Climbing Gear List: 14 Essential Items For Beginners
Once you’ve decided to enter the wonderful world of climbing and are ready to head up the crag, refer to this comprehensive climbing equipment list – put together by adidas Product Managers Jakob Krauss and Tosca Sepoetro to keep you comfortable and appropriately equipped on the rocks.
What Do I Need To Start Climbing?
1. A Regular-fit Top
Go for a stretchy, well-fitting tank top or a t-shirt that’s lightweight, breathable and wicks sweat from your body. “On one hand, your clothes shouldn’t be too tight as this can interfere with movement and restrict your flexibility,” says adidas Outdoor Product Manager Tosca Sepoetro. “On the other, your outfit shouldn’t be too loose as the excess fabric can get stuck on the holds or caught in the rope.”
2. Something To Keep You Warm
It might get chilly on a climb - especially during breaks when your body cools down. Ensure you’ve got a sweatshirt, insulated fleece or down jacket (depending on how cold it is) to put on while you’re enjoying the view.
3. A Layer for Wetter Days
“Take a waterproof rain jacket to protect you from rainy weather conditions,” says adidas Outdoor Senior Product Manager Jakob Krauss. “Go for one crafted with RAIN.RDY or GORE-TEX technology to keep you feeling dry.”
4. Hard-Wearing Bottoms
A pair of trousers, tights or a hybrid of shorts and tights (for extra coverage) with a comfortable, flexible waistband ensures your movements aren’t restricted in any way. “Choose a longer length to keep your skin protected and withstand any abrasion from the rock or gym wall,” Tosca says.
5. Footwear with a Sticky Outsole
Climbing shoes are the most important performance item. “They’re the first point of contact with the rock and most of your weight will be on your feet,” Jakob explains. “There are many different shapes of climbing shoes and outsoles. For a beginner, I would recommend choosing a neutral shoe with a flat shape that feels comfortable for all-day use, like the Five Ten Kirigami - it features Stealth C4 rubber which is arguably one of the stickiest climbing rubber there is.”
There are many different shapes of climbing shoes and outsoles. For a beginner, I would recommend choosing a neutral shoe with a flat shape that feels comfortable for all-day use, like the Five Ten Kirigami - it features Stealth C4 rubber which is arguably the stickiest climbing rubber there is.
6. A Bag For Your Gear
You’ll need a reliable and sturdy yet lightweight backpack to hold your belongings as you climb to the top. Go for a waterproof backpack that has a roomy main compartments and pockets for smaller items.
7. A Chalk Bag with Chalk
Chalk is used to absorb sweat on your fingers and palms to stop you slipping from hand holds. “You can get chalk as a powder, block or as liquid chalk that you apply before you start climbing,” Jakob says. Get a colourful chalk bag to add a vibrant touch to your outfit.
8. A Soft Brush
Carry a soft brush to remove tick marks (the lines you’ll draw with your chalk) and to clean holds after you use them, especially after intense work on a route or a boulder problem. “A toothbrush will do the trick, but a wooden brush with natural hair is a more sustainable choice and will do a better job of cleaning,” Jakob says.
9. A Harness for Safety
When buying your first harness, go for something comfortable with multiple features,” Jakob advises. “As a beginner you usually don't know what you will use it for most, so it’s best to cover all bases.”
10. Belay Device and Locking Carabiner Set
A belay device will control the rope while belaying (securing) your climbing partner to an anchor point. The main purpose is to stop the rope in the event of a fall and to steadily lower your partner after they’re done climbing. “All devices have their pros and cons, so try a few different ones and talk to experts,” Jakob says. “Get proper training before using your new device and start with a passive belaying device to make feeding slack easier.” A locking carabiner is another must-have - it’s a necessary element to connect the belay device to your harness.
Get proper training before using your new device and start with a passive belaying device to make feeding slack easier.
11. Climbing Rope
As you progress in your climbing journey, you’ll eventually need a rope. Buy a climbing rope you can use outdoors, and for indoors (if the gym doesn’t provide one). There are two main variations of rope you can get: dynamic rope (elasticated to absorb the energy of a fall) and static (with minimal elasticity for rescues, rappelling and generally reducing bounce where necessary).
12. A Protective Helmet
For outdoors, it is essential to protect yourself with a helmet made for climbing. These are specially crafted to protect climbers from overhanging or falling rocks.
13. A Cushioned Crash Pad
If you’re looking to go bouldering outdoors, you’ll want to bring along a crash pad. “They’re usually made out of a strong canvas outer material with a dense, impact absorbing foam that will offer cushioning from a fall and when you jump down,” Jakob explains.
14. Quickdraws for Clipping Bolts
Used to connect your rope to your protection when lead climbing, these aren’t essential for beginners, but necessary for intermediate level and above.
While it may be tempting to dive right in and purchase every item on the list, Jakob recommends taking some time to determine what works for you by borrowing from friends and trying things out beforehand. Once you’ve conducted these experiments, you’ll be in the best position to start your collection of climbing gear. Head out onto the rocks with the right shoes, clothes and accessories, so you can focus on the ascent ahead.
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