Resole: Feet First
Feet First Resole
Rock boots / shoes are hardly cheap. You can reasonably expect to pay upwards of £65 for a performance pair. Let’s say that you have worn a pair for 6 months, they have been fantastic, really comfortable and always performed well, but they are looking decidedly worn out. You are loathed to throw them out or give them to your local wall and really, you’d like to carry on wearing them for ever. Enter the world of resoling. A number of fitters offer such a service, but Feet First are probably the biggest.
Based in Sheffield and Chesterfield you can either deliver them by hand, or send them by post. Most importantly they have a pretty slick website which tells you all you need to know about the process, how much it costs, and how it is actually carried out.
In a nutshell, the rubber is scoured from the original sole. A new sole is then glued to the shoe – you can choose which rubber you want from a range the most popular shoe manufacturers – before being hand shaped as close to the original as possible.
A basic resole in Five Ten Stealth, the most popular option, will cost £20-£22 depending on the thickness of rubber. If you need a hole in the rand patching this will set you back another £6. Return postage and packing will cost you £4 plus an optional £1 for insurance. So it is possible to get a brand new pair of boots, ready fitted to the shape of your feet, for under £30. Not bad.
So how did they perform and what was the service like?
The service was excellent. I took them in (I live locally) at the start of the week and they were ready by the Friday. When I went to collect them I had forgotten my ticket so they had to rummage through all the brown paper bags to find my pair. They did this without grumbling! A patched rand was not needed so I went for a standard medium thickness Stealth resole on a pair of Red Chilli X-Cubes. I’d say that the toe was ever so slightly too long compared with a brand new X-Cube, but this has not proven to be a problem. The rubber is excellent as you’d expect from Stealth – I once heard of a well known climber who takes his boots, as soon as they arrive from his non five ten sponsor, to Feet First for a resole in Stealth! The finish looks a little rougher than they do off the shelf, but I actually think this helps wear in the new surface. I’ve been using them now for nigh on three months and am perfectly happy with the rate of wear. One of my concerns was that the new sole may adversely affect the fit of the boot and its worn in comfort. Not so, they felt un-changed inside.
My overall verdict? I certainly wouldn’t resole all my shoes all of the time - I’d prefer to keep a newish pair for routes, problems and trips that are important to me – but I will certainly use the service from time to time to recycle my old favourites that I use at the wall and on long days out.
The Feet First Website
Note that they also offer a service to resole your walking boots and other shoes.