Garston Lam, Author at Urban Outdoors
Author

Garston Lam

Browsing

California is home to some of the worlds best climbing so it’s no surprise that the Los Angeles climbing gym scene is booming. There’s no denying Los Angeles is a large, but luckily this is reflected in the number of rock climbing gyms and their locations – so you’ll never have to go too far to find a gym for you. Whether you’re training for your next epic, or just to get fit, this list of the best rock climbing gyms in Los Angeles has you sorted.

Get Psyched To Send Hard With This List Of The Best Rock Climbing Gyms in Los Angeles

The Stronghold Climbing Gym

  • Location: 650 South Avenue 21, CA 90031
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Built inside an old steam power plant, Stronghold was one of the first downtown climbing gyms to throw up some ropes. Their 46 foot tall walls contain some of the best climbing in Los Angeles with hundreds of routes and even some cracks if you’re training for your next outdoor pain party. There are also hundreds of bouldering routes to hone your skills on and a dedicated system and campus area called The Pit to really step up your grade.

You’ll find yourself incorporating this Los Angeles climbing gym into your everyday life in no time, using the weight, cardio, sauna, and shower facilities that come with your membership. Plus, unlimited free access to both the fitness and yoga classes will help keep fighting fit and you’ll always have something to do.

Sender One

  • Location: 11220 Hindry Ave, CA 90045
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing, Speed Climbing

The biggest climbing gym in Orange County, Los Angeles, Sender One is a world class center featuring 50 foot tall walls and extensive facilities. Their impressive overhangs will have you pumped and sending even harder in no time. Built for the classy new age climbers who appreciate a towel service and all the latest holds with their memberships this Los Angeles climbing gym is well worth a visit.

Those of you who appreciate a good training session won’t have any problem squeezing one in. Their training area features weight and cardio equipment, with a whole balcony for those who prefer to pull hard on small holds – Fingerboards, Moon boards, and Kilter boards are at your fingertips to satisfy your crimp cravings.

LA Boulders

  • Location: 1375 E 6th Street #8, CA 90021
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

LA boulders is an extensive bouldering facility with around 180 routes at any time and regular resetting to stave off any boredom, so you’ll have to put the time in to make sure you send your projects before they get taken down. This is one of the four Touchstone climbing and fitness centers, each of which offer different facilities and classes. LA boulders offer too many types of yoga and bootcamp training which come as a discounted price for members. However, their membership allows you to climb at any of the other Touchstone locations mentioned below, giving you access to even more climbing gyms and their facilities across Los Angeles.

Hollywood Boulders

  • Location: 1107 North Bronson Ave, CA 90038
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

Falling under the Touchstone umbrella, Hollywood Boulders is 11,000 square foot of pure bouldering and training so you can really master your craft and crimp your way to the top. Campus boards and fingerboards are available if you want to work on your finger strength, while a 30 degree woody will get you working on your body tension. Lockers, saunas, showers, and a complementary towel service make it easy to pop your things away and freshen up afterwards, so you can slot in a morning climb and still turn up to work not covered in chalk. Overall this Los Angeles climbing gym is a real hot spot for anyone looking for some vertical fun.

Cliffs of ID

  • Location: 2537 S. Fairfax, Culver City, CA 90232
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Yet another of the many Touchstone climbing gyms in Los Angeles, the Cliffs of ID is their biggest location with 16,000 square foot of bouldering and an additional 11,000 square foot of roped climbing, this impressive center will satisfy even the hardest crushers. Weights and cardio equipment sit in a fancy workout studio, which means you don’t have to listen to any extra power screaming than you already do. Plus, all the climbing specific training equipment you could want is at your fingertips, including a moon board to test yourself against climbers across the world. Finally, the standard lockers, saunas, showers, and a complementary towel service are also offered here.

Verdigo Boulders

  • Location: 266 E Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

The last of Touchstone’s Los Angeles climbing gyms, Verdigo Boulders features 7,000 square foot of bouldering, an extensive number of hangboards to choose from, a comprehensive campus board, and plenty of weight and cardio equipment. Even though you’re unlikely to run out of climbing, just remember you can always visit any of their other locations with a monthly membership. All of the Touchstone locations also have in house shops and they’ll be a whole gym of people to help you pick out your next pair of climbing shoes.

Rockreation

  • Location: 11866 La Grange Ave, CA 90025
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

With a sweet traverse to help you get warmed up Rockreation is a gym that’ll support your growth as a climber. They’ve got plenty of staff and classes to help show you the way, and loads of sweet climbing for those of you already crushing it. Classes aren’t just in climbing either, they’ve got yoga, fitness, and youth sessions, so everyone can get involved. So if you’re keen to throw shapes this 10,000 square foot of climbing will satisfy.

Long Beach Rising

  • Location: 205 East Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA, 90813
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

Bringing new school to the block, Long Beach Rising is keeping things hip and fresh, revitalizing a near 100 year old building with wood walls and gnarly sets. Their climbing camps will set you up for the send, while their outdoor fitness area will get you training for your next epic. Priding themselves on only setting ‘bangerz’, it’s safe to say you’ll be coming back for more. If that wasn’t enough they’ve also got a moon board and adjustable tension board to keep you satisfied.

Hangar 18 South Bay

  • Location: Hangar 18 Long Beach, 2599 East Willow Street, Signal Hill, CA 90755
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

An impressive 12,000 square foot of climbing can be found at Hangar 18’s South Bay location. Regardless of how high you want to go, or if you’re alone or with friends, Hangar 18’s got you covered. Bouldering and autobelays are at the ready should you find yourself looking for an extra session, while top rope and lead walls cater perfectly to pairs. If you’re new to the whole thing there are courses to take you from beginner through to competent climber. Additionally, yoga classes are available if you need that extra motivation booster to get flexible. Membership grants you access to all of their locations which means climbing gyms across and around Los Angeles.

Hangar 18 Long Beach

  • Location: Hangar 18 Long Beach, 2599 East Willow Street, Signal Hill, CA 90755
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Similar to their South Bay location Hangar 18 at Long Beach is another do all center. Every type of climbing is on offer, including scaling your way up a few old-school textured walls which will leave you with all kinds of slow healing scrapes. However, if that’s not your jam, don’t worry, there are also regular painted plywood walls with over 100 well set blocs, and that’s just the boulders. If you’re psyched on reddit’s r/climbharder don’t worry there are also dedicated yoga and training areas just for you.

Boulderdash

  • Location: 19801 Nordhoff Place, Unit 110, Chatsworth, CA 91311
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Welcoming climbers of all abilities (including no abilities), Boulderdash is 13,000 square foot of pure air conditioned climbing. Freestanding top out boulders will get you rocking on your heels like a pro, and avoiding that reel of belly shuffling that makes you look like a fish out of water — More commonly known as: The Font Flop. Gear can be rented, but you’ll need your own rope to lead climb. If you’re brand new to the sport teaching classes will get you started, while technique clinics are also available to get you to the next level. So dash over for a climb at one of the best climbing gyms in Los Angeles.

Additional Resources for Rock Climbing in Los Angeles

What to Bring

Everyone’s checklist

  • Clothes – There’s no best outfit for climbing and figuring out what to wear is always a little tricky when you’re just starting. Shorts or trousers? Honestly, just dress for the temperature and any sportswear will do. Although protecting your knees is often a good idea, and going from climbing to casual without changing in a good pair of trousers can save you space in your gym bag. Honestly as long as it’s stretchy you’ll be fine, but if you can get a pair with a diamond gusset like Hippy Tree’s Sierra Pants or Patagonia’s Venga Rock Pants, you won’t regret it. Shorts wise, anything baggy or stretchy would also be fine, but I have noticed the cool kids do like to wear Prana’s Mojo Shorts. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME – BRING SOCKS (those rentals aren’t getting any newer)
  • Water – Any respectable athlete will tell you that staying hydrated is really important, and any climber will tell you there are 3 options for bottles, all of which you must plaster in stickers. They are: The old reliable BPA free Nalgene, the elite Hydroflask, and finally the eco friendly Klean Kanteen.
  • Snacks – There is quite frankly nothing better than a little nibble when you’ve been trying hard, but a full meal will probably derail your journey on the send train. Personally, I always carry some sort of cereal bar to keep me going mid session such as Cliff Bars or RXBARs.
  • Tape – I’m talking good sticky zinc tape. Offered by a host of climbing brands and easily bought at your local gym, tape is used to save some skin or seal up that flapper. Metolius makes my favorite, but there’s plenty of options out there.
  • Hand Balm – There’s plenty on the market, but I’ve had the same nub of climb on for a couple of years and it’s doing me good. Although, I did recently get a tub of Joshua Tree and that stuff really works.
  • Nail clippers – Now this is super underrated and honestly the last thing you want is to be the one making horrible scratching noises every time you crimp. Additionally, long toenails can make squeezing your feet into already tight climbing shoes all the more painful, so be sure to pick up a pair and throw them in your bag.

