only half the sole is replaced from the toe to the instep. This resole is done because virtually all the usage and damage to your boot soles is on the part of the shoe that is used the most when you climb. Expect to pay $30 to $40 for a half-sole repair.
- Rand Repair The rand, the band of rubber that wraps around the rock shoe above the sole, is often damaged when you climb. Holes wear in the rand in the toe box, especially if you jam lots of cracks, or you wear into the rand by climbing past the useful life of the sole onto the rand itself. Rand repairs are generally expensive. Plan on adding $20 to $40 to the resole price, depending on how much damage has been done. It’s best to avoid rand repair by getting your shoes into the shop before damage occurs.
It is best and cheapest just to get new rubber half-soles on the front half of the sole, which is always the most worn part of the sole. You can also specify which sticky rubber you want on the shoe so you’re not stuck using your shoe manufacturer’s rubber. This is great if you love your shoes but aren’t that crazy about the rubber. Ask what rubber is available. Most cobblers offer Five Ten Stealth 2 and Stealth C4, La Sportiva Vibram XSV, Scarpa Megabyte, Boreal Fusion, Mad Rock #5, and Evolv TRAX rubber.
You’ll also need to determine if you want thick or thin rubber. Despite wearing out faster, the thinner rubber is best. This makes the shoe, especially if it’s a high-end performance rock shoe, more sensitive to your feet and the rock. Thin rubber is 1/8-inch (3-4mm) thick. On some stiff shoes and beginner all-purpose shoes you can have ¼-inch (5-6mm) rubber put on.