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What to Wear for Indoor Rock Climbing?

Updated: Apr 28

Some people have higher or lower internal body temperatures, and much like climbing gyms, bodies are not a one-guide-fits-all. Consider these suggestions and tailor them to your own body.

Here's what to wear for indoor rock climbing

climbers wearing random clothes in an indoor rock climbing gym

Moisture Wicking

Moisture-wicking clothing helps prevent sweat from staying on your body and reduces smell. Typically made of polyester, this fabric helps draw sweat away from your skin and moves it to your clothing. The fibers then act as channels to push the moisture to the outside of the shirt, where it evaporates into the air. In a poorly ventilated gym, moisture-wicking clothing may reduce some of the stuffiness.

From long sleeves to T-shirts to shorts and pants, moisture-wicking options are available for everyone!

Avoid Restrictive Clothing

Rock climbing requires a full range of motion of your body, so your clothes must, too! Nobody wants to split their pants when bringing their foot to a hold at their hip. When choosing what to wear to the climbing gym, pick out clothes that allow you to stretch and maneuver without pulling you in another direction.

Restrictive clothing isn’t only too tight of fabric; you don’t want clothing that is too baggy while climbing, either. If your pants are too baggy, you may step on the inside of your pant leg on the foothold and get stuck. Or your sleeves are flapping everywhere and hiding the important handhold to your side.

Find middle-ground clothing that works for you to use your entire range of motion without restricting your movement.

Lightweight Clothing

If you’re determined to wear long sleeves and pants while climbing, choose lightweight clothes so you don’t overheat. As a beginner climber, you’ll likely bump your knee or elbow into the wall; it’s all part of learning. A small barrier between your skin and the climbing wall will help with scrapes and bruises.


Bring a pair of sandals or flip-flops to the gym! Easy to slip on shoes work great, too. These serve as excellent shoes to walk around while letting your feet take a break from your climbing shoes.

You may like to walk around the gym barefoot, but putting on your outside shoes to enter the restroom can be a hassle, and wearing your climbing shoes to the restroom is a big no-no. Sandals are quick and easy and pack down light, so they don’t take up much room in your climbing bag.

Remove Jewelry

From getting caught on things to causing discomfort while grabbing holds, wearing jewelry while climbing is a recipe for disaster. Low-profile earrings or piercings are fine, but remove the large hoops and dangling necklaces to avoid injury.

Wearing Layers Inside?

You dress for the weather outside, but have you thought about dressing for the environment inside?

New state-of-the-art gyms have air conditioning in every corner and may warrant taking layers to the climbing gym. Bring layers, just in case, if you’re climbing in a gym that you’ve never been to. Starting with longer sleeves and pants until you feel warm is a sure way to know that you’re warmed up!

Ask Yourself These Questions Before Climbing Indoors

● Am I comfortable?

● Can I move my body functionally?

● Am I worried I’ll be too hot/cold?

● Do I want to protect my skin from rough climbing holds?

● Am I wearing any potentially hazardous jewelry?

Wearing the proper clothing for indoor rock climbing will depend on the gym’s environment and your internal body temperature. Some gyms will shut off their A/C and bring in the outside air, so preparing with layers is the best way to prevent overheating. Remove any dangly jewelry that may get caught on holds, and bring a pair of sandals or easy-to-slip-on shoes for walking around in.


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