Established climbers checklist

  • Climbing Shoes – The staple of all climbing, a great selection can be found online here. Picking the right shoe can be really tricky, but look out for our future advice article.
  • Chalk Bag – Sweaty hands are the bane of a climbers existence. We carry chalk to quickly deal with those sweaty tips and up the friction. Chalk comes in balls, loose, bricks, or liquid, whilst the bags come in all shapes and sizes. Boulderers might prefer ‘buckets‘ to avoid losing your chalk in a tumble.
  • Harness – These are much of the same, but some are particularly light to help you hit the higher grades, though they often end up losing a couple of features. Some of the best do-all harnesses include Petzl Adjama, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mammut Sender Fast Adjust which feature enough gear loops for getting into more complex climbing, as well as adjustable leg loops for when you need to layer up.
  • Belay Plate – There are really only 3 factors to consider when choosing one of these; what you learnt to use, where you want to take your climbing, and the cost. Standard ATC, Guide ATCs and Assisted Braking Devices all work, but it’s really all down to personal choice. The flexibility of guide plates make them a favorite amongst those looking transfer their knowledge outdoors, while assisted devices can feel more secure to beginners.
  • Brush – You only need a small personal brush for when the chalk has built up and make the holds smooth, a lot of gyms do provide them so you don’t need one. Saying that, why not accessorize your chalk bag with a colorful brush like these Lapis Boar hair brushes!
  • Rope – When you get to leading you’ll probably want your own rope, but if you’re climbing indoors avoid making the ‘I need a light skinny rope to send’ mistake. You’re going to be running loads of laps, so get a good thick dynamic rope like this 9.9mm aptly named Workhorse rope from Mammut or even a fat 10.2mm from Black Diamond that’ll stand up to heavy gym abuse. Also, since you’ll be indoors you can skip any dry treatments that push the price upwards.
  • Backpack – You’ll need a gym bag of sorts to help you lug all this around, and how big you go is totally up to you and what you’re going to be carrying. If you’re just hitting up the bouldering gym, or don’t mind wondering around with the rope on show, then a good 15-20L bag like the AR 20 from Arc’teryx is ideal. Plus it’ll suit all your future fast and light days. Going up to 20-35L, will let you start packing those extra layers and maybe get the rope inside your bag too. At this size Patagonia’s Crag Smith is full of features and makes a great all round day pack!

Post send and extras

  • Belay Gloves – By no means do you need belay gloves, but some people like to keep their hands a little safer just in case (some people do let go if the rope starts to burn their hands). The trick to these gloves is leather palms to achieve the right friction. Outdoor research make a great set called the Fossil Rock Gloves, and they’re fingerless for both breathability and style points.
  • Crack Climbing Gloves – If you’ve been inspired by the Wide Boyz, but are tired of ripping tape off the back of your hands then a pair of the new Black Diamond Crack Gloves or Outdoor Research’s Splitter Gloves could be for you.
  • Skin File – If your calluses are getting a bit dry and you’re starting to get the equivalent of a hangnail in the middle of your finger, this is a sure fire way to end up with one big flapper. You can file it down with one of Climbskin’s portable solutions and avoid that week of taping up an avoidable mistake.
  • Shoe deodorant – Climbing shoes get notoriously smelly, lucky I’ve got 2 great solutions for you – Boot Bananas and Disinfectant spray, I genuinely use these and they work a treat and when I run out the shoes stay out my bag.
  • Acupressure Ring – Who knows if these work or not, but I’ve been using one religiously on a pulley injury and I think it’s helped a lot. They’re pretty cheap, so why not?
  • Long Term Antiperspirant Treatments – Good skin care is important to keep you in top climbing shape. Rhino Skin Solutions are a great brand, endorsed and used by all the big names in climbing, with the big benefit of reducing sweating. I mean the less time you’re hanging around chalking up, the more energy you’ll have to send. The job lot Skin Abuse Pack and their Tip Juice might help you push your grades sooner.

Related Articles

Phoenix is notorious for its hot weather, and there’s nothing worse than baking in the sun all day slipping off some sandy desert rock climb. Obviously, the best solution is to head indoors. Regardless of what level you’re climbing at, or if you’ve never climbed at all, this comprehensive list of rock climbing gyms in Phoenix, Arizona will have you scaling the walls in no time.

The Phoenix Arizona is surrounded by climbing, but the heat and be too much. So escape to an indoor climbing gym and crush with the Phoenix community.
Escape the desert, head to your local climbing gym and throw shapes on plastic holds. These climbing gyms in Phoenix will have you sending in no time.

Rock On With This List Of The Best Rock Climbing Gyms In Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Rock Gym

  • Location: 1353 E. University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

No worries for new climbers, there are plenty of learning opportunities at Phoenix Rock Gym that’ll get you sending on their 56 top ropes and hanging around the gym in no time. Plus, two floors of bouldering provide enough blocks for pure bouldering sessions. However, if being high up is all you’ve been thinking about, not to worry! The roped walls are 30ft tall and there are plenty of them, with 17,000 sq. ft. of climbing wall to scale. If you fancy climbing in Phoenix this gym won’t disappoint!

Black Rock Bouldering Gym with slabs and overhangs so anyone can rock climb
Black Rock Bouldering Gym’s various angles

Black Rock Bouldering Gym

  • Location: 10436 N 32nd St, AZ 85028
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering

Black Rock Bouldering Gym features the more modern, 15 foot tall, no ropes approach to climbing. With plenty of new-school blocks to choose from this climbing gym offers some of the best routes in Phoenix. Plus, there are regular yoga classes that’ll keep you limber for those big moves, and climbing classes for those looking to bump their grade to the next level. About more than just climbing, this gym will get you fit and flexible in no time.

Focus Climbing Centre

  • Location: 2150 W Broadway Road Suite 103, Mesa, AZ, 85202
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Focus Climbing Centre is a super diverse range of climbing from slabs to caves, this gym features everything you need to become a crusher on the Phoenix scene. All the taller walls feature autobelays, so you can forget about your flaky belayer and rock up whenever you want to. However, you’ll still be able to lead as the walls do feature quickdraws. Lessons for all ages are available to help you progress and find your groove. Plus all their matting is seamless lowering the potential for sprained ankles.

Climbmax Gym

  • Location: 1330 W. Auto Drive, Suite 108, Tempe, AZ 85284
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing, Weight room

All types of climbing are on offer at the Climbmax Gym. Featuring 2 floors of bouldering that get reset weekly, 150 top rope routes, 45 lead climbing routes, and dedicated training areas. Their Climbing 101 class will get anyone new comfortable with the ropes, while their Lead Climbing classes teach you not just how to climb but also how to belay with a variety of devices. Additionally, the gym has a gear shop, so you can pick up what you need for your next climbing adventure in Phoenix.

Ape Index Rock Climbing Gym

  • Location: 9700 N 91st Ave, Peoria, AZ 85345
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Lead Climbing

If you like to top rope Ape Index Rock Climbing Gym in Phoenix is for you. With belay devices on the hanging ropes all you need are shoes and your harness. But, if you’re new that’s no bother, rental equipment and lessons are readily available. Plus there are training and bouldering areas for getting stronger and climbing through the grades. Their climbing tunnel can get you feeling confident on those roof climbs with safe falls the whole way up. Further, if you’re looking to get climbing outside for the first time their private lessons can give you the skills you need to be safe.

AZ On The Rocks

  • Location: 16447 N. 91st Street, Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top Rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing

Whether you’re a rock novice or a stone master AZ On The Rocks has got everything you want. Not just all the climbing you could imagine, but all the extras that climbers love: Slacklines, ninja courses, rappelling, and yoga. This climbing gym also has full gear rentals including ropes which I will say can be difficult to find in a gym. Their shop will keep you stocked on gear and mid climbing session snacks — An essential part of the send.

Additional Resources for Climbing in Phoenix

What to Bring

Everyone’s checklist

  • Clothes – There’s no best outfit for climbing and figuring out what to wear is always a little tricky when you’re just starting. Shorts or trousers? Honestly, just dress for the temperature and any sportswear will do. Although protecting your knees is often a good idea, and going from climbing to casual without changing in a good pair of trousers can save you space in your gym bag. Honestly as long as it’s stretchy you’ll be fine, but if you can get a pair with a diamond gusset like Hippy Tree’s Sierra Pants or Patagonia’s Venga Rock Pants, you won’t regret it. Shorts wise, anything baggy or stretchy would also be fine, but I have noticed the cool kids do like to wear Prana’s Mojo Shorts. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME – BRING SOCKS (those rentals aren’t getting any newer)
  • Water – Any respectable athlete will tell you that staying hydrated is really important, and any climber will tell you there are 3 options for bottles, all of which you must plaster in stickers. They are: The old reliable BPA free Nalgene, the elite Hydroflask, and finally the eco friendly Klean Kanteen.
  • Snacks – There is quite frankly nothing better than a little nibble when you’ve been trying hard, but a full meal will probably derail your journey on the send train. Personally, I always carry some sort of cereal bar to keep me going mid session such as Cliff Bars or RXBARs.
  • Tape – I’m talking good sticky zinc tape. Offered by a host of climbing brands and easily bought at your local gym, tape is used to save some skin or seal up that flapper. Metolius makes my favorite, but there’s plenty of options out there.
  • Hand Balm – There’s plenty on the market, but I’ve had the same nub of climb on for a couple of years and it’s doing me good. Although, I did recently get a tub of Joshua Tree and that stuff really works.
  • Nail clippers – Now this is super underrated and honestly the last thing you want is to be the one making horrible scratching noises every time you crimp. Additionally, long toenails can make squeezing your feet into already tight climbing shoes all the more painful, so be sure to pick up a pair and throw them in your bag.

