There’s no gym more social than a climbing gym, so here’s how to look your best, courtesy of Mike Stewart, general manager of New York’s Brooklyn Boulders.
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Wick-away need not apply. “Natural fiber all the way!” says Stewart, who likes Patagonia’s merino wool shirts, like the Daily T-Shirt ($55, patagonia.com). “They’re supercomfortable and easy to move in. But they also don’t make you feel like you’re jumping around inside a globo gym. You can feel casual and relaxed without the feel of spandex. And your butt’s not hanging out when you’re down in a nice squat or whatnot.”
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You want stretch without going full Lycra. “Prana makes some really great pants that are jean-esque yet have stretch,” says Stewart, who recommends the Bridger Jean ($79, prana.com). “These come with gusseted crotches, so you’re not gonna blow them out. They have a cotton-spandex blend, so you’re gonna have that natural fiber feel and good movement—and once again, no spandex thing going on or too much polyester to make noises when you walk down the hallway.”
“Climbing shoes have to be supersnug. Usually everybody’s at least a full size down.” You can’t go wrong with the Butora Acro ($154, butorausa.com), which are from a socially conscious company that utilizes a hemp lining and recycled rubber for the soles of their high-quality shoes.
Yes, it’s BYO chalk bag, and good ones have wide mouths so you can get your hand in and out with ease. We like this bag from new upstart Sublime ($27, sublimeclimbing.com). For the perfect grip, go with high-performance chalk from Friction Labs (from $10, frictionlabs.com), which comes in various forms from superfine to extra chunky. “I like my chalk like my peanut butter—a little chunky,” Stewart says, laughing.