This is one of the most common question a climber will ask when first starting out climbing. Now because of many different opinions upon this topic, there are no specific answers. But with this, there are many reasons behind these answers. This is what we will be talking about today.
What Happens When You Wear Socks?
The answer is pretty simple. Nothing extraordinary really happens when you wear socks climbing. Sure, the biggest thing you might notice is your sweaty feet or a slightly tighter shoe, so why would this be such a controversial topic? Well there are other factors.
First off, there is a stereotype around this look. When an experienced hardcore climber that has not worn a sock in his or her rock climbing for years, looks at someone who is wearing a pair, they almost immediately assume that you are new and or unexperienced in the sport. Now I still see many experienced rock climbers wear socks in their shoes, so as of why this is such a stereotype in the rock climbing world I am not sure. But just as a warning, you might get some awkward looks if you come across some of these people.
When you put on a shoe with socks on, many people lose a lot of feeling in their shoe on small footholds, especially if the shoe is already pretty flat. This could possibly cause some performance issues that climbers would not at all take on. I must say, the extra quarter of a centimeter cloth layer between those toes and the rubber of that shoe does feel like it makes a difference. But if it does create performance issues, then why wear socks at all?
Why Wear Socks?
Socks do provide comfort in uncomfortable shoes. When training three times a week every week during the winter season, I would have to train with aggressive asymmetric shoes (In this case, my evolv shaman's). These were awful shoes to train in because of these reasons, but since I only had those shoes at the moment and did want to spend $100+ on some new flatter shoes, I decided to go the sock route. This one change made training in those shoes actually bearable. Now, I probably did lose some performance with socks on, but since I was only training, I was not at all worried about the results and instead just focused on getting stronger. Sometimes I still use socks for this reason.
Socks are great for small foot injuries during training. Along with continuous training with aggressive shoes, I came across many foot issues. Socks once again solved this issue. At the moment it was a large cut on the bottom of my left foot from a rocky beach I was on earlier that week, and I did not want it to reopen. Normally, just a bandaid would not solve the issue , because as you climbed, the bandaid would just fall off. But on with the sock and gone with those worries. The sock usually keeps the bandaid in place to keep the cut from reopening.
So those were some of the reasons to wear socks and some not too. For me, I will only wear socks occasionally when I train (for the reasons listed above), but otherwise I go barefooted into the shoe. Now I do not care for the stereotype. A person should not care whether a person is wearing socks or aren't. I get what the stereotype is trying to do, but it is completely unnecessary.