Written by James Cooper
Last Updated

As with any other sport, it’s important to wear the right clothing when you are going rock climbing, but most importantly, it can affect your safety while you climb so you need to make sure you have the appropriate outfit and shoes.

Whether you are climbing indoors, or outdoors, safety is paramount, and loose or baggy clothing can get caught, while the wrong style of shoes would just be completely dangerous while climbing.

You need to be comfortable and able to move in the clothes you choose and if you are climbing outside you also need materials that will keep you dry and protect you from the weather.

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What to Wear for Indoor Rock Climbing

If you are climbing indoors then you need to be comfortable and able to move freely, but avoid anything loose or baggy or you could end up treading on it, so be sure your clothing is fitted but flexible.

You don’t want anything getting caught up in the harness, or find yourself tripping over the excess fabric while climbing. Here is a quick list of the best things to wear while indoor rock climbing:

  • T-shirt or vest top which is fitted and comfortable and can be any fabric you prefer although cotton is not the best if you are going to be sweating.
  • Shorts that have some stretch in them and a gusset in the crotch for comfort while wearing a harness, shouldn’t be baggy.
  • Leggings which are stretchy and again, have a gusseted crotch area but are fitted and made of a strong fabric that won’t rip, think of yoga pants or something similar.

 

What to Wear for Outdoor Climbing

If you are going climbing outdoors there is a lot more to think about when it comes to choosing your outfit, although it does depend somewhat on the weather and the type of conditions you will be facing.

The best approach for climbing outdoors is to wear layers, that way, if you get too hot, you can take off a layer, or if you are cold, you can add on another layer. You don’t want to be wearing bulky clothing while climbing.

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During the winter you will need to think about the layers even more as you will need to be very focused on keeping warm and keeping the weather out. But the same principle applies in terms of using layers.

Here is a quick guide to outdoor clothing choices:

 

The Base Layer

Your base layer will be next to your skin so needs to be a synthetic fabric that will draw sweat and moisture away from your skin – this can be a long-sleeved top or t-shirt and stretchy leggings with a protective gusseted crotch area.

 

The Middle Layer

The purpose of this layer is to keep you warm so think about fleece or a light jacket that is insulated and needs to fit under your harness and not be too thick or bulky. If you are opting for a jacket it should be breathable and weather resistant.

 

The Outer Layer

If you are climbing and it’s really cold you will want a warm, weatherproof jacket and pants to wear over your other clothes, as long as they are not too bulky. The layering will work to keep you warm, rather than the thickness of the material.

 

The Shoes

When you are starting out indoor climbing you should be fine with sneakers to start with but you might want to think about renting some climbing shoes. If you are climbing outdoors you will need climbing shoes which fit well.

 

What to Look for When Buying Rock Climbing Clothing

When you are buying clothing for rock climbing there are a number of things that you need to consider, the most important thing is the fit. Your shorts should be long enough for the harness to go over them, and your pants shouldn’t be too long.

Your pants shouldn’t be baggy, all clothing should be fitted. Tops should be long so they sit under the harness and don’t ride up your back. You need clothing to be fitted but stretchy.

When climbing outdoors you also want the clothes to be breathable and to move moisture away from your body so you don’t end up wet and cold if you sweat. They need to be hard-wearing and windproof.

 

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Make sure to choose shorts and pants with a gusseted crotch which gives you more freedom and prevents your pants from splitting while climbing. If your jacket has a hood it needs to be compatible with your safety helmet.

You need to look for a jacket with pockets which you can still get into when wearing a harness and preferably which zip up so you can carry items with you securely as well.

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