Indoor vs Outdoor Rock Climbing: The Pros and Cons

Indoor vs Outdoor Rock Climbing The Pros and Cons

Whether you’ve always wanted to try rock climbing, or you’re just in search of something exciting, fun, healthy, and able to deliver that adrenaline rush you’re after…..

Rock climbing has it all – and then some.

Put all your fears aside, forget about any preconceived ideas that rock climbing is too difficult, too expensive, or that you just don’t have time.

It’s not expensive, especially compared to other physical hobbies that can’t even match the physical and mental benefits.

It’s as difficult as you want it to be.

And you do have time, trust me, we can all make time for something we love, and if it’s your first time – you’ll get the rock climbing bug and then there is no looking back.

In this article, my aim was to cover everything you need to know if you want to get started and have your first climb.

As well as how to get started without a huge budget. The differences, pros, and cons of indoor vs outdoor climbing, and which is probably the best option for you.

And, most importantly of all, I cover the health benefits associated with rock climbing – which, if that isn’t enough to get out out there I’m not sure what is!

So, if you’re still on the fence and making any of the excuses mentioned above, read on and I challenge you not book your first rock climbing session.

Types of Rock Climbing

There are a few different distinctions when it comes to the types and places you can rock climb, the most popular are as follows:

Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is a good place to start for most beginners. It gives you a chance to have a lesson with an instructor and you’ll probably find a set-up in a gym near to your home.

They basically set up a wall with some footholds and handholds, will talk you through everything you need to know and let you get to grips with the wall.

There are usually routes varying in difficulty, often color-coded to give you a guide and it’s a fun activity if you’re looking for something different to do.


Bouldering is a form of rock climbing where you climb free-hand without any ropes or a harness.

There are, or at least should be crash mats to break a fall. It’s also recommended you have partners watching out.

It’s a good place to start for beginners as you don’t need much in the way of equipment. Although you don’t climb very high it can still be a little daunting knowing you don’t have a safety harness.

Top Roping

Top roping means that you have a rope being fed to you from above to help keep apply some tension so you can’t fall if you lose your footing.

This is probably the most common form of rock climbing, especially indoors. It’s easy to create the setup indoors and most people feel much safer knowing they cannot fall.

Sport Climbing

Sport climbing or lead climbing as it’s also called involves climbing to fixed bolts and attaching your rope as you reach each bolt.

This reduces the distance you can fall each time, although the potential to fall is much greater than top roping and this is for the more advanced climbers.

It requires a good deal of physical strength and experience. You should only tackle routes you are confident you can finish.

Benefits of Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor ROck ClimbingIt’s Accessible

You’ll probably be surprised how many indoor rock climbing centers there are and how close they are to you.

It’s much more accessible to pop to your local gym and do a climb than finding a spot outdoors, so it’s much easier for those pushed for time or want to learn the basics.

It’s Great for Learning the Basics

Indoor climbing is a great place to learn the basics for most people. You will have a controlled environment, there are instructors, and it’s safer than climbing outdoors.

If you’re introducing a friend it’s the perfect environment to show them the ropes too. They will have all the kit already set up so you can get climbing the moment you enter.

Perfect If You’re Short of Time

Not having enough time is a common excuse, but it’s not an excuse if you have an indoor climbing center nearby.

If you have time for the gym, to watch a football match, or to go for a run, then you have time to get into rock climbing.

You Can Test Your Limits Safely

There is a thrill and an adrenaline rush to rock climbing. Don’t think that just because you’re indoors you won’t feel the excitement and danger of climbing to the summit.

It’s a great place to test your own limits and see how comfortable you are with different difficulty routes. There is less risk of getting stuck or injury.

The Weather Isn’t a Factor

The one thing we can’t control is the weather, and poor weather conditions is a recipe for disaster when it comes to rock climbing outdoors.

Indoors it’s not an issue of course. You can even climb at night if that’s when you have time and your gym is open, perfect all year round conditions.

Benefits of Outdoor Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing 2

You Get a Full-Body Workout

The main motivation for rock climbing is the achievement and enjoying the outdoors for most people, yet everyone gets a great full-body workout in the process.

Bodyweight exercises are great for working strength, endurance, flexibility, and of course, helping you achieve that body you’re always chasing.

It’s Affordable

Like a lot of outdoor activities there are a few essentials, then the main tools are yourself and the willingness to get stuck in, the great outdoors provides the rest.

Depending on how seriously you want to take rock climbing will determine the quality of the gear you need. There are no monthly membership costs and your gear will likely last years.

Great for Socializing and Working Together

It has the benefit of being both a thrilling and exciting solo activity, as well as being a social activity where supporting and encouraging others can take your game to the next level.

Climbing with a partner will help you both push each other a step or two further, and being outdoors without the distractions of home life really strengthen relationships.

Every Climb Is Different

If exercise and strength gains are a priority then rock climbing has so much more to offer than a gym.

Lifting the same weights and seeing the same four walls gets tired quickly. Rock climbing is different every climb unless you’re climbing the exact same rocks of course. Even then you can usually choose a different path.

Wide Range of Difficulties

There are two aspects to rock climbing that appeal to people of all ages and abilities. One, the learning curve is steep at first, you’ll learn loads within just a few climbs.

Two, there is no end to the difficulty. The better you become the harder climbs you can find to keep pushing yourself.

You Get Outdoors

Let’s be honest, it’s hard finding the time to get outdoors and spend some real quality time enjoying the fresh air, sights, and more so getting hands-on with the scenery and wildlife.

Rock climbing is the perfect excuse. Combined with some of the other benefits here such as socializing, exercise, having fun, and more, it’s a no-brainer and you get that mental detox from all the gadgets and chaos of the city.

Final Thoughts

Rock Climbing 3

I hope this article has helped you realize that not only are there more than enough health and wellness benefits to start rock climbing, there are few excuses to hold you back.

Start with indoors climbing like I explained above. It’s the perfect way to learn all the basics and they’ll have all the equipment you need to get you started.

Once you know you want to take it more seriously and you want to start climbing outdoors you can find some equipment at a reasonable price in classifieds ads or at climbing clubs.

The sense of achievement when you climb and reach new heights can’t be matched by many other hobbies.

The adrenaline and physical output is second to none, there is something incredibly satisfying about rock climbing – time to find out for yourself, book a session at your local climbing center today.

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