What to Wear – Bouldering and Gym Climbing | Examples and Tips

What to wear bouldering climbing

Bouldering and climbing don’t require special clothes – the only thing that really matters is wearing clothes that don’t restrict your freedom of movement. 

I will introduce you to a few climbing outfits and explain what’s important. You can use these examples as a guide to help you put together a suitable outfit. 

6 Examples : What to wear Climbing / Bouldering

Whether bouldering or climbing – the clothes are basically the same. 

What Clothes to Wear for Climbing in the Gym?

For indoor climbing, I’d recommend elastic pants like climbing pants, sweatpants, or leggings. The most important thing is that they allow a wide range of motion and don’t restrict movement. In addition, a simple T-shirt or top and something warm to put on, for when you’re taking a break. 

Whether you boulder in shorts or pants is completely up to you. Both have advantages and disadvantages – more on this down below. 

What to Wear for Bouldering and Climbing?

3 Basic Rules

This section is all about bouldering and climbing indoors.
What you need for outdoor climbing depends a lot on the weather, season, and climate zone. 

1. Unrestricted Freedom of Movement

This is crucial!

Pants for Climbing

bouldering what to wear

No matter which pants you choose, test whether you can really move without restrictions: 

  • Do a wide straddle
  • Get your foot up on a table 
  • Do a long lunge

Leggings and yoga pants are a popular choice among women.

Really wide pants almost always offer less freedom of movement. Good climbing pants aren’t skin-tight (except leggings or yoga pants), but they shouldn’t be too wide either. 

If the pants don’t restrict your movement, they have passed the most important test. If your pants are in addition to that also light, breathable and durable – they are perfect.

Climbing pants

Shorts or Pants?

Shorts make sense especially in the summer or in warm climbing gyms.
In addition, most shorts offer 100% freedom of movement. I personally love climbing in shorts.

However, shorts also have disadvantages because the risk of abrasions or cuts is much greater. Rough indoor climbing walls don’t really get along well with bare skin. 

Pants do a better job at protecting the skin from injuries and are the better choice in most cases. Lightweight and particularly breathable bouldering pants are an ideal compromise. 

A Top for climbing

Don’t overthink it – pretty much any shirt will do.

For climbing and bouldering, loose shirts and baggy clothes are disadvantageous. Either they get in your way, or they’re just too revealing. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a skin-tight fit, but tops with a tighter fit have clear advantages. 

clothes for bouldering climbing
A simple T-shirt is fine

2. Breathability

Casual pants may ensure full freedom of movement, but they’re not ideal in warm bouldering gyms. Something lightweight and breathable will prevent sweating and help your body keep cool.

3. Durability

Rough climbing walls are almost like sandpaper. One wrong move and your pants have a hole. This is quite normal and can’t always be prevented, but some climbing pants are made in a way so that even if they do get a hole, they don’t tear any further (rip-stop). This can significantly prolong the lifespan of a beloved pair of pants. 

Additional Clothes You Might Need: 

Something to put on during breaks or in between climbs.
Bouldering is strenuous and you will certainly break a sweat – so put on an extra layer when you’re not climbing.

It also makes sense to take longer breaks from time to time, so having a jacket or sweater is definitely worth it. 

clothes climbing
Something for the break

Slippers, FlipFlops, Crocs, clean sports shoes etc. Something you can move around the gym in, away from the bouldering area (bistro, cafe, toilet…). 

what to bring bouldering
In between bouldering

Climbing – Shoes for belaying
For belaying, sturdy footwear is highly recommended. (Sneakers, trainers, running shoes…)

what to wear climbing
For belaying

What NOT to wear when climbing / bouldering

  • No Body Jewelry
    Rings, watches, bracelets, earrings, etc. almost guarantee injuries both when climbing and bouldering. Therefore, please remove jewelry every time you go climbing. 
  • Long Hair
    When climbing, long hair can get caught in the belay device. It’s unlikely, but it can happen – so be sure to tie up long hair. 
  • Socks or No Socks?
    It depends…

Rental shoes: I would always wear socks for hygiene reasons.
Personal climbing shoes: Your climbing shoes should be worn without socks. The less there is between your foot and the wall, the better you can feel and step on small footholds. 

We Tested Rock Climbing Shoes.

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Bouldering – What do you need?

For bouldering in the gym, you need clothes that offer great freedom of movement, a pair of climbing shoes, and a chalk bag filled with magnesium powder (chalk). Shoes and a chalk bag can be rented in the bouldering gym.

Gear List – Bouldering:

  • Bouldering shoes
  • Chalk bag + chalk
  • Climbing brush

(All the gear can be rented at any bouldering gym)

Additional items:
– Shoes (FlipFlops etc.)
– Sweater or jacket (to put on during breaks, so you don’t get cold)
– Drink & snack
– Change of clothes & whatever you need for showering

How much does it cost to start Bouldering?

  • A detailed list of all expenses.
  • All essential gear
  • Entrance fee bouldering gym
How much does bouldering cost

Gear List – Climbing:

  • Climbing shoes
  • Climbing harness
  • Climbing rope + rope bag
  • Belay device + carabiner
  • Chalk bag + chalk

(All the gear can be rented at any climbing gym)

Additional items:
– Shoes for belaying (sturdy shoes)
– Sweater or jacket
– Drink & snack
– Change of clothes & whatever you need for showering

For outdoor climbing you also need:

  • Quickdraws (about 15)
  • Possibly a climbing helmet 

How much does it cost to start Climbing?

  • A detailed list of all expenses.
  • Indoor & Outdoor
  • All essential gear
  • Entrance fee climbing gym
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Become a Better Climber / Boulderer

  • Improve your Footwork
  • Improve Positioning
  • Improve overall Technique

25 Tipps to improve Climbing Technique (fast)

Climbing and bouldering Technique 25 tips
Level up your climbing skills

Training for Climbing – AT HOME

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Get stronger – now.

The Perfect Pants for Bouldering?

What should a pair of pants be like? We reviewed climbing pants using the following 9 criteria: 

1. Freedom of movement
As previously mentioned, freedom of movement is the most important factor. The pants should not restrict your range of motion. Ideally, you won’t even feel your climbing pants at all.  

2. Comfort
A good pair of pants feels pleasant on the skin and is made in a way that prevents pressure points on sensitive areas (hips, knees). 

3. Breathability
You’re going to sweat and that’s a good thing! But that means that breathable pants are a must, especially in warm gyms or on hot summer days. 

4. Functionality
Practical extras especially for climbers or boulderers. 

  • Pockets that are in the right places
  • Elastic bands instead of buttons
  • Lots of stretchy material
  • Elastic cuffs on the pants legs

5. Durability
The tear-resistant fabric increases the service life and is fairly inexpensive. 

6. Cut and fit
The waistband must be elastic. A gusset in the crotch area provides more freedom of movement and makes sure the harness is comfortable. 

7. Optics 
We all have our own unique taste, and not every pair of pants fits everybody. But a pair of well-cut pants is and remains just that, no matter who wears them. 

8. Price and customer satisfactionWhat do other customers think about the performance? Is the price justified?