Fashion Passion

It is the most common question I get when someone calls in to sign up for our Introductory Lesson. – “What do I wear?”.  It’s a serious question that deserves a sincere answer.  My well rehearsed statement goes something like this, “Wear something you can move comfortably in that can get ripped up and that has an inseam long enough to extend past the leg loops of your harness.”  It’s a pretty general statement that could cover a lot of ensembles.

Virtually every other sport out there has a recognizable uniform of some type, even at the amateur level.  Even bowling.  Honestly, it could be the reason climbing is not an Olympic sport yet.  (ok, maybe not)  Our sport is a fashion free-for-all that has even sparked some controversy as of late.  But my intention isn’t to be the one to come up with said uniform.  I would simply like to point the fashion curious (or challenged) in at least a direction – hopefully the right one.  But first, let’s take a look at the attire of the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Athletic attire obviously improved for us climbers over the past century.  Can you imagine trying to send the Naked Edge in a tweed jacket?  Or even hiking anywhere in a wool maxi skirt?  Sheez.  Next, let’s take a small look at what you’re likely to find nowadays.  Here’s a sample of the ladies attire from the 2009 Mammut Bouldering comp in Salt Lake City:

And here’s some recent shots of some very nice bouldering fellas at RJ1:

When you are looking for that special look that will help you send your latest project, you have some choices.  You can scoff at the idea of climbing specific clothes and wear whatever you feel most comfortable in; you can wear generic workout clothes that can be interchanged with other activities such as yoga; or you can buy from a handful of companies that try to target the climbing communities needs.  The plus side of buying from a climbing clothing company is that some of them actually understand what you need from your clothes, like the fact that women climbers have to buy shirts two sizes too big in order to accommodate their overgrown lats that normal women don’t have.

If you’re looking at purchasing actual climbing clothes, I would have to say that Verve clothing, owned by Christian Griffith, is your best bet. Ladies, Christian not only has a selection of pants that are guaranteed to flatter any shape out there but also makes the best sports bras.  Ever.  Do yourself a favor and pick up some Verve wear, you’ll never go back.  I personally recommend the Sapho capri and the Sandrine pant.  For the boys, the Belikos pants climb great, look great and last forever.

The author in Verve Sapho capri pants, looking a little too much like Waldo.

Rylan, one of RJ's route setters, climbing in Verve Belikos.

And there’s Prana.  I’m not sure if there is a climber in Colorado that doesn’t own at least one piece of Prana clothing.  They have a great selection and their clothes are durable enough to withstand many days if not years at the crag.  But they have undergone some changes in the past few years since they were bought by Liz Claiborne in 2005.  The biggest problem I have with Prana is that the sizing is crazy.  I have in my closet right now a collection of Prana pants that span four different sizes that all fit good.  Because of this, I do not recommend buying from them online – go to the store in Boulder or an REI and try on whatever it is you want to buy.  As of late though, I have found myself tending towards their casual line and foregoing the active wear for other brands.

A couple of other companies to check out are Moon Climbing, Stonewear Designs, Arc’teryx and Mammut – all working hard to make sure you look your best while trying your hardest.  Whatever your preference, we hope to see you crushing soon at the gym!


3 thoughts on “Fashion Passion

  1. Great article!

    I work at prAna clothing and we’re actually not owned by Liz Claiborne anymore and haven’t been for a number of years. It’s true that online shopping can be frustrating until you find your perfect size within a brand. Great suggestion to try clothes on at a retailer before ordering online.

    Happy climbing!!

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