The Fastest Way to Dry Climbing Shoes: A step-by-step guide

Whether you have just recently cleaned your climbing shoes, went climbing in the rain, deep water soloing, or got them wet a different way, wet climbing shoes need to be dried out. Just letting them air dry on their own will most likely do the trick but it definitely isn’t the fastest way to go about it. However, it is much better than putting them in the dryer.

As a general rule, you should not put you climbing shoes in the drying machine. Putting your climbing shoes in the dryer will damage their rubber and the adhesives holding them together. This will significantly decrease the lifespan of your climbing shoes.

With that being said, you may be wondering what is the fastest possible way to dry the climbing shoes without ruining them.

The following 7 steps detail the fastest way to properly dry climbing shoes without damaging them.

1. Place The Shoes in a Dry and Warm Environment

While some “experts” recommend putting your shoes outside to dry, this is not the best environment for them. Exposing your climbing shoes to direct sunlight for extended periods of time can damage their rubber. In addition to this, if you forget to check the weather forecast, it could rain and get your shoes even wetter than before.

I recommend finding a room in your house/apartment that is dry and temperature controlled. This disqualifies your garage, shed, and/or car. These places are not typically temperature controlled and are subjected to greater humidity. I also recommend against using a bathroom due to the increased humidity commonly associated with them.

Using the bedroom, kitchen, or living room will typically provide the fastest results.

2. Open the Shoes Up

Completely opening the shoes will allow the material to be spread out. Spreading out the material by opening up their laces or velcro out will increase the surface area of the shoe. Increasing the surface area allows for a quicker drying process and will facilitate the steps to come.

3. Shake Off Any Excess Water

You will want to shake out you climbing shoes just like the cute dog is doing in the picture above. Shaking them out will act like the spin cycle of a laundry machine. It will force excess water out of them and draw any water trapped inside the material towards the outer edges. This allows for quicker and easier drying.

We could get into the physics of centrifugal forces and why the water gets forced out but I don’t want to nerd out too much. I’ll save that for later.

4. Wipe Down the Outside of the Shoes

Now that the water has been forced to the outer edges of the climbing shoe material, it is a perfect time to wipe off any moisture on them.

You can really use anything you want to wipe them off but I suggest using a dry towel. This will eliminate any potential waste produced by using paper towel or any other disposable material.

If you are looking at using your shower towel make sure it is dry and not still moist. We are trying to dry your shoes out as quickly as possible! Wiping any sort of moisture on them will prolong this process.

5. Stuff the Climbing Shoes

While the outside of the shoes should dry relatively quickly, the inside of your shoes will take longer to do so. Stuffing your shoes will dramatically speed up the process of drying the inside of your shoes. Everything done to this point has primarily focused on drying the outside of them.

You will want to stuff your climbing shoes just like how they do a new pair of sneakers. To do this you will want to lightly crumple up your stuffing paper and shove it into the shoe. Be sure you don’t crumple it too much because it will not fit as well to the inside of the shoe (which is the point of this).

Once you have the stuffing paper in the shoe, shove it all the way to the front towards the toe. Then, repeat this process until the shoe is filled with the stuffing paper. The diagram above displays the process of stuffing your climbing shoes. First shoving the paper inside the shoe and then as far up towards the toe as possible.

As for what stuffing material to use, I suggest newspaper, paper towel, micro-fiber towels, or anything else that is absorbent, thin, and pliable. We want the stuffing material to be as shoved in as possible. This will increase the amount of contact between every little crevice of the shoe and the absorbent material.

6. Hang The Shoes to Air Dry

The shoes should be hung up INSIDE, not like how they are pictured above.

Now that you have the shoes shaken out, wiped off, and stuffed it is time for them to be hung up.

Hanging the shoes up will prevent any moisture in the shoe from gathering and pooling at the bottom. Allowing water to pool will significantly increase the amount of time it takes to dry. We want to keep the water spread out and in much contact with the air/stuffing material as possible.

7. Position a Fan to Blow on the Climbing Shoes

This will be the most important part of speeding up the drying process. Having a fan blow on your climbing shoes can cut down on the drying time by more than half.

I recommend positioning the shoes and fan such that the air is blowing on the top of the shoes to start (hitting the side with the laces/velcro).

8. Rotate the Shoes

Once the top of your climbing shoes are dry, it is time to rotate them and position the bottom of them towards the fan. This will help dry out the rubber bottoms and backside of the shoes. Once the bottom and back of the shoes feel dry, pull out the stuffing and check the inside of them. If the inside is dry then you are good to go!

If the inside is still damp, I recommend removing the stuffing and taking the shoes down. Once you have done that, position them and the fan such that the air is blowing on the inside of the shoes. Let them sit like this until completely dry.


Hi, I'm Rex! I have been into everything outdoors for as long as I can remember. Climbing became a huge part of my life in college and I hope to share everything I have learned on this website to help fellow passionate climbers.

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