In this post we cover all the best options for what to do with climbing shoes that you no longer use. Whether you stopped using them because they’re worn or about to get a hole, or they never fit right to begin with so you haven’t really worn them. From resoling, to donating, or selling your shoes, find the details below.

Recycling

Bad news first, there’s no guaranteed way to recycle your climbing shoes. At this time, no rock climbing shoe manufacturer takes shoes back.

It’s possible that you could drop them off at a Nike store in their Reuse-A-Shoe bin, but we’re not 100% sure they fit the requirements. We called Nike customer service and they seemed to say any shoe that didn’t have metal parts was ok (metal wouldn’t be compatible with their grinding machines). So if you do drop them off, cut off any metal lace eyelets or metal velcro holders to help ensure they can be ground down into a new pair. Click here for the list of stores with a Reuse-A-Shoe bin.

“Upcycling”

This answer is more of a sidestep, as it’s a slight re-purposing, versus creating something completely new. 

Use your older shoes for deep water soloing. Old shoes are perfect for fresh water or sea water soloing as you don’t worry about the impact the water and salt have on your shoes.

Resoling / Shoe Repair

The #1 best thing you can do for the environment and for your wallet is to repair/resole your climbing shoes and keep them in action.

We’ve written about sustainable climbing shoes before, and in that post we stressed that the most eco-based choice is keeping your old pair around longer (2nd best is buying a sustainably made pair).

The exact cost savings depends on the original price of the shoe, but often resoling is 20-40% of the cost of a brand new shoe. A new sole often costs $30-$60. The final number depends on all the repairs necessary and if shipping is involved.

climbing shoes before and after a resole
These photos were originally shared via @west.coast.resoles

Climbing shoes can also be resoled multiple times. SCARPA has told us that their shoes could easily last for 6 resoles. Some athletes have mentioned that their favorite pair of shoes is often in the 2nd or 3rd resole, as the shoe has perfectly conformed to their foot.

There are many amazing climbing shoe repair shops around the US and Canada. If you’re in Europe, often you can get your shoes re-soled by the manufacturer, which is a particularly wonderful service because the shoes can be re-soled with the original shoe mold (this mold is officially called a “last”).

You can find an inclusive list of resolers on our resoler page.

And, if you’d like to know more about the resoling process, the REI blog has a detailed post where they interviewed resolers around the country.

Resole Kit (DIY)

No longer a viable option. At one point Five Ten sold a resole kit, but it’s been discontinued.

Donate

There are many organizations working to help get new people into climbing who are always looking for gear donations. We’ll give a few examples here, and we hope to make a separate more inclusive list in the future. Keeping it local is often best for your community and for the environment (avoiding shipping).

Note: Gently used is the ideal donation condition. It is rude to donate shoes (or gear in general) that is incredibly worn (has holes) or is so beat up you can barely tell the original intention.

Ask your gym

Some gyms will also take donation that can be used for their own climbing programs, summer camps, and/or helping a new climber get into the sport. Your gym may also have a list of local non-profits or clubs that are looking for gear. You can also specifically ask your gym if there are any clubs that focus on underrepresented communities (Black, Native, Brown, POC) who could use donations.

Look for Local Clubs and Organizations

  • College Rock Clubs / gyms
  • Youth Groups
  • High Schools

Non-profits

Some non-profits will pay shipping for gear they really need. Most often, it’s part of your donation gift to also pay for shipping. Most non-profits can give you receipts for the value + any shipping costs for you to deduct from your taxes — just casually mention you need a receipt. Here are a few non-profit options:

Sell Your Shoes

Resellers like the Re-Routed Coop will buy your shoes upfront (value is given once you ship the gear with a pre-paid shipping label). What they can’t sell, they’ll work to find a way to donate, even if they’ve already paid for your shoes.

You can also use sites like Gear Trade, Ebay, Mountain Project Buy/Sell Forum to sell your shoes after creating a profile.

Return Your Shoes

We put this last on the list because it’s unlikely your shoes are so new that a store would accept them as a return. Most stores only allow pristine shoes to be returned. REI is one of the few exceptions. It’s also why you can find some shoes 30-60% off in REI’s Used Gear section (and, as a sales note, you can also find brand new shoes 30-60% off at the REI Outlet).

 

Did we miss any other options? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments.


This post is sponsored by REI as part of an Educational / Sustainability Series. This sponsorship means if there are specific products mentioned in the post, we’ll link them to REI’s product pages when possible. Also, if there is a relevant sale period, we'll talk about that too. All words are solely the authors and have in no way been altered because of the sponsored nature of the post.

Other sponsored posts you may find interesting:

  • Sustainable Climbing Ropes
  • Sustainable Climbing Shoes
  • Sustainable Climbing Slings
  • Sustainable Climbing Harnesses


  • And if you need new gear, you can possible save some bucks at REI
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