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What to Wear for Indoor Rock Climbing – All You Need to Know


Indoor rock climbing, like any sport, demands a particular set of skills and training for proficiency. Yet, one of its compelling aspects lies in the simplicity of the gear and attire required for success. Beginners may assume that wearing what they use in the climbing gym will suffice, but that’s not always the case.

Understanding what to don for indoor rock climbing can spell the difference between excelling and falling short of your aspirations. This article will elucidate the essential attire and gear necessary when venturing into a climbing gym.

Before delving into the inventory of essential items for your indoor rock climbing endeavor, it’s vital to acquaint yourself with the various types of indoor rock climbing activities you can partake in.

Types of Indoor Rock Climbing Ventures

Bouldering


This is perhaps the most straightforward type of indoor rock climbing experience. It entails navigating a course that remains relatively close to the ground, with no need for harnesses or ropes. Typically, individuals with a bit more climbing experience engage in bouldering, often with the assistance of a spotter to ensure safety.

Bouldering offers valuable benefits, as it aids climbers in honing their skills while enhancing their strength, balance, and stamina. This foundational experience can prepare climbers to tackle more challenging obstacles should they choose to specialize in bouldering.

Top-Rope Climbing

This type of indoor rock climbing is typically the one that most beginners are familiar with. It involves securing a rope to an anchor located at the top of the climbing course. One end of the rope is attached to the climber, while the other end is held by another person, known as the belayer. The belayer’s primary role is to catch the climber in case they fall.

For beginners, top rope climbing is highly recommended, as it is one of the safest formats. Additionally, the belayer can provide assistance and guidance to the climber, making it an ideal choice for those new to the sport. Many indoor climbing gyms offer support and assistance for newcomers.

Lead Climbing

Lead climbing is similar to top-rope climbing but with a key difference. Instead of relying on a single anchor point at the top of the course, lead climbing involves a series of anchor points attached to the wall. While a belayer is still present, lead climbing requires more advanced technical skills and strength to navigate the various paths and routes on the course. It is a more challenging form of indoor rock climbing that demands a higher level of expertise and endurance.

Indoor Rock Climbing Gears

Climbing Shoes

A quality pair of climbing shoes can significantly enhance your agility and overall performance on the course while also ensuring durability. If you’re committed to pursuing indoor climbing, investing in a high-quality pair of climbing shoes can make a remarkable difference.

However, don’t expect a regular shoe salesperson to be well-versed in the specific needs of climbing shoes. While there are specialty stores dedicated to indoor rock climbing gear, if you don’t have access to one nearby, here’s a useful checklist to assist you in finding the perfect pair of rock climbing shoes.

How to Find a Great Pair of Rock Climbing Shoes


Determine your intended climbing style.

Different styles of climbing demand varying approaches and skill sets. Identifying your intended use for the shoes will help you select the right material, sole thickness, and other crucial factors. This assessment will also help you decide whether a new pair is necessary or if a used one could suffice.

When choosing the perfect pair of indoor climbing shoes, it’s essential to ensure that their features align with your specific needs, enabling efficient and effective performance.

Inspect the closure system.

The closure system refers to how you secure the shoe to your foot. There are several options available: lace-up, Velcro, and slipper.

Lace-up shoes resemble traditional footwear. The key advantage of this design is the ability to customize the shoe’s fit, making it suitable for various foot shapes and suitable for indoor climbing gyms and bouldering.

Velcro climbing shoes are well-suited for indoor rock climbing due to their ease of use when putting on and taking off. These shoes are an excellent choice for beginners, offering all the necessary features for those new to rock climbing.

Slipper-style shoes, while simple, are favored by experienced climbers for their comfort and versatility. Designed especially for aggressive rock climbing, they may not be ideal for beginners and require specific skills and experience.

Evaluate the downturn.

The downturn refers to the curvature of the sole. A more aggressive downturn is better suited for vertical terrain. Flat downturns are suitable for less inclined climbing walls, as they allow your foot to remain flat and provide maximum comfort. Beginners can initiate their climbing journey with flat downturn shoes and progress to more specialized options as they gain experience and identify their preferred style and discipline.