Established climbers checklist

  • Climbing Shoes – The staple of all climbing, a great selection can be found online here. Picking the right shoe can be really tricky, but look out for our future advice article.
  • Chalk Bag – Sweaty hands are the bane of a climbers existence. We carry chalk to quickly deal with those sweaty tips and up the friction. Chalk comes in balls, loose, bricks, or liquid, whilst the bags come in all shapes and sizes. Boulderers might prefer ‘buckets‘ to avoid losing your chalk in a tumble.
  • Harness – These are much of the same, but some are particularly light to help you hit the higher grades, though they often end up losing a couple of features. Some of the best do-all harnesses include Petzl Adjama, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mammut Sender Fast Adjust which feature enough gear loops for getting into more complex climbing, as well as adjustable leg loops for when you need to layer up.
  • Belay Plate – There are really only 3 factors to consider when choosing one of these; what you learnt to use, where you want to take your climbing, and the cost. Standard ATC, Guide ATCs and Assisted Braking Devices all work, but it’s really all down to personal choice. The flexibility of guide plates make them a favorite amongst those looking transfer their knowledge outdoors, while assisted devices can feel more secure to beginners.
  • Brush – You only need a small personal brush for when the chalk has built up and make the holds smooth, a lot of gyms do provide them so you don’t need one. Saying that, why not accessorize your chalk bag with a colorful brush like these Lapis Boar hair brushes!
  • Rope – When you get to leading you’ll probably want your own rope, but if you’re climbing indoors avoid making the ‘I need a light skinny rope to send’ mistake. You’re going to be running loads of laps, so get a good thick dynamic rope like this 9.9mm aptly named Workhorse rope from Mammut or even a fat 10.2mm from Black Diamond that’ll stand up to heavy gym abuse. Also, since you’ll be indoors you can skip any dry treatments that push the price upwards.
  • Backpack – You’ll need a gym bag of sorts to help you lug all this around, and how big you go is totally up to you and what you’re going to be carrying. If you’re just hitting up the bouldering gym, or don’t mind wondering around with the rope on show, then a good 15-20L bag like the AR 20 from Arc’teryx is ideal. Plus it’ll suit all your future fast and light days. Going up to 20-35L, will let you start packing those extra layers and maybe get the rope inside your bag too. At this size Patagonia’s Crag Smith is full of features and makes a great all round day pack!

Post send and extras

  • Belay Gloves – By no means do you need belay gloves, but some people like to keep their hands a little safer just in case (some people do let go if the rope starts to burn their hands). The trick to these gloves is leather palms to achieve the right friction. Outdoor research make a great set called the Fossil Rock Gloves, and they’re fingerless for both breathability and style points.
  • Crack Climbing Gloves – If you’ve been inspired by the Wide Boyz, but are tired of ripping tape off the back of your hands then a pair of the new Black Diamond Crack Gloves or Outdoor Research’s Splitter Gloves could be for you.
  • Skin File – If your calluses are getting a bit dry and you’re starting to get the equivalent of a hangnail in the middle of your finger, this is a sure fire way to end up with one big flapper. You can file it down with one of Climbskin’s portable solutions and avoid that week of taping up an avoidable mistake.
  • Shoe deodorant – Climbing shoes get notoriously smelly, lucky I’ve got 2 great solutions for you – Boot Bananas and Disinfectant spray, I genuinely use these and they work a treat and when I run out the shoes stay out my bag.
  • Acupressure Ring – Who knows if these work or not, but I’ve been using one religiously on a pulley injury and I think it’s helped a lot. They’re pretty cheap, so why not?
  • Long Term Antiperspirant Treatments – Good skin care is important to keep you in top climbing shape. Rhino Skin Solutions are a great brand, endorsed and used by all the big names in climbing, with the big benefit of reducing sweating. I mean the less time you’re hanging around chalking up, the more energy you’ll have to send. The job lot Skin Abuse Pack and their Tip Juice might help you push your grades sooner.

Related Articles

Rock climbing is a very gear centric sport, something you’ll learn very quickly when you start picking up your first bits of gear. It can be very overwhelming and difficult to navigate on a budget. For this reason I recommend prioritizing your purchases; build up your rack as you progress and need more of the essential rock climbing gear that’ll form your lifeline in the sport.

Luckily, I’ve already been through the turmoil of figuring this all out and now I’m here to pass my knowledge on to you. Consider me your relationship coach, here to guide you through the milestones of your new love affair.

The First Date — Staple Rock Climbing Gear to Get You Started

Foot of rock climber representing the essential rock climbing gear that is shoes
Socks?!?!? In your downturns?!?!?!??! Please don’t do this unless you want to be ridiculed.

Climbing Shoes

Climbing shoes come in all shapes and sizes and you’ll evidently experiment with the different shapes and sizes they come in. Your first upgrade, from smelly slippery rentals, should feel like they’ve changed the game. They truly are a gear essential for anyone who wants to go rock climbing regularly. Luckily near any shoe will feel better than those floppy clown shoes you’ve been renting, but I have got a few pointers for choosing your first pair.

Folks will tell you not to buy aggressive shoes when you’re starting, but don’t listen to them. Get shoes that will complement the style of climbing you like or want to get into. The closer to horizontal you like the climb the more downturned you might enjoy your shoes. This is not to say you can’t power through steep overhangs in the likes of the FiveTen’s Anasazis. If Chris Sharma can send V15 in them they probably won’t hold you back.

Go to stores and try shoes on, sometimes shoes just don’t suit your feet. For example there are brands that I avoid because the toe box never fits. Try lots of shoes on, and you might find the same thing. However, it can be tricky to know what to do once you’ve got a shoe on your foot, how do you know it’s right for you? Well, stores that stock climbing shoes usually have some small holds you can stand on, while gym stores are usually kind enough to let you climb a couple of routes in them.

You should check that 1) The heel is snug and not baggy 2) All your toes are at the end of the shoe 3) That the closure system is sufficiently tight. They should fit like a glove with no wiggle room. To test the shoes, I try to stand on a diverse range of holds in the route allowance. This will include inside and outside edging on a small hold, and volume smearing. This is usually achievable in one climb if you find the right slab set. I then take them over to an overhang to test the downturn as well as heel and toe hook abilities. The best routes for this will include moves that leave you quite stretched out and begging your shoes to help with the body tension. Try your best to avoid cutting loose — you’re here to test shoes not show off.

Chalking hands from chalk bag
Photo Credit: danwalker90 (Flickr CC)

Chalk

For most people chalk is an essential bit of rock climbing gear. Sweaty hands and slipping on crimps is a nightmare. Plus, you really don’t want to be that weirdo that’s constantly borrowing other people’s chalk and communal chalk is a little gross. You’re going to get overwhelmed by choice, so I’m here to cut through the nonsense and let you know what’s up.

Firstly, you’re going to need a bag to store your chalk in. This can be a boulder bucket or a small chalk bag, but either way it’s a fleece-lined way of keeping your chalk in more than a ziplock bag. If you’re a route climber and like the ropes then I recommend getting something small and light that you can wear while you climb, like Organic Climbing’s Chalk Bag, Metolius’s Wildlife Comp Bag, or this beauty from Static Climbing. However, you’ve probably noticed boulderers like to carry around ungodly amounts of chalk and blow their fingers constantly, all of which is made possible by big burly chalk buckets. Personally I like them with a little pocket for my phone, nail clippers, and maybe even a little snack. Which is why the ‘buckets’ from Black Diamond, Organic Climbing, Static Climbing and DMM are all great options.

Moving on to the good white powder we love so much: Chalk comes in a shocking number of varieties, and companies are eager to tell you all about their premium brand extra-drying-very-super-excellent-goodtime-chalk. I’ve used a whole host of brands and types and I’ll be 100% honest with you — they’re all exactly the same. There is, however, a personal preference you’ll have to work out for yourself regarding the coarseness of the chalk and the medium you wish you consume it from.

Loose chalk can be found in a range of grits and Friction Labs offers a good spread with Fine, Chunky, and Super Chunky options. However, you could buy a block and crunch it up in your bag yourself and cut out the middle man. I usually go for the Metolius Block, but I will admit their loose chalk is more convenient. Liquid chalk is currently all the rage since it has alcohol which acts as a gnarly disinfectant, but the alcohol will dry out your skin. There are too many choices in this department, Friction Labs, Metolius, Black Diamond, Petzl, and Mammut just to name a few. The last option is to buy a chalk sock/ball. This is a fabric cover which allows the chalk to escape and cover your hands as you squeeze it, but stops big spills. I’d recommend getting a refillable one as it’s way more eco.

So You’re Together — Getting Roped in Further

Woman wearing a rental harness holding multiple ropes
Top Tip: Rental harnesses have an oddly orientated belay loop which cuts out the tie in loops, this makes belaying feel really awkward. A good reason to buy yourself an upgrade.

At this point you’ve been bouldering or route climbing for a while and you’ve sorted your rock climbing gear basics in the form of shoes and chalk. But, those big tall walls you keep seeing were calling your name and after a couple of tasters you know you need to invest in your own rock climbing gear. Safety Advice: Anything that is designed to take weight must have an UIAA and EN certification, these are essential tasting bodies that ensure your equipment will keep you safe.

Harness

The Harness is possibly the most important and essential bit of gear you’re going to need to take your rock climbing to higher levels. Your first harness should be a do-all go-to; get it right and you won’t have to worry about a new one for years. Before we start we should clear up what a harness looks like and what everything is called, to avoid any confusion.

Harness with the various parts numbered
  1. Belay Loop: A strong load bearing attachment point. Used for belaying and attaching yourself to anchors and ropes.
  2. Tie-in Points: These loops are what you’ll tie into before your climb.
  3. Waist buckle: This tightens the harness to stop it slipping up and down, and can come with either 1 or 2.
  4. Waist belt: This is what will be catching you in a fall, it should be snug around your waist with no possibility of you sliding out of it in any direction of fall.
  5. Leg Loops: These make the harness way more comfortable allowing you to sit in your harness like a seat and not rise up to your chest and start suffocating you. They come in adjustable or one size fits all, but do not need to be too tight, if you can tuck your fingers between them and your leg that’s fine.
  6. Gear Loops: These are a big consideration, it’s where you’ll clip carabiners and gear to. You want them to be in comfortable easy to reach places and stiff so clipping stuff to them is easy to do single handed. Some harnesses will have stiff front loops and soft rear loops which is all personal preference.
  7. Risers: These adjust the way your leg loops hang and hold them in place. It’s best to move these around to find your most comfortable fit when you’re sitting in the harness.
  8. Haul Loop (not shown): Located on the back center of the waist loop. A haul line is attached as an extra rope to drag your bags up the climb.

In my opinion, the best all round beginner harnesses will have a padded waist belt, adjustable leg loops, 4 to 5 gear loops, 1 belay loop, adjustable risers, and a haul loop. This gives you a nice comfortable start that you can do nearly everything in. From simple single climb crags to big multi-pitch adventures, you can even use it for via ferrata and scrambling.

