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Shoe rubber technology: why performance is better in colder conditions?

Original Post
Humanjo Gomes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2019 · Points: 0

Hello everyone,,
I was wondering, why does shoe rubber seem to work better in colder temperatures? I am also a fan of Motorsport racing and it seems that tire heat is a very critical part in maintaining traction to the point that some rubber compounds must be pre heated before someone can even race on them. This seems to be the opposite with climbing rubbers, why is that? For example, some summer race tires I’ve used are so sticky they pick up pebbles on the road. It seems like taking a page from racing rubbers might be beneficial for climbing. For what it’s worth I heard a scarpa rep say that there just isn’t the funding for the kind of R&D that a race team for F1 would have but it seems like the tech would be able to piggyback in some way. Would love to hear some more critical discussion on shoe rubber compounds and idea performance temperatures. https://100001.onl/ https://1921681254.mx/ https://acc.onl/hotmail 
Edit: on a side note, has there ever been a climbing shoe deemed too sticky? I’ve heard tale of people using resins or honey to create artificial friction on their hands but I’m sure that trend died out in the 70s. Correct me if I’m wrong though!!!

Mike Stephan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 430

One explanation is offered here: https://www.climbing.com/skills/learn-this-friction-science/

In short: "Climbing shoe manufacturers design their rubber to work best in a specific temperature range—approximately 32° to 41°F. (Of course, all rubber compounds are different, but this is an average according to shoe manufacturers.) Below this range, the rubber is harder and won’t mold well to the shape of the rock. Above it, the rubber will be too soft and will deform easily, causing it to slip. The reason climbing shoes work best in the cold is because they are designed to. But why such a low temperature range? At temps above that range, most people’s hands will begin to sweat (even ever so slightly), which reduces gripping ability. So shoe rubber is designed to function best at the same time that we have optimal hand grip. The 32° to 41°F range is too cold for hands to sweat, but it’s not so cold that you can’t warm your mitts up relatively easily."

csproul · · Apex, NC · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 330

Shoe companies would make a lot of money if they sold shoes with several types of rubber designed to have different optimal temperature ranges. Just think, for every pair I now own I could own three pairs to work in three different temperature ranges!

Yuri Rodea · · San Diego · Joined May 2018 · Points: 35

This made me curious and I cant find any actual data sheet for material testing on any of the popular rubber compounds. Mostly just empty phrasing from manufacturers. Its too bad

No rubber data..This is why the Challenger blew up by the way.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Humanjo Gomes wrote: Hello everyone,,
I was wondering, why does shoe rubber seem to work better in colder temperatures? I am also a fan of Motorsport racing and it seems that tire heat is a very critical part in maintaining traction to the point that some rubber compounds must be pre heated before someone can even race on them. This seems to be the opposite with climbing rubbers, why is that? For example, some summer race tires I’ve used are so sticky they pick up pebbles on the road. It seems like taking a page from racing rubbers might be beneficial for climbing. For what it’s worth I heard a scarpa rep say that there just isn’t the funding for the kind of R&D that a race team for F1 would have but it seems like the tech would be able to piggyback in some way. Would love to hear some more critical discussion on shoe rubber compounds and idea performance temperatures.
Edit: on a side note, has there ever been a climbing shoe deemed too sticky? I’ve heard tale of people using resins or honey to create artificial friction on their hands but I’m sure that trend died out in the 70s. Correct me if I’m wrong though!!!

Michelin use some of their motoGP research for their rock shoe soles, they say 0-25°C is their optimum range.

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 125
Yuri Rodea wrote: This made me curious and I cant find any actual data sheet for material testing on any of the popular rubber compounds. Mostly just empty phrasing from manufacturers. Its too bad

my guess is because they are making a commercial good, and no one wants to spend the $ for expensive ASTM testing that won't really make a difference in how many shoes they sell.  

Make no mistake, elastomer performance is well understood and there is plenty of data out there for other parts made of rubber...and their respective performance at temperatures (think o-rings, seals, tires, accumulator bladders etc..)

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,936
Jim Titt wrote:

Michelin use some of their motoGP research for their rock shoe soles, they say 0-25°C is their optimum range.

So anything outside that ra... wait a second.

If someone wanted to test, say, XS Grip at low temp and XS Edge at high temp, then maybe we'd learn something. Or Stealth C4 vs Onyx if you're a 5.10 fan.
Gumby the White · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 111

I am no expert on any of this funny business, but personally i think something changes with the rock as well in colder temps. I need less chalk and my fingers stick better in colder temps....

Even if i am not sweating at all the rock just feels damn greasy when its hot.....

Ty Gilroy · · Ontario, CA · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 10

More friction in colder temps. Also, cold air is dry air.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
curt86iroc wrote:

my guess is because they are making a commercial good, and no one wants to spend the $ for expensive ASTM testing that won't really make a difference in how many shoes they sell.  

Make no mistake, elastomer performance is well understood and there is plenty of data out there for other parts made of rubber...and their respective performance at temperatures (think o-rings, seals, tires, accumulator bladders etc..)

And rock shoes are generally crudely made from cut sheet, moulded soles can be multi- compound. My dirt bike tyres are dual compound like many motorcycle (and car tyres) and for MTBs there are triple compound ones.

climber pat · · Las Cruces NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 286

I would love a shoe with better performance at higher temperature.  Say 80 degrees or so.  Very little of the climbing season is between 32-41 in the desert SW.  Most of the year the low daily temperature is well aboce 41.  We often climb in the 90s.

I suspect the temperature range for shoes is more a factor of ease of availability and cost rather than design. I don't think very many people would pick freezing as the perfect temperature to go climbing. 

Mark Frumkin · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 56

Stealth rubber was developed by a tire engineer.
Climbing shoe rubber has been tested at all temps. and in all conditions.
You are using the best rubber money can buy, stop bitching and go climbing.

Yuri Rodea · · San Diego · Joined May 2018 · Points: 35
Mark Frumkin wrote: Stealth rubber was developed by a tire engineer.
Climbing shoe rubber has been tested at all temps. and in all conditions.
You are using the best rubber money can buy, stop bitching and go climbing.

Hey man I just dont want to blindly trust Big Rubber corp

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,620
Gumby the White wrote: I am no expert on any of this funny business, but personally i think something changes with the rock as well in colder temps. I need less chalk and my fingers stick better in colder temps....

Even if i am not sweating at all the rock just feels damn greasy when its hot.....

I think it's called "humidity".

Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain · · Las Vegas, Nevada and Apple… · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 121

They should make a climbing shoe rubber that would work well at JTree and Red Rock during the summer.
I'm a DESERT RAT and I love the heat


Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,936
Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain wrote: They should make a climbing shoe rubber that would work well at JTree and Red Rock during the summer.
I'm a DESERT RAT and I love the heat


Try 5.10 Onyx.

Alexander Stathis · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 413

I've found that when it's too cold the rubber seems to freeze and get slick feeling. I have to warm my shoes up to make the rubber soft and regain friction.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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