Ready to rock climb? If you’ve found a guide and teacher you trust, determined what type of climbing you’d like to learn, taken a class and mastered the lingo, it’s time to get the right gear! High-quality gear keeps you safer and helps you get higher. For traditional rock climbing, you’ll need these 10 items for a complete beginner kit.
There are two basic types of rock climbing rope: dynamic and static. Dynamic climbing rope has elasticity and is made to absorb the force of a fall, even a long one. Static climbing rope is stiffer and is used for rappelling. All rock climbing ropes must pass UIAA tests to ensure they are safe to use. If you’re just starting out, the right kind of rope for the climbing you’re doing will most likely be provided by your teacher or guide.
Rock climbing shoes are fastened by either velcro or laces and have a very sticky rubber sole that helps your feet grip the rock. When buying rock climbing shoes many people size down a half or whole size from their normal shoe size for a precise fit, but climbing shoes shouldn’t pinch or cause pain! Wear hiking or running shoes to get to your climbing area and then switch to your climbing shoes, since walking long distances in climbing shoes is uncomfortable and can ruin them.
Always wear a helmet! Choose a rock climbing helmet that feels light and fits properly, so you barely notice it’s there (just make sure it will keep you safe!).
The #1 source of protection for climbers, a good harness is essential for safety. Harnesses feature two basic parts, the waistbelt, and leg loops, two front tie-in points (one at the waist and one at the leg) designed for threading rope and tying in, keep you on the rope securely. You MUST learn to buckle your harness properly to be safe!
Carabiners, light and strong metal “D” clips are used to connect rock climbing rope to pieces of climbing gear like bolts, nuts, and camming devices. For beginners, the first carabiner you'll buy is a locking 'biner designed to be used with a belay device.
6. Belay Device
The first few times you climb you may not need your own belay device, but it is one of the essential pieces of gear that you'll eventually want to own. Used correctly, a belay device increases friction that helps the belayer control the rope, catch a fall, lower a climber, pay the rope out gradually as the climber advances, or reel in slack smoothly.
7. Chalk & Chalk bag
Chalk absorbs perspiration on your hands and improves your grip. To lessen environmental impact, it's good form to use a chalk that matches the color of the rock you're climbing. Chalk is carried in a small pouch slung from your waist by a lightweight belt.
8. Climbing clothing and apparel
Rock climbing clothing should be stretchy so you can move freely and it should fit near your body, so it doesn’t get in the way of the rope. Rock climbing clothing should breathe, wick sweat and dry fast.
Find a climbing pack that is lightweight, has a hip belt, room for a hydration pack and port and plenty of pockets inside and out.
Use this formula to determine how much H2O you need to stay healthily hydrated while rock climbing. Take your weight and divide by two to get your baseline H2O requirement in ounces, then add 8 oz. for every hour of training or physical activity to get your daily requirement.
Now that you know which gear is essential for learning to climb, get out there and climb high!