Indoor Bouldering – The Beginners Guide and Tips

Bouldering Tips

Are you interested in rock climbing, but just not ready to get a bunch of gear and climb up the side of a mountain yet?  You should try indoor bouldering.  What is Indoor Bouldering?

Indoor bouldering is another type of rock climbing that is done in an indoor gym.  Unlike regular rock climbing, there are no ropes or other climbing gear needed for this activity—instead, climbers us boulder size climbing walls with think padding on the floor to brace any falls.

It’s a great activity for beginners that want to learn how to rock climb.  Indoor bouldering involves minimal investment, the gyms are easy to get too, and the climbing walls are not high like traditional climbing walls.

Let’s dive into what you need for bouldering indoors and how to get started.

Equipment You’ll Need

Out of all the types of climbing, indoor bouldering requires the least amount of gear.  There are no ropes, harnesses or other climbing gear needed.  Plus, the gym has already installed the crash pads.

There are a few items that you should look into before you head to the indoor bouldering gym.

Climbing Shoes

If it’s your first time, you could get away with sneakers to see if bouldering is right for you.  But, if you want to get a real understanding of bouldering and the fun you can have doing it.  We suggest getting a good pair of climbing shoes.

You will need to make sure that they are the right size for you, so don’t borrow a pair from a friend that is too big or too small.  They will end up causing more harm than good when learning how to boulder.  If you are looking for a perfect pair of climbing shoes, check these out on Amazon, we like them, and they have great reviews.


Climbing chalk comes in two forms, liquid chalk and powder chalk.  We prefer powdered chalk, since it’s instantly dry and more comfortable to use.  Here is a link to the chalk that we use.

Comfortable Clothing

When it comes to clothing for bouldering indoors, you don’t need anything special.  Just wear something thing that is comfortable and is easy to move around in.  Something breathable is also helpful since you will be sweating by the end of the day.

Indoor Bouldering

What You Need To Know for Bouldering Indoors

There are several things that you should know before you go indoor bouldering.  Here are some bouldering tips, the lingo, and sample pricing to help you get started.

Indoor Bouldering Tips

These simple tips will help you get started with not just indoor bouldering, but also outdoor bouldering and climbing

  • Use You Toes – Many people try to use the insides of their feet when climbing, which is incorrect.  You should use your toes since they need less space, and it is easier to maneuver.
  • Use Your Legs – Your legs are some of the biggest muscle groups that you have and will not tire out as quickly as your arms.  So use your legs for climbing and your arms for balance.
  • Plan Your Route – Always plan your route a  few movements ahead.  This will avoid wasted movement so you can get further up without getting as tired.
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Fall – Since your bouldering, you won’t be up as high and will have a crash mate under you.  So don’t be afraid to try new things and practice the moves that you are having trouble with.
  • Climb With People Better Than You – When climbing with people more experienced, you will be able to learn from them and they will push you future than you through you could go
  • Have Fun! – Don’t get too serious when you are indoor bouldering. It’s meant to be fun.  So take a step back if you get frustrated, and they to remind yourself to have fun!

Bouldering Lingo

Like with any new sport or hobby, there is several new words that you should learn, so you know what everyone is talking about.  Here are the critical terms for indoor bouldering.

  • Hold: The place to put your hand or foot to help you climb the boulder.
  • Traverse: To move laterally across the boulder
  • Flash: Climbing a route on the first attempt without any prior knowledge
  • Bucket: A large hold, which the entire hand can grasp
  • Crimp: A small edge that is held by wrapping the thumb over the index finger and pulling with the fingertips
  • Pinch: Ahold squeezed between the thumb and fingers for grip
  • Dynamic Move: A move in which the climber jumps or swiftly moves from one hole to the next.
  • Heel hook: A move in which the climber uses the heel to grip and pull the body toward the rock
  • Pocket: A hold that consists of a small hole for 1 or 2 fingers
  • Match: The move in which the climber places both hand or feet on the same hold
  • Mantel: A move in which the climber uses their knee or shin to push oneself up to the next hold

Sample Costs for Indoor Climbing/Bouldering

In most cases, the membership fee or session entry fee is the only cost for those looking to do indoor bouldering or climbing.

Every location is a little different, but most offer classes for beginners and free climbing day passes for experienced climbers.  Many gyms also have discounts for students, minors, and if you purchase monthly or yearly passes.

Average Indoor Bouldering Gym Fees

  • Day Pass – $10 to $25
  • Monthly Fee – $65 to $80 per month

As previously mentioned, the two other costs would be for climbing shoes ($70 – $150 depending on the style) and chalk ($10 – $15).

Other Alternatives for Indoor Bouldering

Indoor Climbing – This is similar to indoor boulder, where the climber goes to the gym, pays an entry fee, and only needs to supply their climbing shoes.  The gym provides the other climbing equipment that a user would need.  Instead of climbing a boulder size wall, the climbing walls are much higher, and you need a rope and harness for safety.

Outdoor Boulding – Also similar to indoor bouldering, but the climber is doing it on outside bounders or rock faces.  You don’t go high enough to need a rope and harness, but supplying your crash pad is necessary for safety.

Outdoor Rock Climbing– Rock climbing is the most intensive alternative.  There are several different types of rock climbing, but in general, they all need safety equipment that is more than just a crash pad.  If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you only rock climb with an experienced climber.

Indoor Bouldering Summary

Bouldering indoor is the best option for beginners that are learning to climb but also great for experienced climbers that are looking to practice different situations.  It’s a low cost, but high-intensity activity for all levels

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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