What To Wear For Rock Climbing: A Beginners Guide to Indoor & Outdoor Attire

Are you going rock climbing for your first time, or just getting started in the rock climbing world? Learn what to wear for rock climbing when it comes to indoor and outdoor climbing specifically for beginners! 

*this post contains affiliate links*

Woman outdoor rock climbing in black shorts and a grey tank top.
Photo: @unsplash

Rock climbing is a great workout that can be done indoors or outdoors. It is a challenging sport that requires strength, endurance, and skill. It is essential to wear the proper clothing and gear if you are just starting out. 

In this blog post, we will discuss what to wear for rock climbing and provide some outfit ideas for indoor and outdoor climbing.

What Should You Wear for Rock Climbing?

The most important thing to wear for rock climbing is comfortable, breathable clothing. You want to move freely and not have your clothes restricting your movements. 

Opt for lightweight pants or shorts made from breathable materials such as cotton or linen, or lightweight stretch material, as well as a form fitting top that stretches and breathes.

If you are climbing outdoors, consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin from the sun.

Can You Wear Jeans While Rock Climbing?

No, you should not wear regular jeans while rock climbing. Jeans are often made from a heavy weight cotton that can be uncomfortable and restrictive, making them difficult to move in. They also don’t breathe well and can cause sweating and chafing. 

There are some jeans that are specific for rock-climbing but they are made with stretchy material, and not the typical jeans you’d find at a regular store. 

Instead, opt for lightweight pants or shorts made from breathable materials such as airy cotton or linen, or sweat-wicking sport material.

Woman indoor rock climbing in black leggings and a white tank top.
Photo: @unsplash

What to Wear For Indoor Climbing:

Comfort is vital when climbing, whether you are indoors or outdoors. 

However, when climbing indoors, you will be in a temperature-regulated environment meaning that you don’t have to worry about the cold, rain, or any other elements you may have to deal with when you are outdoors. This gives you some flexibility in the looks that you can try when climbing indoors.

What are the best outfits for indoor rock climbing?

Collage of outfits to wear while rock climbing.

Go With Climbing Pants and a Tank

Climbing pants are an excellent option for indoor rock climbing, and they are comfortable, breathable, and allow you to move freely. The 

Pair these shorts with a breathable tank top, and add a chalk bag. Everyone from beginners to pro’s use chalk when climbing indoors and outdoors, so if you plan on going climbing quite a bit it’s worth buying one. 

Close up image of a woman's back wearing a black Athleta longline sports bra.
Photo: @athleta

Try a Matching Set

The Trekkie North Jogger Pants from Athleta are great for indoor and outdoor climbing, and the lightweight fabric keeps you cool while also wicking away moisture. 

The cuffed bottoms will help make sure you can see your footing when you are climbing, and the Sun Protective Fabric is also excellent if you want to wear them for outdoor climbing.

Pair these jogger pants with the Conscious Crop Top to make it a matching set.

What not to wear to an indoor climbing gym?

When rock climbing indoors, it is vital to wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely. Avoid wearing street clothes like jeans or other heavy fabrics as they can be uncomfortable and make moving difficult. 

Additionally, you should avoid wearing clothing with loose or dangling straps or items that could get caught on equipment or ropes.

Woman outdoor rock climbing in blue jogger pants and a white tank top.
Photo: @topodesigns

What to Wear For Outdoor Climbing:

Outdoor rock climbing presents some unique challenges that you don’t have to deal with when climbing indoors. 

The most important thing to remember when choosing an outfit for outdoor rock climbing is to dress in layers, and this will allow you to adjust your clothing as the temperature changes throughout the day.

Collage of outfits to wear while rock climbing.

  • Start with a Base Layer

The first layer should be a moisture-wicking material that will keep you cool and dry. The Smartwool Merino Sport Seamless Racerback Bra is made from merino wool lining that wicks moisture away. 

  • Add a Mid Layer

You will want to add a light jacket or sweater for your mid-layer. The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie is a great option, and it is perfect for slightly cooler weather climbing.

  • Finish with an Outer Layer (optional)

If the weather is wet or cold, for your optional outer layer, you will want to consider a waterproof and windproof jacket. The Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell Jacket is a great option, and it is made from recycled nylon and has a waterproof finish.

These are just a few ideas for what to wear when rock climbing. Remember to dress in layers so you can adjust to the changing temperature.

What Not To Wear for Outdoor Climbing

Similar to indoor climbing, you want to make sure that you are wearing clothing that is comfortable and easy to move in. Layering is always crucial because you are working with the elements and weather.

Stay away from synthetic fabrics. They can hold moisture and make you cold. Instead, choose natural fabrics like wool and cotton.

Make sure that your clothing is more snug-fitting. This will help to prevent it from getting caught on equipment or rocks. And finally, avoid loose or dangling items that could get caught on something while climbing.

Woman indoor rock climbing in black leggings and a grey tank top.
Photo: @climbing

Do You Wear Shoes for Rock Climbing?

Yes, you will need to wear shoes for rock climbing. Climbing shoes are designed to provide traction and support, and they should fit snugly and be comfortable to wear. 

If you are just starting out, it is a good idea to rent shoes from a local climbing gym to try out a few things types and brands until you find the perfect pair. 

What Are The Best Climbing Shoes?

There are a few different things to consider when choosing the best climbing shoes.

First, you need to decide what type of shoe you want based on your experience level.

There are three main types of shoes:

  • neutral – the most versatile and can be used for various climbs and great for beginners.
  • moderate – offer more support and edging ability and good for beginners to moderately experienced climbers
  • aggressive – are the most specialized and are designed for steep climbs and overhanging routes and best suited for advanced climbers. 

There are two main closure styles for climbing shoes:

  • velcro (hook and loop) – easier to get on and off and are adjustable.
  • lace-up – provide a more customized fit and can be tighter than velcro shoes.

Here are a few of our favorite BEGINNER climbing shoes for women:

– The Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoe is a great neutral shoe for people who have never climbed before and can be worn indoors or outdoors. 

– The La Sportiva Finale Climbing Shoe is a great moderate option for beginner to intermediate climbers. It has a lace-up design and is durable enough to last for years to come as you craft your skill. 

– The Evolv Elektra is an excellent option for beginner to intermediate climbers, and it has a velcro closure and a flat toe for comfort.

Final Notes

So, what should you wear for rock climbing? The short answer is: breathable, stretchy clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident. If you’re just starting out, we recommend wearing clothes that allow for a lot of movement.

As you progress in your climbing skills, you can start to experiment with different styles and accessories. Just remember to keep it simple so that you can focus on the climb itself!

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Collage of outfits to wear while rock climbing.

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