What You Should Wear Indoor Rock Climbing

what you should wear when indoor rock climbing

What to Wear for Indoor Rock Climbing

As indoor rock climbing continues to grow in popularity, many beginners are wondering what gear they need to get started. The good news is that you don't need much fancy equipment for indoor climbing – a comfortable athletic outfit and climbing shoes are the priorities. This guide covers everything you should wear to maximize both performance and fun during your indoor climbing gym sessions.


The shoes are the most important investment for indoor climbing. Proper climbing shoes allow you to effectively workout various muscles and push your technique on the wall. They are tight-fitting with a flexible thin rubber sole designed for smearing and edging on rock. Popular styles include lace-up, Velcro strap, and slipper. The best climbing shoes have a downturned shape allowing you to better grip holds with your toes. Make sure yours fit very snugly, though not painfully tight. The right fit helps you better transfer power from your legs to your feet. Consider sizing down to reduce looseness. Your local climbing gym likely offers shoe rentals if you are starting out and not yet ready to buy your first pair. 

Check out this guide on finding the Best Beginner Climbing Shoes 


For the closest shoe fit, thin athletic socks that don't bunch up are best for climbing. Ankle socks allow your feet to slide into your close-fitting climbing shoes cleanly. Some experienced climbers even ditch socks altogether once their skin has toughened, but beginners will benefit from a light sock layer. Ultimately you want the thinnest buffer possible between your foot and the shoe. Avoid bulky hiking socks – these diminish precision and create uncomfortable friction inside tight climbing shoes.


Choose flexible, lightweight pants that allow a full range of motion while you workout climbing muscles. Stretchy athletic pants, yoga pants, and leggings are popular base layer choices for indoor climbing. They allow you to high step and stretch without restriction. Avoid loose, baggy pants as the excess material could get in your way or catch on holds. Leggings or tights paired with athletic shorts are a comfortable option for women. Men tend to prefer athletic pants. Consider breathable stretchy shorts if climbing in a warm gym.

wear stretchy clothing when rock climbing


For your top, lightweight moisture-wicking athletic shirts work well to keep you cool and dry. Look for shirts made from sweat-wicking fabrics that will keep you comfortable and dry as you work hard on the wall. Both short and long sleeve shirts allow a free range of movement, so choose based on your personal preference. Tank tops can also be nice for allowing maximum mobility of your shoulders and arms. Avoid cotton, which holds sweat and moisture against your skin.

Outer Layers

Bring a light jacket to throw on for warmth in between climbs or after your session. Athletic brands like North Face and Patagonia offer great lightweight windbreaker options. Avoid overly bulky layers that could restrict movement.


Chalk is crucial for keeping hands dry on the wall, so get a chalk bag to fasten around your waist and regularly reapply. Athletic tape can also help support existing wrist or ankle injuries during your sessions. And while proper climbing shoes are the most vital gear, accessories like chalk further enhance your performance. Most gyms require you to use their harnesses and will provide rentals if you are starting out. With the right shoes and a few small accessories, you are ready to climb!

rock climbing gear


With the right athletic clothing for mobility and flexibility paired with proper climbing shoes, you’ll be set up for success on the indoor rock wall. Focus on stretchy lightweight layers that won’t hold you back as you workout climbing muscles during your session. Indoor climbing offers great benefits, including both physical and mental gains. Many gyms even offer special climbing classes tailored for beginners.

Overall, prioritizing flexibility and comfort over baggy and heavy clothes will help maximize your indoor climbing enjoyment. Local gyms like On the Rocks in Elyria are a great spot to get started!

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