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

So, you’ve decided it 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 check 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 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, climbing shoes are essential, 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 the 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. 

Men’s Rock Climbing 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 polyeter 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.

black diamond

Black Diamond Chalked Up t shirt-min

The north face
box tee

La Sportiva Solution Review

Tank top

Adidas Climbing Vest

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?

Men’s Rock 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 pant 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 pant

Black Diamond Chalked Up t shirt-min

anti-gravity pants

La Sportiva Solution Review

vaha short

Prana Vaha Climbing Shorts

Yoga pants are another popular style of climbing pants for men. These pants are designed to be loose-fitting and allow for a whole range of movement, so ideal for both the yoga and bouldering mat. Of course, climbing in jeans is another option, with plenty of companies now make skinny jeans designed to stretch just as much as you can.

Rock Climbing Shorts

Climbing in shorts are 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 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, or what I call 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 are the most common tops you will see women wear indoor rock climbing. It’s certainly not uncommon to see girls climbing in crop tops and sports bra’s either.

Black Diamond
six shooter

Black Diamond Chalked Up t shirt-min

Verana Bra

La Sportiva Solution Review

black diamond
rise and climb

Prana Vaha Climbing Shorts

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 colours. 

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

What to wear on a rock climbing date?

Got a hot date at the gym? The chances are your usual, odor-infested climbing attire isn’t going to impress anyone. For your first date at the climbing gym, you might want to scrub up while still not hindering your impressive climbing moves.

If you are really trying to impress your date, have a look at some of these cool climbing outfits.


Should you wear socks climbing?

This question has been dividing climbers for decades. My answer to this question is… it depends. If you are still renting shoes, then I would definitely recommend slipping on a thin pair of ankle socks. Nobody wants to slip on a used pair of climbing shoes barefoot.

Seasoned climbers tend not to wear socks because it puts more layers between you and rock, limiting your sensitivity on the surface. It can also lead to unwanted movement within your shoe too, especially if you are planning on throwing down a big heel hook or two.

Nevertheless, wearing climbing socks does have it’s benefits. A thin ankle sock will hardly impact your sensitivity while making your shoes more hygienic.

If you really want to get deep about this sock thing, take a look here.


Can you wear jeans rock climbing?

There aren’t many sports you can do in jeans, but climbing is one of them. In fact, there’s a few solid benefits to climbing in jeans. They are super durable and are especially popular with outdoor and crack climbers. Also the simple convenience of wearing the same pants on and off the wall is also pretty hard to pass up.

The reason why you see climbers doing the splits when you can barely walk in yours is that their jeans are special. Climbing jeans are made with fibres like spandex, polyester and elastane that makes these demons highly elasticated and lightweight.


What to bring to indoor rock climbing?

Aside from picking the right outfit, you are a few other things you will want to bring to prepare for your first time climbing.


Like any form of exercise, it’s super important you stay well hydrated. Bouldering is super physical and has plenty of benefits, but all that climbing is going to make you sweat.

Make sure to rest frequently to avoid burnout and drink plenty of water.


Chalk is often overlooked by many beginners, but it’s actually a really important and helpful piece of kit. Chalk is used to

A Jumper, Hoodie or Fleece

When you are not swinging off things, you will probably be resting those forearms or belaying a friend.

Depending on which hemisphere you’re in, throwing a hoodie in your gym bag might be a good idea. Nothing worse than shivering before jumping on a climb.

Trainers or Slip-on Shoes

If you are climbing on ropes, it inevitably means you will be doing your fair share of standing around. Therefore, aswell as a good pair of climbing shoes, make sure you have a pair of trainers or slip-on shoes.


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