The fit: Harnesses have decent size allowances. Your wait size should be somewhere between the upper and lower limits. So you’ll be safe on those days where you’re all layered up or going tops off for power. When you’re trying on harnesses consider the symmetry of the gear loops, as single buckle harnesses can be lopsided once tight. If you can, try before you buy, sit in the harness and make sure nothing digs in or pinches. Finally, they come in Women’s and Men’s models, so watch out you don’t get them mixed up as it can get pretty uncomfortable.

For these reasons I went with a Petzl Adjama, which has since been updated and is even better now. Other options include Black Diamond’s Momentum which comes in upgraded 3S and 4S models, and DMM’s viper for men and vixen for women.

Belay Plate and Carabiner

Essential Rock Climbing Gear: An assortment of HMS pear shaped carabiners with slings a belay plate and prusik cord
An exquisite display of HMS carabiners on a bed of rope, garnished with slings and prusik cord

The belay device is another essential tool in your rock climbing gear quiver. Decisions need to be made, but it’s a hard one to make when you’re just starting out. However, there is one decision which is not as difficult to make, and that’s the carabiner you want to get. While there is a lot of choice there isn’t really that much to it.

You need a locking HMS carabiner which can be recognized by its distinct pear shape. Additionally you may want your belay ‘biner to have a keep on the narrow side. This traps your belay loop and prevents cross loading the carabiner. Strong, durable, and heavy should also be considered and as such I strongly recommend DMM’s Ceros which also comes in a Quicklock version for added safety. Other good options also include Edelrid’s Bulletproof HMS Screw-gate, Black Diamond’s Gridlock Screw-gate, and Wild Country’s Accent Light.

Before we talk belay devices it is probably worth mentioning the Munter Hitch; a knot that can replace your belay device in a pinch. Learn it: It just might save your life one day. Moving swiftly on to the belay device itself, this will be your go to rappelling and belaying tool, and your choices are straight forward:

Black Diamond Tubular ATC device with hand on the break side and the rock climbers side going up
Photo Credit: _T604 (Flickr CC)

Standard Tubular ATC

  • Description: These devices build off old school sticht plates to increase the friction and heat dissipation. I recommend always carrying one of these as an emergency backup. The ATC can be used for all climbing, but they excel in the gym and at single pitch crags.
  • Advantages: Can be used with a variety of rope diameters, light weight, and can accompany 2 ropes at a time for double stranded rappelling and half/twin rope belaying.
  • Disadvantages: Can be too slow and have too much friction for lighter climbers and very thick ropes and does not offer an assisted braking mode.
  • Recommendations: Petzl Verso, Black Diamond ATC, CAMP Shell, and Grivel Master.
Photo Credit: Patrick Lewis (Flickr CC)

Guide Mode ATC

  • Description: The guide mode ATC is often an essential in rock climbing gear, used in nearly every discipline for its versatility in belay stances, rappelling techniques, and incorporation in rescue and hauling rigs. I recommend getting one of these as your first device as it provides you with the tools to take your climbing further, without dishing out more cash.
  • Advantages: The additional versatility of assisted braking in guide mode for specific scenarios with the same additional flexibility of the regular ATC.
  • Disadvantages: Similar high friction problems for lighter climbers.
  • Recommendations: Petzl Reverso, Black Diamond ATC Guide, DMM Pivot, and Wild Country Pro Guide.
Photo Credit: Harald Kanins (Flickr CC)

Assisted Braking Device

  • Description: Though controversial for many years due to its use of moving parts it is now a widely accepted essential in any rock climbing gear bag. It makes for easily controllable descents often featuring an ergonomic handle.
  • Advantages: Provides a margin for error for beginners,
  • Disadvantages: Only takes one rope, moving parts are more likely to fail, and requires practice to feed rope out.
  • Recommendations: Petzl GriGri, Beal Birdy, and Madrock Lifeguard.

Rope

Finally, the life saving noodle – Rope. This essential bit of rock climbing gear will be your life line so make it a good one. You need a dynamic rope to prevent any shock loading which is not a good time. You also need a rope that is within the diameter recommendations for your specific belay device. It should also say it is a single rope, meaning it is rated to be used all alone. I recommend getting a burly gym rope and staying above 9.8mm. Petzl’s Mambo at 10.1mm, Black Diamond’s 9.9mm, or Mammut’s Gym Workhorse at 9.9mm are all good options. Minimum length will depend on the height of the walls at your gym. If you’re planning outdoor use 60m is a good do-all length.

Getting Outdoors

Woman Lead Climbing with her essential essential sport rock climbing gear
Great photo but it’s ill-advised to not wear a helmet

Transitioning from your plastic pulling to outdoor climbing is a big step. Just like when you first arrived at the climbing gym there’s a new list of essential rock climbing gear. Your move to the outdoors can seem scary, but it can be tamed by an experienced friend or instructor. You’ll naturally be borrowing most of your equipment to start off, but as you grow into a cool-headed, competent climber your rack will grow with you.

Why buy gear when you can just borrow your mates? Well it’s simple really – Knowing where your gear has been and how it’s been used is far more confidence inspiring. In fact knowing how to spot obviously worn-out gear is as important as saying ‘no’ to the old geezer at the crag that keeps offering to hip belay you.

Your Guide to Essential Outdoor Rock Climbing Gear

Full rack of trad climbing equipment including rocks, cams, quickdraws, slings and hexes
Photo Credit: Stephen Bentsen (Flickr CC)

The best way to confidently learn is to hire a guide. They’ll teach you the basics and make sure you have a great and safe day out. You’ll notice your guide probably looks well kitted out compared to you. His rack dangling around his waist and plenty of ropes strapped to the top of his pack. However, you too, can look just like him. Some of these you can pick up straight away, however, others it can be best to wait till you know how to use them.

Tying the Knot with Your Belay Partner — Exploring the Great Outdoors

Outdoor climbing comes in three varieties each with different gear requirements. Bouldering – the art of being too scared of heights to commit to the ropes. All the while, having an overwhelming urge to assert your dominance on some unsuspecting rock. Sport Climbing – Climbing hard without the faff, no silly fiddling with equipment, just pure rock and roll. Traditional Climbing (Trad) – The most poetic type of climbing where you place your own protection, naturally justifying the $239.95 you spent on a single number 8 Camelot.

You’ll need a lot of friends if you want to carry this many pads.

Crash Pads

  • Types of climbing: Bouldering and Traditional
  • Description: A foam filled mat, typically with backpack style carrying system. Essentially it’s a portable mattress
  • Purpose/Use: Used to cushion falling to the ground just like in the gym. This can help trad climbing when the first placement is further off the ground than is comfortable

Buying guide: There are a few things to consider when choosing a crash pad.

Size Do not pick a pad that doesn’t fit in your car. There is nothing worse than desperately tying it to the roof of your car. However, a bigger pad means more coverage and is easier to aim for when falling, so pick according to your needs.

Foam – The foam in most pads is going to be adequate, however I have found some more comfortable than others. Thicker pads typically have more cushioning and don’t wear out as fast. Whereas, thin pads are much firmer and less forgiving on bad landings.

Style – There are 2 distinct styles of crash pad. Tacos and Sandwiches: Which refer to the style that the pad folds. Sandwiches fold nicer as they are 2 mats sewn together on one edge. These usually slot nicely into the back of your car. However, the risk of stepping right in the middle and spraining an ankle is there. Tacos, on the other hand, are one big pad you’ve forced in half leaving this strange space inside the mat; great for shoving your chalk and shoes though, so it’s not all bad.

Recommendations:

Value Metolius Party Pit This budget pad is fine for most of your bouldering needs, although firm it makes a world of difference compared to falling into the ground.
BasicMad Rock Mad PadAlthough the same size as the party pit, an extra inch of padding offers some added confidence on those taller walls and longer falls.
LargeBlack Diamond MondoMoving onto large coverage for those uncertain landing zones, this big 44″ by 65″ mat will have you covered. Although, bigger pads are harder to carry.
FancyPetzl CirroRivaling the Mondo for size, this pad has a cover that protects the straps and carrying side from the mud and dirt, so you can stay clean carrying it.
WideMad Rock Triple Mad PadWhy go for a pad with one fold when you can have one with 2? Although not much bigger than the larger pads, it is more compact – Good for small cars.

Helmet

  • Types of climbing: Sport and Traditional
  • Description: These come in 2 types – Hard shell and impact absorbing foam. Rated for a top down impact, it’s no good on your bike, just as your bike helmet is too holey for falling rocks. But it goes without saying this is an essential piece of gear for your rock climbing endeavors
  • Purpose/Use: Protecting your skull from falling rocks and big knocks

Buying Guide:
Trying to find a helmet you look good in is near impossible, however there’s nothing cooler than safety. So bite the bullet and get one. I’ve heard too many stories of kids throwing rocks off cliffs onto unsuspecting climbers, and seen too many people invert and swing their heads into the wall to not wear one.

If you’re just starting out, get something with a hard shell. They are real do-all helmets and feel indestructible, so you can bash them about and still be fine. Unfortunately, the foam helmets aren’t built this way, they’re made to save you from one bed event and then they need replacing, which is rather pricey if you’re accident prone, or push it too hard into your pack. Top Tip: Get a light bright color, you don’t not want to be standing in the sun with a black helmet absorbing all the heat, trust me.

