Is it OK to wear socks with climbing shoes?

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I noticed that almost no one wears socks in their rock shoes. That’s hardly an understatement. In fact, I may be the only climber on Earth who wears socks. For me, socks make sense. Rock shoes, even expensive ones, are uncomfortable, and socks add a bit of cushion and a hygienic layer. Am I wrong to wear socks?

—Jesse Dank, Enumsclaw, Washington, via

The fashion of not wearing socks—or go “commando”, go after the bully, etc. – in rock shoes is, like sagging pants, a recent phenomenon. When I started climbing in 1973, almost everyone wore socks with EBs or PAs, non-sticky rubber shoes that were smart thumbscrew accessories, but of limited value on the rock . When you wore shoes like these, supposedly molded over a men’s dress shoe with spikes, the socks served as padding for your tortured dogs.

Yet around 1983 when the Sticky Fires hit the market, most climbers refused to give up their socks. Maybe it was because we had been trained to wear them, or we wanted to look like John Bashar, who wore calf-high tube socks with his Fires, or because back then everyone was climbing long lanes and had to wear sneakers and socks anyway. for the descents certain to be really long.

Then, oddly enough, some climbers started rocking their shoes bareback and wearing socks calling you a noob. This is still true today.

Assuming you’re just a practical person rather than someone who falls into the above category, wearing socks as you noted protects your feet from harsh seams, seam tape and the like sharp objects inside a shoe. If I was climbing El Cap, or any piece of long rock or cracks, I would size my rock shoes slightly larger and wear socks for comfort.

There is of course the question of sensitivity. Performance demands a snug fit, and that demands that the skin of your foot presses directly against the inside of the shoe. It can be said that going without socks gives you a better “feel” for the holds, that the socks lessen the feeling, like wearing a raincoat in the shower.

Pooh. To say you can feel rock through a rubber slab and midsole is to confuse “sense” with “feel”. You develop an idea of ​​how your shoe contacts the rock, how the edge sits on the grips, for example, but it’s a stretch to believe you can actually feel the texture and shape of the grips at through the sole of the shoe. This is especially true for board-mounted shoes, which have the feel of wooden clogs (and which I, really, prefer).

In most cases, there is no rational reason not to wear socks. Instead, everything comes back into fashion and, as they say, “fashion changes, style endures”. If you love socks, wear them proudly. Next!

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