What Kind of Climbing Gear Do I Need for My Hobby?

If you have been wondering what kind of rock climbing gear you need to invest in? You’re in the right place.

Climbing is one of the most exciting hobbies that you can harness if you’re a fan of nature and the great outdoors. As you learn how to become more confident in your pursuits, you can tackle immense challenges, from ridges and hills to mountain peaks. 

Not only does this deliver endless opportunities for some fantastic sight-seeing, but climbing also helps with building muscle and improving endurance too. 

Of course, just as you can’t become a pro cyclist without a bike, you’ll struggle to get very far with your new climbing hobby without the right tools. Rock climbing gear can include everything from waist belts that help to secure you to a wall or platform, to liquid chalk for hand comfort, foam mats for falling, and so much more. 

Of course, the chances are that you won’t have a limitless budget to spend on your climbing endeavors. So how do you pinpoint the absolute essentials to help you tackle that mountain?

What Climbing Gear do I need to Buy? Choosing a Style

To figure out what kind of climbing gear you need, you first need to decide on the type of climbing you’re going to be doing. For instance, mountaineering is one of the oldest and most attractive kinds of climbing, but it’s also one of the more dangerous. You need to master a lot of skills and invest in a lot of equipment to feel safe. 

On the other hand, trad climbing can be a little more appealing to those who want the traditional climbing experience, without spending a fortune, you’ll still need to choose equipment based on your skill and comfort level, however. Here are some of the most common types of climbing to get you started. 


Otherwise known as alpine climbing, mountaineering is the oldest and most skillful form of climbing. To succeed at mountaineering, you need more than just a wall and a good attitude. You also need to know how to climb on snow, rock, and ice, while being aware of the natural hazards around you. 

Mountaineers also learn a lot of survival skills for camping and hiking, like first-aid. Just some of the tools you’ll need for mountaineering include things like a mountaineering harness, ice climbing equipment, a helmet, and climbing pack. 

Trad climbing: 

Otherwise referred to as traditional climbing, this is a kind of rock climbing that involves more than one trad climber bringing their gear together to protect against falls. Before the advent of sport climbing began, the usual style of un-aided rock climbing was referred to as trad climbing. Trad climbing often involves lengths of rope, as well as temporary anchors fixed to rocks. 

You’ll need a trad harness to get you started, as well as plenty of outdoor hardware, such as a screwgate carabiner. 

Sport climbing: 

Similar to trad climbing, sport climbing is another type of rock climbing that needs anchors fixed to rocks, although these anchors are usually fixed with bolts for protection. In traditional climbing, the rock is devoid of fixed anchors, and climbers need to place removable protection with climbing hardware as they move. 

Sport climbing places a lot of emphasis on things like strength, balance, and endurance, as opposed to adventure and risk, which might provide more comfort for beginners. Most people refer to sport climbing as a form of free climbing. However, you will still need climbing gear, like a climbing harness or belt, a pack, and other similar tools. 


Bouldering is a kind of rock climbing that’s frequently undertaken without the need for a rope. With bouldering, you’re not afraid to potentially fall to the ground below when engaging in outdoor climbing. However, the reason that you’re comfortable with this is that bouldering routes typically are not very high, and you should always have crash pads in place to protect you. 

A bouldering crash Pad comes in a small variety of shapes and sizes. 

Depending on the route, you may need more than one crash pad. And it is often safer the more you have. Alongside your crash pad, for the bare essentials, you will need climbing shoes and chalk. If you are planning to stick to the climbing gym or indoor bouldering, you don’t need a crash pad and can get by with merely some climbing shoes, a chalk bag, and possibly a chalk brush to clean heavily used holds giving you a better grip.  

You can also get a climbing helmet and adjustable harness; however, you will generally not use or do not need those when bouldering. 

Top Rope climbing:

As the name might suggest, top-rope climbing is a style of climbing where a piece of rope runs from the belayer at the foot of various routes, through numerous carabiners connected to an anchor system. With top-rope climbing, you will still use a full-body harness for safety. 

Top rope climbing often appeals to people who aren’t very confident hanging out around mountains and ridges yet. Because of the nature of the rope-based climbing activity, you won’t be likely to fall, and even if you did, you wouldn’t fall very far. This can make you feel more comfortable when you’re just getting started. As you feel more capable to move out of your comfort zone, you can try different types of climbing.

Free Solo Climbing

Another option is free solo climbing, which involves forgoing ropes and other protective gear while ascending. This is not a very popular form of climbing for beginners, and it is vital for anyone considering this option to make sure that they’re very confident too. 

Free solo climbing isn’t something that anyone should do, as there’s always a risk that you could fall several feet, particularly on a more dangerous crag or climb. While most other forms of climbing have body harnesses and pads involved to protect athletes, free solo climbing does not. This means that it could potentially be fatal. Even if you struggle to find comfort with a harness, you should always wear one. 

