Your hands are obviously among your most essential tools when rock climbing, so it only makes sense that you ensure they’re in top condition whenever you climb. Of course, this means keeping your nails neatly trimmed, so it’s easier to get a grip on the surface.

However, there might be times when you’ve got, let’s say, less than ideal nails. If you’re wearing fake nails, can you still go rock climbing? How do fake nails affect your climb, and more importantly, is it still safe?

Let’s find out!

You Can…But Maybe Don’t

Rock climbing is rough and rugged by nature, and it can be quite demanding on your hands. As you pull yourself up along the rocky surface, your hands will get scraped and scratched.

When you’re wearing fake nails, there is always the possibility of the nails getting chipped or broken as you climb. Worse, the fake nail can get completely ripped off the nail bed, which is monstrously painful!

Aside from the chance of your fake nails breaking, any obstruction on your hands can make it challenging to get a good grip. If you slip, you might not be able to catch yourself because your nails are getting in the way.

So, while you can wear fake nails while rocking climbing, it is not advisable.

A Good Fake Nail Alternative

If you absolutely must wear fake nails during a climb (maybe you have a date afterward, or you want to look good), skip the acrylic nails and go for press-on nails. Press-on nails are cheaper than acrylic, and they’re easier to apply. You can even apply them at home without paying at a salon.

Press-on nails use adhesives that keep them firmly attached to your hands, even with the demands of rock climbing. However, the glue does come off when wet, so if you’re rock climbing in a rainy location, there’s a good chance that your nails can come off.

How to Climb Safely with Fake Nails

Protect your fake nails

Fingernail polish is a must if you’re climbing with fake nails. Gel polishes make fake nails tougher and protect them from chipping or bending. However, gel polish can get scratched pretty quickly, so don’t be surprised if your fake nails look beat up after a challenging climb.

Use climbing chalk

Climbing chalk helps give you a better grip. It increases the traction of your palms and finger pads against the rock surface. Using climbing chalk can help you avoid hitting your nails since you’ve got a good grip on your palms.

Limit your nail length

If you have to wear fake nails, choose a set with a length that won’t hinder your grip. The recommended length for fake nails is around ⅓ of your pinkie finger. However, if you have short fingers and a broad palm, even the recommended length can make it difficult to grip.

Avoid crimping

It's already hard enough to rock climb when you’re wearing fake nails, so don’t compound the problem by attempting a crimp. Since you’re relying on the point of your fingertips when you perform a full-crimp or a half-crimp, there’s a good chance that you’ll break your nails.


So, it’s time to go back to the original question: can you go rock climbing with fake nails?

Technically, the answer is yes. However, there are so many potential issues that you need to worry about; your nails might break, rip away from your nail bed (ouch!), or slip and fall because you can’t grip properly.

Under all these scenarios, wearing fake nails while rock climbing might not be worth it. 

Safety should be your top priority when climbing, and having clean, short, and trimmed fingernails is the best way to go. 

See you at the top, climbers!


Relevant Gear Lists

No items found.

Other Commonly-Asked Questions

About Crawl

At our heart, Crawl is a food company. We provide adventurers and explorers with high-quality granola bars made from real cricket protein. We also curate high-quality, research-driven content in our blog posts. Our mission is to help our family to create a deeper, more genuine connection with the world.

We stand for sustainability, community, and quality.