Knowing what you need is always important, whether you spend your days crawling inside or scaling multi-hundred-foot monoliths. Our detailed rock climbing equipment list below covers everything from equipment for different types of climbing (bouldering, sport, and trad) to optional products and extras you won’t want to forget. Many of the headers direct you to our in-depth product round-ups, the result of years of testing and observing.
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Climbing Equipment List
Whether you’re climbing in the gym or on real rock, you won’t go very far without a good pair of climbing shoes. Depending on the kind of climbing, shoes vary in shape, downturn (how curled they are), stiffness, amount of rubber, and materials. Most boulderers want a slipper with a lot of grips, but most tradders choose a shoe that is flat, robust, and protective.
While not very expensive, chalk is a highly important material since it helps you grasp each hold—whether plastic or rock—even when your hands are sweaty. Boulderers usually chalk up on the ground with a bucket. But rope climbers strap a bag around their waist for convenient access as they ascend.
Aspects to consider include the number of compartments, ultra-durable or lightweight materials, and the style of attachment point (the bag either wraps around your waist and connects with a clasp or has a loop so you can connect it with a cordelette or a carabiner). If you’re just starting, any type of athletic chalk will do.
You’ll simply need sneakers and chalk if you’re only working on gym challenges. When the lure of genuine rock tempts you outside, a crash pad (or several) is required for your protection. Crash pads come in different sizes, types of foam, materials on the outside, folding methods, and how easy they are to carry.
Although approach shoes are not required for all climbers, they are a valuable piece of equipment if your commute to the crag involves rock hopping or scrambling. A rough, sticky rubber sole and a protective rand that covers the toe box separate approach shoes from lightweight hiking shoes or trail-running shoes. They are also usually made with laces that go all the way to the toe, like those on climbing shoes, for a tight fit that keeps your foot in place on rough terrain.
You’re unlikely to go too far off the ground without a harness. Climbing harnesses are sturdy pieces of gear that connect you to the rope. It keeps your body upright while climbing, hanging, rappelling, or falling.
They also let you correctly belay your partner and provide gear loops for managing essential equipment such as quickdraws, a belay device, carabiners, and more. Some harnesses are made to be comfortable or last a long time, while others are made to be small and light so they can be used in the mountains.
All roped climbing requires belay equipment, whether top-roping, multi-pitching, or belaying a leader. Friction is utilized to stop or slow the rope, keeping your buddy from falling, regardless of the device you choose (and there are several). Always use a locking carabiner to link your belay device to your harness’s belay loop.
Top-roping ropes are already installed in gyms. Most places will rent you ropes to use when guiding (always check ahead of time). If you wish to go anywhere outside, you’ll need to carry your own.
Modern single ropes have lengths ranging from 60 to 80 meters and diameters ranging from 8.5 to 10.2 millimeters. Gym rats can get away with a 35- to 40-meter rope, but most climbers should use a 70-meter rope in the mid-9-millimeter range. The Mammut 9.5 Crag Dry is one of our favorites since it’s lightweight, supple, and dry-treated for water and abrasion resistance. It also has a helpful center mark to help you line it up for a rappel.
Climbing on any actual rock requires the use of a helmet. It not only covers your head in the event of a fall, but it also protects you from falling rocks and debris. Hard shell helmets are cheap but heavy, while expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam helmets are light but last a long time.
A dozen quickdraws will get you to the top of most sports clip-ups but always double-check the beta to make sure you have enough. Quickdraws come in a range of sizes with different carabiners and dogbones (the material that connects them). Trad and alpine racks work best with lighter draws, but sport climbers will find that bigger draws are more useful.
Without a backpack, you won’t be able to carry all of the aforementioned gear to the crag. While any conventional backpack would suffice, we recommend a cragging-specific bag for comfort and convenience. These are generally 40–50 liters in size, made of strong materials, and feature distinct organizational features.
You must develop a defense when there are no bolts in the rock. Climbers have moved from nailing pitons or utilizing mostly passive protection with no moving parts (nuts, hexes) to now relying mostly on cams. Cams are made by many different companies and come in different sizes, which can be told apart by their colors, and head widths, which each has its strengths.
Even though cams are the easiest to install and remove, a set of nuts (also known as stoppers) is necessary. Nuts come in a range of sizes and are inexpensive, lightweight, great for anchor-building (enabling you to save your cams for climbing), and perfect for tight locations where cams do not fit. If you’re inserting nuts, you’ll need a nut tool (or a partner who has one) to pull them out of the rock.
Quickdraws are excellent, but there are times when a longer draw is necessary to prevent rope drag (especially when trad climbing). The standard tool for the job is an alpine draw, which is made up of two carabiners that don’t lock and a 24-inch sling.
Whether you’re climbing in the gym or on real rock, you won’t go very far without a good pair of climbing shoes. Chalk is a highly important material since it helps you grasp each hold. When the lure of genuine rock tempts you outside, a crash pad is required. All roped climbing requires belay equipment, whether top-roping, multi-pitching, or belaying a leader. Modern single ropes have lengths ranging from 60 to 80 meters and diameters ranging from 8.5 to 10.2 millimeters.
Always use a locking carabiner to link your belay device to your harness’s belay loop. You must develop a defense when there are no bolts in the rock. Nuts come in a range of sizes and are inexpensive, lightweight, and great for anchor-building. The standard tool for the job is an alpine draw with two carabiners that don’t lock and a 24-inch sling.