What To Wear Rock Climbing Indoors [The Ultimate Guide]

Are you bored of the same old traditional gyms and want to try something new to keep in shape? Are you looking for new hobbies? Or do you just need something to do over the weekend? Indoor bouldering or rock climbing is a great way to get your daily workout done while also having fun. A lot of fun, trust us. 

There are two important things to do before you hit the climbing gym. One, wear appropriate clothes to help with mobility. Two, trim your nails. Now, we can’t help much with number two, but we sure do know a thing or two about what to wear in terms of clothes and shoes. 

Understanding The Climbing Environment   

Indoor Rock Climbing Facilities                                

Climbing gyms are present in most major cities across the world. These gyms have tall, artificially constructed walls (made with wooden panels, polymer cement panels, or precast shells of actual rock walls) which have plastic or resin holds which one can use to scale the wall.    

These indoor climbing walls, usually less than 20 ft tall, are designed to simulate problems occurring in natural environments (see: outdoor rock climbing). The holds on the walls are colour-coded, and each colour denotes a separate route; this system helps climbers follow holds of a single colour throughout to complete their climb. 

Temperature And Humidity Variations 

The ideal temperature for climbing is a colder temperature with lower humidity. One of the best things about indoor climbing is the lack of unpredictable weather conditions. As it’s indoors, the temperature will be consistent and controlled. So, unlike in outdoor rock climbing, you do not have to worry about checking weather forecasts.

Importance Of Considering Climbing Environment In Choosing Attire

With outdoor climbing mostly, on should be particular about their climbing outfit. Drier areas and weather conditions require light, breathable clothing, whereas wetter or colder conditions require waterproof or layered clothing. 

As discussed before, indoor climbing gyms have regulated weather conditions, so you don’t have to bother with specific rock climbing clothing, but it is imperative that you wear comfortable and nonrestrictive clothing as the gyms can get swelteringly hot at times. 

Clothing Essentials

First things first, rock climbing will get you hot, sweaty and chalky. So, keep your clothing stretchy, flexible, comfortable, and nonrestrictive in breathable fabrics. Chances are, you already have comfy gym clothes in your closet and don’t need to buy more. 

The secret is to keep it simple and fuss-free. Ensure that your clothing isn’t too baggy not too tight as they might affect your mobility. Instead, go for clothing along the slim fit range.

Tops

Any t-shirt, vest, tank top, or gym top you have would be fine as long as it fits well. The cotton t-shirt you’re probably wearing right now would be good enough for indoor climbing. If you want to go the extra mile, look for polyester or polyester blend sports shirts for maximum comfort. Sports tops specifically made for climbing do exist but those are usually used by professional athletes. 

Additionally, longer sleeves will help protect your arms against scrapes and scratches but short sleeved and sleeveless tops will allow for more breathability.

Bottoms

It is usually recommended to avoid loose short shorts, basketball shorts, and mesh shorts to avoid bunching, wardrobe malfunctions, and other discomforts. 

Shorts are a popular choice for their breathability, but longer pants will help protect you from scrapes and scratches. Go for stretchy hiking shorts and leggings in fabrics like cotton and lycra. Keep it simple with jogging pants or shorts, cycling shorts or trusty old yoga pants. 

Additionally, there exist climbing pants which are specially designed for the sport if you want to invest in a couple of those. 

Undergarments And Socks

Breathable moisture-wicking underwear is yor best bet as they offer maximum comfort. Just make sure that the fit of your undergarments is just right so that you don’t face chafing and other discomforts while climbing. 

For women, a well-fitted sports bra with good support under a synthetic t-shirt or tank top would provide you with that additional support. 

We suggest that you wear thin ankle length socks as they are good to go with climbing shoes, and keep your feet from getting sweaty and uncomfortable. 

Indoor Rock Climbing

Footwear

Rock climbing shoes are very different from your daily wear sneakers. These shoes are engineered for climbing as they have sticky bottoms which are better at securing your feet to the wall. They’re also designed to fit very tight and make the front of your feet curl, so don’t worry if you are uncomfortable at first, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have climbing shoes. Climbing gyms provide shoes in almost every size (kind of like bowling clubs) which you can borrow temporarily. You can use the shoes provided by the climbing facility or get rentals which fit perfectly for your first few trysts at the climbing gym. 

As a beginner, you will make a lot of progress in your footwork, so this will result in a lot of dragging and scraping of your shoes against the wall. So, once you are ready to make the jump and invest, you can buy a cheap pair of climbing shoes for the first few months when you’re just starting out. 

Also read: Climbing Shoe Care 101: A Complete Handbook For Cleaning And Maintenance

Additional Considerations

Accessories

If it’s your first time at a climbing gym and you do not have any climbing gear, worry not! You needn’t bring any equipment as most are covered by the gym. Harnesses, belay devices, chalk, helmets, and other gear are usually available. You can also invest in your own chalk bag to strap it on while climbing. 

Other things you might want to carry with you include:

  • A water bottle
  • Snacks like protein bars, nuts, and fruits
  • Slip-on shoes or flip flops to rest your feet while belaying 

Layering And Protection

Consider taking a removable layer like a hoodie to keep yourself warm during rests or belaying (not climbing). If the climbing gym has air conditioning, you might want to slip on an extra layer to regulate body temperature. 

Safety Precautions

Now that you know what to wear, let’s get to what to avoid wearing while rock climbing. 

  • Short Shorts – We are not one to tell you what to do with your body but you might want to avoid accidentally flashing other climbers. 
  • Jewellery – As a rule of thumb, steer clear of wearing jewellery that might get in the way of climbing to avoid damage to both them and yourself. This includes rings, necklaces, and dangling earrings. 
  • Nails – Don’t wear your nails long if you want to avoid getting hurt. Keep them short and trimmed befor hitting the gym. 
  • Hair – If you have longer hair, tie it up into a ponytail or any comfortable updo, and pin up any loose pieces of hair to prevent them from falling onto your face. 

Final Thoughts

To sum up, dress yourself in comfortable clothes made from breathable fabrics and wear shoes specifically designed for climbing for best mobility and freedom of movement. And more importantly, good luck and have fun!

Our ideal climbing outfit would look like: knee length hiking shorts, polyester gym top, and of course, comfiest undergarments.