The Total Cost of Rock Climbing Gear

What do you need to know cost wise before you invest in climbing gear? This article tells you everything from your first pair of shoes to a full rack for trad adventures!
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If you’re just getting into rock climbing, you might be wondering exactly how much it costs to participate in this sport. This number can vary quite a bit!

This article will explain how much it costs to participate in different disciplines of rock climbing, including the cost of buying the minimum gear you can get by with, as well as the cost of getting a “full rack”– everything you could need.

Gym Climbing Costs

Beest Boulders bouldering gym in Amsterdam

The sections below aren’t going to include climbing gym costs, since not everyone goes to a gym. Gym climbing is a great way to learn many types of rock climbing, including top rope, lead climbing, and indoor bouldering. If you’re new to rock climbing, many gyms have climbing classes you can take.

Day passes to indoor climbing gyms tend to be expensive. Annual membership prices tend to be a better deal, so most climbers will end up becoming members at their local climbing gym. Sometimes climbing gyms also have good deals for 10 visit punch passes. Different climbing gyms have different costs, but expect to spend somewhere around $75-100 per month.

Members at rock climbing gyms usually have access to classes and special events, and most gyms also offer special pricing on equipment like shoes, belay devices, or ropes

If you don’t have your own climbing gear, you can use rental gear at the climbing gym. However, most climbers invest in their own gear at some point, as rental equipment costs add up pretty quickly. So, let’s take a look at the costs of that gear!

Bouldering Costs

Bouldering is probably the cheapest form of rock climbing. Let’s take a look at both the low and high ends of the spectrums in terms of bouldering cost.

Cost of Minimal Gear

bouldering shoes

If you’re bouldering at an indoor climbing gym, all you really need is a pair of climbing shoes, a chalk bag, and something to fill your chalk bag with! Let’s break down those costs:

  • Climbing shoes: $90-$220
  • Chalk bag: around $25 dollars
  • Powder chalk: around $10 for a bag

So, the total cost of basic gear for bouldering is anywhere from $125 to $255 depending on the price of your climbing shoes.

Cost of Complete Gear

men opening crash pads for outdoor bouldering

If you want to move beyond the bare necessities, there are few other things you might want to purchase, especially for  bouldering outdoors. A brush for brushing holds can be useful, as can a portable hang board for warming up when you’re climbing outside.

Another piece of equipment you’ll want for outdoor climbing is pads– it’s good to own at least two so you can adequately protect problems. Skin care is also important in bouldering, so it’s good to have a skin file as well as some climbing tape. So, in addition to the costs from the last section, we have:

  • Brush: $15
  • Portable hang board: around $90
  • Two bouldering pads: varies, but a middle of the road pad costs around $200, so $400 for two
  • Skin file: around $10
  • Climbing tape: typically $5

So, if we total that all up and add the bare necessities from the last section, the final total for a decked out bouldering set up is around $645 to $775, depending on the price of your shoes.

Sport Climbing Costs

Roped climbing has more gear involved than bouldering! Let’s take a look at what you need and how much it will cost, whether you’re in a climbing gym or doing outdoor sport climbing on real rock.

Cost of Minimal Gear

climbing gear to belay

If you’re only interested in indoor rock climbing, you can get by with minimal gear.

You don’t need your own quick draws when climbing indoors, so that eliminates a significant cost. Just like bouldering, you’ll definitely need climbing shoes and a chalk bag. You’ll also need a harness, and a belay device for belaying your partner.

Most people choose a Gri-Gri for this, and you’ll also need a locking carabiner to use with your Gri-Gri Additionally, you’ll need a climbing rope. You can get by with a short rope (30-40 meters) if you only want to climb in a gym. Let’s go over those costs:

  • Climbing shoes: $90-$220
  • Chalk bag: around $25
  • Powder chalk: around $10 for a bag
  • Harness: they vary in cost, but $70 is a good estimate for a high-quality harness
  • Belay device (Gri-Gri): $110
  • Locking carabiner: around $15
  • Gym climbing rope: around $115

This means that a basic roped climbing set up for the gym can be pretty cheap: somewhere between $435 and $565, depending on the cost of your climbing shoes.

Cost of a Full Rack

quickdraws hanging on stick with rope behind

If you’re a person who wants to get a decked out sport climbing set up, equipment can include a lot more than a harness, shoes, and ropes.

For outdoor climbing, you’ll need quick draws to clip to the fixed bolts– it’s good to have at least 12. Some people might want more, and some sport climbers also like to have some extendable alpine draws– these long slings can be useful for routes that wander.

You’ll also want a helmet if you’re sport climbing outside. For cleaning anchors, it’s best to have a personal anchor system so that you can safely clip into the anchors as you clean. Another locking carabiner is needed for this set up, and most sport climbers like to have a few extra lockers on hand.

Many outdoor sport climbers also like to have a stick clip for clipping the first bolt. Additionally, you’ll need a longer rope for outdoor sport climbing: most people opt for a 70 meter rope. It’s also nice to have a rope bag to easily move your rope around the crag. Another luxury is belay glasses, which can help preserve your neck health. The costs for all this is as follows:

  • 12 quick draws: around $200 for high quality draws
  • 4 alpine draws: around $100
  • Helmet: around $60
  • Personal anchor system: around $40
  • Set of 3 locking carabiners: $35
  • Stick clip: typically around $80
  • 70 meter climbing rope: rope prices vary depending on whether you want a dry treated rope or not, but $300 is a reasonable estimate for a high-quality rope
  • Rope bag: around $40
  • Belay glasses: $65

So, what’s the cost of a full sport rack that includes all the necessary gear? That number comes out to somewhere between $1240 and $1370.