Recommendations:

HelmetType Comments
Black Diamond Half Dome plus Additional colors Hard shell A classic helmet choice which features adjustable sizing and straps. However, unlike the other options from black diamond this is not rated for side impacts.
Edelrid MadilloHard shellIt folds making it oddly packable. Honestly, this is revolutionary, I cannot express how much I hate trying to get my helmet into my bag only to have it waste valuable space.
Petzl BoreoHybridThis foam helmet has a decent hard shell cover making it super durable against all those little bumps.
Black Diamond VisionHybrid Similar to the Boreo this has a hard top to stop those pesky pebbles that your partner slipped on from ruining the structural integrity of your helmet.
Trango HaloFoamThis foam helmet will protect your noggin, but is unlikely to be as durable as the hybrids.
Black Diamond VapourFoamAs with all foam helmets this is a favorite for those trying to shed weight, without compromising on safety, it also comes in light colors and lots of vents to reduce head sweat.
It’s a good idea to keep the bottom carabiner gate facing away from the direction of your climb

Quickdraws

  • Types of climbing: Sport and Traditional
  • Description: Made up of 2 carabiners connected by thick webbing. This webbing is often called a dogbone
  • Purpose/Use: Connects the climbing rope to the protection on a rockface, which the climber then falls onto

Buying Guide:
Quickdraws can be broken down into 2 parts, the carabiners and the dogbone. The carabiners can be either solid gate or wire gates, which typically affects the weight and price. However, people have preferences and there is some consensus that wire gates are easier to handle, but solid gates are more robust and diverse. Honestly, I have not noticed any difference and can clip either just fine. Top Tip: Have different colors for your rock side and rope side carabiners.

The dogbone is a different story. Traditional climbing requires carrying lots of gear and fitting it on your rack can be tough, but not as tough as the climb will get if you don’t watch your weight. Dogbones come in skinnier-thinner sizes for traditional climbing. They’re still super strong and perfectly reasonable for sport climbing too, but they will wear out faster. Sport climbing dogbones are thick and burly, built to take fall after fall, and if you’ve got the guns there’s nothing stopping you from using them on your stoppers. So you’ve really got to ask yourself, what type of climbing am I more likely to do? and do I fall a lot?

Finally there’s the matter of size: Yes size matters. You’ll want a variety of lengths for traditional climbing, and you’ll want to avoid short and stubby draws. They just add to the rope drag and make for a bad time, unless equipped with those funny pulley carabiners. I never leave the ground with anything less than 18cm. Although, it is a pain that most multi-packs are shorter.

Recommendations:

QuickdrawIntended Climbing SizeCarabinerComment
Camp Dyon Express KS Quickdraw Sport 18cm Wire GateA decent length in a multibuy is difficult to come by, so these draws from camp are a good find. Plus they feature color coordinated carabiners to stop micro-abrasions hurting your ropes. Another solid feature is the key-nose component to reduce snagging on hangers and protection.
Camp Photon Express KS QuickdrawSport 18cm Solid GateSimilar to the Dyon, these are a solid gate alternative. This is reflected in the price.
Camp Photon Wire Express KS Quickdraw Trad18cmWire GateCAMP have somehow managed to win me over during this search, they’re well priced and well sized quickdraws seem to be perfect for first time buyers.
DMM Spectre 2 QuickdrawTrad18cmWire GateI use these draws and I honestly love them. DMM is my go to brand for most of my hardware and their 18cm trad dogbones are my personal favorite.
Black Diamond MiniWire Alpine Quickdraw Trad 60cm Wire GateThese extenders are super useful for those far off placements and I refuse to climb anything without them. Having these on a sport climb let me clip a good bolt on the next route over when mine was clearly too rusty to be trusted. You need to have at least 2 with you, and you don’t have to extend them if you need a short quickdraw.

Screw Gates

  • Types of climbing: Sport and Traditional
  • Description: A carabiner that locks so the gate cannot be opened
  • Purpose/Use: Prevents gates from accidentally opening such as against edges when loaded in a direction
  • Buying Guide:
    Carabiners come in different shapes and sizes which can be used for different purposes. When you’re starting out you’ll probably just want a few basic ‘D’ shaped and ‘HMS’ shaped carabiners. This will get you through most stances, top rope anchors, and sport climbing cleaning. You may also want to get one very very large HMS that’ll take 3 clove hitches for convenience, but it’s not a must. Further, getting big solid

    Additionally, the locking mechanism can either require manual screwing or snap into place automatically. I personally use the manual type, but if you’re someone who might forget to do them up then get the autolockers. It’s worth a mention that dust and dirt can cause your autolockers to jam up, so this is something to be aware of. All the added security of locking carabiners make them an essential bit of gear for keeping you safe while rock climbing.
CarabinerTypeComment
Black Diamond HotForge ScrewgateD ShapedThese basic ‘biners are great for your every climbing need. Strong, sturdy, and durable.
DMM Shadow ScrewgateD ShapedThe DMM shadow are again a personal favorite and the bright colors have always helped me organize my anchors.
Black Diamond RockLockHMSThis big beefy HMS will be a hard wearing but heavy. However, a great place to start.
Petzl Attache 3D ScrewlockHMSLight weight, thanks to the I beam construction. This HMS should squeeze out 2 clove hitches and has a great bit of paint that lets you know when it isn’t screwed up properly.
Petzl William ScrewlockBig HMSThis big boy is as easy to handle as it is easy to get on 2 clove hitches and have room left over.
DMM Big BoaBoa / HMSThis is the boa I use and I tend to squeeze on 3 clove hitches with a 9.8mm single rope for some bomber-anchor building.
If you take your shoes off to belay don’t forget to clip them somewhere secure.

Personal Tether

  • Types of climbing: Sport
  • Description: A sling make of dyneema or nylon, and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Purpose/Use: Used to attach yourself to fixed gear and rig rappels with
  • Buying Guide:
    This comes down to personal preference as the various options come with their own pros and cons. I personally clove hitch the dynamic rope I’m tied into as often as possible. However when the moment calls for it I do have a 120cm sling, from Edelridge. I like this because it’s 12mm thick so it feels a bit more sturdy and is long enough that I can easily adjust the length with a knot. However, there are loads of other options, from dedicated quick adjust tethers to a couple of quickdraws linked together.
TetherProsCons
Black Diamond Link Personal Anchor Many fully rated loops allow for quick selection and attachment, plus the tail allows you to clip to a backup if you so desire.This can still be shock loaded. Many loops can be fiddly and are not fully adjustable.
Metolius Personal Anchor This chain features one more loop than Black Diamond’s, so it does offer the benefit of reaching just a bit further. Again still can be shock loaded, and perhaps is one loop more fiddly to use.
Edelrid 6mm Aramid Cord Sling Simple and straightforward. Tough and can be used like any other sling so is more versatile than purpose built systems. Plus there is more dynamic stretch, which will likely have more give in a shock load. Additionally, this sling is stiff and great for threads when you trad climb. It’s round profile makes it harder to rack comfortably. Can still break under shock load
Petzl Connect AdjustThis quickly adjustable connector is great for sport climbing. Single or multi-pitch climbs — this has you covered. It’s fully dynamic, so should hold you if you shock load it. Doesn’t have great versatility. The adjuster has slipped under 4.4kn testing by Black Diamond.

Ropes

  • Types of climbing: Sport and Traditional
  • Description: Dynamic ropes or outdoor climbing get a little more complex. They can be weather treated; single, half and twin rated; and static, semi-static, or dynamic.
  • Purpose/Use: Keep the climber safe during a fall. Hauling gear up a wall. Rappelling post climb. Rigging solid anchors.
  • Buying Guide:
    Half ropes are rated to take a full fall, however, they sacrifice weight for durability. There are benefits to having 2 fully rated ropes with you though. If something were to happen to one of the ropes you’d still have one fully functional one, and you can do big long rappels. Additionally, I recommend getting 2 colors for quick differentiation.
    Single ropes easier to handle and less risk of a tangle. However, the problem here is you only have one, which means (unless you’re packing a tagline) half length rappels.
    Lengthwise 60 or 70m is what I go for. This gives you the ability to climb long pitches with a little bit left over for the anchor.
Rope Type Length Comment
Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8mmSingle rope 70m Perfect rope for dry summer climbing
Mammut Crag Dry 9.8mmSingle rope60m-70mGreat treated rope for dry and wet days on rock, alpine, or ice climbing days
Edelweiss Performance 9.2mmSingle, Half, and Twin rated70m-90mThin triple rated rope great for durability and all weather conditions, but can be used as a half rope for more confidence
Black Diamond Dry Rope 8.5mm Half rope50m-70m On the thicker side for a half rope with durable dry treatment for unexpected showers

Prusik

  • Types of climbing: Rappelling, Sport, Traditional, and Rescue
  • Description: A loop of accessory cord either 5mm or 6mm thick, tied with a double fisherman’s knot.
  • Purpose/Use: Super versatile in its use, from protection, to an emergency sling, a good prusik can be used in a load of situations. However, it’s main use is as a third hand.
  • Buying Guide:
    Simply put you need about 1.5 to 2m worth tied into a loop. 5mm cord will grip the rope firmer while 6mm is more likely to slip. I typically carry 2 loops as a minimum and these stay doubled over and girth hitched to one of my rear gear loops.
OptionComment
Beal 5mm cordI personally prefer this thickness for my half ropes and it works great on singles too.
Beal 6mm cordThis will also work good with most ropes and I do prefer it for when I’m climbing on a single rope.
Beal 5.5mm prusikThis is down to preference. It comes with the benefit of a 22kn rating which is far more than your standard cord. However, this is reflected in the price.
Know your nuts; keep your rack organized.

