Finding the right pair of rock shoes takes some time and effort. And buying those that best work for a particular intended purpose isn’t always easy. So it makes sense that when you do get the shoes that work for that particular use or project, you protect your investment.
There really aren’t a lot of preventative measures to taking care of rock shoes, but there are a few. One is simply keeping an eye on normal wear and tear, and – when they need it – getting them to a good cobbler for a resole before too much wear makes that not a possibility. Another is pretty simple: Don’t leave your rock shoes in a hot car (or expose to any type of heat), or even – when possible to avoid it – in direct sunlight.
Think about about this way: A locked car serves as a greenhouse, meaning UV light comes in, but it doesn’t go out. And cracking the windows doesn’t help much. A parked car, if left in the 80-degree heat, can exceed temperatures of 120 degrees after only an hour in the sun.
And, when it comes to rock shoes, this has adverse affects on the glue that holds the soles on. More specifically, given the kind of glue manufacturers use on rock shoes, leaving them in a hot car will cause the soles and sometimes rands to delaminate. Really, it’s best not to leave any footwear in a hot car, but rock shoes are especially susceptible to damage in that situation.
Rock shoe designer and climber Heinz Mariacher, who heads SCARPA’s climbing shoe program, says, “even at the base of a cliff I always put my shoes in the shade as soon as they are off my feet—just like I do with my rope, quickdraws, water bottle or food.”
Why not make higher temperature glue in an effort to mitigate delaminating issues? Rock climbers want the ultimate in performance, and higher temperature glue would make shoes stiffer and less sensitive, says Mariacher, which is obviously not what climbers desire in a shoe where sensitivity really counts.
And, he says, “resoling and repairing would be more problematic, because to take the old sole or worn rands off would require more heating up, which would deform and weaken the upper materials.”
It’s the simple cliché: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
However, in the unfortunate event of a delamination, a good shoe cobbler that specializes in rock and outdoor footwear can often address the problem if it’s not too severe. They have a press and a last that can bring the shoe back to life over the course of the repair, retaining what’s special about your favorite pair of rock shoes.