Rock Climbing Clothing – Indoor vs. Outdoor

Preparing your rock climbing clothing is as essential as planning any gear necessary for an outdoor activity.

Rock climbing is an adventurous activity, mainly done on a rock, which involves climbing over a natural or artificial rock wall. While it can be a fulfilling experience, lack of training and preparation often leads to dangerous scenarios, just like any sport. 

Most climbers carefully choose their climbing attire and head to the mountains. The perfect clothing depends on mainly two variables: 

  • Weather. Always have an update about the weather forecast. 
  • Climbing Area. Study the path and rock surface of your location. 

A good climbing attire possesses these characteristics: 

  • Agile mobility. It allows all climbing activities like higher steps, drop knees, and toe hooks. 
  • Breathable material. The fabric should be comfortable enough to allow your skin to breathe beneath. 
  • Perfect fit. It should have the right length, not be too baggy, and is made of stretchable material to ensure unrestricted movement. 
  • Special features. These are additions to the climbing attire but not vital to the list. Harness and helmet-compatible jackets and zipped pockets are a few special features considered by the experts on climbing. 

Indoor Climbing vs. Outdoor Climbing 

Indoor Climbing 

Rock Climbing Clothing For Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor climbing is practiced on artificial walls offering a similar experience to outdoor rock climbing. Compared to outdoor, indoor climbing is safer and less complex in nature. Every factor, including the environmental conditions of indoor climbing, can be manually controlled.  

Indoor climbing is built in brick or wooden constructions mostly, they prefer multiplex boards for building the walls with holes all over the surface. The drilled holes assist in the shaped grip of climbers. All these try to satisfy an experience similar to natural rock with embedded climbing holds.  

Indoor climbing is classified into three types: 

  • Top roping or climbing via roping. This is usually done by attaching rope above and below from the ground to you. It is less risky and assures safety with a minimum height from the ground. 
  • Lead rock climbing or sports climbing. This type has a pre-set route and has a set of fixed bolts that adds protection to climbers. It is more challenging than climb roping and requires greater commitment and potential to complete the task.   
  • Bouldering or climbing without roping. In bouldering, there are no safety ropes and hangings. Instead, padded mats are used over the surface to protect the climbers when they fall. Bouldering differs from other types of indoor climbing due to its risky nature. 
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Outdoor Climbing

Rock Climbing Clothing For Outdoor Rock Climbing

They differ from indoor activity in every aspect, including techniques, style of climbing, and equipment used for it.  

Unlike the other, outdoor climbing is risky and poses deathly scenarios to climbers without proper training. While indoors are constant and controllable, here, nothing is convenient to climbers, including the weather and surface.  

A few types of outdoor climbing are: 

  • Traditional climbing. This type secures climbers from falls through removable protection attached along the route.  
  • Top roping or climbing with ropes. This type uses a rope to anchor through a hike and climb. 
  • Aid climbing or device climbing. In this type, the climber makes upward progress through devices attached as protection. 
  • Lead or sport climbing. Belayed from the ground, the climber will build an anchor at the top by climbing into bolts by moving towards the route. 
  • Bouldering climbing. Instead of padded sheets, it uses portable pads for protection. 
  • Free climbing. Unlike aid climbing, this type uses natural rocks as devices for progress. With their potential alone, the climber wills to complete the task without gear, harness, and any kind of ropes. 

Indoor Rock Climbing Clothing

While selecting the attire, be conscious about the excess fabric at the crotch area, as this could hamper movements and flexibility.  

Opt for slightly loose clothes as excessive baggy clothes may lead to distractions to your harness and angles to make yourself comfortable.  

Contrary to popular beliefs, yoga pants aren’t a perfect choice for indoor climbing, but any cotton or flexible jeans are suitable.  

Some of the best options for indoor climbing are as follows: 

T-Shirt 

You are free to select fabric type unless you are a sweaty person. For those, cotton may not be a perfect choice. Synthetic, cotton, and merino are popular fabrics among climbers. Your t-shirt should provide comfort and a breathable fit. It should be long enough to fit beneath a harness. 

