What To Wear For Rock Climbing? – A Perfect Guide

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

In this context, choosing the proper attire is not just about looking fabulous but also being comfortable and performing your best on the rocks. Every tiny detail matters, from outfits that keep you warm to gear that helps you climb and footwear that grips. 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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You are 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, tank, sports bras, slim fit, 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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The chalk bag holds an indispensable position among the other essential upper body gears in a climber’s bag. While climbing, the climber’s hands sweat, creating a slippery and moisture-laden surface that compromises control.

Chalk within a chalk bag acts as a moisture absorber and 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 demands Guard! Thus, it 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, 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 is 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 to access the equipment easily without disrupting your climb.

1.6. Climbing Harness

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Last, let’s talk about the heart of the upper body gear- a Harness. A Harness is a linchpin with a belt 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.

Wear the Harness over your shirt as it minimizes friction between the Harness and your skin and 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 entirely 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 climbers’ comfort, safety, and performance. While loose clothes may seem comfortable in everyday life, they are not an ideal choice when facing rock-climbing challenges

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

This creates discomfort and distraction, affecting the climber’s optimal performance. 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 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 equipment for indoor or outdoor rock climbing,

3.1. Climbing Pants

Among the other critical equipment for rock climbing, climbing pants are crucial. Choose pants made of nylon or polyester like Yog, which 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 preference.

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

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

3.3. Knee Pads

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Knee pads can be valuable accessories when it comes to protecting your body during rock climbing. 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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An excellent pair of shoes is the most crucial climbing gear for rock climbing. 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 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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They are choosing whether to wear socks when rock climbing largely depends on personal preference. Many climbers prefer climbing without socks to get a direct connection between the foot and the shoe. At the same time, some climbers use thin sock liners to absorb sweat and minimize friction.

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

4. Lower Body Gear to Avoid Rock Climbing

While choosing the correct lower body gear is essential for a successful climb, specific 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 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. For rock climbing, tailored and specially designed climbing pants are preferable. These baggy pants risk 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 footwear choice can compromise the safety and performance of the climber. Ill-fitted footwear can cause blisters and imbalances and increase the risk of severe rock climbing injuries.

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

6.1. Hot Weather

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

Bring a cooling towel, cap, and hydration pack or water bottle. Don’t forget to apply enough sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

6.2. Cold Weather

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Choose thermal base layers, insulated gloves, socks, and a warm but lightweight jacket for your climb. Wear ear muffs or a beanie to retain heat, 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.

For your safety, avoid rock climbing during extreme windy conditions.

7. Final Thoughts

In 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 climber’s safety.

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

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

Happy Climbing!

Last Updated on by Khushahal Malakar

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1 Comment
  • 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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