What type of climbing will you be doing?

You have stumbled upon the world of climbing. It’s exciting, scary, and thrilling, and you cannot wait to start. But it’s not as simple as throwing on tennis shoes and an athletic outfit and rolling to the nearest indoor climbing gym. Yes, you could rent climbing gear, but if you’re serious about starting to climb routinely, here’s the essential equipment you’ll need to get started.

The Basics

Climbing Shoes

There are plenty of climbing shoes and brands to choose from. However, climbing shoes can get pretty pricey. For your first pair, don’t spend more than $100. You’ll find plenty of good-quality entry-level shoes for less than that.

Harness

If you only intend to boulder (short-wall, no-rope climbing), you can forgo a harness for now and pick one up down the road if you venture into rope/sport climbing. There are many top-quality brands, including Petzel, Mammut, Arcteryx, and Black Diamond. However, if you come across another brand or harness you like, double-check it’s listed on https://theuiaa.org/ gear directory. If it is UIAA approved, the gear has passed numerous safety tests before being considered acceptable.

Chalk and a Chalk Bag

While some (crazy) climbers never use chalk, chalk is your best friend when your hands are sweaty, or the holds feel extra slick. Hot, humid summer days are a climber’s worst enemy. There are two forms of chalk: liquid and powdered. As long as your local gym doesn’t require liquid chalk only, powdered chalk is usually cheaper and easier to find for a reasonable price. Not all climbing chalks are made equal – see some top recommendations below!

Optional Belay Device

If you intend to rope-climb (top-rope or sport), having your own belay device will be useful in trading belays with a climbing partner. The two most popular belay devices are the ATC and the Grigri.

What’s the Difference?

ATC – One of the cheapest and most classic belay devices on the market. It stands for Air Traffic Controller (have fun quizzing your non-climber friends on that one) and can be found for under $30.

Grigi – The more expensive and high-end belay device (all the ‘cool kids’ have a Grigri). The retail price is approximately $100, which is a more significant investment. The biggest difference is that the Grigri is an assisted braking belay device, offering extra protection. However, an ATC should work fine if you are an attentive belayer and learn how to use your equipment correctly in a belay class at your local climbing gym.

If you begin to shop for the three basic pieces of climbing gear but find yourself overwhelmed by the options, check out some popular and trusted options below!

Climbing Shoes

Black Diamond Momentums
La Sportiva Tarantulace
Evolv Defy

Harnesses

Black Diamond Momentum Harness
Petzl Sama Harness (Men)/ Luna Harness (Women)
C.A.M.P USA Energy CR-3 (Men) / Energy Nova (Women)

Chalk

Metolius Super Chalk
FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust Chalk
Black Diamond Loose White Gold Chalk

Quick Tips:

When buying your first pieces of climbing gear, definitely hunt for deals. There are often deals on gear packages, including a Harness, an ATC, chalk, and a chalk bag.

Don’t spend more than $200 on your first harness, chalk, chalk bag, and shoes. Take some time to hunt for the deals and discounts. They’re out there!

We hope this climbing gear intro helps make the entry into climbing less daunting and even more exciting! Let us know what gear you decide on in the comments below.