Protection

  • Types of climbing: Traditional
  • Description: Passive or active metal work typically consisting of nuts, hexes and cams.
  • Purpose/Use: Placed into cracks and constrictions in the rock face to protect the climbing just as a bolt would on a sport climb.
  • Buying Guide:
    By the time you’re purchasing your first rack I highly doubt you need me to tell you what’s what. But, I do have some thoughts on the matter. Color coordination is a must, as you get familiar with your gear you can eyeball the right size and color before you’ve even got the rack in your hand. Rack on keynose carabiners, this will stop thin wires getting snagged on the nose as you’re taking them off.
ProtectionComment
DMM Wallnuts My personal favorite shape and size of nuts. I’ve found the wallnuts from DMM to fit in a range of placements, the colors are lasting, and the wires are strong and durable.
DMM Offset StoppersI tend to stick to one brand when it comes to passive protection. That way the colors all match up. I always find a spot for a good offset on all my climbs, so I never leave the ground without them.
Black Diamond’s Wired HexentricsI enjoy the smaller sizes of these on wires as hexes can be used as stoppers and for their camming action under the right circumstances. Plus, the wires make them easier to place.
DMM Torque Nuts I have these hexes from DMM on slings which give them another level of versatility for slinging spikes. So these will make up the larger sizes of passive protection on my rack.
Black Diamond Camalot C4The all American classics are an essential bit of gear for any rock climbing enthusiast. While I personally prefer the thumb stud and extendable sling of the DMM Dragons, others rave on about the Camalot’s thumb loop and durability.
Camp TricamsThese interesting looking pieces of gear can certainly supplement the experienced climbers rack. With great utility in horizontal cracks, these can be great if you know how to use them.
Smaller protection Smaller protection can be handy when you’re climbing a featureless slab with only a few tiny cracks. Just enough space to squeeze the smallest bits of gear like the DMM Peenuts, Wild Country Friend Zeros, or the Camalot Z4s.

Nut Tool

  • Types of climbing: Traditional
  • Description: A thin piece of metal with a small hook on the end.
  • Purpose/Use: Used to remove protection than is jammed in cracks. Resist the urge to use the hook to pull things out. Instead, rest the tool against the nut in the direction you’d like to hit it (typically up). Then using a stone, large hex, or your palm, hammer your nut tool like a chisel.
  • Buying Guide:
    The trick to a good nut tool is a combination of strength and slimness. If the nut tool is too fat to fit into thin cracks you’ll lose lots of gear. After you’ve ticked those boxes it’s all down to personal preference.
Nut Tool Comments
Wild Country, Metolius, and Black DiamondAll these nut tools are one in the same. They feature a built in clip to help you rack the tool without needing an extra carabiner, and they have cut outs to reduce the weight
DMM Nut BusterAlthough it lacks the built in carabiner, this tool from DMM features a large rubber handle so it can be hit with your palm. Further, hidden under that rubber is a 17mm spanner for tightening any bolts you come across. The cut out next to that will open a beer — Trust me.

Crag Pack

  • Types of climbing: All types of climbing
  • Description: A backpack, but with little details that make your life more enjoyable.
  • Purpose/Use: Hauling all your kit to the gym, or the crag.
  • Buying Guide:
    Unless you’re climbing at road side crags and like carrying everything if shopping bags, a pack is essential for getting you rock climbing gear from A to B. Buying a pack is always overwhelming due to the ungodly amount of choice. Just think about how much stuff you need to carry, then add an extra 5 liters for layers during the winter. I recommend personally getting a pack big enough to put the rope in your bag, keeping it dry and safe in unexpected weather is always nice. So you’ll probably want a city pack for heading to the gym (20-30L) and an outdoor pack for your big backcountry adventures (40-50L). I also try to make my city pack my multi-pitch pack, at the expense of looking a bit outdoorsy.
PackSizeComment
Patagonia Cragsmith Pack 32L or 45L This firm favorite amongst many climbers comes in different back lengths just to suit you. As the name suggests this is more of a cragging pack, but is at home on light weekend getaways.
Black Diamond Street Creek 24LThis pack is at home in the city with ample room for your shoes, chalk, and harness. Plus it has a laptop sleeve for all you business folk.
Black Diamond Pipedream45LWait a minute… This isn’t a pack, it’s a pad. NO. It’s BOTH! The perfect crag pack for when you’re not confident getting to the first clip.
Arc’teryx Alpha AR20L, 35L or 55LThis is a good pick leaning towards everyday and multi-pitch use. Plus it is a great alpine bag with ice axe storage.
Black Diamond Stone45LClassic do-all mountain bag. I use something to this effect and I have used it for everything imaginable. Airline travel, running to the shops, weekend cragging, trip to the gym, couch surfing, multi-day hiking, and even as my everyday bag for university (albeit whilst getting weird looks).

Knick Knacks to Pick Up — The Extras

Whilst you don’t need any of these things they can be nice additions in the right circumstances. To some they are essential bits of gear that they don’t go rock climbing without. Each with its own benefits, it is entirely up to you if you use these or not.

Crack climbing requires a lot of grit, but this guy is still in his approach shoes. Pure madness.

Gear Sling

  • Types of climbing: Traditional
  • Description: A piece of webbing with a thickened shoulder pad. Sometimes loops are sewn in to keep different gear separated.
  • Purpose/Use: Carrying your protection up a climb and allowing you to do quick exchanges with your partner.
  • Buying Guide:
    You’ve really just got to choose between single and double sided ones. The double sided will let you carry more gear in a more organized manner. However, if you’re only taking up an extra set of cams and you’re still racking on your harness gear loops then a single sided bandoleer will likely do. The gear sling, while not so essential to all climbers can quickly solve many rock climbing gear transport and storage problems.
SlingComment
Black Diamond Zodiac This is the gold standard with plenty of space and loops for all your gear.
Metolius MultiloopThe single sided sling does offer the opportunity to swing it out the way so it can be more convenient in tighter spaces.

Belay Glasses

  • Types of climbing: Anything that involves looking up
  • Description: Fun little prismatic lenses or mirrors that point upwards.
  • Purpose/Use: These help you see your climbing partner without straining your neck.
  • Buying Guide:
    A lot of these will set you back quite a bit, but I’ve never seen any reason that they really should. For this reason I think a pair of YY Vertical do the job just fine. However, if you did want to splash out a little bit the Metolius Upshots are the way to go.

Belay Gloves

  • Types of climbing: Anything with ropes
  • Description: Leather palmed gloves.
  • Purpose/Use: Protect your hands from rope burn and allow you top handle the rope better.
  • Buying Guide:
    Depending on what time of year you climb you’ll have different requirements for keeping your fingers safe and sound. If you climb year round indoors and outdoors then I would get a pair of fingerless gloves like Black Diamond’s Stone gloves and a pair of insulated gloves like OR’s StormTracker Gloves. This should give you year round coverage unless you’re going somewhere really really cold any wet in which case Rab’s Guide 2s are a great benchmark.

Crack Gloves

  • Types of climbing: …Crack…Climbing
  • Description: A rubber or leather backed glove that is lightweight and breathable.
  • Purpose/Use: Protects the back of your hands from abrasion when jamming.
  • Buying Guide:
    There aren’t too many options on the market, but if you’re doing lots of crack climbing the convenience of gloves become very obvious. These gloves are going to get put through some tough times as you grate them against rough stone. So, durability is important when picking the right gloves. Unfortunately, most gloves have issues in this department, with many reviews complaining of tearing at stitching or wearing through the backing. Yet, these can quickly become an essential go-to of your rock climbing gear get-up.
Gloves Comment
OR’s Splitter Gloves Having personally tried these I can safely say they work, and felt sturdy enough to tighten the wrist strap well.
Black Diamond’s Crack Gloves These gloves are reviewed as being great when you’re using them, but too flimsy to really tighten the wrist strap without breaking it.
Ocun’s Crack Gloves These gloves come with a bit of padding for your knuckles, however this will come with a bit of size increase to your hand jams. A solid choice that I often see at the crag.

Additional Resources for Going Climbing

What to Bring

Everyone’s checklist

  • Clothes – There’s no best outfit for climbing and figuring out what to wear is always a little tricky when you’re just starting. Shorts or trousers? Honestly, just dress for the temperature and any sportswear will do. Although protecting your knees is often a good idea, and going from climbing to casual without changing in a good pair of trousers can save you space in your gym bag. Honestly as long as it’s stretchy you’ll be fine, but if you can get a pair with a diamond gusset like Hippy Tree’s Sierra Pants or Patagonia’s Venga Rock Pants, you won’t regret it. Shorts wise, anything baggy or stretchy would also be fine, but I have noticed the cool kids do like to wear Prana’s Mojo Shorts. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME – BRING SOCKS (those rentals aren’t getting any newer)
  • Water – Any respectable athlete will tell you that staying hydrated is really important, and any climber will tell you there are 3 options for bottles, all of which you must plaster in stickers. They are: The old reliable BPA free Nalgene, the elite Hydroflask, and finally the eco friendly Klean Kanteen.
  • Snacks – There is quite frankly nothing better than a little nibble when you’ve been trying hard, but a full meal will probably derail your journey on the send train. Personally, I always carry some sort of cereal bar to keep me going mid session such as Cliff Bars or RXBARs.
  • Tape – I’m talking good sticky zinc tape. Offered by a host of climbing brands and easily bought at your local gym, tape is used to save some skin or seal up that flapper. Metolius makes my favorite, but there’s plenty of options out there.
  • Hand Balm – There’s plenty on the market, but I’ve had the same nub of climb on for a couple of years and it’s doing me good. Although, I did recently get a tub of Joshua Tree and that stuff really works.
  • Nail clippers – Now this is super underrated and honestly the last thing you want is to be the one making horrible scratching noises every time you crimp. Additionally, long toenails can make squeezing your feet into already tight climbing shoes all the more painful, so be sure to pick up a pair and throw them in your bag.