Trad Climbing Costs

trad climbing gear on canvas

Of all the disciplines of rock climbing, trad climbing definitely requires the most gear! It can be overwhelming to try and figure out how much this discipline costs, but we’ll try to break it down for you. The costs in this section are going to assume that you already have all the gear needed for sport climbing (belay device, harness, climbing rope, etc.).

Cost of Minimal Gear

man doing trad climbing on arete

The bare minimum you need to trad climb is really going to depend on the area you are rock climbing in and the specific routes you want to do.

The primary cost when considering trad climbing is the protection you need:

  • Cams
  • Nuts

A minimal trad rack would include a single rack of cams ranging from Black Diamond .3 to 3 as well as a full set of nuts. This may be enough to protect some climbs, but for many routes you’ll want doubles or even triples of many cam sizes. However, combining gear with friends can make a light rack sufficient.

You’ll also want carabiners to attach to cams, as they don’t come with these. Additionally, you’ll need some anchor building supplies, which will mean at least a few extra locking carabiners and some double or quad length runners.

So, the cost of a light trad rack could be as follows:

      • One each cams Black Diamond .3, .4, .5, .75, 1: $85 each
      • Black Diamond 2: $90
      • Black Diamond 3: $95
      • Enough non-locking carabiners for all cams: around $55
      • Set of 3 locking carabiners: $35
      • Double length sling (120cm): around $15
      • Quad length sling (240cm): around $20
      • Set of nuts: $90

So, the cost of basic trad gear, assuming you already own sport gear, would be around $825.

Cost of Complete Gear

Trad gear gets very complicated very fast. There are trad climbers who own triples of every cam size, or they might own six of a certain size. Some climbers buy giant cams to protect off width routes, while others invest in ball nuts to place in the thinnest of cracks. You can choose from a myriad of protection options, including offset cams, offset nuts, hexes, and tricams.

Thus, it’s difficult to define exactly what a full rack of trad gear is and how much it will cost. For the purposes of this article, I’ll outline what I think would be a very complete, yet not excessive, trad rack for an adventurous but not crazy climber. The rack doesn’t include extremely tiny gear or very large gear, so keep in mind that there may be additional costs depending on what style of climbing you like.

The staple of the trad rack outlined here is a double set of Black Diamond cams from .3 to 3. Additionally, I’m including one Black Diamond 4, as that’s a pretty common size. One set of regular nuts is great, but a set of offset nuts is a worthy addition. A few small cams will help for thin cracks: I’d invest in one each of Black Diamond 0, .1, and .2.

In addition to the protection, a full trad rack will include plenty of alpine draws and extra slings. Crack gloves are another good investment, and many trad climbers like to have a pair of climbing shoes that work well in cracks. So, the costs of a full trad rack and all associated gear would be:

      • Double set of Black Diamond cams .3 to 3: $1,220
      • Black Diamond 4: $105
      • One each Black Diamond 0, .1, and .2: $85 each
      • Enough non-locking carabiners for all cams: around $150
      • Set of nuts: $90
      • Set of offset nuts: $80
      • 6 additional alpine draws (assuming you already have 4 from the sport section): $150
      • Quad length sling: around $20
      • Three double length slings: around $45 total
      • Crack gloves: around $40
      • Crack shoes: TC pros are one of the best, and they cost $220

So, the total cost of a full trad rack is around $2,235.

Multi Pitch Climbing Costs

If you feel competent on single pitch routes, you might be interested in exploring multi pitch rock climbing. This section will explore the costs of this discipline. Multi pitch climbs include sport routes and trad routes. This section will assume that you already own the gear from the sport and/or trad sections, depending on what type of multi pitch you’re doing.

Cost of Minimal Gear

If you already have single pitch gear, you won’t need much more to get started multi pitching. Really, the only additional necessity is an ATC for rappelling, as this is a common descent method when multi pitch climbing. An ATC can also be used as a belay device. So, the cost of minimal multi pitch gear would only be around $20.

Cost of Complete Gear

climbing quickdraws and rope on rock

Although you might be able to get by with just an ATC on some multi pitches, there are some climbs that might require more gear, or be made simpler by some additional items. One thing that’s useful to have when multi pitching is a tagline, which can allow you to rappel twice as far but isn’t as heavy as carrying a second rope. It can also be nice to have a belay seat for hanging belays on the wall.

A small backpack also comes in handy on multi pitch climbs– the follower can wear a backpack with extra layers, water, and snacks. It’s also good to own Rocky Talkies (walkie talkies designed for rock climbing) so that you can communicate with your partner on long pitches. A headlamp is also a good safety measure. So, the prices for all of that are:

      • ATC: $20
      • Tagline: $130
      • Belay seat: around $25
      • Small backpack: prices vary, but around $100 is typical
      • Rocky Talkies: $220 for two radios
      • Headlamp: $20

So, a decked out multi pitch set up will cost about $525 in addition to all the other gear you should already have.


Rock climbing can be an expensive sport, but there are many ways to reduce costs. If you want to focus on rock climbing outdoors, you can avoid paying for a climbing gym membership. Or, maybe you only want to participate in indoor climbing, and you decide not to buy your own outdoor sport climbing gear.

Basic rock climbing equipment includes shoes, ropes, a harness, a belay device and chalk. Beyond this, there are many items you can buy to make your day at the crag more enjoyable, but it will all come with an additional cost.

Regardless of the specific choices you make, this article should have provided you with a better understanding of the costs of rock climbing and what climbing gear is necessary for different disciplines. Whether you want to explore gym climbing, or you love climbing outdoors and want to understand trad climbing, it’s important to have a good understanding of the costs of rock climbing.

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