Do You Wear Socks with Climbing Shoes? An Expert Answer

The decision to whether or not people should wear climbing shoes with socks solely depends on the climbers. Even though many people would find it necessary to accompany socks with any footwear in general, the case is different when regarding climbing shoes. Let us go through the reasons for going sockless, as well as the probable scenarios where we may have exceptions.

Why climbers should not wear socks?

This section covers various reasons why people prefer going sockless during bouldering and climbing expedition.

Reduce Bulk

Picture this out, would you prefer having heavy gloves on your hands while bouldering? Well regardless of the response, the fact is that the gloves add an extra layer of bulk to your hands. That is exactly what it feels like to have socks on your feet. They add another bulky layer to those skin-tight climbing shoes.

Why climbers should not wear socks

To enhance the shoe grip

Most socks are made of a smooth cotton layer. When worn, the layer is going to reduce friction between the foot and the shoe lining. The reduction in friction impacts the grip of the shoes and can cause unwanted shoe movement inside the shoe. This becomes even worse if one starts to sweat.

Decrease in shoe sensitivity

Shoe sensitivity is important during climbing as it helps climbers feel any object under the feet. This explains why most designers of climbing shoes often factor in the aspect of shoe sensitivity. These shoes mostly come with a thin, soft layer of sticky rubber that enables one to feel the ground below. However, with socks on, this sensitivity is compromised as the cotton socks absorb any pressure that may arise on stepping on divots and small rocks.

Avoid unnecessary smells

As stated, most climbing shoes are usually tight. This makes it hard for the pores on the skin to release sweat through the layer of skin inside the issue. Wearing socks is therefore likely to make matters worse. The accumulation of this sweat will cause some unpleasant odors. Moreover, some people naturally suffer from bromodosis, and with socks on, expect more smell from the feet.

Check out: How to clean smelly shoes with vinegar

When should climbers consider wearing climbing socks?

Even with the above concerns, some climbers still prefer having socks on during any climbing or bouldering activities. This decision also comes with some factors to consider ranging from the terrain of the activity, personal reasons as well as types of shoes worn.

When should climbers consider wearing climbing socks

Added Comfort

Socks will cushion you from any sharp object that may likely pierce through the rubber shoes. You can imagine how time-wasting it is having to carry along heavy loads of first aid kit because you are afraid of that unforeseen injury arising from rock piercings. Instead, have yourself wear a heavy layer of cotton socks that are going to enhance your comfort.

Some odor-absorbing socks also prevent your feet from stinking by absorbing any moisture and sweat arising from the vigorous exercise.

Besides, some climbers have old climbing shoes, making them vulnerable to foot injuries. Such climbers should always wear socks to cushion them from blisters and other injuries. This is however a temporal solution as they work out on how to find new climbing shoes with proper inner lining.

The terrain of rocks

Climbing shoes help to detect the sensitivity of the ground and rocks as seen above. In cases where the adventure is happening in places without small rocks with sharp edges, you may choose to have your pair of socks on. This eliminates any situations where one is likely to toe on small edges that may be of impact to body balance.

Socks help in keeping the feet warm

A pair of thick thermal socks are going to safeguard you from the cold and frozen temperatures that climbers endure at times. Anyone who has ever climbed on snow knows how it is tough when your toes get cold. The freezing temperature makes the feet less sensitive and stiff at times. To evade this, have your socks on throughout your climbing escapade. Remember, socks are socially acceptable because they are used to keep our feet warm.

Enhanced shoe fit

Thin stretchy socks are going to help your feet fit well in that stylish climbing shoe. Whenever the fit is just right, then one can easily climb over any terrain without any worries. Also, with well-fitted shoes, heel hooking is made possible and much easier.

Socks make it easier to take and off shoes

Climbing at times involves a lot of taking your shoes off and having them on. Feet can easily swell or sweat when climbing rocks, making it difficult to take them off or have them back on due to friction. With a pair of thin socks, the process is much simplified. The flexible socks make it easier to slip the swollen feet out or back in.


The topic of whether people should wear socks or not is still a debatable issue. While others, view it as a rookie move, some see it as unnecessary. Nevertheless, climbing is something people do to enjoy or relieve themselves from a week’s long stress from work. Just like any sport other sport, it is hard to love what you feel is uncomfortable and does not rest well with you.

If as a climber you feel good and relieved when climbing with socks on, then you have all the reasons to have them on. However, if climbing with rocks is an uphill task on its own, then it is better to do it your way.

The key is to however go with an option that guarantees your safety as a climber. All I believe is that the above information will help you make a wise decision before setting out for climbing with socks or a sockless one. Enjoy your expedition!

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