what to wear indoor rock climbing

What To Wear Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing offers a thrilling way to challenge yourself physically while having fun. If you’re a beginner in the world of climbing, navigating the unspoken rules of proper attire might feel like a daunting task. Fear not! In this quick guide, we’ll unravel the mysteries of indoor rock climbing attire, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your climbing adventure.

Keep It Simple, Keep It Comfy

Rock climbing, whether indoors or out, demands physical effort. If you already have gym clothes, you’re on the right track. The first unwritten rule? Simplicity. Opt for comfortable, non-restrictive attire that allows you to move freely. Most climbing gyms offer rental climbing shoes, which we highly recommend over using your own.

Choose Climbing-Ready Clothing

Climbing attire should tick a few boxes:

  • Comfy: You’re going to be moving a lot, so comfort is key.
  • Not Restrictive: Clothes should support your movements, whether loose or stretchy.
  • Breathable: Climbing can be sweaty, so lightweight and breathable fabrics are ideal.
  • Visible Feet: Rolling up pants or wearing shorts allows you to see your feet, aiding in precise footwork.

Tops for Climbing

Any t-shirt or gym top works well. Opt for a fit that’s not too baggy, as you don’t want it interfering with belay devices or holds. While long sleeves can provide extra protection, short sleeves or tank tops offer better breathability.

For men, a slim-fit, stretchy, moisture-wicking t-shirt is a great choice. Women can opt for a similar style or go for a loose tank top paired with a sports bra for comfort and breathability.

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Pants Matter Too

Shorts or yoga pants are excellent for your initial climbs. Shorts that sit just above the knee are recommended for intense sessions, providing protection for your knees and shins. Remember, being able to see your feet aids in footwork, a fundamental climbing skill.

Climbing-Specific Pants

If climbing becomes a passion, investing in climbing-specific pants can be rewarding. These pants usually offer a wider crotch, breathability, and durability. They’re particularly beneficial when transitioning to outdoor climbing.

Can You Wear Jeans?

Believe it or not, you can wear skinny jeans for climbing – thanks to stretchy denim. Purpose-made climbing jeans with extra stretch and a gusseted crotch facilitate movement while protecting your legs from rough holds. Alternatively, stretchy non-climbing jeans can also be a versatile choice.

Climbing Shoes: The Foundation

Climbing shoes are essential. Most indoor climbing gyms provide rental shoes with sticky rubber soles for optimal grip. These shoes should fit snugly, and don’t be surprised if your toes are slightly curled at the front.

Slip-On Shoes and Socks

Keep a pair of slip-on shoes handy for bathroom breaks or belaying. Climbing shoes can be uncomfortable for extended wear, making slip-ons a relief between climbs. As for socks, they’re advisable when renting climbing shoes for hygiene.

What to Bring

For introductory sessions, climbing gyms usually provide harnesses, belay devices, and chalk. However, bringing a few essentials enhances your experience:

  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated sustainably.
  • Snacks: Carry energy-boosting options.
  • Slip-On Shoes: For comfort during breaks.

What NOT to Wear

Be mindful of your attire, considering the viewpoints of those above and below you. Shorts might bunch up uncomfortably under harnesses. However, investing in a quality harness can make a significant difference.

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Conclusion: Dress to Climb with Confidence

Indoor rock climbing attire isn’t about fashion; it’s about functionality. Choosing the right clothing enhances your climbing experience and ensures you’re comfortable and focused on conquering those walls. Embrace the journey, pick your climbing attire wisely, and climb with confidence!


Q1: Can I wear jeans for indoor rock climbing? Absolutely! Opt for stretchy jeans or climbing-specific jeans with added flexibility.

Q2: Should I wear socks with climbing shoes? For rental shoes, thin ankle socks are a good idea. When you have your own shoes, go sockless for better feel and grip.

Q3: What should I bring to an indoor climbing session? Apart from climbing gear, consider a water bottle, snacks, and slip-on shoes for convenience.

Q4: Can I wear regular gym clothes for climbing? Yes, as long as they are comfortable, non-restrictive, and breathable.

Q5: Are specialized climbing pants necessary? While not mandatory, climbing-specific pants offer added benefits like protection and breathability.

Remember, dressing right for indoor rock climbing enhances your performance and enjoyment. So, gear up and climb on!

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