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What To Wear Rock Climbing Indoor and Outdoors

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing can be a very fun outdoor activity. Whether you like the adventurous aspect of rock climbing or want to do it competitively, there is something for everyone in the world of rock climbing. However, there is a common question that keeps on popping up, that is what are you supposed to wear when is rock climbing indoors and outdoors?

To answer that query, we have prepared this article outlining an easy-to-understand guide about what kind of clothes you should wear when rock climbing and what aspects you should consider.

Indoor vs Outdoor Rock Climbing

First, let’s discuss what you can expect when rock climbing indoors vs outdoors. Most indoor rock climbing is done inside gyms and climbing centers. Outdoor rock climbing, as the name suggests, is done outdoors. The basic mechanics of both indoor and outdoor climbing is very similar.

There are a few differences in the type of gear used and rules you need to be aware of, but that is beyond the scope of this article. You will learn more about them as you become experienced. Here are some of the key differences between indoor and outdoor rock climbing:

  • Indoor rock climbing is relatively safer than outdoor rock climbing as it is done in a more controlled environment. 
  • Indoor rock climbing tests your strength and stamina, whereas outdoor rock climbing tests your technical knowledge and endurance. 
  • When rock climbing outdoors, you won’t have other people around you.
  • Climbing indoors is much easier to do as they use plastic holds rather than actual rocky ledges.
  • Routes are usually marked when climbing indoors which makes them much easier to follow. That is not the case for outdoor climbing. 
Rock Climbing
Outdoor Rock-Climbing
  • It takes time and knowledge to find a proper rock climbing spot outdoors whereas you can simply head down to your local climbing center indoors.
  • Sometimes it’s not possible to do outdoor rock climbing because of weather conditions and changes in season. 
  • Outdoor climbing requires more specialized gear which means you have to invest money into it. Indoor climbing requires little to no gear as you will be provided with the necessary equipment inside the gym. 
Rock Climbing
Indoor Rock-Climbing

There are more differences that you will come to find out about once you become more familiar with both indoor and outdoor climbing. One important takeaway from this list of differences is, if you are a beginner then you should always start with indoor rock climbing. Do not directly go into outdoor rock climbing as it can be very dangerous if you do it by yourself with no formal training.

What to Wear When Indoor Rock Climbing?

Always remember, when choosing indoor climbing clothes, just keep it simple. Don’t be afraid to put on your gym clothes when hitting the climbing wall. But if you want a more detailed outline of what you should wear, here are some pointers:

Rock Climbing
  • Tops: When it comes to your top, wear something light and breathable. Sweatshirts and slim-fit gym tops are excellent for climbing. You should avoid wearing anything that is too baggy, as it can get in the way when climbing. Choose a top that is easy to move around in and comfortable to wear.
  • Bottoms: Similar to tops, avoid wearing anything too baggy. Go for shorts, leggings, or yoga pants. You can wear almost anything as long as they are flexible and comfortable. You can also try on climbing pants as they provide a little bit more protection for your knees and legs. 
  • Shoes: If you are really serious about rock climbing, then you can invest in a pair of rock climbing shoes. However, that is not necessary as you can rent them from your local gym. Another thing to remember is, rock climbing shoes are generally worn without socks. It can gross a lot of people out to think that they will have to share a pair of shoes with so many others but don’t worry as they are disinfected regularly. If it really bothers you, then you can get your own pair of shoes. 
  • Accessories: Similar to shoes, you can get most of your essential climbing gear and equipment from the gym. Ropes and harnesses are readily available at the gym. As for chalk, you will need to get your own or buy it from the gym or local shop.
  • What to avoid: There are a few things you should avoid when indoor rock climbing. As mentioned before, you should avoid wearing baggy clothes as they can get in your way. You should also avoid wearing fleece jackets or hats as it is really not necessary. You wouldn’t want to feel too hot or constantly worry about your hat falling off. Simply put, avoid wearing anything that might get in your way or disturb other people. 

If you have further questions about what you should or should not wear, then you can consult some of the experienced climbers at the gym. They will point you in the right direction. 

What to Wear When Outdoor Rock Climbing?

Unlike indoor rock climbing, it’s not that simple to choose an outfit for outdoor rock climbing. That is because your clothes will primarily depend on weather conditions and terrain. Here are some of the basics about what you should wear when outdoor rock climbing. 

Rock Climbing
  • Tops: For tops, you can wear tank tops, t-shirts, etc. Anything that provides protection to your skin without any fear of tearing. This is why you should avoid clothes that are too skin-tight. Or any clothes that are too baggy as they can be a hindrance. If you are going to be climbing while it’s cold, then you should also consider wearing a jacket on top of your top. For warmer climates, wear anything that is light and breathable.  
  • Bottoms: Wear full-length bottoms. Don’t go for shorts as it leaves your legs exposed. You could potentially scrape or cut your legs on a sharp ledge. A few good options are climbing pants, athletic pants, or sweatpants. That way it will give you ample room for your legs to breathe and feel comfortable without compromising their safety.
  • Shoes: Invest in a quality pair of outdoor rock-climbing shoes. You’d want your shoes to be durable, rugged, comfortable, breathable, and weatherproof. There are many kinds of climbing shoes out there for you to choose from. So, prioritize what you think is the best for you. Different people have different needs, and it’s the same for different terrains and weather as well. The best thing would be to keep a few different climbing shoes for different scenarios.
  • Accessories: Since you’re not at a gym, you need to get your own climbing gear. This includes ropes, harnesses, carabiners, helmets, gloves, chalk, etc. This could come off as being a turn-off as climbing gear is not cheap, especially high-quality ones. 
  • What to avoid: As mentioned before, avoid wearing clothes that are too tight as they can tear while climbing. Similarly, avoid wearing clothes that are too baggy. You should also avoid wearing sandals when climbing. Many people like going barefoot as well which isn’t recommended either. Weather plays an important role in what you should and should not wear. You wouldn’t want to be stranded on the edge of a cliff during an intense monsoon rainfall. 

Final Verdict

Picking the right outfit is crucial when going rock climbing regardless of whether it’s indoors or outdoors. For indoor climbing, you should focus on comfort and flexibility. Keeping things simple is the key to indoor climbing. However, for outdoor rock climbing, you have to consider a lot of things like the weather, terrain, climbing conditions, etc.

Depending on that you will choose your clothes and gear. Once you gain a lot of experience climbing indoors, then you can take on the outdoor climbing spots. The main takeaway here is, to do your research before you jump into anything.

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