Rock Climbing Unraveled: The Equipment You Need To Get Started

Rock climbing is booming right now, and why not? It’s great exercise, fun and social. Here is the beginner climbing gear you need to get started.

The escalation goes up, in all directions. In recent years, countless numbers of outdoor and urban people have taken to the sport, with 34 climbing gyms opened across the United States last year and participation increasing indoors. and on the rocks.

This article covers equipment for rock climbing routes and sport climbing routes for beginners and more experienced climbers. We spoke with John McDonough, a rock climber with over 20 years in his harness, for advice on the equipment you need to get started.

Note: This list does not include critical safety or skills information; please ask for professional instruction before going outside to climb.

Climbing equipment: the 5 essentials

start climbing

1. Harness

Your home base and equipment organization area in person, a harness is part of the first equipment you will purchase. Over a dozen major brands make harnesses, and their price ranges from around $ 40 to over $ 200.

Fit is the most important aspect of a harness, and each brand has a different size. If you fall between the sizes of a business, try a different brand.

  • For beginner athletic climbers, opt for a more affordable harness. Get a basic model made for rock climbing.
  • Buy a harness with adjustable leg loops so you can use it in winter and summer (harnesses with fixed leg loops do not easily fit into winter pants).
  • For top-roping, a simple harness is perfect. Once you’ve started climbing in the lead, gear loops become important for stowing professional and anchor-building equipment, like quickdraws, ropes, and carabiners.

2. Helmet

beginner climbing equipment

Rockfall is a real concern in sports, as is banging your head against the side of a cliff during a fall. Helmets are highly recommended (we say mandatory) equipment for anyone climbing outdoors.

  • A helmet should fit comfortably and you should feel good wearing it (so that you Actually wear the helmet there).
  • A traditional “hard shell” helmet (ie a suspension helmet; pictured) will last longer and withstand abuse, but they are often less comfortable than the lighter foam styles. .
  • Tip: Some women’s specific helmets are compatible with ponytails!
  • Budget around $ 55 to $ 100 for a helmet. See a range of helmet options here.

3. Shoes

climbing equipment to start

Sticky rubber and a tight fit are what make climbing shoes walk and find a buy on tiny holds or blockages in cracks. Make an effort to find shoes that fit you well (and fit well!) And you will immediately gain capacity on the wall.

  • Velcro closures, slip-on styles, and tie shoes are options. For beginner and intermediate climbers, we recommend lace-up shoes with a moderate or relaxed fit. They should be adjusted but not too painful.
  • Aggressive shoes (see examples on REI here) are made for advanced climbers on advanced routes. Wait until you have more experience before putting on aggressive shoes.
  • The size is different for different brands, so try on a few pairs.

4. Belay device and locking carabiner

climbing equipment for beginners

Attached to your harness using a locking carabiner, a belay device allows you to control the rope. This includes when belaying a climber as well as for rappelling at the top of the climb. There are plenty of options and styles (see a full range of choices here), but all of them accomplish the same task of keeping the rope – and the climber connected – safe and in control.

  • For your first belay device, many climbers choose an ATC Black Diamond. It’s affordable under $ 20 and it’s simple to use. Learn the technique of belaying with this “tube” type device as a basic skill.
  • These belay skills will translate into the use of other devices, such as the popular Petzl GRIGRI, which offers assisted braking (but is not as easily used for abseiling).
  • You will need a locking carabiner to attach your belay device. There are dozens of models. Choose one with an easy-to-use locking mechanism and a wide door opening. The Petzl Attache 3D screw lock is a popular option.

5. Chalk

beginner climbing equipment

The chalk dries your hands to keep them from slipping out of the sockets. Every climber is different; some do not have sweaty palms and do not fear often, and others are heavy users.

  • There are many brands of chalk, some promising superior grip. For beginner and intermediate climbers, any type of chalk will work; it is a personal preference.
  • Look at the chalk regulations at each climbing area. Some places only allow certain colors or don’t allow chalk at all, like Garden of the Gods or Arches National Park, which only allow red chalk.

For the beginner, these five items above make for a manageable basic kit for you to get up and start climbing with more experienced cliff rats. Now grab your gear and go for it. There is a large vertical stone world waiting to be climbed.

Black Diamond climbing equipment
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