What To Wear To Rock Climbing: How Should I Dress For Rock Climbing?

Since the beginning of the activity, clothing and equipment for rock climbing have advanced significantly. While modern sport climbers may not have the same cool factor as the lycra-clad climbers of the 1980s, we do have access to a far wider selection of specialty clothing, such as ultra-flexible climbing jeans and sports bras that are specifically made to accommodate climbers’ wider backs.

rock climbing

The cost of this specialized clothing, however, maybe a little intimidating if you are new to rock climbing. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to buy all of the newest climbing gear right immediately to have a successful and enjoyable session at the crag.

Most people discover that they can get by with the things they currently own with a little bit of imagination.

This article is intended to provide you with a better understanding of the appropriate attire for rock climbing both inside and outside. The key lesson here is to climb in whichever outfits seem most comfortable to you. You are the expert on your body, after all.

How should I dress for rock climbing?

Stretchy, snug-fitting and lightweight clothing provide the perfect rock climbing attire for climbers of all skill levels. Dress in a way that won’t restrict your movement or cause you to become trapped in the harness.

When it comes to climbing, there is no proper or improper clothing as long as you master some principles. Everything you must do is listed below:

1. Comfort

Prioritize wearing comfortable clothing. The best clothing for bouldering, outdoor rock climbing, and indoor wall climbing is undetectable and distraction-free.

If you aren’t comfortable, even the most fashionable outfit will simply serve to keep you from climbing correctly.

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For instance, flexibility and mobility may benefit from wearing shorts. But are shorts appropriate for wearing when climbing? Possibly, but perhaps not. Depending on how exposed you are (more on this in a minute). Choose great mobility, comfort, and convenience.

2. Weight

Lightweight climbing gear makes it possible to ascend higher against gravity. Additionally, you’ll find it much easier to move your arm and leg joints.

It’s crucial to strike the correct balance between fabric abrasion resistance and weight reduction. When climbing, you don’t scrape off your skin or your clothes.

3. Fitting & Flexibility

Good climbing attire allows for ample movement to reach holds that are far away. On the other hand, you want to stay away from wearing baggy clothing! You risk getting trapped in the harness, rope, and belay device if you are wearing loose shorts and baggy shirts.

Think of tight fitness clothing and yoga-style apparel.

Clothing for rock climbing shouldn’t limit movement in the shoulders, hips, or extremities. Avoid wearing anything too tight or too fitted.

Your t-shirts and tops, for instance, should be

  • Stretchy
  • Long enough to comfortably fit the harness around.
  • But not too long that the edges hinder performance and climbing.

Some high-altitude mountaineers and climbing addicts feel completely at ease sending routes while only wearing a sports bra. For these, the harness is of no great concern.

4. Choosing Lowers: Shorts or Pants?

You are welcome to climb rocks while wearing shorts, pants, or even jeans. It’s crucial that you feel secure and at ease.

Your bottoms/pants should ideally fall within the proper range of length. Headaches can result from wearing too long or too-short clothing. red alert

Avoid wearing excessively long climbing pants that may restrict your range of motion and the flow of your footwork. Specialized climbing leggings are also available; they are a little bit lighter but fold up quite rapidly.

It is excellent if climbing shorts are at least knee-level. Rock climbing shorts should be long enough to:

  • easily fit a harness over them, and
  • prevent them from slamming against an indoor wall or an abrasive rock.

If you’re hesitant, you may also just put on a tighter layer underneath. You don’t want to expose yourself to other climbers below or run the danger of getting hurt when you’re using your strength to hang on to supports tens of feet above the ground or solve a boulder issue.

You must maintain your tranquility while sailing through life. You can think about wearing stretch leggings, knee protection, light compression pants, or protective tights underneath your workout bottoms to reduce distractions.

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5. Climbing Socks & Shoes

Should I wear it or not? Only if you’re renting shoes is it simple.

Unless you’re wearing rentals, climbing shoes should be worn without socks.

Since socks were not intended to be worn with climbing shoes, most climbers avoid doing so. The decision ultimately depends on your needs and interests, of course. Some people (shoe owners, not renters) choose to wear socks either for comfort reasons or due to fitting issues.

Rewinding, it’s a widely accepted unspoken rule that everyone who climbs in rental shoes must wear socks. It should go without saying that this widespread understanding is motivated by hygiene, politeness, and the desire to stop smelly feet from dispersing harmful illnesses.

On to shoes now. Buying or not buying?

I wouldn’t advise purchasing shoes just now if you’re new to climbing or a beginner. Rent them instead, particularly at a gym that is indoors. Owning a pair is alluring, but while you’re still a novice, the cost isn’t justified.

6. The Extras

The “extra” category includes additional characteristics for rock climbing gear. Some are fashionable, while others are items of clothing you could require while climbing. Let’s examine a few of the most important.

  • Try to get three-quarter length jeans that are simple to roll up. You must always be able to see your hands and feet.
  • Keep a thin fleece jacket on hand for when it becomes cooler. Since the gym might get warm, you may just wear it when climbing outdoors, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Choose bottom clothing with extra zippers and a gusseted crotch for your jackets.
  • Numerous textiles are available for rock climbing attire. Choose a sweat-wicking fabric to ensure proper sweat absorption, quick drying, and windproofing.
  • Some climbers also pack a pair of slip-on sports shoes for fast toilet breaks and unexpected breaks, but this is DEFINITELY NOT the “perfect” climbing attire.

What to wear rock climbing indoors

rock climbing

Finding clothing to climb in is often not too difficult because indoor climbing walls are usually protected from the outdoors. You should try to dress comfortably, with breathable clothing that allows you to move freely when climbing in a gym.

Your typical training attire should be appropriate. If unsure, start with a t-shirt and tracksuit, shorts, or leggings.

