Note: Many of these articles are very old, and although the technical information is still relevant the equipment mentioned may not be (for example a Stormy cooker was state of that art in 1995, but not in 2021).
When you work in a shop you see a lot of boots coming back, sometimes because they’re obviously faulty, other times because they’ve been abused, or more likely the buyer had too high an expectation about how long they would last. In order to avoid arguing with the shop staff hears a few ways to keep your boots from dying prematurely. Rock boots don’t like heat! It will cause them to loose their shape and more importantly cause the glue to fail. The prime cause of this is leaving your gear in a hot car for weeks on end, or trying to dry damp boots on radiators. The only exception to this is when fitting, as many people actually use the fact the boots loose their shape when heated, holding the front of the boot (in a plastic bag) in a pan of boiling water for two minutes, then putting them on until they cool. This allows the stretch of the boots to be accelerated but isn’t long enough to damage the boots. If you let your boots lose their stickiness you’re not only loosing performance but also probably increase wear, as you tent to climb with less delicately. The main cause of loss of stickiness is either walking around in your boots – which obviously increases wear - or failing to clean them each time you go climbing, with the microscopic particles of rock, mud and sheep crap stopping the rubber from sticking to the rock. Rubber sticks so you will always get you boots dirty, but all you need to do is get into the habit of cleaning off the boot each time you climb, either by using a damp rag or your by spitting on your hand (the rubber particles that is left on them will allow you to climb a grade harder guaranteed). Lastly don’t wait for your toes to be sticking out the ends. Get them resoled, especially if they are a pair that’s used indoors a lot. Resoling technology has come on along way and most boots can be resoled at least 4 times without a loss of performance. The trick is to get them resoled when the sole is 80% worn out, as the longer you leave it the harder it is to get a good resole – so don’t wait until you feel your grubby toes touching the rock! Also try not to leave them until they go through on the rand, a common problem if climbing indoors on abrasive walls.
Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram