how to rock climb with long nails

When you love to look stylish and trendy but want to be super active too, it is natural to ask how to rock climb with long nails.

Do you need to clip your nails before rock climbing? You will not receive any side-eye from us if you are only one of many who have asked this.

After all, we are cognizant of the fact that not everybody who wants to climb is prepared to fork over a lot of cash for the finest climbing shoes, forego all semblance of personal cleanliness, and settle into a van.

But, how do you manage those long nails then?

You most likely need to cut your nails short if you want to climb professionally, but you can try protective techniques if you are just an amateur climber.

Tip: consider taking a biotin supplement because it aids in healthy nervous system function in addition to its beneficial effects on hair and nails.

How Do You Combine Rock Climbing and Long Nails?

combine rock climb and long nails

Before you even think of trying this action sport, you may be wondering “can you rock climb with long nails?”

While there may not be many ways to safely scale rock walls with long nails, it is possible.

Still, you need to understand that the nails of rock climbers typically end up scuffed, chipped, and broken due to the sport. 

Maintaining short, well-filed nails can protect your nails from breaking or splitting.

In order to protect your nails from cracking or breaking, the best option would be to use gel fingernail polish.

So, you may be a complete beginner who wants to know what to expect. Or a seasoned climber who wants to get their hands looking good for the wedding season.

We are here to help you find answers to all your nail care problems.

How is Rock Climbing Damaging for Your Nails?

rock climbing damaging for nails

Climbing has always been seen as a pastime for macho types. But, it has recently become a lot more popular, inspiring people from all walks of life to try it.

In light of this, having the kind of bloodied, scarred, ugly hands that climbers used to boast about is no longer every climber’s goal.

Some people care only about their manicured fingers. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the vast majority of climbers. 

Putting Your Fingernails to the Test

When climbing, your fingers will inevitably become scratched up from grabbing tiny holds and rubbing against the wall and holds.

Also, when your nails are excessively long, they are more likely to break or get damaged.

You will also experience the excruciating pain and horrible noise of your nails scraping against the wall. That is a bummer for all involved. 

Dynamic Actions and Fingernails

dynamic actions and the fingernails

Injuries to the nails are most likely to occur during dynamic movements. When you are leaping from hold to hold, you lose a lot of control over where your hands land.

Your hand will be running into the wall or grip at a higher velocity due to the length of your nails, which is dangerous.

In some extreme cases, dynamic moves can even break off acrylic nails. My God, that must hurt like hell. Jeez.

Tip: Use an essential oil-infused moisturizer to keep your chipped nails nourished and speed up their recovery time. 

Is It Possible to Learn How to Rock Climb with Long Nails?

The quick answer is no, long nails are not ideal for rock climbing.  And, this is for many different reasons.

Reason #1: Long Nails May Come Your Way to Success

long nails come your way

You rely heavily on your fingertips when you climb. And obviously, long nails would essentially preclude you from being able to perform any crimpy holds whatsoever.

Unless of course, you have discovered a route that just has enormous bucket or jug holds, which is not always possible.   

Reason #2: Long Nails May Lead to Serious Accidents

A second reason to avoid climbing with long nails is that you cannot try any dyno moves when you do it with long nails.

There is a reasonable chance that your nails may get cracked, chipped, or worse, pulled off.

As a result, you may not expect your long nails to survive rock climbing. 

What is the Answer to the Climbing and Long Nails Dilemma?

We totally get it if you are not into rock climbing with hands that always look like that.

In some communities, climber’s hands are not something to be proud of. It is not necessary to stop climbing, though.

Keeping your nails short is the easiest solution for climbing, and when you want to look good, you may have a manicure with press-on nails on days when you will not be climbing.

Tip: Trim your nails after a rock climbing trip to remove damaged parts and file them to keep them flat and smooth. 

How Do You Protect Your Nails When Rock Climbing?

how protect nails when rock climbing

What if it is your first time climbing and you are unsure if you will stick with it?  In this case, you may not want to risk losing your carefully-cultivated fingernails.

Maybe you have been attempting to grow your nails out in preparation for a special occasion.

But, then, you have been invited on a climbing trip that sounds awesome and you do not want to miss it because of your nail length.

Is there anything you can do to keep your nails from getting dinged up on the rock face?

Well, there are ways to keep long nails and continue to enjoy rock climbing. 

Take Your Passion Indoors

If you have the option, climbing indoors is preferable to climbing on abrasive rock surfaces.

That is mainly because the material utilized for indoor climbing walls is considerably smoother and less likely to hurt your nails. 

Stick with Big Holds

stick in a big holds

Look for large, smooth, spherical hand holds and steer clear of those that have cracks or crimps in them.

We have already indicated that larger holds are easier on your nails than smaller ones.

And it is especially true in situations where you require your fingertips for sensitivity and grip.  

Do not give yourself the impression that you are required to employ the holds for just one path. On this rock face, you can utilize whatever grips you desire.

Even though you might not be climbing a specific route, you will be able to pick and choose the larger holds that are more favorable to your nails as you make your way up the wall. 

Learn about the Best Hand Placement

By carefully positioning your hands, you can prevent your fingernails from scuffing or rubbing against the grips or wall.

You will need to engage in static motions in order to complete this task successfully. 

Stick with Static Moves

stick with the static moves

The phrase “static moves” merely refers to slow and controlled movements while ascending the wall.

The phrase “dynamic moves” refers to motions that are quick-paced and significantly less controlled than other types of movements.

By utilizing static techniques, you will be able to grab the holds exactly where and how you want, which will, in turn, protect your fingernails.    

Utilize Gel Polish

The large majority of pro climbers recommend using gel paint to fortify your nails before climbing.

You should definitely go for it if you want to look stylish and choose a bright color, but you should be aware that it might still get chipped.

The goal is to simply strengthen your nails and clear gel polish will help with that. 

So when you are ready to hit the clubs, you can get the gel polish removed. This will help keep your nails in better shape to receive a manicure as a result. 

Go with Press on Nails

the press on nails

You can keep your natural nails short for climbing and wear press-on extensions if you desire long nails.

We are aware this is not the best possible solution. But, the upside is that you can take them off before your session and then put them back on after it.

If you use press-on nails, you can keep your nails long while still being able to climb with the same amount of force.

How to Paint Nails before Rock Climbing

Climbing is hard on the nails, so protecting them with paint can help maintain them in good condition and prevent them from being scraped.

Here are a few tips to try for better painting: 

Tip #1: Pick the Right Color

Pick a shade that will not blend in too much with the surface you will be scaling.

This will help you see your grip and keep your nail polish in pristine condition. 

Tip #2: Use the Base Coat

use base coat

Do not paint your nails without first using a base coat. It will result in a better application and longer wear time for the nail polish. 

Tip #3: Make Use of the Top Coat

Do not ignore the top coat. Go for a quick-drying coat because it helps to seal in color, which in turn prevents chipping.

Tip: Make use of gel fingernail polish because it can help protect your nails against breaking and chipping.

Read Next: What To Say When Making a Nail Appointment?


To know how to rock climb with long nails, you need to try all tricks and tips, and use strategies to avoid hurting your nails.

In the world of professional rock climbing, very few people have been able to climb higher and further than their nails can handle. 

But, if you have long nails, it is sure to come your way to reach great heights.

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