For beginners, choosing the right clothes for rock climbing can be a bit tricky. Climbers look cool in jeans, but aren’t jeans too stiff? When you see people wearing jeans while climbing, the question may pop up in your mind: can you wear jeans rock climbing?
The answer to the question is “it depends”. Wearing traditional jeans is not a very good idea when climbing, simply because these jeans are stiff and heavy. Climbing requires a high level of flexibility, and traditional jeans do not provide that level of flexibility.
With that said, you may choose stretchy and breathable jeans for that purpose. To know whether you should climb in jeans, it is important to learn about both the advantages and disadvantages of climbing in jeans.
Advantages of Climbing in Jeans
There are three main advantages of wearing jeans when climbing.
- Durability: Rock climbing puts a lot of pressure on what you wear. Being a tough material, denim can withstand the snags and scrapes that come with rock climbing. Jeans are durable and can protect you from getting scraped or cut.
- Cost: Pants that are specifically designed for climbing are usually way more expensive than jeans. A good pair of climbing-specific pants will cost around $150. If you buy jeans for the same purpose for $50, they will last a few years. That means jeans can be a lot more affordable than pants that are specially designed for climbers.
- Style: Admit it—when you go climbing, you want to look stylish. Jeans are a great choice because they are not only stylish but also non-offensive. A great thing about jeans is that you do not have to change your dress if you want to visit the bar just after your climbing session.
Disadvantages of Climbing in Jeans
There are four major downsides of climbing in jeans. Let’s see them:
- Lack of Flexibility: Yes, there are stretchy jeans that provide enough flexibility when you climb. However, finding a good pair of flexible jeans can take time. And even if you choose the most flexible jeans, they will not come even close to climbing-specific pants in terms of flexibility.
- Lack of Breathability: Denim is tough, but that also means that the fabric lacks breathability. Climbing or similar strenuous act triggers sweating, and that can cause major discomfort if you are wearing jeans.
- Slow Drying: Jeans pants hold onto moisture. That means once these pants get wet, they stay wet for a long time. If the weather is not particularly dry, wet pants suck. In some cases, they can also make you sick.
- Lack of Features: Climbing-specific pants come with features that climbers find useful. These features include harness-specific belts, drawstring waists, and zippered pockets. Jeans pants are not designed for this purpose, so they do not come with these features.
Making a Decision
Many famous climbers have been photographed wearing jeans while performing.
Can you wear jeans rock climbing, just like those famous climbers? Well, to some extent the answer depends on where you are climbing. For indoor climbing such as bouldering, jeans can be a pretty good option. You will barely notice the drawbacks of jeans when you are practicing indoors.
If you have a pair of jeans that are stretchier than others, and you would like to wear it climbing, go ahead. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But once you are outside and on multi-pitch routes, make sure you wear something breathable and comfortable. Jeans are not as comfortable as more specialized pants, especially when you walk uphill for a long time.
So, can you wear jeans rock climbing? Yes, jeans work pretty well. But when you get into the sport, jeans are not our first recommendation. In other words, we don’t recommend buying jeans especially for the purpose of rock climbing.
What to Look for in Rock Climbing Pants
It can be a bit tricky to find a pair of good pants for rock climbing. What features should you look for in climbing pants? Well, there are quite a few.
First, make sure the pants you are choosing are durable. Abrasive edges of rocks can easily damage lightweight fabrics. But that does not mean you should choose heavy fabrics. Heavy pants can make it harder for you to fight against gravity. Choose something like wool-cotton blend, twill cotton, or stretchy denim.
Climbing is a strenuous activity that will inevitably make you sweat. So, opt for a sweat-wicking fabric that will keep you dry and cool. This is an important factor to take into consideration because climbing can be fiendishly difficult when you are overheating.
Can you wear jeans rock climbing? Jeans are not a very good option partly because they are constrictive. Avoid pants that are constrictive. Rather choose something stretchy or baggy. Test the pants out when you buy them. Make sure the fabric feels good on your skin, and you can comfortably lift your knees.
For ease of movement, it is important to choose loose clothing. However, you should also look for something with a tapered or skinnier leg. When you are climbing on a wall, pants with tapered legs will make it easier for you to see where to put your feet. If the legs are too baggy, you may find it hard to see your feet.
So, in climbing pants, you basically have to look for three features: durability, breathability, and flexibility. It may not be easy to find a pair of pants that ticks all these three features. But if you do a little bit of research, you will find something that goes well with your taste.
As we have explained, jeans are not the best option. In terms of breathability and flexibility, jeans are not as good as specialized climbing pants. However, if you are mostly practicing in an indoor climbing gym, feel free to wear jeans. And when you go outdoors for climbing, choose something more breathable and flexible.