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Equipment For Rock Climbing – The Climber’s List

Equipment needed for rock climbing organized and spread out on the floor.

List of Rock Climbing Equipment

ShoesLa Sportiva Finale
TC Pro
Belay DevicePetzl GriGri
Climbing HarnessBlack Diamond Momentum Harness
Bouldering GearMad Rock Mad Pad
RopeSterling Evolution Velocity Dynamic
Sport Climbing EquipmentBlack Diamond Vapor Helmet
Petzl Spirit Express Quickdraw
Trad RackWild Country Friend
DMM Alloy Offset Nuts

I was taking some friends climbing for the first time and the most common thing they asked me was “what is ALL the equipment I need to rock climb”? If you’ve only seen movies like Free Solo or Cliffhanger then your rack of gear might look a biiiit different than a standard climbing rack.

The rock climbing equipment needed to climb varies from day-to-day, depending on the style of climbing. The climbing gear I bring to the gym for a day of hard bouldering is entirely different than my rack of climbing gear for an AMGA Exam.

First, let’s look at the equipment needed for indoor climbing! And for the beginner climbers, take a look at the best gear for beginners.

Climbing Gym Gear

Climbing ShoesLa Sportiva Solutions
BelayingPetzl GriGri
Climbing HarnessBlack Diamond Momentum Climbing Harness
Chalk BagBlack Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag
Gym RopeEdelrid Boa Eco 9.8mm

Climbing at the gym means we’ll either boulder or climb with a rope. If we’re bouldering, we only need shoes and a chalk bag! The La Sportiva Finale is our favorite pair of shoes for the gym. But if you watch any professional climbing competition, you will see competitors wear the La Sportiva Solution. The solutions could be the answer to the bouldering problems. Grab a chalk bucket for your bouldering sesh and a chalk bag for enduro training days.

Belaying

I’m a huge fan of the Petzl GriGri for my belay device. It is expensive and heavy, but all of the positive features outweigh those two negatives. It is an assisted braking belay device, which means that there is a mechanical component to the device that cinches the rope in the event of a fall. I use mine all the time whenever I’m climbing and I continue to find new uses for it. However, beginners should use a tube-style belay device like the Black Diamond ATC. These devices instill proper belay technique.

The ginormous lead climbing walls at Sportrock in Alexandria, Virginia

Lead Rope

Many gyms are now requiring you to bring your own rope for lead climbing. One of my newest additions has been the Edelrid Eco Boa 9.8mm 40 m rope. And so far I’m loving it. The Boa is a bit stretchier than other ropes I’ve used in the past, but thankfully there aren’t too many ledges to fall on in the climbing gym.

What’s unique about the Eco Boa is that the sheath on every edition of this rope is different. Edelrid takes leftover yarn and creates the sheath with no splices. Every Eco Boa that is produced is a limited edition and one of a kind!

Having a rope bag is very convenient if you are lugging a rope to and from the gym. The bag helps keep the rope organized, clean, and safe. Easy transportation is a huge plus too. Many sport climbers take their outdoor rope in a rope bag because the bag can double as a tarp.

In the outdoors, I always rest my climbing rope on a tarp or rope bag to help keep it clean and increase its longevity.

Rock Climbing in the Great Outdoors

In the Great Outdoors, we need more gear to get us up the wall. We don’t have the luxury of pre-hung ropes and anchors built for us. Roped climbing means ropes, carabiners, quickdraws, camming devices, and snacks are required to keep us sending all day long!

Wear A Climbing Helmet

Wear climbing helmets and not a bike helmet!. It can save your life. The Black Diamond Vapor helmet has covered my cranium for more dings than I can count.

Next, our list is going to vary depending on the style of climbing we’re doing. If we’re sport climbin’, craggin’ and chillin’, we’ll need quickdraws, a hammock, and a cooler… but if we signed up for dawn patrol to bag peaks, our climbing kit is going to need a few extra cliff bars.

Sport Climbing Gear

Sport Climbing ShoesLa Sportiva Katana
HarnessBlack Diamond Solution
HelmetBlack Diamond Vapor
QuickdrawsPetzl Spirit Express

For craggin’, we like the Five Ten Anasazi VCS or the La Sportiva Katanas. Both shoes unlock a wide variety of rock terrain. The Petzl S

Climbing Shoes

For sport climbing, we like the Five Ten Anasazi VCS or the La Sportiva Katanas for our climbing shoes. Both shoes unlock a wide variety of rock terrain. The Anasazis are comfortable and we wear them for long periods of time. Our Katanas are sized more aggressively and are perfect for putting them on while projecting a route or making a redpoint attempt.

Belay Device

For our belay device, I always use the Petzl GriGri. It’s perfect for sport climbing because of its assisted braking capabilities. Having an additional backup on the belay device always makes me sweat a bit less while I’m on the wall!

Carabiners

Pick up a locking carabiner or two, the Petzl Attache is perfect. The Petzl Spirit Express is the perfect quickdraw for clippin’ bolts. The Spirit Express is ultralight and ergonomic. You won’t notice a rack of these hanging off your harness.

