what to wear for rock climbing what to wear for rock climbing

What To Wear For Rock Climbing? – A Perfect Guide

Are you planning a trip to the mountains or a climbing gym adventure? Then remember that planning your outfit is just as important as selecting the ideal path for your climb!

In this context, choosing the right attire is not just about looking cool but also being comfortable and performing your best on the rocks. From outfits that keep you warm to gear that helps you climb and footwear that grips, every tiny detail matters. I get it, all this sounds overwhelming!

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1. Upper Body Gears

When planning for a rock climbing adventure, whether for the climbing gym, outdoors, or indoors, focusing on the requirements of upper body gear is essential for a comfortable and successful climb.

1.1. Helmet

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Starting with a helmet. Hands down, the helmet should be non-negotiable gear for your rock climbing adventure, as head safety should be your utmost priority. The primary function of a helmet is to shield your head from the impacts of collisions, accidents, or unexpected slips.

Choose a helmet that fits your head size perfectly, has adequate ventilation for airflow, and meets safety standards of guaranteed protection.

1.2. Topwear

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Choose fitted tops such as a climbing shirt, short-sleeved crop tops, tank tops, sports bras, slim-fit tops, or t-shirts. These options ensure freedom of movement and comfort. Additionally, they help avoid the stress of excess fabric catching onto holds.

Choose breathable, lightweight and, stretchy fabric. Remember to maintain a balance between comfort and functionality when selecting topwear.

1.3. Chalk Bag

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Among the other essential upper body gears in a climber’s bag, the chalk bag holds an indispensable position. While climbing, the climber’s hands perspire, creating a slippery and moisture-laden surface that compromises control.

Chalk within a chalk bag acts not only as a moisture absorber but also significantly improves grip. When selecting a chalk bag, look for a reliable attachment style to ensure quick access whenever necessary.

1.4. Finger Gloves

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Climbing demands Grip, Grip demands Fingers and Fingers demand Guard! Thus, enters an often overlooked yet essential climbing gear- Finger Gloves. Finger gloves act as shields for the palms and enhance grip on holds. This makes climbing easier and mitigates various risks such as blisters, or accidents caused by grip issues, etc.

Incorporate finger gloves into your next climb and notice the difference yourself.

1.5. Backpack

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Among the essentials, a rock climbing backpack ensures that climbers are well-prepared for their climb and the challenges they face while climbing. The backpack serves as a portable gear hub to carry other essential equipment such as water bottles, first aid kits, etc.

Look for backpacks that can withstand abrasions and have accessible pockets so that you can access the equipment easily without disrupting your climb.

1.6. Climbing Harness

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Last but not the least, let’s talk about the heart of the upper body gear- a Harness. A Harness is a linchpin with a belt that goes around the waist and leg loops for the thighs. This linchpin is then secured to the rope for the climb, providing the climber with freedom of movement and making the climb safe and enjoyable. Additionally, gear loops are attached to the harness.

Make sure to wear the harness over your shirt as it minimizes friction between the harness and your skin and also enhances comfort.

2. Upper Body Gear to Avoid For Rock Climbing

When planning for a rock climbing adventure, certain upper body gears should be reconsidered or avoided completely for the safety of your climb.

2.1. Oversized or Baggy Clothes

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The choice of clothing plays a pivotal role in rock climbing as it ensures the comfort, safety, and performance of climbers. While loose clothes may seem comfortable in everyday life, they are not an ideal choice whilst facing the challenges of rock climbing.

Such clothes interfere with other gear equipments, create distractions, and also pose safety risks. The dynamic and restrictive nature of rock climbing demands tailored and fitted clothing.

2.2. Non-breathable Clothes

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For the challenges of rock climbing, non-breathable clothes, despite of their external appeal are not the right choice. Such fabrics trap heat and moisture that ultimately causing discomfort. The lack of breathability contributes to sweat and bacterial accumulation.

All of this creates discomfort, and distraction, affecting the optimal performance of the climber. Thus, non-breathable fabrics should be avoided during rock climbing.

2.3. Jewellery or Accessories

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Dangling accessories like earrings, necklaces, or bracelets may become entangled in gear equipment or, worse, choke the climber. Rings and watches can also catch on gear, leading to injuries or falls. Hence, it’s advisable to prioritize safety over fashion to enhance, rather than hinder, your climbing experience.


While personal style is valued, certain accessories should be avoided as they pose safety challenges during the climb.

2.4. Unsupportive Sports Bras

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In the physically demanding sport of rock climbing, unsupportive sports bras fail to provide adequate breast support to women climbers. This leads to discomfort, irritation, strain, and potential breast tissue damage, ultimately causing distraction while climbing.


An ill-fitted sports bra may not provide adequate coverage and could also lead to wardrobe malfunctions during the climb.


This can give rise to feelings of self-consciousness, which hinders the confidence and performance of the climber.

3. Lower Body Gear

The following are a few essential lower body gear equipments, for indoor, or outdoor rock climbing,

3.1. Climbing Pants

Among the other key essential equipment for rock climbing, climbing pants stand out as a crucial one. Choose pants made of nylon or polyester material like yoga pants that offer flexibility, durability, breathability, and abrasion resistance from rock surfaces. Functional zippered pockets are a plus.

Look for slim pants with a gusseted crotch for more security and safety. A gusseted crotch is a design feature found in climbing pants and shorts. It is a diamond-shaped or triangular piece of fabric added to the crotch area, extending into the inseam.

