I recently picked up bouldering and bought my first pair of shoes as well as chalk and a bag.

I've only been climbing in the gym for now and handled the equipment like any other gym-sports-equipment: I put it in my bag where it is safe from rain etc. that I might encounter on my way to the gym.

Soon I will travel to another city. My backpack is completely filled and the only way to take my equipment for bouldering with me is attaching it to the back or the sides of my backpack. As the weather-forecast does not look too promising I am wondering if it is alright for the shoes to get wet. The chalk-bag should - in theory - be waterproof, but I prefer being safe over being sorry.

To summarize: Is it ok for my climbing shoes to be directly exposed to the rain and how bad would it be if the chalk-bag would leak some water inside?

  • I have also recently taken up bouldering, but my concern was - can I deep water climb along a river / fall in the water - get back out and climb again. Its seems like there are some synthetic-based shoes that won't shrink... and I'm curious about that. Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 8:55
  • 2
    @sheriffderek you sound like you might benefit from 'chalk cream'! I've always wondered why one would use it over regular chalk, but climbing along a river and falling in wouldn't affect the liquid 'chalk' in the tube
    – Aralox
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 22:24

3 Answers 3


Is it ok for my climbing shoes to be directly exposed to the rain

Mostly fine. A bit of rain is not going damage your shoes. I've gotten mine totally sodden before now. It's also fine to wash them. Trust me you may well want to do this after a couple of months.

Just make sure you dry them well to prevent them from getting mouldy. That's your worst risk. This isn't going to happen from a rain shower though.

how bad would it be if the chalk-bag would leak some water inside

Again, not the end of the world. If the chalk (not the bag) gets really wet it's going to become unusable though. It will turn into a weird gooey chalky mass. But chalks relatively cheap, you can always replace it. Also fine to wash your chalk bag. Again, just dry it well before use.

  • The question about the bag is indeed about the chalk, it is labeled water-proof, just thought about maybe having a couple drops of water getting inside for whatever reason. As that is not an issue I will stick the bag and the shoes to the back of my backpack!
    – Marv
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:50
  • 3
    You could always buy a small dry bag, put your shoes/chalk bag inside, and use a carabineer to clip it to your backpack.
    – Radar
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 22:58
  • Are there any products you can suggest for that @Radar? I do not want any bigger bags alongside my backpack, thats my main issue regarding space
    – Marv
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 11:20
  • 2
    @Marv A plastic grocery or trash bag will work fine.
    – U2EF1
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 17:13

In addition to @Liam's fine answer: The usability of both chalk and shoes will be severely limited while wet, e.g. friction is extremely reduced and you will slip. Chalk will lump.

Your shoes will be completely fine when dried. They get all the time at least a little moist from sweat, they are designed to withstand that.

With chalk, it will depend on the mix, but most types will probably be usable when thoroughly dried.

  • 1
    Climbing shoes work fine in the wet (although chalk obviously doesn't) - it just depends on the rock type, texture and surface conditions. Avoid sandstones, because they're softer when wet and you'll damage them. Also some surfaces do become slimy when wet, especially if there's surface algae or lichen.
    – Useless
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:41
  • ok, I should clarify what I meant with severely limited usability: reduced friction
    – knitti
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:52
  • Yes, reduced friction on some surfaces. Some are honestly fine (generally if they're rough enough that surface water easily displaces away from contact points).
    – Useless
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 14:56

Of course your outdoor equipment has no problems with getting wet. It's not getting any damage if used in rain. While wet the function of your gear may be influenced, e.g. in the case of rubber soles and chalk this will be inevitable the case.

Your gear is designed and exists to be used outside where it may rain. Even back in the old days when they started climbing steep rock with the newly designed rubber soles they got wet. Back then climbing gyms weren't available and people even couldn't imagine that some decades later hundreds of people crowd up in tiny rooms to climb on plastic walls.

So don't be afraid of wet gear, just treat it right. Dry it properly, especially if you are hygiene-conscious. And avoid to go climbing outside in bad weather, except you really know what you are doing.

Not from my blog, so also not my property. Not from my blog, so also not my property. Source: http://www.kafadventures.com/blog/

  • 2
    Not your property probably means you can't reproduce it, and if you still do (as is admittedly customary in the web), please state the source!
    – imsodin
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 20:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.