Whether you’re aspiring to become the next Alex Honnold or just want to stay in shape, rock climbing offers a challenging full body workout. However, not everyone can live next to a mountain, so indoor climbing gyms have popped up to fill the need for hobbyists of all levels.
If you’re thinking about taking up this exciting hobby and visiting your first indoor climbing gym, you’ll want to wear the right clothes. Let’s take a look at what you should wear to your first indoor rock climbing session.
Standard Activewear Is Great
If you’re planning to go indoor rock climbing, chances are you already own at least a few pieces of activewear items for other activities such as running, bike riding, hiking, etc. These items should work perfectly no matter if you’re planning to boulder or sport climb.
With that said, there are a few special considerations you’ll want to keep in mind as you are getting dressed:
- Avoid baggy clothes. When attempting to scale a climbing wall, you don’t want to get caught up in your own clothes. Stick with relatively tight-fitting clothes so you don’t get tangled as you make your way up. Your clothes shouldn’t be restrictive, but they shouldn’t be so baggy that they’re hanging loose.
- Full range of motion. As you might imagine, it’s important to maintain a full range of motion so you can execute the moves necessary to reach holds and secure your position on the wall. Fortunately, most modern athletic wear made from synthetic materials will offer you plenty of flexibility in all directions.
- Consider wearing pants. While shorts work just fine for climbing, you’ll often see climbers wearing pants. Pants offer some skin protection when performing more advanced moves like knee bars. Again, just be sure that your pants have plenty of stretch!
- Your top. On top, a T-shirt or tank top is great—whatever you prefer. For women, a quality sports bra can also help keep you comfortable. If you’re feeling confident (and warm!), going shirtless may also be an option. You’ll likely see both men and women (in sports bras) enjoying the freedom of going topless in the gym.
- The view from below. There are likely to be at least a few people watching you climb from below. Keep that in mind when you select your outfit, so you’ll be comfortable with whatever people can view from below.
One piece of specialty gear that you will need to have at the climbing gym is a pair of climbing shoes. While you may be allowed to climb in your everyday shoes, they will be far too bulky and will not offer enough traction for you to have a great session. Climbing shoes are specially designed to give you an advantage with climbing, featuring high-quality rubber and a snug fit that allows you to get your weight over your toes as well as perform more advanced moves like heel hooks.
Most climbing gyms will have shoe rentals available, or you can bring your own. When sizing, some climbers like to “size down” to get a very tight fit, while others prefer to climb in their street size for comfort. As a beginner climber, you’ll likely want the shoes to be snug but comfortable.
Items to Skip
There are three pieces of gear that don’t really have a place in the world of indoor rock climbing:
- Socks. Going sockless gives climbers the best possible feel for the footholds through their shoes. Will you get thrown out of the gym if you wear a pair of socks? Probably not, but it could impact your performance.
- Hats. Another item you’ll want to avoid is a hat. You may not have been thinking of wearing a hat anyway, since you’ll be indoors, but it’s a good reminder that you don’t want to wear anything that may fall off as you climb. Also, you’ll be keeping your body close to the wall as you ascend, and a hat with a bill would could easily get in the way.
- Gloves. Finally, gloves are another no-no in the climbing gym, as it’s essential to get direct contact between your fingers and the wall for maximum grip. If you’re just getting started, you may get a few blisters, but as you continue to climb, you’ll build up callouses that will naturally protect your skin.
Keep Your Activewear Fresh
Most of your rock climbing apparel will be made with synthetic materials. If you’ve been struggling to get rid of body odor in your clothes, your detergent may be the culprit, because most regular detergents are made to treat cotton, not synthetics. To clean your gear and keep it smelling fresh, consider a dedicated sports detergent, like WIN Detergent. Order a bottle and smell the difference for yourself!