When you’re going rock climbing, you need to wear clothes that are as comfortable and unrestrictive as possible. Whether you want to wear technical climbing clothes or you want to climb up in your favorite sweatshirt and pants, it’s fine as long as you can move around freely. 

Some people might think that loose baggy clothing is best for rock climbing since you can move as much as you want. However, you have to remember that loose fitting clothing can hamper your movement. It can be both frustrating and dangerous if you can’t get a good grip on the rock face since your clothing gets in the way.

Let’s go over what to look for in climbing clothes, possible choices, and their pros and cons.

What to Look for in Climbing Clothes

If you’re looking for the best climbing clothes, there are four factors that you need to consider:

  • Comfortable - this is arguably the most important factor when it comes to choosing climbing clothes. You want to wear clothes that won’t scratch against your skin! Comfortable clothes lets you focus solely on your climb without getting bothered by the feel of the material against your skin.
  • Allows free moment - you want clothing that allows both your legs and arms to move freely. It’s better if you can look down and easily see your feet.

  • Lightweight - climbing is already a strenuous sport, so wearing heavy clothing will only make the experience harder. You’re tire out more easily and it might even cut your climb short.

  • Breathable - you’re going to be sweating buckets as you climb, particularly if you’re climbing in hot or humid conditions. Choose clothing that wicks away sweat and allows your skin to breathe.

Choosing the Right Clothing for Rock Climbing

Tops to Wear

Typically, any t-shirt, gym shirt, or tank top is good for rock climbing. You can even wear long-sleeved shirts or separate sleeves to complement a t-shirt if you want the added protection on your arms.

Going sleeveless is great if you want complete free moment for your arms. However, your arms could be at risk for getting scratches or sunburns. If you don’t want to wear sleeves, you should at least put on some sunscreen if you’re going rock climbing in sunny conditions.

Ideally, your top should fit snugly against your torso but it should not restrict the movement of your shoulders. 

Bottoms to Wear

For your bottom wear, you can choose shorts or pants. While shorts are great because they allow your knees to move freely, you can easily scrape your skin against rock if you’re not careful. If you want to wear shorts for rock climbing, choose a pair that falls right above your knees.

On the other hand, pants protect your skin but they can make footwork difficult. As with your upper clothing, choose pants that are flexible, lightweight, and fits snugly against you. Yoga pants are a great choice!

Can I wear sweatpants to rock climb?

Yes! Aside from yoga pants, sweatpants are a good alternative. Most sweatpants are comfortable and stretchy. However, avoid sweatpants made from pure cotton since these tend to absorb sweat. 

Go for a cotton blend made with polyester, spandex, or nylon. The pants wick away sweat while still being comfortable and flexible.

Can I wear jeans to rock climb?

Yes, as long as they are not made from traditional denim. Traditional denim has absolutely every characteristic you should avoid in climbing pants: they’re stiff, heavy, and they absorb sweat! 

The best climbing jeans are Lycra jeans, since they’re comfortable, stretchy, and do not absorb sweat. However, you can use stretchy denim if you don’t have any other alternative. Just be prepared for your legs to get sweaty and hot!


Choosing the right rock climbing clothes can make or break your climbing experience. For beginners, there’s nothing wrong with choosing your regular gym clothing. They’re comfortable, cheap, and fits you well. If you’re planning to rock climb on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to invest in clothes specifically designed for rock climbing. These clothes protect your skin, gives you unrestricted movement, and wicks away sweat for a better climbing time.

See you at the top, all you awesome climbers!