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Can You Rock Climb with Long Nails

can you rock climb with long nails

If you decide to train and learn rock climbing for the first time, it is essential to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Rock climbing is a challenging sport, and the physical aspect of your preparation includes every part of your body that may be affected during the climb, such as your long nails.

But can you rock climb with long nails?

The answer to the question is a yes and a no. Yes, you can do it, but it is not recommended with all the danger it brings to the climber. You cannot easily climb with long nails. More details will be discussed below.

Trimming your Nails is Essential

Rock climbing with long nails is discouraged because it is not safe at all. This climbing activity will require the fingertips in most of the moves performed during the climb. And having long fingernails can be an issue.

Having long fingernails will prevent you from doing holds that are needed during the climb. Doing some crimpy holds is just one of the many techniques you need to learn in rock climbing, and having those long fingernails can significantly affect your climbing performance.

Another point you need to consider is the chance you might get hurt when climbing on long fingernails. In rock climbing, you will be making some moves that may break or damage your nails if it is longer. The worst it can get is tearing the nails off, which will be much more painful.

With this development, the best thing to do is trim your nails so they will not prevent you from giving your maximum performance. Trimming the nails will also protect you from the tendency to tear your nails during the climb.

Benefits of Trimming your Nails

Having shorter nails is the best way to go when you are doing rock climbing activities. A rock climber must trim the nails regularly to keep them in excellent shape. Failing to do so can make the edges of the nails hard, which can cause inconvenience and pain when focusing on less positive holds.

Furthermore, the underside of your nails near the fingertips tends to split, which can be another inconvenience. So, when you trim, try to focus on the ragged edges and avoid trimming too much. You can always cut if you feel it is needed.

Most of the rock climbers I know suggest that the ideal length of your nail is to remain a little bit of white nails. I also recommend always rounding the edges when trimming all the ways to the sides. Doing so will also prevent hangnails that can affect your climb.

How to Rock Climb with Long Nails

how to rock climb with long nails

If you are still unsure about doing rock climbing full time but want to experience how it feels, you can undoubtedly try without having to cut your precious long nails. Safety is not guaranteed, but there are certain precautions that you can take to climb with long nails. Please see below.

Try Indoor Climbing Gym

A few benefits will come to you if you try to go indoors when climbing with long nails. Climbing walls in the indoor gym is smoother compared to the rock surface outside. So, trying an indoor gym for your first real climbing experience is better.

You can also try an easier route for your nails to be safe in the indoor gym. A route with only a big bucket or jug holds should not rely on your fingertips too much, thus protecting your long fingernails.

Using Big Holds When Climbing

big holds when climbing

Another way to protect your nails during rock climbing is through the use of big holds. The big holds are friendlier to the fingernails than the small ones, which rely primarily on the fingertips for grip and sensitivity.

So, when climbing with long nails, try to avoid those cracks and crimps. Instead, find smooth, big, and rounded holds for the safety of your long fingernails. Doing this will prevent you from using your fingertips and protect your nails.

Gel Polish Can Help

One way to protect your long nails during the climb is through the use of gel polish. Applying a fingernail gel polish can help strengthen the nails from chipping or breaking. The nails will also be challenged during the climb; having the gel polish to support your nails is something you can do.

But do not get those coloured gel polish; get fancy with your nails. The climbing will just ruin the color, believe me. The idea is just to strengthen the nails. So, clear nail polish is advised to protect your nails when climbing.


The biggest question among new climbers is if can you rock climb with long nails. I do not think climbing with your nails not trimmed is safe. You can still do it, but it certainly will have some limitations on your route to protect you from being hurt. But in the end, the choice is always yours. No one is stopping you from climbing with your long fingernails.

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