How to Shop for Rock Climbing Gear

How to Shop for Rock Climbing Gear
Knowing what gear to purchase for rock climbing is no small task when you think of the life-saving qualities your gear should have. Your rock climbing gear is what will be between you and the rock and more importantly, you and the ground. Learn to not only purchase the basic items, but the right items for you.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Consider what type of climbing you do, you current skill level and your intended skill level on the rock. Do you top rope or lead on rock, or are you intending to lead on rock in the near future? If you are just beginning then the essential pieces of gear you will need are rock climbing shoes, a harness, belay device such as an ATC, 10 to 11mm nylon dynamic rope and a helmet.
Step 2
Make sure your gear fits you properly and has not been previously damaged. If at all possible, buy a new rope. You have no way of knowing how many falls a used rope has endued. Choose a harness that is new or fairly new. Harnesses deteriorate and should be replaced as often as ropes. A proper seat harness has padded, adjustable leg loops, padded waist belt and gear loops.
Step 3
Choose a helmet that is lightweight, ventilated and if possible, one that easily accommodates a headlamp. Choose a pair of rock climbing shoes that suits your style of climbing. There are shoes specifically shaped and styled for different climbers. Those who boulder or sport climb typically wear their shoes tighter than those who trad climb. Any rock shoe though should fit quite snug, but not so tight that it causes pain. You may want to try on ones that lace up, ones that Velcro, or ones that slip on to see which best fits your style. Some places that sell rock shoes offer a small climbing area to try them out first.
Step 4
Try things on before buying them. Try on the harness you are thinking of purchasing over the clothes that you would normally climb in. If you climb in cooler weather, make sure it fits over bulkier clothing. Try on helmets and see which one can adjust to your head with a snug fit, but also can fit with a hat on underneath.
Step 5
Acquire comfortable clothing that stretches with you through your movements on the rock. Base layers that wick away moisture are key, as in all outdoor pursuits.
Step 6
Purchase accessories such as athletic tape to protect your hands if you are into or are considering crack climbing. A chalk bag and chalk are helpful in nearly all forms of rock climbing, including bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing or aid climbing.
Step 7
Research any rock protection before you buy it. Look through gear guides, reviews and observe trustworthy climbers you know. What brands do the pros swear by? You may have to pay a bit more for a top-of-the-line cam but you won't mind next time you take a fall. If you are shopping for gear to create a trad climbing rack, then you may need a variety of rock protection including passive or active protection. Passive protection includes stoppers, hexes and Tri-cams, chocks and nuts. Active protection includes spring-loaded camming devices (SLCDs).
Step 8
Decide if you will be doing the type of climbing that requires fixed protection. In many cases, especially on sport routes you will find protection previously placed. If these bolts are not rusty and are in good standing, then all you will need is to clip a runner to it and clip your rope in. If there is any question about the stability of a bolt or if it moves even a tiny bit when testing it, then consider it merely as back-up protection. If you are setting up new sport routes on uncharted rock, then you will need to buy some bolts, bolt hangers and proper drilling equipment and by all means, learn how to place them correctly.
Step 9
Purchase some lengths of webbing and cordelettes. Don't forget that in many cases you may be able to use natural protection and make anchors off of trees or rocks. For this you will need webbing to make a runner around the object and attach your rope to it with a carabiner. You should always have extra locking caribiners and runners on the gear loops of your harness at all times.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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