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I've been going climbing (indoor bouldering) for about six months, using shoes I rented at the gym, and wearing socks (and everything was fine). I've recently got a pair of climbing shoes, and want to know why some people wear them without socks. What are the benefits of socks vs. without? Is this purely a matter of taste?

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The obvious reason should wear socks with rental shoes: if you pay attention to feet at the gym you'll notice athletes foot and nail fungus. Not wearing socks with the rental shoes is asking for trouble, although I'm not sure the socks will save you either ... –  ntc2 Mar 17 at 23:11
    
@ntc2 Can you rewrite your comment as an answer? After all, it is one :-) –  Eyal Mar 18 at 8:37
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5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I am not sure about the being able to feel more, but the most important reason I don't use socks is to avoid the rock boot sliding on my foot.

If you are on a marginal grip using just the edge of your sole, you don't want the boot to move at all.

This is also one of the reasons that rock boots for more experienced climbers are much more rigid than those for beginners - so you know that when you touch the rock, the rubber will grip and not bend.

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I upvoted this answer but wanted to add to this. I climbed in Yosemite for a while and found that no socks helped on edging, but I climbed more cracks than face. Wearing socks was good because it kept the boots from smelling bad. When climbing cracks I wore socks. When I moved away from Yosemite and started doing more face I almost stopped wearing socks (but threw chalk in to help the smell ;-) –  BillyNair Aug 22 '12 at 6:01
    
@BillyNair - agreed, you do need to keep them cleaned and deodorised :-) –  Rory Alsop Aug 22 '12 at 10:33
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I believe it is mostly a matter of taste. Many people claim that going barefoot inside the climbing shoes allows you to feel a bit more of the surface than with socks. Granted, you can't feel much through the thick rubber of the shoes to begin with, but I can see how that would be true.

Others counter claim that socks make your shoes less stinky after a good climbing session, but I don't buy into that claim, it seems that stinky climbing shoes is a fact of life with or without socks.

I personally go barefoot in my climbing shoes, simply because that’s what everyone else did when I started, and that’s just how i've done it since then.

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Every layer between your feet and the ground (or hill or whatever you are climbing) adds some distance resulting in: - less balance - less 'feel' with the type of material you are climbing - you feel ditches/gaps/small stones better (depends on how thick your shoes are)

Also you might be able to have smaller (less wide) shoes making it easier to place a foot into a more narrow space.

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As it stands, this answer is nigh illegible. Can you clear this up some? –  Russell Steen Sep 12 '12 at 2:35
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I've been bouldering outdoors for a couple years now and let me ask you this question in return:

Why wear socks in your climbing shoes?

What is the possible benefit to wearing socks? Try it. Your shoes will still stink, I guarantee. Your feet run the risk of slipping around in your climbing shoes. And if you buy tight, aggressive shoes, the fit will go all weird if you put on a pair of socks. It's your call, try it. But I don't see any benefits to wearing socks (while climbing).

Edit: Unless you are using rental shoes. Then wearing socks helps protect you from getting athlete's foot.

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For a non-climber, what are "aggressive shoes"? –  Russell Steen Sep 12 '12 at 2:36
    
Aggressive climbing shoes are generally: tighter, have stiffer soles, and the toes are turned down and more pointed. More aggressive climbing shoes are generally used for harder climbing, particularly bouldering. –  theJollySin Sep 12 '12 at 5:58
    
My shoes are definitely aggressive. –  Eyal Sep 12 '12 at 11:19
    
@Eyal The standard wisdom is that if you're wearing aggressive shoes, the fit is too important to worry about socks. That being said, in my experience the standard wisdom is correct. In particular, I think wearing socks screws up heal hooks. I've had shoes pop off twice while healing hooking with socks on. That just my experience, of course. –  theJollySin Sep 12 '12 at 18:12
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I think wearing socks with rental shoes is a great idea: should lesson the chance of contracting nail fungus or athletes foot. –  ntc2 Mar 17 at 23:12
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Because you want to increase your chances of contracting nail fungus or athlete's foot from your rental shoes :) In other words, it's probably better to keep the socks on if you're renting shoes.

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