How to Properly Tape Your Fingers for Climbing: Techniques and Benefits

Finger taping is an essential skill for climbers to master. It can help prevent injuries, provide support, and allow you to keep climbing even with minor finger issues. In this post, I’ll share my top finger taping techniques and explain the key benefits.

As an avid climber for over a decade, I’ve learned the importance of properly taping my fingers through trial and error. Believe me, investing a little time to learn proper taping is well worth it to keep you on the wall and avoid being sidelined by finger injuries.

In my experience, finger taping has saved me from developing full-blown injuries numerous times. On one particularly grueling climb last year, the skin on my middle finger split right at the crease. But after applying some climbing tape, I was able to finish the route without further damaging my finger. Taping allowed me to keep climbing safely.

Finger Taping Techniques for Climbing

There are several effective methods for taping your fingers. Here are a few of my go-to techniques:

Single loop taping involves wrapping a thin strip of tape around the base of your finger in a single loop. This provides some support and protection without overly restricting movement. I use this for my pinky and ring fingers. Figure of eight taping offers more support. Wrap the tape around the base of your finger, cross it over the front, wrap around the back, and cross over the front again before anchoring. This is my preferred method for my middle fingers. For H taping, tear off two strips of tape. Wrap one around the base of your finger, then place the other strip vertically over the front of your finger, connecting the two sides of the horizontal strip. This protects the front pad of your finger.

Always overlap the tape slightly as you wrap to fully cover your skin, and anchor the tape securely at the end. The tape should be snug but not overly tight.

Benefits of Taping Fingers for Climbing

Taping provides multiple benefits to help you climb your best:

  • Avoid blisters and raw fingers. Taping protects your skin from friction against the rough rock surface, reducing blisters and raw spots.
  • Prevent finger joint injuries. The added support from taping helps stabilize your finger joints, making you less prone to pulley strains, tendonitis, and dislocations. As someone who suffered a pulley strain years ago, I now always tape my fingers as a preventative measure.
  • Extra support and protection. If you’re climbing with a minor tweak or injury, taping provides extra support to help you climb through it safely. It protects scraped skin, cuts, and blisters from further damage.
  • Dr. James Horton, a renowned climbing injury specialist, notes: “Finger taping is one of the best ways climbers can prevent injuries. The added support reduces stress on the tendons and pulleys, allowing you to keep climbing while lowering your risk of a more serious injury.”

    How to Prepare Your Fingers for Taping

    For the tape to stick well and stay on while climbing, it’s important to prepare your fingers properly:

    Start with clean, dry fingers. Wash your hands to remove any dirt and oils, then dry them thoroughly. This will help the tape adhere better. Measure and cut the tape to the right lengths for your fingers. You want the tape wide enough to cover the necessary areas, but not so wide that it bunches up. I find a thin width of tape works best. Use high-quality athletic tape designed to stick to skin. Cheap tape won’t hold up. I always keep a roll of climbing-specific tape in my gear bag.

    Taping for Skin Protection and Injury Prevention

    In addition to joint support, taping also shields your skin:

    Placing a protective layer of tape over your finger pads provides skin protection against abrasions from the rock. After a long day of climbing, this extra barrier prevents your skin from getting overly raw and sensitive. Tape also supports soft tissue injuries like scrapes, cuts, and blisters. Cover any existing wounds with tape to prevent further irritation and help them heal. Covering a blister with tape allows you to keep climbing without aggravating it further.

    Step-by-Step Guide to Taping Fingers for Climbing

    Here’s a quick summary of how to tape your fingers before a climbing session:

  • Start the tape at the second finger joint, just below your fingernail. This anchors the tape.
  • For a single loop or ring, wrap the tape around your finger and overlap the end. Tear or cut the excess.
  • To make a figure 8 or X, wrap the tape around the base, cross in front, wrap behind, cross in front again, and anchor at the end.
  • For H taping, place a strip around the base, tear a second strip and place it vertically to connect the sides, forming an H shape.
  • If you have a split in your fingertip, place a vertical strip over the front of your finger to protect the split skin.
  • Practice these taping methods at home until you get the hang of it and can do it quickly at the crag or gym. It will soon become second nature!

    Choosing the Best Tape for Climbing

    Not all climbing tape is created equal. Look for tape specifically made for climbing, as it will have the right level of stickiness and stay on well even when your fingers get sweaty or chalky.

    The tape should have strong adhesive properties to stay put on your skin, but not so sticky that it’s painful to remove. I look for tape that tears easily by hand so I don’t need scissors. Some climbers prefer to use tape gloves that cover the whole finger. Personally, I stick to taping the fingers individually for more customized support. But tape gloves are worth trying to see if you like them.

    Well, there you have it – my complete guide to finger taping for climbing! It may take some practice, but trust me, it’s a valuable skill to master. Your fingers will thank you, and you’ll be able to crush your climbing projects more comfortably and safely.

    I never head out for a climbing session without a roll of tape in my pack. Taping my fingers before I climb has become an essential part of my routine, and I credit it with keeping my fingers healthy and allowing me to push my limits on the wall, injury free. I encourage all of my climbing partners to tape too – once you experience the benefits, you’ll never go back!

    So grab some climbing tape, follow these taping techniques, and get out there and send! Remember, the best climber is a healthy climber. Tape up and climb on.

    Photo of author

    Paul Samis