How to Ensure Midfoot Support and Stiffness


Climbing is a specialized sport demanding significant muscle strength and skill. One area subjected to extra pressure during climbing is the midfoot, leading to a choice between soft and stiff midsole support. Most flat shoes offer stiffer support, making them an ideal choice for beginners in indoor climbing.

However, for those who prefer softer support, this option is equally valid, as the choice of stiffness is purely subjective.

Material selection is another factor dependent on personal preference. You will have the option of choosing between leather, synthetic leather, or a blend of both. It’s important to consider that the material you select for your climbing shoes and attire comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Leather shoes are known for their breathability and durability, although they tend to be more expensive. On the other hand, synthetic materials offer greater stretchability and are generally more budget-friendly.


Once you’ve made your material selection, the most critical factor to consider is size and fit. It’s essential to ensure that your feet are neither overly constricted nor swimming within the shoe. Leather shoes may require some breaking in before achieving optimal comfort, whereas synthetic climbing shoes are ready for immediate use.

Rubber soles present another crucial consideration, a topic that can immerse any dedicated rock climber in a complex discussion. With numerous options available and varying opinions among climbers, it’s a subject that beginners need not fret over initially. As climbers delve deeper into the lifestyle and culture of rock climbing, they will naturally develop preferences. For beginners, the key is to find a quality shoe with moderate rubber grips to facilitate their training.

Gym Climbing Clothing

When it comes to deciding what to wear for indoor rock climbing, you don’t need to overthink it. Regular fitness attire is perfectly suitable. Just ensure that your clothing fits well and provides excellent flexibility since you’ll be extending your arms and legs frequently.

Opting for climbing pants made from breathable materials is a wise choice as they help you stay cool during the activity.

Selecting clothing made of lightweight materials and fabrics is also advisable. Anything with abrasive materials can lead to chafing and discomfort. You can decide between shorts and climbing pants based on your personal comfort.

Moreover, it’s essential to opt for slim-fit clothing to minimize the risk of it catching on any surfaces during your climb.

Harness

A harness serves multiple functions in indoor rock climbing, including safety, assistance, and carrying gear. When selecting a harness, there are several factors to take into account.

For beginners, a harness with comfortable padding on the waist and legs is recommended. Since beginners may need to take breaks more frequently, these padded areas help prevent feelings of constriction. Opting for a harness with adjustable buckles also offers flexibility and convenience.

Consider the presence of gear anchors, which are loops on either side of the waistband for attaching quickdraws and cams. The number of gear anchors varies based on the harness’s design and purpose, but four is a common number. It’s important to note that these anchors are not intended for clipping.

Additional features to consider include belay loops, haul loops, tie-in points, and the presence of rise or elastic straps. However, these are secondary considerations, as beginners in sport climbing are unlikely to fully utilize these features.

Carabiners


While carabiners may not be considered traditional attire, they are essential attachments for your body during rock climbing adventures.

When selecting a carabiner, it’s crucial to consider the type of climbing you plan to engage in and choose the one that best suits your needs. Carabiners come in various varieties, differing in shape, gate opening type, and overall mass.

There are four primary shapes of carabiners to choose from: asymmetrical D-shape, regular D-shape, pear shape, and oval shape.

  1. Asymmetrical D-shape carabiners are the most prevalent and popular. They feature a spacious gate opening and offer a combination of strength and lightweight design.
  2. Pear shape carabiners excel at clipping in ropes and gear. They are specifically designed for belaying or rappelling.
  3. D-shape carabiners are renowned for their exceptional strength and are ideal for a wide range of climbing activities.
  4. Oval shape carabiners, known for their capacity to hold plenty of gear, are traditional favorites.

The gate type is another crucial factor to consider. Straight gates are the simplest to use, highly durable, and have a minimal risk of snagging. Bent gates, with their concave design, make clipping into ropes significantly easier. Wiregate carabiners prioritize gear lightweight and manageability.

Conclusion

Embracing the challenge of pushing your boundaries in rock climbing is an exhilarating endeavor. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety and select the right climbing attire based on your chosen climbing type. Remember that your well-being should always be your foremost concern. Seek proper instruction and gain experience before attempting climbs that exceed your current skill level and abilities.

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