Rock climbing can seem daunting to a newbie because it must seem like you need all this complicated stuff to go climbing.
I have Compiled the essentials for SPORT CLIMBING OUTDOORS in this post, so you know exactly what you need.
Ive also linked reviews to my Favourite of each item, and companies will give me a small percent in return for promoting.
i ahave to make it clear this has no influence on what I recommend you, it just means i get a couple extra quid for promoting them! win win 😉
i recently wrote a post summarising how much all this equipment will cost,
if you want a read ive linked it here.
Harness, of course! this is the equipment that attaches you to your safety equipment, very important!
There are so many types of harnesses, you can get ultra lightweight ones or comp specific ones and everything, but when your just getting into it you will only want some thing thats comfortable and fits well.
I use the Beal Rebel Soft because its really inexpensive for a harness and super comfortable.
Whattever harness you decide to go with just make sure it is compatible with your waist and leg sizes, another reason the beal is so good is the leg and waist loops are fully adjustable, for when someone borrows my harness, it will fit everyone!
Fitting your Harness
The most important part of the harness is not the brand or model, its making sure it fitted correctly.
The waist loops should be ABOVE your hips, and the leg loops up on your thigh nice and tight. you shuld be able to push your hand through each loop but not pull it back through with a closed fist.
do this everytime and you can be sure your harness will hold you!
The reason the waist loop needs to be above your hips is because if you were to go upside down, and the loop wasnt above your hips youd fall out of the harness.
This is why its so crucial your harness is up and tight despite how much it wedgies you, you would literally just fall straight out your harness if you didnt do it up above your hips!
I think its worth knowing all textile climbing equipment (including Harnesses) has a commercial lifespan of 10 years. pretty much every if not all will recommend you destroy the equipment once its 10 years old.
HOWEVER this seems a shame if you have an old harness and you wish to climb in it, my advice is INSPECT the harness. there are plenty of videos online showing exactly how to do this but you basically inspect all the key elements for weaknesses.
I need to make it very clear im just a climber trying to pass on some value, you must respect climbing equipment.
If you have any doubts on the integrity of your harness, or any other gear, DONT USE IT! just get a new harness for the sake of your safety.
Anyway thats essentially harnesses.
you can check my indepth harness review here, but for now lets move on!
Ahhhh yes, ropes, the coolest of the climbing equipment.
Ropes can be really expensive and theres so much specification on them it can be confusing to decide what you really need. Luckily, I have compiled exactly How you can decide for yourself!
Im covering outdoor Sport climbing which needs a pretty simple rope, if your looking for a trad or ice climbing rope, look for another Post, I havent got enough experience outside of sport climbing to feel confident writing you one yet!
Firstly you need your rope to be long enough! this will depend on how high your local climbing areas are. For me, i barely climb anything over 30 Meters so a 70 meter rope is perfect.
You need to have extra rope to be able to tie in and have a tail, but my first rope was a 60 meter and it was fine on 30 meter climbs, because of the stretch in the rope. Best to stick with a 70 for cases like these though. or at least tie a knot in your tail end!
My first and honestly the best sport climbing rope is a Mammut ‘Twilight’ but i cant find it online for a reasonable price.
I linked the Mammut ‘Workhorse’ Rope for you because its an inexpensive rope right now, and its super durable. meaning you can invest on this one rope and it will last you for YEARS! I think this rope is probably the most Sensible investment for you right now.
If you want a more ‘Luxury’ and lightweight rope, I linked my ‘Performance’ rope; the Beal Antidote for you here, ill do a full review after this post!
However all you need to know is LOOK AFTER IT.
if you climb near the sea, or it gets salt water on it you must wash it because the salt water will crystalize and slowly cut through your rope, ive linked my post on this here.
Dont stand on your rope! this baby keeps you from hitting the floor so treat it with respect, and amount of dirt can work its way into the rope and will slowly break the fibres in the rope through abrasion.
3. Belay device
You will need a belay device to be able to… belay.
if you dont have one there are plenty of amazing designs with unique and inventive technologies in them, but all you really need is a belay device right!
You could spend £60 ish on a ‘GriGri’ because there really popular and extra safe because of the ‘Assisted Breaking’ feature in them, or you can try the Mammut ‘Smart’. I think its a smart choice… haha that was terrible.
Ive written a full review here stating exactly why I think the mammut smart is the best belay device.
The reason I recommend the smart is because it also has a ‘Assisted breaking’ feature, but its like a quater of the price, and has no moving parts so its much more intuitive and hard to get wrong!
Assisted breaking technically just helps you hold the rope on a fall as the device cams the rope in whatever method the device does, to help you catch the fall.
but on both the mammut smart and grigri you could theoretically let go once the device is cammed. Im quite sure these two devices will catch the fall even if you didnt hold the tail rope, and although you should NEVER do this, there is the possibility you could become unconcious while belaying, which makes this feature PRICELESS.
Without a assisted breaking device, you will apsolutely drop the climber if you go unconcious for whatever reason. you dont even have to be hit on the head with a rock, people instinctually let go of the rope all the time when there pulled into the wall from a climber fall, and this means dropping your partner if you dont have a breaking device.
This is why i have always used the smart, because for the same price as other entry level devices the mammut smart will keep your climber safe if anything goes wrong when your belaying, its super nice to use and is inexpensive, costing around £15!
Lastly, just make sure you get a device that allows your diameter rope, most common rope sizes are fine with mostly all belays, its just worth checking!
You are going to need at minimum 3 carabiners between your partnership, you will need one to attach yor belay device to your harness, and you will need a two to secure yourself at the top and get your rope back, but that is for another post!
