While at the World Climbing Championships in Chamonix, I stumbled upon a shoe re-soling stall. I doubt that I could call it a cobblers stall as it seemed very different to the high street cobblers we are used to. It seemed really high tech, for instance there was a unit in the corner of the stall with a red light beaming from it. Inside this a pair of upside down rock boots basked in its futuristic rays. So it was probably a fancy heat lamp but that didn’t matter it looked awesome. The gentlemen behind the counter explained (thankfully in English) that for 25euro I could have my pick of a wide selection of Vibram rubber to have my shoes resoled. I’ll have to admit I wasn’t expecting much, I thought the best that could be done with my old shoes would be a fresh patch of rubber glued to the bottom. I was clearly wrong.
My old Mad Rock shoes have been pimped. It’s fair to say they only resemblance to the way they were when I bought them is the ribbed heel section, from the rand to the foot arch is all new. Fresh off the dryer the new Vibram rubber has glossy sheen which no doubt will disappear over time when I smear the hell out of them. As I said the shoes where still warm and soft so I pushed a dent in the centre of the toe area, curving the sole similar to the aggressive toe areas on advanced technical
shoes such as the Evolv Sharman and the La Sportiva Solution series. This small dent has stayed. The toe edge and rand have areas have been re-coated/covered and the rubber has been shaped into a wicked edge. Much sharper and more defined than the original edge, which was kind of rounded. Again this is very similar to the more technical shoe but not quite as hard, clearly as i asked for a very soft, sticky rubber. Right now I’m thinking this has been an awesome idea to get these re-soled.
So how do they perform? First off they seem to fit better. Weird, yes I know this shouldn’t be the case as it was just the sole that has been repaired. Maybe it was the heat that has made the shoe finally relent to my foot shape. I don’t know. The 1st test the shoes got where at Les Bossons, after torrential rain and thunder storms the previous day and throughout the night. The 1st day a Les Bossons was overcast and cool, the boulders are in the forrest, (it does look very similar to Fountainebleu) so the ground and rock was damp to wet and quite mossey. The re-soled shoes performed better than I expected though. I noticed a lot more grip in my edging and felt more confident when placing my toe on minute features of the rock. I chose a 4mm rubber as opposed to the 5mm and upwards. I did notice that I could curl my foot better but no real difference in my tactile ability. The soles are quite shiny and I was having a lot of difficulty with grip due to the wet grass and moss surrounding the boulders. I had to eventually chalk my shoes just to dry them off as even wiping them on the mat wasn’t working. Still on the next dry day I noticed a marked improvement, I found the newly cut edge gave me more confidence on tiny footholds and a definite improvement on the smears.
It’s definitely not a replacement for brand new upgrades, but if you have a comfy set that still fit but the rubber is letting them down, for the minimal price of a resole you could have a handy spare set for keeping in the car, taking on holiday or indoor stuff, keeping your good shoes for your projects.
On my return to Glasgow I’ll test them out on the indoor wall and get back to with the results. But in the meantime I thoroughly recommend getting a resole on old shoes.