What to Wear When Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is an exhilarating way to spend time outdoors or get a great workout indoors. If you’re planning a rock climbing trip, you’re probably wondering, “What do you wear to rock climb?” It’s essential to be adequately prepared before heading out on a climb. Rock climbing wear should be comfortable and allow a full range of motion. Tight or restrictive clothing can make it difficult to move freely, and loose clothing can get caught on rocks or other obstacles. It's also important to wear climbing shoes with good traction. You'll probably be doing a lot of scrambling and foothold-hunting, so shoes that can grip the rocks are essential. Keep reading to learn more about what to wear indoor rock climbing and proper rock climbing attire for your next outdoor climb. 

What to Wear Indoor Rock Climbing

Climbing indoors is an excellent choice during the work week when you don't have time to get to the mountains. Climbing gyms are a great solution for those looking to practice while enjoying catching up with friends. Here’s what to wear indoor rock climbing. 

1. Fitness Clothes

Although there is no set requirement for what to wear indoor rock climbing, a few guidelines make the experience more enjoyable. Fitness clothes that aren’t too tight or loose and allow you to move your body freely are an excellent start. Joggers, leggings, or track pants will get the job done. However, you might be more comfortable in shorts. If the gym is crowded or there is no central air, shorts could be the right choice.

2. Climbing Shoes

A good pair of climbing shoes provide a higher level of traction than ordinary sneakers and can be the difference between a good time and a bad one. Typically, climbing shoes are pointed downward in the front for a better connection with footholds. Most gyms have shoes you can rent if you don’t have climbing shoes to complete your indoor rock climbing attire. 

3. Climbing Helmet

When deciding what to wear climbing, a helmet is always a good idea. All climbing helmets must meet strict industry standards for impact protection to protect all climbers from unfortunate climbing situations. You can climb feeling safe, knowing your helmet will provide adequate overhead and side protection. Wearing a helmet in the climbing gym should never be overlooked.

What to Wear Rock Climbing Outdoors

Climbing indoors is only a substitute for the real thing. Getting your hands on some actual rock while enjoying the fresh air and a beautiful view has no substitute. When you’re ready to leave those plastic holds behind and feel the fresh breeze on your face, here’s what to wear rock climbing outdoors. 


When it comes to rock climbing attire, the age-old question is “to wear socks or not to wear socks?” It's a personal preference, and there is no right or wrong answer. Most highly experienced climbers choose not to wear socks; however, if you want to wear socks, choose a thin sock with moisture-wicking capabilities.

Outdoor Pants

Depending on what type of climbing you will be doing, you can climb in shorts or pants. Keep in mind that wearing shorts will expose your knees to cuts and scrapes when they bang against the rock. Quality lightweight pants made from durable, comfortable, breathable materials like nylon and spandex are a great alternative.

Layered Tops

Layering your rock climbing wear properly can keep you warm or cool and dry while climbing. The ability to add or remove layers as the weather changes is crucial to a good climb.

  • Base layer: Wicks away moisture and keeps you dry and warm
  • Mid layer: Provides insulation to retain body heat–ideally something lightweight
  • Outer layer: Protects from the elements–should be waterproof or water resistant

Of course, not every occasion calls for all three layers. Check the weather and pack your outdoor rock climbing wear accordingly.

Climbing Shoes

When you're rock climbing, having a good pair of shoes can make all the difference. Climbing shoes should have a snug fit to give you precision and control when scaling a rock. They also should have a sticky rubber sole so that you can grip the holds easily. The shape of the shoe is also important. It should be downturned to give you more power when pulling yourself up. And finally, the shoe should be comfortable enough to wear for long periods without your feet getting sore. 

Climbing Helmet

Don’t leave for any climbing trip without packing your climbing helmet. Depending on the activity, there are many types of helmets to choose from. Most helmets are constructed with EPP and EPS foams with ABS shells. Climbers' lids are protected by strict industry standards and UIAA requirements. With a wide variety of styles and colors, you will surely find a helmet that showcases who you are as a climber.

Other Rock Climbing Gear to Bring on Your Next Trip

Now you know what to wear rock climbing, but every climber needs a few other essential items and accessories. Ropes are the foundation of any climb, and a rope bag helps keep them organized and protected from the elements. Accessory cords are useful for a variety of purposes, from building anchor systems to belaying partners. Chalk bags are essential for keeping hands dry and improving grip, while carabiners are indispensable for clipping into ropes and connecting gear. Packing these items allows climbers to be prepared for any climbing adventure. Shop Armbury’s high-quality climbing gear today!