Beginner User Guide to Getting Your First Set of Rock Climbing Gear

Acquiring Your First Set of Rock Climbing Gear

Embarking on new sport or hobby such as rock climbing can often be two-sided. On one side, the thrill of learning new techniques and growing the hobby inspires us to dive in deeper. On the other side, lack of knowledge of the sport, equipment to rent/ purchase or even enough friends to advise you will impede the progress of our sport.

To enter into the initial research of a new hobby and emerge from it well-informed gives you a feeling of preparedness when you dive deeper into the spot. For those of you eager to become avid rock climbers, this article contains valuable information on the tools you need to get started.

Rock Climbing Starter Tips and Information

Rock climbing can be an extremely rewarding and fun sport. It certainly is for me. Learning all the neccessary equipment to get, things to note will help set you up for success, and this article is a perfect way to start!

Chalk bag chalk rock climbing equipment
I have a chalk bag of tricks and tips to share with you about beginner rock climbing gear. Let’s begin!

1. Buying your 1st pair of Climbing Shoes

Estimated Price: US$70-$100

Climbing shoes is necessary. Not just because everyone has it and its cool, but it serves a very important purpose. They are crafted and designed to protect your feet, they keep your toes snug and compact while climbing, and compared to sneakers or rental shoes, they most importantly help you climb flat walls and harder routes.

Rock climbing equipment climbing shoes
No matter where in the world you may be, climbing shoes benefit you immensely through comfort, ease and safety.

There is a fair argument to be made about rental shoes, as they are conveniently available for rent in most indoor climbing gyms. Also, if limited space keeps you from carrying too much gear, rental shoes help keep your bag light.

However, rental shoes means it is a shared item, hences runs the risk of smelling bad or fitting incorrectly. Your short/ mid term investment would be to invest in a pair of climbing shoes. They mold to your feet, and they provide amazing traction on climbing surfaces.

There are multiple brands out there, but some I personally recommend are:

Recommended Beginner Level Rock Climbing Shoes :

  1. Mad Rock ( Affordable and more comfortable for beginners)

Intermediate/ Advance Climbing Shoes:

  • Five-Ten: Top notch when it comes to comfort and stickiness of shoe ( Preferred model is Five-Ten Rouge)
  • La Sportiva ( I use to wear the Katana ladies, but many other friends are fans of La Sportiva Solutions, Miura and Python/ Cobra

2. Climbing Chalk

Estimated Price: $4-$25

The next item on your list includes the infamous climbing chalk, or I like to call it bread flour. I am sure you would have noticed, but rock climbers (and their clothes) may be smudged with a white-looking powder. And no that is not because they just went for a baking class..that’s climbing chalk. Made of magnesium carbonate, applying this to your hands will remove moisture and improve your grip on the crimpest climbing hold. Chalk is a must-have for people who tend to have sweaty palms, or you are climbing in a more humid environment.

Rock climbing climbing chalk
Have you ever seen hands like these? If you have, it was likely either from a rock climber or a gymnast! This is what chalk looks like on your hands.

Similarly, different regions follow different chalk rules. For example, climbers widely accept the fact that common courtesy suggests you should always bring a climbing brush and try your best to brush off any chalk you leave behind. Other gyms have strict rules that no loose chalk is allowed.

4 types of chalk and its characteristics:

1.) Powdered Chalk: Chalk that has already been ground up.
2.) Liquid Chalk: A mixture of alcohol and chalk. Once the alcohol dries, only the chalk remains.
3.) Eco Chalk: A colorless blend that leaves less residue and is best used where traditional chalk is banned.
4.) Block Chalk: This consists of one big block of chalk. You save on costs and you can grind it up to your preferred consistency.

Chalk and chalk bag rock climbing equipment
Climbers use chalk bags like this one to carry their chalk with them and attach it to their harness.

Climbing Chalk ( Dry) Brands to recommend:

  1. Metolius Super Chalk  ( My favourite! Affordable and very dry for sweaty palms like mine)
  2. Tokyo Powder Industries Chalk ( Powdery and fine, but a bit on the pricier side)
  3. White Gold by Black Diamond ( love the rhyme of the words, this is a popular option but not commonly found in Singapore )
  4. Decathlon Chalk ( Super cheap, though not dry and sticky enough)

3. Rock Climbing Safety Helmet

Estimated Price: $55-$220

The term “no-brainer” applies to this particular piece of equipment! It is an important item that gets sidelined when shopping for equipment, though a rock climbing helmet is very neccessary to protect you for outdoor sport climbing. Granted, head injuries occur rarely, and the examples I am about to give can happen. If you stay responsible and aware of your surroundings, your safety increases significantly.

Helmet rock climbing equipment
Here I am wearing my helmet while rock climbing outdoors in Montenegro.

