Climbing Trip Packing List

Are you gearing up for your rock climbing trip? Whether it’s your first or hundredth trip, we’ve been around the block and know all the gear you need to have an excellent time on your trip. I’ve been on climbing trips that have lasted a few hours (long story) and been gone for multiple weeks. If you can line things up with your job, rent a house in a climbing area and stay for a while. Better yet, just move there!

Climbing gear can be overwhelming because there are so many options. I hate buying an expensive piece of gear only to find that I don’t really need it or I don’t like how it functions. If you know more experienced climbers, ask them for their opinion and try out their gear before you purchase any of your own.

Table of Contents

Rock Climbing Trip Packing List

  • Climbing shoes
  • Rock Climbing Rope (60M or 70M depending on the area)
  • Harness
  • Belay device and locking carabiner
  • Climbing helmet
  • Backpack
  • Chalk bag that has chalk in it
  • Snacks (cliff bars, peanut butter and jelly tortillas, leftover pizza)
  • Water bottle (I personally drink at least 2L a day)
  • Cell phone
  • Medicine or prescriptions
  • Nail clippers
  • Toilet paper

The above is a list of what I’ll be bringing for any day out climbing. Regardless of whether it’s sport climbing, trad climbing, or even top rope climbing. These items are in my pack at a bare minimum. With these items, I could show up at any crag in the world, find a random partner, and climb.

The two belay devices I use most are the Petzl GriGri and the Black Diamond ATC Guide. I bring both even when climbing sport routes. If I need to rappel, I’ll bust out the ATC guide to zip down the ropes.

Granted, it is missing additional protection that would prevent me from climbing some routes. But with this gear, I would be able to join in with any group and climb with them. If you’re just starting out and have an outdoor trip coming up, check with your partners to see what additional gear they need. If they have everything covered, make sure you bring the above so you’ll have yourself covered for the day.

Some climbers have different climbing harnesses for the style of climbing they are doing. I decided to buy just one harness and use it for all styles. But if you’re serious about projecting hard sport and trad climbs. Then having multiple harnesses could be a worthwhile investment.

Climbing Shoes

I always bring multiple pairs of climbing shoes on a trip. At any given time, I am rotating between a pair of dedicated outdoor trad shoes and a pair of shoes that I’ll use for sending harder routes. My trad shoes have ranged between the 5.10 Moccasym, La Sportiva Finale, and the Unparallel UpLace. With these shoes, I am aiming for a neutral profile shoe that is comfortable. I want to be able to wear these shoes for multiple pitches. Depending on the day, I may be trying to climb 10 different sport routes. If that’s the case, then these shoes are perfect for the job.

Now my other pair of shoes is something that might fall into the “performance” category of shoes. Up to now, my climbing career hasn’t focused on projecting harder rock climbs. Sometimes I can onsight a 5.10, sometimes I can’t. But I like keeping a pair of shoes that are a bit tighter and downturned in case I want to project a climb. On days like that, I’ll be taking off my climbing shoes in between attempts so I don’t have to worry about my shoes being uncomfortable.

I also will wear approach shoes for getting to and from the crag. Most climbing areas will be littered with rocks at the base of the climbs. Having sticky rubber for the hike in and out will be your friend. Approach shoes can also be used on an easier pitch if you want to give your feet a break. These aren’t a necessity, but I think they are a worthwhile investment if you’re going to be doing a lot of outdoor climbing. If you don’t want to spend the money on an approach shoe, a pair of hiking boots will work perfectly fine.

What do I pack for sport climbing?

  • Climbing shoes
  • Climbing Rope (60M or 70M depending on the area)
  • Rope bag (with built in tarp)
  • Harness
  • Petzl GriGri and locking carabiner
  • 12 quickdraws
  • Climbing helmet
  • Four foot nylon sling or personal anchor system
  • Two locking carabiners for cleaning routes
  • Stick clip
  • Additional locking carabiners to bail on
  • Area guidebook

You don’t need much additional gear for sport climbing trips. Bringing a rack of quickdraws and a few alpine draws is a good bet. Before you head out on your trip, take a look at the area to get an idea of how many bolts are on the climb. You’ll need one draw for every bolt on the climb and an additional two for the anchor at the top. I also carry an additional draw up the climb just in case I drop one mid send. My personal rack of quickdraws is a set of 12. But they’re usually sold as a pack of six from any outdoor goods store. This has been more than plenty for most sport climbs in my area.

Many spot climbing areas are bolted with the intent for the climbers to use stick clips to reach the first bolt. Route developers will place a high first bolt to help save some of their time and money. It ain’t cheap bolting routes. You can buy premade stick clips at many climbing stores or you can tape a carabiner to a long stick to reach the first bolt. Don’t risk a broken leg. Get that first bolt pre clipped.

Sport climbing, and single pitch climbing in general, can turn into a big hangout. Be courteous to the other climbers at the area, but also enjoy yourself. If it’s feasible, you can bring a camping chair so you have somewhere to sit while your friends are sending. A hammock is ultra-comfy and nothing beats a crag nap, but don’t block the trail with it. Keep your personal items tidied and organized. No one likes walking up on a yard sale at the crag. I bought a Coleman “party grill” that’s a huge hit for grilling post mountain bike rides and post craggin. If you want to up your meals, bring a portable stove or party grill. Clean up after yourself and leave no trace.