3.2. Climbing Shorts

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A good pair of climbing shorts can be your trusted companion for your rock climbing adventure. Choose the length and fit of the climbing shorts based on your personal preference.

While longer basketball shorts provide more coverage, shorter gym shorts provide breathability and ease of movement. Functional-zippered pockets, durability, flexibility, etc apply to climbing shorts as well.

Additionally, elasticity and gusseted crotch design in climbing shorts ensure freedom of movement and safety.

3.3. Knee Pads

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When it comes to protecting your body during rock climbing, knee pads can be valuable accessories. Knee pads shield your knees from abrasion, scrapes, and rock impacts on the joints. The cushioning of knee pads absorbs the rock impacts and helps in reducing the risk of injury.

The decision to wear knee pads depends on your personal preference. Some climbers prefer the additional protection while others find it unnecessary.

3.4. Rock Climbing Shoes

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The most important climbing gear in rock climbing is- a great pair of Climbing Shoes. Every minute detail, including the sole of the shoes, the toe shape, velcro, or lace closure, everything should be selected with topmost care and specialization for rock climbing. The fit of the climbing shoes should be perfect and the material should be either leather or synthetic.

Decide whether you want a shoe that is specially designed for climbing or a versatile one. It is advisable to rent climbing shoes for abrasive climbs.

3.5. Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes

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The choice to wear socks or not in rock climbing largely depends on personal preference. Many climbers prefer climbing without socks to get a direct connection between the foot and the shoe. While some climbers use thin sock liners to absorb sweat and minimize friction.

Toe socks are also an option available for those climbers who want the benefit of socks but also want a direct connection with shoes.

4. Lower Body Gear to Avoid For Rock Climbing

While choosing the right lower body gear is important for a successful climb, certain lower body gear should be avoided as they may hinder your climb.

4.1. Jeans or Denim Pants

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Rock climbing demands the kind of attire that enhances your climb by providing mobility, comfort, and safety. Unfortunately, denim fails to provide all three. Denim lacks stretch and flexibility, causes chaffing and abrasion, is prone to wear and tear, and is heavy and bulky with poor fit.

Additionally, its poor thermal regulation leads to the breeding of bacteria and moisture, causing discomfort.

4.2. Baggy or Loose Pants

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Leave the baggy pants for other comfy outings, as for rock climbing, tailored and specially designed climbing pants are preferable. These baggy pants pose a risk of getting caught and causing imbalance whilst climbing. The unnecessary weight and bulk of the pants hinder mobility. The lack of elasticity of such pants creates discomfort.

4.3. Loose or Unsupportive Undergarments

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In rock climbing, where every climb counts, the importance of well-fitted undergarments is often neglected. Loose undergarments ride up, shift, and give inadequate support while climbing. This gives rise to distractions, discomfort, and chaffing in areas prone to rubbing.

Choose well-fitted and good-quality undergarments to avoid mishaps and irritation.

4.4. Wrong Choice of Footwear

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The wrong choice of footwear can compromise both the safety and performance of the climber. Ill-fitted footwear can cause blisters, and imbalance, and also increases the risk of serious injuries while rock climbing.

Avoid wearing flats, sandals, and slippers and only opt for special climbing shoes to avoid rock climbing accidents.

5. Hair Management

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Loose strands of hair can obscure your vision or get caught on climbing holds, ultimately posing a safety risk. Therefore, it is advisable to tie up your hair with a band or, even better, braid it. For additional protection, consider using bandanas or hair bands. For short hair, secure hairpins and clips are recommended.

6. Weather Specific Gear

Firstly, check weather forecast beforehand to make informed decisions about your outfit.

6.1. Hot Weather

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To ensure sun protection, breathability, and prevent overheating and dehydration, choosing the right climbing gear is essential. Choose lightweight, breathable, quick-drying fabric clothes and sleeveless or short-sleeved topwear for maximum airflow.

Carry a cooling towel, cap, and hydration pack or water bottle with you. Don’t forget to apply an adequate amount of sunscreen to shield yourself from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

6.2. Cold Weather

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Choose thermal base layers, insulated gloves, and socks, and a warm but lightweight jacket for your climb. Wear ear muffs or a beanie to retain heat in the body, as maximum body heat is lost through the head.

Adopt a comfortable layering system, but avoid excessive layering of clothes.

6.3. Windy Weather

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A windproof jacket, headwear, and pants are essential for climbing during windy conditions. Wind-resistant gloves and sunglasses are also necessary for a safe climb.

Mostly, avoid rock climbing during extreme windy conditions for your safety.

7. Final Thoughts

In the world of rock climbing, choosing the appropriate clothing is more than just a fashion statement; it’s a crucial decision that impacts both the climbing experience and the safety of the climber.

Climbing isn’t merely a physical activity; it’s an expression of adventure. As climbers prepare for their next adventure, selecting the right clothing, from head to toe, becomes crucial.

In conclusion, fully express yourself and your style during this rock climbing adventure while also prioritizing safety and comfort.

Happy Climbing!

  1. I am looking forward to transitioning from indoors climbing to real terrains. So this article was great for me as it seems to cover both and gives a comprehensive dos and don’ts. I was wondering whether the chalk powder is useful outdoors for gripping. And I really liked the added section on hair management and weather considerations while rock climbing, Great article overall.

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