Podcast: Gear to Start Climbing

“What gear do I need to get to start climbing?” This is a question I frequently am asked.  The answer is not so simple, and usually follows with:  “Where do you want to climb?” Depending if you want to boulder, top-rope at the gym, top-rope outside, or sport climb outside will dictate what gear you need to obtain.  Below is an outline of gear needed for each type of climbing that I talk about in today’s podcast.

Basic Gear For All Climbers:

  1. Climbing Shoes
  2. Chalk Bag/Chalk


  1. Basic Gear
  2. Bouldering Pad

Top-rope in Gym:

  1. Basic Gear
  2. Harness
  3. Belay Device & Locking Belay (Pear) Carabiner

Tope-rope Outside:

  1. Tope-rope in Gym gear
  2. Climbing Rope
  3. 75′ Static Rope
  4. 2 Double Shoulder Length Slings
  5. 2 Locking Oval Carabiners
  6. 2 Locking Offset-D Carabiners

Sport Climb Outside:

  1. Top-rope in Gym gear
  2. 10 Quickdraws
  3. Climbing Rope
  4. Optional Gear:
    • 2 Double Shoulder Length Slings
    • 2 Locking Oval Carabiners
    • 2 Locking Offset-D Carabiners
    • Gear to Rappel

What other gear do you consider essential?  Let me know in the comments below!

  • Great list, Gif! Here’s what I’d add/change:

    I’d add a brush or two to the bouldering gear list. And though it’s not necessary, a chalk bucket can be nice.

    A length of static rope can be nice for toproping, but a 30′ length of webbing can work just fine, too.

    For the locking biners, I don’t think it matters too much whether they’re oval or offset d or d or anything.

    And finally, I’d say go for 12 quickdraws instead of 10, though it really just depends on your area. If your local crag is 50 feet tall, you won’t need 12 draws. Around here, though, there are plenty of pitches with 10, 12, or even 14 bolts on them.

    Ahhhh… I love talking about gear 🙂

    • Gif

      I think I need to get some brushes. I’ve never used them while bouldering because I don’t establish new problems. I’ve just bouldered in well known areas. But they will probably help! I’ve never used a chalk bucket either. I wear my chalk bag while bouldering because I’m sweaty! Haha. I frequently chalk up mid problem.

      I’m really not a fan of webbing. I know it’s cheap, but it blows. Tying and un-tying knots in webbing is not fun. Also, it gets beat up faster because it slides across sharp edges instead of rolling like a rope. Plus you can use one end of the static rope as a working tail when setting up the top rope.

      The draw count is definitely area dependent. I’ve noticed climbs out west are longer and the bolts are closer together. At the New River Gorge, climbs are more “sporty”. At the Red River Gorge, for example, the bolts are much closer.

      Thanks for the comment, Tristan. Talking about gear is also one of my favor…. OOO SHINY!!

  • Alecmpitt

    Gif, For the “Top-rope” Outside” list could you give me an idea of what brand equipment and specs you used or recommend (items 2-6 on the list)? Thanks in advance.

    • Gif

      Alec, below are my recommendations. Climbing gear is a very personal choice, but this is what I use to top rope.

      2. Climbing rope: Blue Water 2 Static Line 11mm http://amzn.to/iiI0au
      3. 75 feet Static rope: Blue Water 10.5mm http://bit.ly/eNb6l6
      4. Slings: Blue Water Titan dyneema runner http://bit.ly/e5Y3g4
      5. Locking Ovals: Petzl OK locking biner http://bit.ly/fRR5pX
      6. Locking offset D: Black Diamond Positron Locking biner http://amzn.to/hWjAR7

      Thanks for commenting Alec. Hope this is what you are looking for.

      • Alecmpitt

        Gif, For the masterpoint, did you use the ovals? For attachment to bolts or whatever component for anchoring is available, did you use the offset D? Thanks.

        • Gif

          Yep, you got it. Ovals for master point of anchor to rope. Offset D’s for the bolts.

  • grigore

    Nice lists Gif,
    Perhaps worth adding to the TR list is a cordollette (20′ of 7mm cord looped) – works great for for anchors and various self rescue applications. Transfers well to trad and multipitch climbs.

  • grigore

    Oh, a few extra things – for belay gear, make it an plaquette style device like the atc guide, its worth the extra few bucks (belay your second or hands free on your tether). if you can afford it, snag a gri-gri or other lock assisted device as they can be quite handy to the experienced belayer. An autoblock (2 feet of 5mm cord looped with double fishermans) is invaluable allowing you to go hands free on a rappel.

    • Gif

      Totally agree with you on the cordalette. It is invaluable gear that one uses for lots of applications. I left it out of this list in an attempt to keep things simple. Static line for natural anchors, slings for bolts.

      In the podcast, I note that the ATC should be a plaquette because you will likely need it down the road anyhow. As you say, it’s worth the extra bucks. An autoblock is briefly discussed as gear to rappel. I left the “gear to rappel” vague on purpose because it’s best suited for a video post on how to rappel!

      Thanks so much for the comment, Grigore!

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