There are many sports one can take on in this 21st century, especially if you come from a developed country like Singapore. In school, you get exposed to all kinds of basic workouts like running, swimming.
However, as people get older and have more disposable income, they are always looking for a variety of different activities and sports to pick up, and rock climbing is one of those that are growing traction due to it becoming an Olympic sport in 2020, as well as more new rock climbing and training gyms opening up island-wide.
So how much exactly do you need to invest in rock climbing gear and equipment to take up this sport. Is it expensive as compared to sports like mountaineering and dirt biking. Are there cheaper brands around yet of equally safe and of good standards.
1. Costs of a Gym Pass and Equipment Rental
Depending on where you’re climbing, a daily gym pass can range from anywhere from US$10-$40. However, you’re sure to save money if you buy a monthly pass or multiple entry pass! Many gyms offer the option to buy a 10-entry pass that will help you save on the cost of climbing, as it can reduce the cost of sporadic visits. Gyms also offer the option to purchase a membership, usually monthly or annually, so if you know you’ll be climbing a lot, take advantage of this opportunity!
PRO TIP: Some gyms also charge a 1st-time visitor registration fee/ application fee when you fill up your registration and indemnity forms. The price can range from US$5-US$15.
How about gear rental?
Just like soccer games require soccer boots and tennis requires tennis shoes, rock climbing has special shoes to help you climb.
Renting of gear (shoes, harness, chalk) will be cost to take note of, so if you think you’re going to start rock climbing on a regular basis, it makes sense to invest in a set of personal beginner gear. However, if you’re just trying out the sport, shoe rentals will usually cost you anywhere from US$3-$7, and the same goes for a harness. If you also need chalk it is usually cheaper (US$1-$2), though many gyms offer complimentary chalk bag rental or provide it to everyone for free.
2. Cost of Buying Rock Climbing Shoes
You don’t have to shell out the big bucks to buy a quality pair of beginner rock climbing shoes. You can get a good pair of beginner shoes for anywhere from US$50-$70, which is a good beginner investment compared to the US$100-$150 that you would have to spend on more advanced technical climbing shoes. Mad Rock, La Sportiva, and Evolv all offer great beginner shoe options.
If you are looking for tips on getting your new rock climbing shoes, read some of my personal favourite and picks here
3. Cost of Investing in Bouldering gear
To have you all set and ready to do some great bouldering at an indoor bouldering gym, it is incomplete without chalk bag and chalk!
Climbing chalk and chalk bag
Though some gyms do provide it, it’s always a good idea to have your own, as you might have a certain type of chalk that you prefer. A chalk bag is not too expensive, as it costs between US$10 and US$20, and depending on the brand, a bag of chalk can cost from US$5-$20.
You’ll also want to pick up a climbing brush ($5-$10) to clean off extra chalky or slippery holds.
4. Costs of Top Rope and Lead Climbing Equipment
If you are looking beyond bouldering and would like to tackle the high walls, that’s where you start investing in the top rope and lead climbing. In the case of top rope climbing, the rope is already all set up at the top with the anchor. In the case of lead climbing, you will need to bring the rope up and set up the route with quick draws. Usually top rope can be prepared and set up from a lead climb.
Harness and Belay Devices
To start lead climbing, you’ll need to have a harness, a belay device, and a carabiner. Various companies, such as Black Diamond and Petzl, sell starter packs that include all of this necessary equipment. They will usually run you up about US$90-$100, which can save you money in the long run. If you don’t want to buy everything at once, you might not be able to get as great of a deal: a beginner’s harness costs anywhere from US$50-$70 and a carabiner/belay device US $20-$30.
Helmet and Rope
Some gyms also make you wear a helmet and bring your own rope, which is an important cost to take into consideration. Good climbing helmets start at US$50 and can cost up to US$140, but to start you’ll just need a basic one. Ropes can be the most expensive single piece of climbing equipment, and depending on the type and length of rope, a good rope will cost anywhere between US$100 and US$300.
Looking for recommendations of the Best Climbing Gear and Brands to go for?
Check out my personal picks.
5. Costs of moving into Outdoor Lead Climbing
If you’ve already got your helmet and rope, there are a few other essentials that you’ll need before you can start lead climbing outdoors.
You’ll need a set of quickdraw to set up your routes, and how many you need depends on how long the routes are that you plan on climbing. This is another thing that is better to buy in a pack: a set of 6 quickdraws normally costs between US$60 and US$80, while a single quickdraw can run you up to $20.
Carabiners, ATC and Slings
You’ll also need some additional safety gear when lead climbing outdoors. Though it will likely cost over US$30, a personal anchor system is key for cleaning routes. There are different ways to clean a route or ‘top out’, and extra things like an ATC or prusik knot is useful to ensure you abseil down safely. If you plan on setting up topropes often, you’ll also want to buy a set of locking carabiners and a sling, which will be about US$30-$40.
Automatic locking belay device
It is also a good idea to invest in an automatic locking belay device, such as a Petzl Grigri, if you’re going to be sport climbing outdoors. Though it’s quite the investment ( US$100), it lasts a long time, and it is a safety measure that you’ll be happy you took.
6. Cost of Multi-Pitch Gear
The costs of starting to climb multi-pitch routes is perhaps the most expensive component of rock climbing. You’ll definitely need the personal anchor system and a set of locking carabiners and slings, as mentioned above. If you’re planning on just doing bolted multi-pitch climbing, you’ll be set with your anchor system with extra rope and quickdraws.
Cams, Nuts and Stoppers
However, once you get into trad climbing or multi-pitch climbing, you’ll need a whole new set of gear like a full trad rack or even crack climbing gloves to protect your palms. Depending on where you plan on climbing you’ll need different size gear, but it’s a good idea to start out with a set of cams, which will end up being at least US$300. A set of nuts/wide stoppers for a variety of sizes of cracks will cost between US$50-$100.
You’ll also need some long runners to prevent rope drag on routes that have a lot of traverse, which you can find for about US$20 a piece.
So in conclusion, you can see that starting out in rock climbing may not be that expensive, but can be pretty cheap and affordable. However, as you start taking the sport to the next level and investing in safe and high quality climbing gear, it starts adding up.
Though these costs may seem overwhelming, be assured that the expenses can be spread out over time. Rock climbing is not a cheap sport, but you do not have to buy everything at once! Take your time and start accumulating gear as you get more and more experienced, and you’ll have everything that you need in no time.