Here’s What To Wear Bouldering And Rock Climbing Indoors 

Our ultimate guide to your rock climbing outfit.

what to wear bouldering and rock climbing indoors-min

Last updated on September 10th, 2023 at 04:53 am

So, you’ve decided it’s time to give this climbing thing a shot? Awesome! Climbing is a super addictive and fun form of exercise you are going to love. For most people, trying climbing for the first time will be in an indoor rock climbing or bouldering gym. There are more climbing gyms than you can shake a chalky brush stick at, and they make for a great starting point to hone your skills without the added distractions of outdoor climbing.

If you are wondering what to wear climbing in the gym then here’s what you need to know.

What to wear rock climbing indoors: The Short Answer

You, my friend, are about to get hot, sweaty and chalky. Therefore, when rock climbing indoors and bouldering you should wear comfortable gym clothes.

If you are new to climbing, don’t think you need to rush out and stock up on brightly-colored mountaineering pants just yet, the chances are your regular old gym clothes will do the work just fine. 

Whatever indoor climbing outfit you choose, make sure it checks a few of these boxes:

  • Your clothes should be loose-fitting and allow for non-restrict movement around your shoulders, hips, and knees (shorts, tank tops, and leggings are popular choices) 
  • You’re about to get hotter than a Victoria’s Secret runway show. Make sure your clothes are breathable and don’t overlayer.
  • Bring a removable layer like a hoodie or fleece to keep warm during rests or belaying.

Of course, you need climbing shoes too, but you can hire these at your gym until you are ready to invest in your own pair.

What to wear rock climbing indoors: The Long Answer

Like every sport, serious climbers have clothing designed to help to give them an extra edge. After all, you wouldn’t see Michael Phelps wearing a pair of boardshorts to break the 50m freestyle record.

Every year, manufacturers bring out new rock climbing apparel designed to be lighter, more breathable, and better looking than your worn-out gym pants.

The chances are you already have plenty of suitable clothes for climbing in your wardrobe. Nevertheless, if you are looking for some stylish climbing clothes that will give you an extra edge in style, then you have come to the right place!

Men’s Rock Climbing Clothes

Like most occasions, men’s indoor rock climbing attire is pretty simple. For the top half of the outfit, short sleeve t-shirts or vests are almost exclusively worn, while on the bottom you can opt for sport shorts or pants. 

Vests and Tops

There’s no shortage of choices when it comes to climbing tops and vests. Most climbers opt for a cotton top, similar to the one you are probably wearing now.

If you really want to get serious, you can opt for a polyester sports t-shirt, made of breathable and lightweight fiber like a soccer top. You can also get climbing sports tops, but these are usually worn by competition levels climbers.

Altitude Llama
The North Face
Sunriser Tank
Cap Cool Graphic

If you are one of those dudes who just love an extra tight shirt, It’s probably a good idea to leave them at home for your first trip to the bouldering gym. Those skin-tight tees will certainly impede your ability to move freely and climb at your best. Instead, why not put the gun show in a vest instead?

Climbing Pants

Men’s rock climbing pants come in a range of styles. If you want to keep it simple, you could opt for some simple jogger pants. These will do the job fine, although you might find thick material will make you overheat faster and become less comfortable the more you sweat.

If a simple pair of joggers aren’t your style, there are plenty of climbing-specific pants you can opt for. Many men’s climbing pants use mountaineering/hiking styles for inspiration. These climbing-specific trousers are usually made from fast-drying and hard-wearing fibers, as well as use a reinforced knee design to minimize wear and tear from rock climbing.

Vaha Pants
Arch Rock
Super Mojo

Rock Climbing Shorts

Climbing in shorts is great for a hot and sticky gym and is probably the most popular choice on what to wear bouldering indoors.

The main thing to be aware of when looking for rock climbing shorts is that the crotch shouldn’t be so low cut that it hinders your reach. Trust me, there are a few things more frustrating than not being able to make the next move because you’re shorts aren’t letting you do that split kick.

Bonus Tip: I always wear liner shorts, also known as undershorts. These keep everything in place while helping keep me warm.

Women’s Rock Climbing Clothes

For the ladies, your rock climbing outfit can be a little more varied. And luckily for us, there’s no shortage of fashionable athletic wear to choose from.

Women’s indoor climbing attire comes in many forms and your style can take inspiration from yoga, gym, and outdoor apparel, So long as your climbing apparel allows you to move freshly – anything goes!

Women’s Rock Climbing Vests and Tops

An oversized and loose-fitting t-shirt or a vest is the most common top you will see women wear indoor rock climbing. It’s certainly not uncommon to see girls climbing in crop tops and sports bras either.

Trailfarer Shorts
La Sportiva
Fiona Tank Top
Brushed Twill Joggers

Women’s Rock Climbing Pants

When it comes to bottoms, ladies have the same choice as men, with the addition of some snazzy leggings and cycling shorts. Leggings are by far the most popular option here, with many opting for a snazzy pattern or eye-popping colors. 

Important: Shorts are great, but be careful how low you go. If you shorts are really small, they are going to get bunched up under your harness and will become a real pain in the ass, literally. 

Climbing Clothes FAQ

Written By

Sam Laird

A lifelong climber and shoe geek. His first shoe was the OG Scarpa Helix, although his shoe collection has grown to unhealthy levels in the last 20 years. When he’s not getting shut down on V2 gym slabs, Sam is backpacking around the world in pursuit of his next big adventure.

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