The following points should be kept in mind:

  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too loose since they can snag on grips and equipment. To prevent this, items like scarves should be tucked into t-shirts.
  • Think about whether a harness is necessary (unless you’re bouldering, in which case it is). If that’s the case, we advise donning a top long enough to tuck into your waistline (avoid crop tops). If you decide to wear shorts, make sure they extend past the bottom of the leg loops. I would go with some longer riding or hiking shorts that terminate a few inches above the knee instead of women’s shorts, which are frequently a little too short for this.
  • Numerous gyms are housed in repurposed warehouses, churches, quarries, and other types of poorly insulated buildings. This implies that the winters can be extremely chilly. Be prepared by wearing a fleece, belay jacket (or more fleece), hat, and thick socks.
  • If you are top-roping or lead climbing, it is worthwhile to pack some shoes to wear when belaying. We’ll discuss climbing shoes later in this post. Wearing footwear that covers your toes, such as trainers or crocs, is recommended.

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What to wear rock climbing outside

rock climbing

You may need to consider your clothing choices more carefully if you intend to go rock climbing outside. This is due to two factors.

First of all, since you’ll be outdoors all day, you’ll need gear that will allow you to adjust to fluctuations in temperature and weather.

Second, wear clothing made of tough material because the rock is typically far more abrasive than plastic grips.

Here are a few of our suggestions:

Rock climbing pants

As was already noted, the rock can be sharp and will quickly rip clothing made of softer materials. When climbing at the gym, I love wearing harem-style trousers, but when I go to the crag, I generally look for something a little tighter and made of a thicker material.

Although there are several pairs of specifically designed climbing pants available, hiking pants, if you already have them, can be an excellent substitute. If not, heavier tracksuits or gym shorts usually work.

A little word about leggings: they can rip pretty quickly, even though many people opt to wear them when climbing outside! I’ve personally broken a few pairs of shoes by tripping while walking up to the crag. If in doubt, invest in a pair of leggings made specifically for climbing or pick ones made of more robust material, like bamboo.

Our Pick
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prAna Kanab Pants

Our Pick
61xJsNse1 L. AC UY741


Rock climbing tops

Choose t-shirts and tops for rock climbing that are perspiration-wicking, breathable, and long enough to fit under a harness. Most likely, you already have an appropriate vest or t-shirt from another activity (like jogging or hiking). To assist keep you warm in the winter, layer a long-sleeved base layer under your top.

Our Pick

Under Armour

Our Pick
81DsGr1qhcL. AC UY879


Rock climbing sports bra

For the walk-ins, you might want to wear a more supportive sports bra even though rock climbing is a relatively low-impact activity. Remember that climbing puts a lot of strain on your upper-back muscles, so stay away from anything that makes this area of your body restricted.

Our Pick
71RWkboDkUL. AC UX679

Adidas Sports Bra

  • 100% Cotton
  • Imported
  • Pull-On closure
  • Machine Wash
  • 100% Cotton Jersey
  • Screen Printed Graphics With Specialty Inks & Incorporate Adidas Brandmark On Front
  • Drop Shoulder Construction

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Outer layers for rock climbing

When climbing outdoors, layering is crucial since you’ll alternate between times of extreme exertion (when climbing or hiking to the crag) and stillness while belaying. It’s wise to arrive prepared because certain crags are more exposed and windy than others.

Remember to pack enough warm and waterproof gear for your day out because it’s important for both comfort and safety. You’ll need extra clothes to stay warm while waiting for assistance if you (or someone else at the crag) are unfortunate enough to get hurt.

Additionally, you DON’T want to get caught without a raincoat and end up soaked to the bone; at best, this is unpleasant, and at worst, it is dangerous.

Here’s what you can pack in my bag:

  • A blanket (or two, depending on how cold it is). Make sure the two of them can be worn together if you’re bringing two.
  • A belay vest (synthetic or down). They’ll keep you warm as you wait to climb, and they typically have a zip system that makes it simple to get to your harness.
  • No matter how warm and sunny it is, a waterproof hardshell is a necessity. You should also have waterproof pants if you’re climbing in a rainy region or far from your car.
  • A cap, sunglasses, and belay gloves (if it’s winter) (in summer).
  • Wear a breathable base layer underneath your normal climbing attire if it’s extremely cold to prevent excessive cooling off between climbs.

Can you wear jeans rock climbing?

This is a polarizing topic. It comes down to personal preference, in my opinion.

Commercial jeans are frequently not extremely elastic or breathable, making them unsuitable for sports that need good knee and hip mobility. Stretchy narrow jeans, on the other hand, do work for some climbers.

Brands like 3rd Rock have created pants designed expressly for climbing that have the advantage of being extremely durable and stylish without sacrificing stretch. They are frequently rather expensive, though.

Should you wear gloves while rock climbing?

No, not while you’re climbing! If the rock is icy, it might be tempting, but wearing gloves will seriously impair your grip. Every beginner climber experiences stinging skin and burned hands at first, but don’t worry, you’ll soon develop some blisters I’ve yet to come up with a remedy for the chilly rock, other than hand warmers, a rigorous warm-up, lots of clothing, and hot tea.

However, it is still permitted to wear gloves while belaying. Several businesses offer specifically designed, more robust “belay gloves” that keep your hands warm and improve your grip on the rope. These may take some getting used to, but if you have weak circulation or cold hands, they will be your savior.

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We hope that this post has provided you with some suggestions for rock climbing attire. Selecting a climbing suit that you feel comfortable in is crucial, so keep that in mind. There are plenty of alternatives if you want to participate in the sport without making a significant financial investment. If you want to spend the money on specialized climbing clothing, that’s fantastic.

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