So you’re ready to take your gym climbing skills out into the backcountry to climb some real rock. Rock climbing is fun, fierce, and sometimes freaky. There are so many famous climbing areas, but there are also hidden crags that any new or seasoned climber can take on with the right gear.
But before you hit the crag, it’s important to have the gear that helps keep you and your climbing partner stay safe while having fun on the rock wall. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Climbing Shoes
A good, comfortable, and appropriate pair of climbing shoes is key. Rock climbing shoes should be tight enough that you can grip the rock with your toe, but comfortable enough that you can wear them on a route or two. Climbing shoes are made with a sticky rubber that enables your feet to stick to the rock, which is why you can’t just wear any old athletic shoe.
2. Climbing Harness
A climbing harness will literally make or break your fall on a climb. Like climbing shoes, you want your harness to be comfortable and well-fitted. You also want it to have two tie-in loops and one belay loop so you stay attached to your belay partner. Your climbing harness should also possess pre-threaded buckles so that you can carry gear up with you as you climb. Always climb with a harness, unless you’re bouldering.
3. Climbing Rope and Belay Device
The type of rope you purchase to climb outside matters. Your climbing rope should be between 9.5 – 9.9mm in diameter and at least 60m in length. However, if you plan to do longer climbs or go somewhere that requires a longer rappel, you might want to get a 70m rope. Bi-pattern ropes are also ideal for outdoor climbing, as they indicate where the middle of the rope is for when you rappel off your climb. As for a belay device, most climbers advocate for an assisted belay device, like a GriGri. This is how the belayer will keep the climber safe
Like most sports, you want to keep your noggin protected. In climbing, it’s important that both the climber and belayer wear helmets. There could be a hiker above you that accidentally knocks rock off the ledge and it hits the climber, or a climber could pull on loose rock and hit their belayer. Either way, you want both people wearing a helmet.
5. Quickdraws, Locking Carabiners, and Slings
Quickdraws are used for when someone is lead climbing; they help keep the climber safe when a fall occurs. Locking carabiners and slings are necessary when a climber needs to clean the climbing route of all gear. A locking carabiner will also be used to secure your belay or rappel device when needed.