As such, rock slides/landfalls can happen in outdoor climbing. Thankfully, I have never experienced this yet, but I have heard stories of friends who have experienced falling rock. Be alert and do not be complacent, and you will stay safe.

The topic of when and where climbers wear helmets shows that not all climbers use this piece of equipment and for various reasons, including location, difficulty and even peer influence. Studies on wearing safety helmets have even been done on this fascinating subject.

4. Rock Climbing Harness

Estimated Price: $45-$150

The next aspect of rock climbing gear you will need to be a successful climber includes a rock climbing harness. This keeps you attached to the rope (so it’s quite important!). As such, the durability and fit of the harness is crucial. Your safety means everything, so be sure to purchase something that will last.

Rock climbing equipment outdoor climbing
Whether you climb next to the sea or indoors, you will notice how crucial it is to own a harness!

The two leg loops wrap around each leg for added safety. Many harnesses come with adjustable leg loops and some can even be removed, which is best for climbing in all seasons since one size won’t fit over your long climbing pants in the winter. The waistbelt allows you to climb in comfort and gives you the ability to organize your gear within easy reaching distance.

For beginners, it is fine to opt for a basic harness. You do not yet need something with all of the bells and whistles for more advanced climbing (notice how I said ¨not yet!¨). Ensure it fits correctly and try a different brand if you are not satisfied.

Rock climbing equipment harness rock climbing gear
Hang all of your gear off of your harness for easy access.

Good Brands of Harness to Get

  1. Black Diamond ( Safe, affordable and nice design)
  2. Elderid ( Comfortable, safe)
  3. Petzl ( Safe and nice colours)
  4. Arc’teryx ( Looks super good, safe and a bit on the pricier side)

5. Rope, Belay Device, and Locking Carabiner

Estimated Price: Rope $70-$150, Carabiner $5-$15, Belay Device $15-$30

Lastly, I will cover the areas of rope, belay devices, and locking carabiners, as these are also an essential part of your rock climbing journey. Many times, these items are up for rent at indoor gyms or if you opt for a guided tour. However, it is always great to have your own set for safety reasons and to give yourself the freedom to go outdoor climbing as you please.

Rock climbing gear carabiner
Rock climbing equipment is an investment into your hobby and will save you money in the long run.

In terms of rope, there are many options. I recommend a 9.9mm single rope 70m in length for outdoor climbing. Always practise good rope maintence and trim your rope with a climbing knife every once a while when it starts fraying. Belay devices is made up of a carabiner and ATC are for the belayer to safely secure their partner when they climb, whether on the ground or up in the air ( if practising multi-pitching). The two most common types are tubular and assisted braking. However, there is no need to get caught up in the lingo. I recommend assisted braking for beginner climbers.

Locking carabiners attach your rope to fixed positions along the climbing route and keep you safe. This type of carabiner is recommended to beginners as it goes best with a belay device.

Rock climbing outdoor rock climbing and equipment
Locking carabiners attach your rope to bolts drilled into routes like this one and keep you safe.

Recommended Brands of Belay Devices to Get ( Basic, Assisted)

  1. Black Diamond ATC and Carabiner (BD)
  2. Petzl ATC and Carabiner (BD)
  3. Petzl Gri gri ( ABD – Active ) – Recommended for Outdoor Climbing
  4. Mammut Smart Belay (ABD – Passive)
  5. Edelrid MegaJul (ABD – Passive)

BD: Belay Device/
ABD: Assisted Braking Belay Device

Types of Good Rope Brands

  1. Mammut – Love the softest and non tangle effect of the rope
  2. Petzl – Great colours and known for safety
  3. Sterling – Reputable brand and also known for safety

Get Set Up and Get Climbing!

So here rounds up the tips about investing in your 1st set of equipment. I hope it was useful and not too daunting for you to embark on taking climbing to the next level.

Climbing gym rock climbing equipment
No matter your skill set, rock climbing is accessible to you both indoors and outdoors.

Any more queries about getting your 1st set of gear?

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  • Avatar of Renuka Walter
    Renuka Walter
    March 1, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    I can never ever imagine climbing a rock! I’m sure it’s fun, though. I think I can try that with the right climbing gear. 🙂

    • Avatar of Lydia Yang
      Lydia Yang
      March 1, 2019 at 5:17 pm

      Yes, it is really fun Renuka. Of coz only when you are ready to take it to the next level, you can look at investing in your 1st set of rock climbing gear!:)

  • Avatar of Saswati Bhattacharya
    Saswati Bhattacharya
    March 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Hey really nicely written. I learnt a lot from it.

    • Avatar of Lydia Yang
      Lydia Yang
      March 4, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Great:) Perhaps its time to put that learning into practise and start doing some climbing:DD Share with me your experience how much you enjoy it.

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