Established climbers checklist

  • Climbing Shoes – The staple of all climbing, a great selection can be found online here. Picking the right shoe can be really tricky, but look out for our future advice article.
  • Chalk Bag – Sweaty hands are the bane of a climbers existence. We carry chalk to quickly deal with those sweaty tips and up the friction. Chalk comes in balls, loose, bricks, or liquid, whilst the bags come in all shapes and sizes. Boulderers might prefer ‘buckets‘ to avoid losing your chalk in a tumble.
  • Harness – These are much of the same, but some are particularly light to help you hit the higher grades, though they often end up losing a couple of features. Some of the best do-all harnesses include Petzl Adjama, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mammut Sender Fast Adjust which feature enough gear loops for getting into more complex climbing, as well as adjustable leg loops for when you need to layer up.
  • Belay Plate – There are really only 3 factors to consider when choosing one of these; what you learnt to use, where you want to take your climbing, and the cost. Standard ATC, Guide ATCs and Assisted Braking Devices all work, but it’s really all down to personal choice. The flexibility of guide plates make them a favorite amongst those looking transfer their knowledge outdoors, while assisted devices can feel more secure to beginners.
  • Brush – You only need a small personal brush for when the chalk has built up and make the holds smooth, a lot of gyms do provide them so you don’t need one. Saying that, why not accessorize your chalk bag with a colorful brush like these Lapis Boar hair brushes!
  • Rope – When you get to leading you’ll probably want your own rope, but if you’re climbing indoors avoid making the ‘I need a light skinny rope to send’ mistake. You’re going to be running loads of laps, so get a good thick dynamic rope like this 9.9mm aptly named Workhorse rope from Mammut or even a fat 10.2mm from Black Diamond that’ll stand up to heavy gym abuse. Also, since you’ll be indoors you can skip any dry treatments that push the price upwards.
  • Backpack – You’ll need a gym bag of sorts to help you lug all this around, and how big you go is totally up to you and what you’re going to be carrying. If you’re just hitting up the bouldering gym, or don’t mind wondering around with the rope on show, then a good 15-20L bag like the AR 20 from Arc’teryx is ideal. Plus it’ll suit all your future fast and light days. Going up to 20-35L, will let you start packing those extra layers and maybe get the rope inside your bag too. At this size Patagonia’s Crag Smith is full of features and makes a great all round day pack!

Post send and extras

  • Belay Gloves – By no means do you need belay gloves, but some people like to keep their hands a little safer just in case (some people do let go if the rope starts to burn their hands). The trick to these gloves is leather palms to achieve the right friction. Outdoor research make a great set called the Fossil Rock Gloves, and they’re fingerless for both breathability and style points.
  • Crack Climbing Gloves – If you’ve been inspired by the Wide Boyz, but are tired of ripping tape off the back of your hands then a pair of the new Black Diamond Crack Gloves or Outdoor Research’s Splitter Gloves could be for you.
  • Skin File – If your calluses are getting a bit dry and you’re starting to get the equivalent of a hangnail in the middle of your finger, this is a sure fire way to end up with one big flapper. You can file it down with one of Climbskin’s portable solutions and avoid that week of taping up an avoidable mistake.
  • Shoe deodorant – Climbing shoes get notoriously smelly, lucky I’ve got 2 great solutions for you – Boot Bananas and Disinfectant spray, I genuinely use these and they work a treat and when I run out the shoes stay out my bag.
  • Acupressure Ring – Who knows if these work or not, but I’ve been using one religiously on a pulley injury and I think it’s helped a lot. They’re pretty cheap, so why not?
  • Long Term Antiperspirant Treatments – Good skin care is important to keep you in top climbing shape. Rhino Skin Solutions are a great brand, endorsed and used by all the big names in climbing, with the big benefit of reducing sweating. I mean the less time you’re hanging around chalking up, the more energy you’ll have to send. The job lot Skin Abuse Pack and their Tip Juice might help you push your grades sooner.

Related Articles

Whether you’ve been climbing for years, or recently watched Free Solo and want to give it a go, this list of climbing gyms will help you get good in the Big Apple. No matter if you’re a cut loose boulder-er, a slick n’ swift sport climber, or a good old trad dad looking for some indoor fun, this roundup will have something for all you looking for rock climbing in NYC.

Ney York City's rock climbing scene is vibrant with some huge bouldering only centers to big towering top ropes NYC has it all
This list breaks down 12 NYC rock climbing gyms you should consider if you’re looking for somewhere to rock out with your chalk out.

Without Further Ado Here is The Finest Selection of NYC Rock Climbing Gyms

The Cliffs at LIC rock climbing gym in NYC in New York City, showing off their bouldering, with strategically placed top ropes in the background.
The Cliffs at LIC climbing gym

The Cliffs at LIC

  • Location: 11-11 44th Drive, Long Island City, NY 11101
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing
  • Best For: In house gear shoppers and climbers of any ability

Anyone can learn to climb at The Cliffs at LIC‘s indoor rock climbing gym. Classes are available for first time climbers, all the way up to those looking to take the next step towards some outdoor sends. With a strong community, finding a belay won’t be hard and the gear shop is right there if you run out of chalk…or ‘accidentally’ forget your shoes and decide to buy a new pair.

One thing everyone is going to notice is how big this place is. Climbers looking to join the mellow crew have no shortage of training facilities here, sporting steep boards, dedicated training areas, and more routes than anyone could possibly need. Memberships do come with some extra perks like yoga classes and towel services, so if you’re a frequent visitor this will save you time and money. So why not join the self proclaimed ‘best community’ and go rock climbing in NYC?

This rock climbing wall in NYC is outdoors and features a cool sloping overhang that starts steep and eases off the further round you climb, but I'm sure the hold size will be decrasing accordingly.
Watch the landing as this one doesn’t have any mats!

Dumbo Boulders

  • Location: 99 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NYC
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering
  • Best For: Climbing when the weather is good

Part of the The Cliffs group, Dumbo Boulders is an outside plastic pulling bonanza. However, opening is weather dependent and seasonal, so do be sure to check their website for information before you rock up. There are 2 areas at this facility including an all ages and an adult area, which I’m sure is a relief to any parents who are looking for some more relaxed family fun. Rental shoes are available, but if you have them don’t forget them. Further, turn up ‘ready to rock’ as there aren’t many amenities such as changing rooms. As a final piece of advice: This is situated just under a trainline, so if you’re sensitive to loud noises then I would err on the side of caution.

Everyday Athlete

  • Location: Brooklyn Heights, 130 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering
  • Best For: First time to well seasoned boulders

A variety of options are available at Everyday Athlete, where both new and experienced climbers can benefit from the copious teaching options available as well as the well priced day passes. Students and Military discount helps you get more bang for your buck, but frequent climbers suffering from other employment can still enjoy discounted monthly passes. Certainly a climbing gym to scope out for your boulder specific rock climbers.

Actively encouraging movement, Everyday Athlete’s mission revolves around teaching and facilitating movement in all ages. I’m sure they won’t mind you throwing the occasional heel hook over your head. On top of all this climbing movement, other options are on offer for those of you looking for a little guidance and motivation including Group Fitness sessions focusing on strength, recovery and the dreaded core, as well as Postnatal Strength for all you new moms.

The snazzy paintwork in Brooklyn Boulder's Gowanus gym located in NYC give this place a real slick vibe so you can enjoy cutting loose on those steep overhangs
No shortage of foam rollers at Brooklyn Boulder’s Gowanus center

Brooklyn Boulders

  • Gowanus Location: 575 Degraw St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • Queensbridge Location: 23-10 41st Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing
  • Best For: People who describe themselves as climbers before their job title

Despite their name Brooklyn Boulders offers a whole host of other climbing styles including Top rope, Autobelay, and Lead. Founded on bouldering, you know that this purpose built facility will not only provide you with everything you need to get good, but also feel good. Fitness focused training areas contain a host of climbing specific and general equipment, while the Queensbridge location also has a sauna to help you relax after a long session.

Some of the much appreciated amenities at the Brooklyn Boulders gym include work-spaces, free WIFI, lockers and those sick new kilter boards you always see the Mellow team crushing on. Brooklyn Boulders is a real do all gym with some of the best rock climbing in NYC.

Steep Rock Bouldering – East and West

  • West Location: 3225 Broadway, NY 10029
  • East Location: 1506 Lexington Ave, NY 10027
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering
  • Best For: First time to already strong small rock wrestlers

Some – very cool – new school bouldering can be found at the appropriately named Steep Rock Bouldering Gym. Sporting 2 centers with additional access to GP81 for members, there’s no shortage of plastic to pull on. With some great prices and no initiation fee Steep Rock gives you a lot of bang for your buck if you’re not into the ropes.

A couple things to note about climbing here is that there aren’t any showers on site and the lockers require a padlock so be sure to grab one if you’ve got any valuables that don’t fit in your boulder bucket. The rules regarding minors differ between each center, so do check out their website before you take the kids along.

GP81

  • Location: 81 Quay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Training
  • Best For: Gettin’ your gains on

Certainly more for established climbers, GP81 is notorious for having limited easy climbs. However, if you’re looking for a challenge this is the place. Featuring steep overhangs, nearly every hang board on the market, and multiple moon boards; GP81 will help you hit full sending potential. Some membership options at Steep Rock Bouldering will give you access to this facility, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for some easier days. A final word of warning: This center is off limits to those under the age of 13, so parents may need to pick a different NYC rock climbing gym on this list.

MetroRock's NYC Rock climbing gym is vast with some super interesting changes in wall shapes and a big volume maybe 3 to 4 meters across
I’d like to know how MetroRock installed that big volume back there

MetroRock

  • Location: 321 Starr St Brooklyn, NY 11237
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Autobelay, Lead Climbing
  • Best For: Climbing on a very large star shaped volume

Metrorock is a great gym for all climbers, with multiple disciplines on offer including a large training area. Plenty of courses and instruction can help newcomers find their footing, or get you boulders a little psyched on the ropes. One big advantage to Metrorock is their outdoor instruction days for folks looking to test their skills on real rock. Starting with simple introduction to the outdoors all the way to the complexities of traditional, or even ice climbing, there’s something for everyone.

One last little tip would be to look out for their upcoming in house store, as well as their partnership with New England Resoul, for when your shoes are wearing thin.

