I've been top-roping for several months. About a month ago I found out how much fun bouldering is. I've been getting quite a few scrapes on the knees working certain routes, or from falling. I'm climbing at an indoor gym wearing shorts. Some people climb in long pants, but many don't. It's not a big deal, but I wonder if this is mainly a technique issue which will go away over time, or if there's some knee protection available that wouldn't reduce flexibility.

  • 1
    question - you're just getting scrapes on your knees, right? You aren't feeling orthopedic knee pain from twisting your knee the wrong way, or landing badly, right?
    – DavidR
    Jan 22, 2013 at 19:02
  • @DavidR Correct. Scrapes and minor bruises. "It's only a flesh wound." Jan 22, 2013 at 19:12
  • @DavidR In fact, it's tolerable. If there were no way to correct it, I'd climb anyway. Jan 22, 2013 at 19:13
  • 2
    Pants. Just, pants.
    – Ice76
    Aug 1, 2017 at 18:04
  • 1
    @Ice76 - yes, that's what I've found, too. Alternative - learn that it's just part of it. Aug 1, 2017 at 20:18

4 Answers 4


It doesn't really go away with time. At least not for me - when I'm on a hard gym route I tend to ignore any holds that are "off" for that route, and every now and then I'll hit one with an elbow or knee. Also outside, while you want to emphasize using your feet, ever now and then you'll find yourself needing to place a knee on a hold. Working on technique and flexibility will make these issues better, but there's no reason to build up a bunch of scar tissue on your legs while that's happening.

There are pants made specifically for bordering and climbing. They look like heavy denim capri pants. You may want to look into some. Anything made of a heavy denim with gusseted crotch and articulate knees should protect the skin on your knees while still giving you range of movement. Prana, Patagonia, and Arc'teryx all make pants like this.


Generally, a more controlled and precise technique should reduce undesired knee scraping and banging... But I find that the ability to achieve this precision is, at least to some degree, dependent on your strength reserves, and decreases during a session. Often, several hours into a climbing session I find myself making bigger and less precise moves, and often these end up with scraping or banging of a limb on the wall or some hold. That's usually my cue to pack it up and call it a day.

As far as knee protection goes, any soft, full-sleeve, fabric style knee padding should work well for most impacts you would normally experience while climbing. But only you know how hard you're hitting the wall and the holds, so really, the best advice I can give you is to go and try out a bunch in the store, and see how much protection they provide. I think the soft (and therefore flexible) pads would be the best place to start. Perhaps volleyball style knee pads would work well?

  • Softer sounds better, especially since the hits aren't hard wacks, they're just scrapes. I think I'm getting some slight scrapes on the way up, but yesterday I got a couple hits on the same spot falling while working on a route I can't do yet. Precise technique would clearly help the former. Not falling would help the latter. ;) Jan 22, 2013 at 14:49
  • Maybe even simple knee braces without the pads would work for that?
    – Nisan.H
    Jan 22, 2013 at 18:15

Disclaimer: I don't climb.

Pharmacies sell fabric kneepads for ~5EUR, those would protect from scratches while bouldering: enter image description here

For actual climbing, bicycle kneepads can protect you from swinging into the wall but approach 60EUR. These are hardening upon impact gel + kevlar: enter image description here

and these are hardshell, so they won't rip after being scratched every day for an year, but do limit movement: enter image description here

Images shamelessly stolen from first search results. I do not endorse any brand.


A cheap pair of bicycle knee pads is sufficient protection. If you want more comfort, stuff with cotton which doubles as a great fire starter.

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