Try this product: Hanes Men’s Sport Cool Dri Performance Tee

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Shorts

Climbing shorts should only be baggy enough to allow flexibility. It should not be too short, which makes it unable to wear with a harness. Synthetic and cotton materials are the perfect choice for climbing shorts. 

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Wear this on your next indoor climbing: Outdoor Research Men’s Ferrosi

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Pants 

Hard-wearing, flexible and perfect fit–these are the things you must consider for climbing pants. The fabric can either be synthetic or cotton. 

We recommend this product: prAna Men’s Stretch Zion Pant

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Outdoor Rock Climbing Clothing 

There are a few things to consider while hiking outside. You have to stay warm enough to ease climbing but not feel too hot when at a cliff or rock. The clothing varies in every weather, including summer, winter, rainy and tropical destinations.  

Your clothes should be favorable to environmental conditions and weather. Depending on weather conditions, you can use the base and mid-layer to keep your body warm.  

Some of the best choices for outdoor climbing are: 

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Clothing for Humid Conditions 

In the hot weather, you have to pick an attire accordingly. It will be better to wear clothes that help to stay cool.  

Lightweight synthetic fabric is recommended to protect from the sun and allow air to cool. A synthetic fiber absorbs moisture quickly from the skin when you sweat or get caught in a rainstorm. This fabric also dry instantly. Cotton fabric lacks this quality and can be slow to dry.  

It is also better to choose light-colored clothes as bright colors will reflect both light and heat. 

The popular attires for outdoor activities in humid weather are shorts, mid-length capris, or trousers. A baggy t-shirt, tank top, and sports bra are alternative options for better clothing. A charged cap could also help prevent your face from sunburn while hiking. 

We recommend this product: Mr. Davis Comfort Fit Premium Bamboo Viscose Tailored Cut V Neck Men’s Undershirt

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Clothing for Tropical Conditions 

While exploring tropical areas, it’s always better to focus on lightweight and breathable materials. 

Pick clothes that preclude uneven tans and marks. Thus, the better options are spaghetti tank tops and long sleeve tops. Always wear attire that guards against getting sunburns. 

Try this product:  Sports Bras for Women Criss-Cross Back Padded Workout Tank Tops Medium Support Crop Tops for Women

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Clothing for Cold Weather 

Wear warm clothes when hiking in cool weather. In the shoulder season, the rapid weather change may perplex your hiking. In those cases, bring extra clothes that provide insulation from wind and snow. 

Wear a breathable, lightweight base layer to keep moisture away from the skin. Select any base layers which have sweat-wicking technology and keep your skin warm and dry. The best fabrics for this are nylon, polypropylene, and other synthetic fibers.   

An intermediate layer keeps you warm and insulated, then wears an outer shell to protect it from the weather. Make assurance about the waterproof fabric while you are wearing it.  

You may also opt to use wind-resistant jackets. Two-sided zippered jackets keep you entirely closed, warm, insulated, and have a harness on. 

Buy this product: Icebreaker Merino Women’s 175 Everyday Long Sleeve Thermal Cold Weather Base Layer T-Shirt

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Clothing for Rainy Weather 

When heading to a rainy area, wear waterproof fabrics to keep you dry.  

When you get drenched, there is a great chance of getting sick. To avoid such conditions, wear raincoats and waterproof jackets. These are always the best choices among climbers during the monsoon period. Layer up with windproof jackets and well-insulated mid-layers before leaving. 

We recommend this product: Little Donkey Andy Men’s Softshell Jacket with Removable Hood, Fleece Lined and Water Repellent

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Closing Points

Indoor and outdoor climbing need comfortable and stretchable fabric for unrestricted movement throughout the hike. You can even wear jeans if it’s stretchable and allows free movement at the crotch area.  

Pick your attires wisely but avoid cotton in cold and wet conditions. In both periods, cotton absorbs water and body heat. Absorbing body heat might lead to hypothermia, which lowers body temperature. It also causes slow drying, allowing the damp side to rest against the skin.  

Cotton clothing, however, is a good choice for summer and indoor climbing. 

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Donald Miller

Hi, I am Donald Miller. I love spending time outdoors backpacking and camping with my family and friends. I enjoy writing about my experiences and sharing them with others through my blog at gociety.com. It's great to meet you!