Central Rock Gym in NYC has a cool exercise frame right in the middle of all the bouldering so you can quickly end your sessions with some strength training without a commute across the gym
A nice central exercise area at Central Rock Gym

Central Rock Gym

  • Location: 21 West End Ave, Manhattan, NY 10069
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Autobelay, Top rope
  • Best For: Big communal space, with bonus exercise with friends

Dog friendly, kids friendly, and newbie friendly, it’s safe to say the Central Rock Gym is very accommodating. Sporting more than enough routes to keep you entertained this is a great option to keep in mind, especially if you’re not so keen on leading (although they do offer courses in how to lead). I would point out that this is a great place if you’re new and know you’re going to be keen on keeping it up. Their memberships are straightforward and it comes with loads of perks. For example all classes are free to help you progress without paying extra (which can’t be said for any of the gyms I’ve ever been to).

The gym also has a good fitness area with weights and plenty of other equipment; free wifi and changing rooms with showers, which also generously contain lockers that come with a built in combination lock, so no need to carry around that heavy padlock. There’s even a shop to get you started once you decide to commit to climbing, with a good 20% off purchases while you’re in the first 60 days of your membership.

The Gravity vaults rock climbing gym in NYChas loads of tall walls with enough top ropes to satisfy anyone before the next reset
Throw some shapes on a low gravity day curtesy of The Gravity Vault

The Gravity Vault

  • Melville Location: 40 Melville Park Rd, Melville, NY 11747
  • Poughkeepsie Location: 6 Neptune Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Auto belays, Lead, Crack, Speed
  • Best For: All and Any Climbers

Offering a full immersion into the NYC rock climbing scene, The Gravity Vaults at Melville and Poughkeepsie are excellent choices of gym. While the Melville location is the larger of the two, both feature an extensive number of walls and routes, with spicy overhangs and delicate slabs. With specific courses for first-timers all the way to improvers trying to take their climbing to the next level, The Gravity Vaults will have you sending hard in no time. It’s also a kid-friendly center for all you literal trad dads trying to start them off young, with opportunities to join their very own junior NYC climbing team.

Additional extras and perks include extensive training equipment and areas, including fingerboards, campus boards, moon boards, weights and cardio room, yoga room, showers, and lockers. There are even party and conference rooms, although these are location dependent. I can’t think of a better way to finish that annual board meeting than with some rock wrestling.

This rock climbing wall located in NYC  is old school textured before people realized that no one likes having rough textured walls that steal all the skin off your knees
Old school – knee scraping – textured panels at The Rock Club

The Rock Club – At Pine Wood Fitness

  • Location: 130 Rhodes Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Auto belay, Lead
  • Best For: Admirers of old school rock gyms, New comers looking to learn the ropes, and anyone in-between

The Rock Club offers good flexibility for adults, students, and children with a plethora of teaching options and payment schemes to suit your needs. A great space for parties, events, and groups too, the gym offers packages specifically for you. There’s also everything shy of a lead rope available for rental, but by the time you’re leading you’ll probably have invested in your own.

Manhattan Plaza Health Club Climbing Gym

  • Location: 482 W 43rd Street, Between 9th & 10th Avenues, NY 10036
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Lead climbing
  • Best For: Joining a health club

This NYC rock climbing wall is just part of a larger facility with a gym, spa, pool and much more. The walls are old-school textured, and not as vast as some of the other centers on this list. However, the routes are changed regularly and they offer some very decent sounding clinics to help you start out and improve. The video on their website also features a Grigri on every top rope, so you might be able to leave the ATC at home.

Chelsea Piers Fitness

  • Location: 60 Chelsea Piers, NY 10011
  • Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Top rope, Lead climbing
  • Best For: Evening climbers

Loads of old-school sculpted walls help make the climbing at Chelsea Piers Fitness feel closer to real rock. With plenty of ever-changing routes, you’ll have a great time squeezing a foot hold out of the featured walls (though the guy who couldn’t do it might call it cheating, I assure you it isn’t).

Bonus student rates, and plenty of options for instruction and group climbs, the Chelsea Piers is very friendly to anyone looking to learn something new. Although this is not a dedicated NYC rock climbing facility, there are a lot of routes here. A day pass will set you back a whopping $50, so keep that in mind before you turn up. However, there isn’t much information on memberships, so you’ll have to scope this one out yourself.

Additional Resources for Rock Climbing in NYC

What to Bring

Everyone’s checklist

  • Clothes – There’s no best outfit for climbing and figuring out what to wear is always a little tricky when you’re just starting. Shorts or trousers? Honestly, just dress for the temperature and any sportswear will do. Although protecting your knees is often a good idea, and going from climbing to casual without changing in a good pair of trousers can save you space in your gym bag. Honestly as long as it’s stretchy you’ll be fine, but if you can get a pair with a diamond gusset like Hippy Tree’s Sierra Pants or Patagonia’s Venga Rock Pants, you won’t regret it. Shorts wise, anything baggy or stretchy would also be fine, but I have noticed the cool kids do like to wear Prana’s Mojo Shorts. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME – BRING SOCKS (those rentals aren’t getting any newer)
  • Water – Any respectable athlete will tell you that staying hydrated is really important, and any climber will tell you there are 3 options for bottles, all of which you must plaster in stickers. They are: The old reliable BPA free Nalgene, the elite Hydroflask, and finally the eco friendly Klean Kanteen.
  • Snacks – There is quite frankly nothing better than a little nibble when you’ve been trying hard, but a full meal will probably derail your journey on the send train. Personally, I always carry some sort of cereal bar to keep me going mid session such as Cliff Bars or RXBARs.
  • Tape – I’m talking good sticky zinc tape. Offered by a host of climbing brands and easily bought at your local gym, tape is used to save some skin or seal up that flapper. Metolius makes my favorite, but there’s plenty of options out there.
  • Hand Balm – There’s plenty on the market, but I’ve had the same nub of climb on for a couple of years and it’s doing me good. Although, I did recently get a tub of Joshua Tree and that stuff really works.
  • Nail clippers – Now this is super underrated and honestly the last thing you want is to be the one making horrible scratching noises every time you crimp. Additionally, long toenails can make squeezing your feet into already tight climbing shoes all the more painful, so be sure to pick up a pair and throw them in your bag.

Established climbers checklist

  • Climbing Shoes – The staple of all climbing, a great selection can be found online here. Picking the right shoe can be really tricky, but look out for our future advice article.
  • Chalk Bag – Sweaty hands are the bane of a climbers existence. We carry chalk to quickly deal with those sweaty tips and up the friction. Chalk comes in balls, loose, bricks, or liquid, whilst the bags come in all shapes and sizes. Boulderers might prefer ‘buckets‘ to avoid losing your chalk in a tumble.
  • Harness – These are much of the same, but some are particularly light to help you hit the higher grades, though they often end up losing a couple of features. Some of the best do-all harnesses include Petzl Adjama, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mammut Sender Fast Adjust which feature enough gear loops for getting into more complex climbing, as well as adjustable leg loops for when you need to layer up.
  • Belay Plate – There are really only 3 factors to consider when choosing one of these; what you learnt to use, where you want to take your climbing, and the cost. Standard ATC, Guide ATCs and Assisted Braking Devices all work, but it’s really all down to personal choice. The flexibility of guide plates make them a favorite amongst those looking transfer their knowledge outdoors, while assisted devices can feel more secure to beginners.
  • Brush – You only need a small personal brush for when the chalk has built up and make the holds smooth, a lot of gyms do provide them so you don’t need one. Saying that, why not accessorize your chalk bag with a colorful brush like these Lapis Boar hair brushes!
  • Rope – When you get to leading you’ll probably want your own rope, but if you’re climbing indoors avoid making the ‘I need a light skinny rope to send’ mistake. You’re going to be running loads of laps, so get a good thick dynamic rope like this 9.9mm aptly named Workhorse rope from Mammut or even a fat 10.2mm from Black Diamond that’ll stand up to heavy gym abuse. Also, since you’ll be indoors you can skip any dry treatments that push the price upwards.
  • Backpack – You’ll need a gym bag of sorts to help you lug all this around, and how big you go is totally up to you and what you’re going to be carrying. If you’re just hitting up the bouldering gym, or don’t mind wondering around with the rope on show, then a good 15-20L bag like the AR 20 from Arc’teryx is ideal. Plus it’ll suit all your future fast and light days. Going up to 20-35L, will let you start packing those extra layers and maybe get the rope inside your bag too. At this size Patagonia’s Crag Smith is full of features and makes a great all round day pack!

Post send and extras

  • Belay Gloves – By no means do you need belay gloves, but some people like to keep their hands a little safer just in case (some people do let go if the rope starts to burn their hands). The trick to these gloves is leather palms to achieve the right friction. Outdoor research make a great set called the Fossil Rock Gloves, and they’re fingerless for both breathability and style points.
  • Crack Climbing Gloves – If you’ve been inspired by the Wide Boyz, but are tired of ripping tape off the back of your hands then a pair of the new Black Diamond Crack Gloves or Outdoor Research’s Splitter Gloves could be for you.
  • Skin File – If your calluses are getting a bit dry and you’re starting to get the equivalent of a hangnail in the middle of your finger, this is a sure fire way to end up with one big flapper. You can file it down with one of Climbskin’s portable solutions and avoid that week of taping up an avoidable mistake.
  • Shoe deodorant – Climbing shoes get notoriously smelly, lucky I’ve got 2 great solutions for you – Boot Bananas and Disinfectant spray, I genuinely use these and they work a treat and when I run out the shoes stay out my bag.
  • Acupressure Ring – Who knows if these work or not, but I’ve been using one religiously on a pulley injury and I think it’s helped a lot. They’re pretty cheap, so why not?
  • Long Term Antiperspirant Treatments – Good skin care is important to keep you in top climbing shape. Rhino Skin Solutions are a great brand, endorsed and used by all the big names in climbing, with the big benefit of reducing sweating. I mean the less time you’re hanging around chalking up, the more energy you’ll have to send. The job lot Skin Abuse Pack and their Tip Juice might help you push your grades sooner.

Related Articles