Indoor vs Outdoor Climbing: Which One Has the Edge?

Indoor vs Outdoor Climbing: Which One Has the Edge?

In our previous entry, we talked about why I turned to rock climbing as a pastime. If I convinced you to go try it out, you may find yourself facing a couple of options.

A discussion about rock climbing will never be complete without bringing up its two categories: indoor and outdoor. While each type has its own unique advantages, we’ll attempt to argue which one has the edge in terms of a particular aspect.

Are you someone who lives the urban life and is too busy to travel great distances to climb? Do you make safety a top priority? Or a you a thrill-seeking nature-lover who finds comfort in a serene environment solo?

We’ll help you choose your side.


indoor climbing optionMany climbers prefer the gym simply because of the various safety features on deck, especially crash pads. For novice climbers who put a premium on safety, they will have the peace of mind knowing they can afford mistakes, thanks to a controlled environment. Additionally, there are more eyeballs and hands around you during indoor climbing, ready to assist anytime.

And did we mention that no gym owner wants you to get hurt while within the premises of their business?

Advantage: Indoor


If you’re the typical busy bee at work — always chasing deadlines and dealing with piles of paperwork — then it’s pretty obvious that you don’t have the luxury of time to travel far to get your dose of climbing-induced euphoria. Chances are better that there are more accessible climbing gyms from your home or office than there are nearby climbing spots. And if you are short on funds to splurge on climbing gear — or simply too pre-occupied to shop for them — a well-equipped indoor facility is a godsend.

Advantage: Indoor


Outdoor climbing purists will preach that nothing beats thrill of not knowing what’soutdoor climbing simond in store for you at a particular outdoor spot. If you thrive in an unpredictable environment where a lot of external factors can come into play — including the risk of encountering wildlife and dealing with sudden weather changes — then there’s nothing else to do but head out.

Advantage: Outdoor


The thing about climbing in a controlled environment is that it provides a great deal of versatility. Compared to the limited number routes to choose from in an outdoor climb, an indoor facility usually has more route options — each with varying levels of difficulty depending on a climber’s experience and skill level.

Are you seeking to level up as an outdoor climber? Then you should first start honing your skills and developing your body indoors.

Advantage: Indoor

Avenue for reflection

outdoor climbing reflection simond decathlonIf nature-tripping is your thing, then there’s no other way but to travel to that perfect climbing spot in the outskirts of the city. Unlike in a gym where foot traffic and noise might spoil the fun, climbing outdoors increases the chances of you being in the company of only a few — or even be by yourself. For many outdoor enthusiasts, nothing is better than the beauty of nature. If you count yourself among those who treasure the thought of being able to reflect in a serene environment, then by all means go plan that outdoor climb. Just remember to watch out for those grizzly bears.

Advantage: Outdoor


Now this is a matter of preference. Oftentimes, climbers — particularly newbies — find it easier to do it at indoor facilities. The paths are clearly laid out, and the handholds and footholds are brightly colored and polished. The sight of others trying out the same route will also likely to ease you nerves in going for it.

On the other hand, many experienced climbers find indoor climbing to be more physically taxing. The customizable nature of routes at indoor facilities can also increase the difficulty even for advanced practitioners. That’s why it’s natural to try indoor climbing first before heading. That’s the training ground, and trainings are supposed to be challenging if the endgame is to turn you into a climbing machine.

Advantage: None


There you have it. In the end, everything is up to you. Go for the climbing category that best suits your lifestyle, skill level and overall goal. In the end, it’s just you and the summit. Different means, same destination.

More importantly, it is about YOU. As Jake Gyllenhaal’s character famously quipped in the movie Everest,

“It’s not the altitude, it’s the attitude.”


chris climbing sports leader decathlon usa  

Written by:


Climbing Brand Manager

His upcoming climbing inspiration: To climb Half Dome, Yosemite

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