Just MAKE SURE there screwgate carabiners. the ‘Snap gate’ carabiners on your quickdraws have no way to lock so they are not suitable for belaying or pretty much any thing else that needs securing.
A sling is a closed loop of cord, used for securing youself to anchors, when you retrieve your rope you temporarily untie and need the sling to keep yourself attached in the meantime.
Pretty much any certified sling is suitable, just mke sure;
its not too long, its much harder to manage and keep tidy.
you treat it nicely. ‘Dyneema’ slings, and pretty much any sling should NOT be weighted dynamically. this means no jumping or suddenly getting slammed onto it by your belayer so make sure you communicate this with them.
Dyneema slings can SHATTER when there loaded too dynamically. im not going to pretend i understand why.
Just make sure you respect them!
Quickdraws are the ‘clips’ you use to make the bolts in the rock usable for your protection.
there are so many styles and designs once again for very specific disciplines in climbing. All you need is a simple sport climbing Quickdraw set.
Depending on the length of your local climbing areas you may need 5 quickdraws or you may need 20 upwards.
15 is a solid number to begin with, i have 13 now because i lost two, and they allow me to climb pretty much anything local to me!
I have a couple different brand Quickdraws but the ones i wish i knew about from the beginning are called Mammut ‘Bionics’
While there quite expensive, I use them because they are so convinient to use, lightweight and the dyneema sling is comfortable enough to pull yourself up on.
You can find cheaper quickdraws if you need, but I recommend not going tooo cheap obviously haha.
A helmet should be a part of everyones climbing Kit list. While i admittedly wear my helmet much less than i should, a solid helmet is just a must have.
To protect you from rock falls and boost your confidence when your climing, you need a helmet!
I use the Singing Rock ‘Penta’ (in blue) because its the lightest and most comfortable helmet I have ever used, i also paid a bit extra at the time because of how cool the blue and yellow looks.
This helmet is only 386 grams!! thats super light, which is why its so comfortable.
But this comes with its downsides, its ultralight because it is made from a single piece of EPS foam, but this also means the helmet is brittle. one good rock, or falling on it will likely shatter your helmet.
You can get heavier helmets with an outer layer of solid plastic to make it more resistant to abuse but this too comes at a price.
Basically all you need to do is get a legit helmet, one from a reputable company with safety certificates, and WEAR IT all the time!
You can take them off for lunch or anytime your out away from the rock face, but DEFINETLY wear it when you belay.
Belaying is probably the most important time to wear a helmet, as the rocks you pull off while climbing only go down.
8. Climbing Shoes
climbing shoes are an apsolute must in my opinion, there is no one piece of gear that will revolutionise your climbing the way a good pair of shoes will.
Yes you can climb in your trainers but this is pretty disrespectful to everyone else using the spae with you, they dont wanna go up a route after you just walked dirt all over the holds!
Funny story; me and a mate were climbing a big tree, me leading, and i had poo on my shoe, he used my foot hold as a hand hold and well… it wasnt funny for him. People will be genuinely outraged if you got poo on there route or project, so just get a pair of shoes!
not even for other people, climbing shoes will mean you can actually climb PROPERLY with good climbing shoes by being able to interact with all the little imperfections in the rock and truly climb!
I will recommend ALMOST EVERYONE the ‘La Sportiva Miuras’ because they are an incredibly comfortable shoe, can make the smallest of foot holds feel like ledges and support you over thousands of feet of climbing.
While these couple items arent ‘essential’ they are certainly pretty welcome if you value convenience.
I use these Every time I go out climbing and they make the experience iether richer or more convenient for you in some way, so i thought id include them.
1. Chalk bag
Yes, the humble chalk bag. while i think there not nessesarry, so you could decide not to get one if your trying to save money, they are a really great tool.
When your handy are sweaty, a chalk bag can literally enable you to carry on climbing! so yeah you can definetly climb without, or just borrow a friends, but having chalk right there with you is so helpful and almost nessesarry for ‘Performance’ climbing, or climbing to your limit.
I use a mammut chalk bag but there all pretty much the same, there are some really cool and some really clever chalk bags but there essentally a bag!
This should probably be number one, or even an essential list item, because you pretty much need it to know exactly what your climbing, but i decided to leave it out because before investing in a guide book i could just remember what climbs were what before visiting a new crag, iether online or just asking the climber at the crag.
I really do recommend a guidebook though, there super cool for being able to log what you have done physically, or just to flick through and get inspired for your local climbs.
If your area isnt availible online (i literally just mean google your crag) You might have to actually get the book, for the details on how to reach the crag, but this is just something you will have to google haha.
3. Rope Bag
The rope bag is a genuine Breakthrough in climbing.
I got the Mammut Element rope bag, i linked the epic tv here for you. Its everything you want and nothing you dont need.
Im not joking about rope bags, i genuinely wish i could go round climbing centres and give everyone not using a rope bag one!
its basically a sheet or compartment that you keep your rope on for ease of transport and ‘no faff’ packing up times.
It sounds simple but bundling your rope, or even recoiling it every time you want to get on a different climb, will be the bane of your climbing career i promise you.
4. Belay Partner
When i wrote partnership in the carabiner section it reminded me, you will ALSO need a climber to be belayed by. its a belaytionship.
I know im asking a lot but yeah you will need another climber for outdoor.
Before you go
i recently wrote a post summarising how much all this equipment will cost,
if you want a read ive linked it here.
So there we have, the essentials Outdoor Climbing List.
so i hope your excited to get climbing, and im glad if i brought you any value with this post.
I recommended the certain products because they are what I use myself and I can vouch for there quality, feel free to mix it up and get the gear for your personal needs.
And always wear a helmet.