Ready to heed the call of the crag? If you’ve wanted to get into rock climbing, whether you’re inspired by breathtaking footage from the world’s highest peaks or worn down by a friend’s constant invites to the gym, there’s never been a better time to get started. Climbing is a great way to test your limits, get in shape and experience the natural world.
One of the biggest obstacles new climbers often find is knowing what gear to purchase. The amount of climbing gear out there is overwhelming and the price of entry can add up quickly if you’re not careful. With a little research, however, finding the best rock climbing gear for beginners, and staying within your budget, is possible. Climbers Link can help. Climbers Link offers cashback rebates for trusted retailers like REI, Backcountry and Black Diamond. Just sign up at GearVie.com, go to your brand of choice and see the savings for yourself.
The items listed below aren’t the only equipment you’ll need to get started – you’re not going to get far without a chalk bag and a few trusty carabiners. However, these are the pieces of gear with the most discrepancy in pricing and features, so knowing what you’re looking for can be a challenge. With that said, here are a few of the essentials you’ll need in your kit, and what to consider when shopping:
Owning a set of shoes that are made specifically for climbing is an absolute must. As a new climber, you’ll want to find a model that balances performance with comfort, as blisters and foot pain will do nothing to help you engage with the sport.
Climbing shoes are classified into three different categories: neutral, moderate and aggressive. Neutral shoes have a flatter, stiff sole that offers unmatched comfort, and are great for both new climbers and multi-pitch routes. Moderate and aggressive shoes, meanwhile, feature a downwardly curved shape, called a camber, that pushes the toes to the front and allows for better control on technical climbs.
As a new climber, your best bet is to limit your search to neutral and moderate models. The camber shape can take some getting used to and isn’t as important on beginner climbs. If you find yourself in need of an aggressive model down the road, you can always trade up.
You can’t become a better climber without falling every once in a while. Wearing a helmet will help to ensure your head is protected, whether you’ve slipped while in a difficult position or hit your head on a rock overhang. When searching for a new climbing helmet, you want a product that is durable, fits well and is made for the type of climbing you plan to do.
While some helmet models are made with polystyrene foam and a polycarbonate shell, which keeps the overall weight low and provides ventilation, most beginner climbers will be fine with a plastic “hardshell” model. These helmets are effective, long-lasting and available at a low price.
Unless you’re planning on sticking to bouldering you’ll need to be harnessed in to climb. Every climbing harness has two components, a waistbelt and two leg loops, which both need to fit right for a comfortable and safe climb. The waistbelt should hit your body just above the hips, and be snug but not too tight. A good rule of thumb is that you should not be able to fit more than two fingers between your waist and the harness. The leg loops are adjustable, and their placement is more of a matter of personal preference. A snug fit will mean greater comfort while you’re hanging in the air, but may also limit your mobility.
Harnesses vary based on the location they’ll be used, with specialized options existing for mountaineering, canyoneering, competition and gym-only use.
Whether you’re ten feet up or 100, you need ropes that are going to hold strong, no matter the conditions. Luckily, every climbing rope that’s available for sale must pass International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) tests to prove it can hold through a certain number of falls. You’ll want to buy “dynamic” ropes, which have high elasticity and thus can absorb the force of large falls.
The belay device is a little piece of hardware that your climbing partner can use to add friction to the ropes, lower you down smoothly and stop your fall short, if need be. As a result, it is absolutely essential to have a belay device on-site for your climb. While many different types of belay devices are available, a “tube-style” device such as an ATC is the preferred pick of many beginner climbers, according to Eastern Mountain Sports. This model is relatively intuitive to use and available at a lower price. Whichever style you go with, it’s crucial that you feel in complete control when you use it. Your safety and your partner’s depend on it.
Knowing where to start your gear search can be challenging. The very best rock climbing gear for beginners is designed to keep you safe and help you fall in love with the sport, all at a price point that doesn’t intimidate. Now get out there and start climbing!