Harness

And we also love how comfortable the leg loops are on this harness. One thing to note is that these loops do not have any buckles to adjust the size. This simplifies your equipment but can make it tough to get a good fit.

This climbing harness also features four gear loops that have been pressure treated. That’s enough to carry your quickdraws up and transition to trad climbing in the future.

What makes this harness so comfortable is that there are three bands in the waist and leg loops. That helps distribute the weight load for maximum comfort.

Rope

Choosing a climbing rope for sport climbing can be tricky. First, you want to make sure that you’ve selected the correct length rope for the climb. Always tie a stopper knot to close the system!

Once you have the length, you can take a look at the different diameters. A 9.8mm rope will be perfect for a workhorse that you can use all the time. But you can also keep a 9.5mm rope for send attempts. Most climbers will have different diameter ropes depending on their objectives for the day.

Climbing rope diameters look the same but greatly change the weight of the rope as you climb higher.

Trad Climbing Checklist

ShoesTC Pro
5.10 Moccasym
HarnessBlack Diamond Solution Guide
Petzl Sama
HelmetBlack Diamond Vapor
Active ProtectionBlack Diamond C4 Camalot
Wild Country Friends
Passive ProtectionDMM Wallnuts
DMM Alloy Offset
Alpine DrawsTrango Phase Alpine Draw
Multi-Pitch Chalk BagMammut Multi-Pitch Chalk Bag

Climbing Shoes

Tommy Caldwell climbs big wall pitch after big wall pitch, in the TC Pro. They are expensive, but they are premium traditional climbing shoe. If you want an affordable option, any comfortable and neutral profile shoe will work perfectly. The 5.10 Moccasym is a more affordable option.

Wearing your climbing helmet is crucial for traditional climbing. You’re at a higher risk from rockfall or dropped gear hitting you from above.

Cams, Nuts, and Draws!

Trad climbing gear gets a bit trickier, your rack will depend on the route you’re climbing and personal preferences for gear. If your jam is pluggin’ cams, pick up a rack of Black Diamond C4 Camalot. These cams are used by Alex Honnold and Adam Ondra for good reason. But a lot of our Instagram followers are friendly to the Wild Country Friend.

DMM Wallnuts and Alloy Offsets are the best choices for nuts. Grab these and you’re set for life. Trango offers a pack of their ultralight Phase Alpine Draw. The pack of phase alpine draws is an incredible value, saving you money for an extra box of doughnuts to share in the parking lot.

Harness

For climbing harnesses, your options vary a bit. You’ll be carrying all of your cams, nuts, and slings on the gear loops on your climbing harness. I love the Petzl Sama for this, it has five gear loops and is extremely comfortable at hanging belays. My only dislike is that the leg loops do not have adjustable buckles.

Locking carabiners are a must-have when trad climbing. I like to have some bigger locking carabiners, like the Petzl Attache or Black Diamond Rocklock, in addition to some smaller ones like the Trango Superfly.

Belay Devices and Rappelling

For my belay device, I still like to take my Petzl GriGri. Even though that means I have to bring another tube-style device for rappelling. I think that carrying the extra weight is worth it.

Chalk Bag

Carrying a multi-pitch-specific chalk bag can have some advantages. There are a few companies that make chalk bags that are designed for alpine missions. They’ll have bigger pockets so you can fit a few snacks and even a small jacket in there. I still normally use my regular daily driver chalk bag, but the multi-pitch chalk bag can come in handy!

Sport climbing at a trad crag! An unknown climber sending Spinnaker at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia!

What equipment do you need for free climbing?

At a minimum, you will need climbing shoes, climbing rope, and climbing protection. Free climbing has a few different disciplines within the sport so it is very dependent on what style you’re getting into that day. Sport climbers and trad climbers will have different racks just because of the differences in the two disciplines.

What is a rock climbing rack?

A rack in rock climbing just means your climbing gear! Calling your gear your rack is just an easy way to refer to all of your climbing gear for the day. Whenever I’m climbing with a friend, I could easily say, “Hey could you pass the rack my way?” and they would know to hand off all the gear to me. The term rack is traditionally used to refer to your cams and nuts, but you can refer to your sport climbing gear as well.

What equipment do you need for single pitch climbing?

At a minimum, you’ll need climbing rope, climbing shoes, and locking carabiners. Rock climbing in a single pitch environment can mean you need a full trad rack or a climbing rope and a static rope to set up a top-rope anchor. The rock climbing equipment you need totally depends on the context you’ll be climbing in. If you aren’t sure what you’ll need, we highly recommend reaching out to a qualified instructor to figure things out.

What is needed to start climbing?

Head to your nearest indoor rock gym and they have the rest for you! Thanks to the popularity of gyms, you can rent everything you need to start climbing. As you grow in your career, you’ll try new climbs and realize that you need new gear. That’s a perfect way to learn and expand your climbing rack!

Go forth and send! You now know the complete list of rock climbing equipment needed. Give us a follow on Instagram to see what equipment other climbers are using. And when you acquire new gear, you can build your climbing racks at Outdoor Rack Builder

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