Buy a rope bag that comes with a tarp built-in so you can keep your rope off the dirt. You can also find a climbing specific pack that has straps built in to carry a coiled rope. I have an Arcteryx pack with this feature and it is much better than carrying a shoulder sling pack. I still stuff, or make my partner carry, a tarp or rope bag to place the rope on top of.

Buy a rope bag that comes with a tarp built-in so you can keep your rope off the dirt. You can also find a climbing specific pack that has straps built in to carry a coiled rope. I have an Arcteryx pack with this feature and it is much better than carrying a shoulder sling pack. I still stuff, or make my partner carry, a tarp or rope bag to place the rope on top of.

Another easy way to carry the rope is to coil the rope into a guide’s coil. Wrap one strand around the middle of the coil and you can drape the rope over your neck. Easy walking from crag to crag.

What should I pack for trad climbing?

  • Climbing shoes
  • Climbing Rope (60M or 70M depending on the area)
  • Rope bag (with built in tarp)
  • Harness
  • Petzl GriGri and locking carabiner
  • 12 quickdraws
  • Climbing helmet
  • Four foot nylon sling or personal anchor system
  • Two locking carabiners for cleaning routes
  • Stick clip
  • Additional locking carabiners to bail on
  • Area guidebook

Trad climbing is an adventure, you’ll be leaving the ground to scale a rock face. But you’re going to need some way to carry all of your and your partner’s gear. Once you get everything on your packing list ready, you’re gonna have to now carry it too.

You have two options, tape up a plastic water bottle to clip to your harness and stuff cliff bars in every pocket. Or bring a backpack for the follower to wear while climbing. The first option is fast and light. Alpine style. But I prefer the follower wearing a climbing backpack. You can fit more gear, food, and water. And you don’t have to sweat about forgetting anything. This comes down to personal preference and your objective for the day. Choose what makes sense

One of the biggest upgrades I’ve made is purchasing a Black Diamond Alpenglow Sun Hoody. It’s a long sleeve hoody that is designed for protecting you from the sun. It’s Made with UPF 50+ in the fiber and actually reflects 71% of near-infrared rays to keep you cool. Highly recommend picking this up for protection. If it’s chilly out, I’ll cycle t-shirts underneath the hoody.

If you’re looking for advice for a first trad rack. Check out the first trad rack I created here. It includes your standard Black Diamond cams and nuts. If you’re willing to spend a bit more money, then check out this upgraded first trad rack. I really like the DMM Walnuts and offset nuts.

Comprehensive Bouldering Checklist

  • Shoes
  • Chalk and chalk bucket
  • Crash pad
  • Brush
  • Stoke

Pebble wrestling doesn’t require as much gear as roped climbing, so you can get away with filling your pack with extra snacks! When I meet up with friends for bouldering, I’ll bring one crash pad. Between the group, we will have a few crash pads and be able to protect any landing. Verify the number o pads you’ll have in your group before you get to the crag. Most boulderers have a crash pad or two they’ll be able to bring for your trip.

Since bouldering routes are short and sweet, a bouldering trip is a perfect time to break out an aggressive shoe. Many climbers will spend some time breaking in a shoe before their trip. Ff you’re bringing a pair of shoes that still have the tags on them, expect to deal with some stiffness while they mold to your feet.

Carrying all the pads can be unwieldy while hiking into the crag. Some pads, like the Mad Rock Duo, have straps built in that let you daisy chain additional pads to carry multiple at once. You can also throw in your water bottle, snacks, and guidebook into the pad and leave the backpack at home.

Camping Gear for Climbing

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Food and water filtration
  • Clothes (I will wear clothes until they stink. Can bring biodegradable soap to wash clothes)
  • Small shovel (to bury human waste)
  • Water bottles or bladder
  • Cook stove and fuel
  • Maps and guidebook
  • Cell phone or satellite phone
  • First aid kit

If you’re going on an overnight trip you’ll need to bring your additional rack of campinge equipment.. A sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad are necessary items. And then you’ll need coolers, lanterns, and other helpful items while you’re roughin’ it. Plan out where you’ll be able to get water and food while you’re on your climbing trip.

You can make delicious meals with just a propane stove. If you’re car camping, you can bring the entire kitchen sink with you. Don’t worry about bringing too much stuff. If you’re backpacking to an alpine climbing destination, then we can worry about clipping tags to save a few grams on weight.

Ice Climbing Packing List

  • Ice axe
  • Mountaineering boots
  • Ice screws
  • Balaclava / face mask
  • Base layer
  • Crampons
  • Lip balm

The above items are specific to ice climbing. You’ll still need your other essential items. A rock climbing harness, rope, water, and all of the other essentials are required.

What’s tough about ice climbing is regulating your body temperature. You’ll be freezing while standing still at the crag on the coldest days. But then you begin to swing your picks. Suddenly you’ll find yourself drenched in sweat and your heart rate through the roof. You finally reach the next belay where you then sit and freeze waiting for your partner to come up. Multi-pitch routes in ice climbing is a challenge in staying comfortable.

Do not wear cotton. Period. Wearing cotton while ice climbing is a death sentence. Pick a base layer that is suitable for the cold conditions. You and your climbing partners can share a belay puffy to reduce the weight you carry up on the route.

Readers also asked

How many quickdraws do you need?

The number of quickdraws you need will depend on the length and number of bolts on a route, but having 12 draws will cover you for nearly all sport routes. My standard rack of climbing gear has 12 draws that are for clipping bolts. I also carry an additional 8-10 alpine draws for extending protection.

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