Rock Climbing Equipment List For Beginners

trad rack for multipitch climbing
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So, you’ve just started climbing and have no idea what gear you’ll need to get started. 

When you step into the world of climbing, you’ll notice how much gear there actually is, which can make it confusing when you start. 

To help point you in the right direction, I’ve decided to write an article introducing you to the gear you’ll need to get started.

I will base most of this list on climbing gear you’ll need if you plan to climb inside because that’s where most beginners will be climbing.

But, at the end of the article, I’ll briefly touch on some of the stuff you’ll need for climbing outside. Sounds good?

Indoor Climbing

woman top roping indoor wall

When you’re starting out, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending most of your time climbing indoors, and here are some of the pieces of gear you might need:

#1 Climbing Shoes

bouldering shoes

No matter where you’re climbing, you’ll need a decent pair of climbing shoes; without them, you won’t get very far. As for which shoes to get, it very much depends on the style of climbing you’re going to be doing.

When you’re looking at climbing shoes, you’ll notice they vary in shape, stiffness, thickness of rubber, downturn, and much more.

When you’re starting, you don’t have to worry too much about these things; in my opinion, you should just look for a comfortable shoe that you can wear without pain.

As you progress, you can look into climbing shoes and their features more in-depth because you’ll understand what you’re looking for. 

#2 Climbing Chalk/Chalk Bag

old climbing chalk bag

Climbing chalk is one of the least expensive items on the list, but it’s certainly an important thing to add. Chalk helps your hands grip the rock/hold, whether it’s plastic or rock, by removing the sweat from your hands.

If you’re bouldering, you will chalk up (apply chalk to your hands) on the ground using a bucket chalk bag. On the other hand, rope climbers will attach a smaller chalk bag around their waist to apply chalk as they climb.

As you can see, the style of chalk bag you’ll need will depend on the type of climbing you will be doing. 

Personally, I use a small chalk bag for both rope climbing and bouldering. I just remove the strap so no one can trip over it.

#3 Harness

climbing gear to belay

A climbing harness is an essential piece of gear if you’re planning on rope climbing. It ensures your safety as you climb by attaching you to the rope.

Again, climbing harnesses come in various styles; some will have more material, extra gear loops, angled gear loops, or front and back attachment points.

But if I’m honest, none of that really matters when you’re a beginner. The most important thing you need to consider when looking at a new harness is whether it’s the right size, adjustable, and comfortable to wear.

#4 Climbing Helmet

black diamond helmet

Whether you’re climbing indoors or outdoors, it is always a good idea to be wearing a helmet, especially when you’re new to climbing.

When you’ve just started climbing, you have no idea how to fall safely; even when you’re experienced, it’s hard to control the fall. And the last thing you want is to smash your head on one of the holds on your way down.

When climbing outside, it’s even more important to wear a helmet because of the chances of falling rocks landing on your head.

#5 Belay Device

rappelling gear

A belay device is a mechanical tool that allows climbers to control the rope while belaying or rappelling. 

There are various types of belay devices, including tube-style devices and assisted braking devices. A simple tube-style belay device with a HMS carabiner is a good choice for beginners, as it’s easy to learn and use.

#6 Carabiners 

Carabiners are essential for connecting various pieces of climbing gear. There are two main types: locking and non-locking carabiners. 

Non-locking carabiners are used for quick connections, while locking carabiners provide additional security and are used for critical attachments, such as tying into a rope or securing belay devices. Beginners should have a few locking and non-locking carabiners in their kit.

#7 Climbing Rope

different climbing ropes

If you’re climbing indoors, most gyms will have top ropes set up, so you won’t have to think about ropes unless you want to try one of the sports routes.

When looking at ropes, you’ll notice they come in many different lengths (30-80 meters) and thicknesses (8.5-10.2 mm). 

If you’re just climbing inside, a good beginner rope should be around 50 meters with a 10 mm diameter. The extra thickness makes it easier for beginners to control, and the length should be more than enough to handle any indoor gym.

For outside climbing, I tend to go for thinner diameters because it’s easier to carry and around 70 meters long because it can handle most single-pitch climbs.

#8 Quickdraws

quickdraws on harness

The final thing on my list for indoor climbing is a few quickdraws if you plan to try out sports climbing. Some gyms will have them on the wall already, but some places don’t, so it’s handy to have them.

Basically, quickdraws are used to create anchor points and extend protection on a climbing route. They consist of two carabiners connected by a sewn sling.

Outdoor Climbing Extras

climber falling off an arch in kalymnos

#1 Nuts And Cams

climbing nuts

If you’re interested in traditional climbing (trad climbing), you’ll need passive protection like nuts and active protection like cams. These are used to place protection in cracks and other features in the rock. Learning how to place and remove these types of gear is a more advanced skill, so it’s not typically included in a beginner’s kit.

#2 Slings (Webbing)

climbing slings

Climbing slings are solid and flexible loops of nylon webbing or cords used to create anchor points, extend protection placements, or build rappel setups in rock climbing. 

They provide versatility and adjustability while distributing forces, enhancing safety, and allowing climbers to adapt to various situations during their ascent.

#3 Bouldering Mat (Crash Pad)

hiking with bouldering mats

A bouldering mat, or crash pad, is a thick, cushioned foam pad used in bouldering—a form of rock climbing close to the ground without ropes. It protects climbers in case of falls, reducing the risk of injury by absorbing the impact and providing a softer landing surface.

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

Starting your climbing journey is never easy, and you can often feel overwhelmed with the information you need.

I hope this article has given you a good idea of some of the gear you need to purchase to provide you with a head start.

Your gear bag will grow as you progress, but it’s best to do this slowly over time. Climbing gear isn’t cheap, so buying everything in one go can cost thousands of dollars, and this can be a costly investment if you pack it within 2 years.

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