What to Wear Rock Climbing?

When it comes to rock climbing, it’s essential to use the proper gear and equipment to practice safe climbing.

However, most people forget that clothing is just as important. It can make a difference between a fun and pleasant encounter, and an uncomfortable and nerve-racking ordeal.

Keep reading to learn what to wear rock climbing, both indoor and outdoor, and also what to look for when choosing clothes.

Importance of Wearing the Correct Clothes

Appropriate climbing clothing is important because it can greatly improve your performance and confidence when engaging in this physical activity.

Comfort, a wide range of motion, and breathability are important aspects that can truly boost your climbing experience and increase the chances of wanting to practice it more often.

The type of wear can differ if you’re engaging in outdoor or indoor climbing, due to the presence of environmental factors, such as weather conditions, and the risk of injuries from falls or trauma.

However, you should understand the basics of clothing layering, as you can apply them to both situations.

Generally, there are three layers of clothing used when you practice any type of outdoor activity. It is composed of the following clothing layout:

  1. Base Layer (Underwear): The layer that is closest to your skin, which are your undergarments, must be able to wick away sweat and moisture. In other words, it should transfer perspiration and humidity from your skin to the outer layers to reduce friction and chafing while providing breathability and comfort. Because of this, cotton underwear is a bad option because it’s designed to absorb moisture. Certain fabrics, like nylon, polyester, and merino wool, have great wicking properties, and are better choices.
  2. Middle Layer (Insulation): The second layer must provide proper ventilation and breathability so that it’s able to retain heat if the temperature drops or avoid overheating if the temperature increases. Fleece jackets and pants are excellent clothing that has insulating capabilities and can offer a wide range of movement as you ascend or descend a mountain or rock wall.
  3. Outer Layer (Weather protection): The utmost coating should protection from harsh weather conditions, whether it be heavy rain, strong gusts of winds, or snow. Most outdoor clothing, such as raincoats and jackets, are waterproof and/or weather-resistant and can be found in your local outdoor stores. Ideally, you should always pack a weather-resistant clothes if you decide to practice outdoor climbing. The weather can change unexpectedly as you scale the mountain, and you can just take it out of your pack if you need it.

If you’re doing indoor climbing, the first two layers are the most important because you’ll probably sweat a lot from the physical exertion, and your clothes should be able to wick away perspiration and decrease the chances of your body from overheating.

Weather protection is only important when you practice outdoor climbing because Mother Nature is ever-changing. Additionally, you should always be prepared in case something happens.

indoor rock climbing clothes

What to Wear Indoor Rock Climbing

Since indoor climbing is performed in a climate-controlled environment, you can just wear normal clothes in your closet. People prefer loose-fitting clothing because they feel more comfortable, but extremely baggy clothes can interfere with your movement as you climb up a rock wall.

Things you can wear:

  • Shirts and vests: They must fit your body while providing breathability and flexibility.
  • Shorts: Men prefer shorts over pants because they are elastic and have better ventilation than pants.
  • Pants: Try to use durable and lightweight fabrics that won’t rip or tear easily, but still provide a good range of movement.
  • Leggings: Women prefer leggings as they are more flexible, breathe, and take the shape of their bodies. However, it’s best to select fabrics that are durable so a tear is less possible.

It’s recommended to avoid cotton, especially if you sweat a lot, and try fabrics, like wool, synthetic, nylon, and merino wool.

outdoor rock climbing clothes

What to Wear Outdoor Rock Climbing

Clothing for outdoor rock climbing will be similar to indoor. However, you can incorporate fleece clothes in your second layer for insulating capabilities to reduce overheating when exposed to constant sunlight, or to ventilate heat if the temperature decreases drastically.

The Outer layer is crucial when practicing outdoor rock climbing, as the climate can change unexpectedly at any moment of the scaling. There are many options when selecting waterproof or weather-resistant clothing, like:

  • Soft Shell Jackets
  • Raincoats
  • Rain Jackets
  • Climbing Hoodies

This clothing should also be compatible with your harness, so you can rest comfortably on it if you decide to take a break.

Pockets must also be handy in case you need to take an item to aid you in your climbing. Remember that you should wear a helmet to protect yourself from falling rocks.

Therefore, your outer layer must allow the helmet to have a secure grip on your head.

Things to Look When Choosing Clothes

When selecting climbing clothes, there are certain aspects to take into consideration. Although fashion and style are vital for some people, your clothing should incorporate some features to improve your climbing experience.

These characteristics include:

  • Breathability: It must allow the passage of perspiration and ventilation through the layers.
  • Wicking: Repel sweat and moisture from your skin.
  • Lightweight: Improve insulation properties and provides comfort.
  • Durable: Your clothes should protect your skin from injuries, but still be made of sturdy materials that can withstand tears and scratches.
  • Proper length: To avoid comfort issues when you wear a harness or climb down a rope. Additionally, they should not interfere with your footwork to avoid accidents or slips.
  • Flexibility: Your clothes should be elastic enough to allow you to move freely without compromising your range of motion.
  • Comfort: Should fit your body shape to enhance your overall performance.

rock climbing shoes

Rock Climbing Shoes

Initially, you can use sneakers or pumps until you’re understanding the basics of climbing. However, they can be slippery and cause accidental falls, which can lead to injuries and trauma.

Therefore, you should invest in proper rock climbing shoes to have a more secure grip as you scale a rock wall or surface.

There are three types of rock climbing shoes:

  1. Neutral climbing shoes: These are normally used by beginners and trad scalers as they are durable and provide adequate foot support. Additionally, they provide more flexibility and comfort than regular shoes and sneakers.
  2. Moderate climbing shoes: This footwear is designed for sport climbing since they have a downturn shape that places your feet in a more secure position while being even more comfortable than neutral climbing shoes. Their soles also provide a better grip and feel.
  3. Aggressive climbing shoes: These shoes work best for performance climbers, and those who engage in overhanging climbing. They have a more downturn shape, which increases grip but is less comfortable.

Adequate climbing clothing can transform a regular rock climbing session into a heartful and exhilarating experience. Remember that comfort is most important when performing any activity because it enhances your confidence and overall performance.

Nathan Barker

My wife and I are huge adventure seekers! We've traveled and explored over 40 countries and want to share what we have learned on our journey. We'll be talking about everything from hiking and camping, to guides, reviews and tips that we're sure will help any avid adventurer no matter what walk of life. So relax, grab a cup of coffee and we hope you enjoy the read!