Crucial Climbing Gear: The Essentials

The kind of climbing gear that you need will depend on the type of climbing you’re doing. For instance, with bouldering, you’ll need a lot of padding for the ground beneath you, while rope climbing requires a lot of rope and locking mechanisms, as well as a nut tool. 

When shopping for new equipment, remember to think about everything from comfort to durability and budget. You need gear that’s comfortable and easy to wear, but also sturdy and reliable too. 

Some of the most common pieces of equipment that you’ll need to consider are:

  • Climbing ropes: Ropes are some of the most valuable pieces of climbing gear available today. These ropes link together around a rock or use durable locking mechanisms to keep you protected as you climb. A rope can also connect to your belay device or sport harness to aid climbing. You’ll need a rope that’s compact enough to fit in your bag for hiking trips, as well as one that’s not going to lead to too much friction burn on your hands. Make sure that your rope can withstand a range of body types, and always be aware of potential signs of damage or defects in the structure of the rope. 
  • Climbing harness: Your harness is another essential item in your climbing gear pack. Harnesses come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from the momentum harness that helps to keep you moving at speed, to the extra padded children’s harness. The right harness for climbing will depend on you. Find something that you can wear comfortably, but still has enough strength to support your weight. It may be helpful to speak to a climbing store expert about things like extra-wide webbing, breathable mesh, and padding that can deliver extra comfort to a climbing harness. 
  • Climbing helmet: If you’re going to be climbing anywhere, then you need to protect your head from falls. This is even true if you have padding on the floor to protect you in bouldering. Whether you’re getting involved in trad climbing, sport climbing, or mountaineering, your helmet will keep you safe from possibly fatal injuries. Make sure that you choose something that provides comfort, but tight enough that it isn’t going to fall off your head or over your eyes. You also need to ensure that your helmet is durable, even when it’s facing being hit by rock. 
  • Climbing shoes:  a good climbing shoe is crucial. If you’re climbing on rocks or jumping around in the great outdoors, then you’re going to need some shoes that can withstand the impact. Rock climbing shoes offer an extra dose of comfort and support when you’re staying active in the outdoors. These shoes need to fit snugly on your feet so that you can take advantage of smaller holds. However, you still don’t want to be in pain when you’re climbing. Look for something that’s comfortable to wear, durable, and efficient. 
  • Accessories: The number and types of accessories that you need for your climbing gear depends on you. For instance, if you’re climbing at the gym, then you probably don’t need things like extra ropes and chalk, because your gym will already have it. On the other hand, if you’re climbing outside, make sure you have your chalk, bag, climbing harness, and even a water bottle ready to go. You can also look into other things that will make you more comfortable when you climb, like goggles for eye protection. 

Other Crucial Pieces of Climbing Gear

While you can begin some forms of climbing using just the equipment mentioned above, you may need to invest in some extra gear in some cases. For instance, if you’re not climbing with a company that’s going to have everything from a swami belt to carabiners that you can use, then you’re going to need to buy those things yourself. 

Most gym climbing groups and outdoor excursions planned by your local gym will supply some of the equipment that you need. However, you will still need to bring your own climbing harness, belt, and helmet to get the right fit. If you’re climbing on your own or with a non-pro group, you’ll need extras like:

  • Belay device: This is a mechanical friction brake that you can use to control the rope that you use with your climbing gear when belaying a climber. There are various kinds of belay devices out there to add to your climbing gear. The best one for you will depend on the type of climbing you’re going to do. For instance, assisted breaking might be easier for beginners. 
  • You can attach locking carabiners to your clothing and other materials. A locking carabiner is often used with a belay device. 
  • Quickdraws: Otherwise known as an extender, a quickdraw is another valuable piece of rock climbing and mountain hanging equipment. Made up of multiple carabiners, quickdraws allow the climbing rope to move freely through bolt anchors and other tools. 

Choosing the Right Quality of Climbing Gear

Whether you’re choosing locking carabiners for hanging out on rocks, or chalk to take with you to the gym, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Different tools will suit different people. For instance, when you’re looking for a harness women’s athletic stores might recommend choosing something with more padding, like black diamond harnesses, or Petzl harnesses.

If you’re searching for a men’s harness, you might look into options like the Metolius safe tech deluxe harness for extra features and strength. Most harness options are unisex, so you can choose between a range of leading brands, from Metolius and Petzl to La Sportiva, and Black Diamond. 

The most important thing to remember about climbing gear when you’re buying it is that it should always be chosen based on your individual needs. If you’re just a beginner trying out some basic rock climbing, then a lightweight harness without many extra features might be enough. On the other hand, if you’re taking part in trad climbing sessions with more dangerous routes, you’ll need the right equipment. That could mean looking for black diamond aspect climbing harness gear and equipment. 

When buying a climbing harness, shoes, or a belt, make sure that the fit is perfect. You need something that’s going to fit snugly on your body while still being comfortable and easy to get on and off. You also need to ensure that your climbing gear is suitable for your weight. This isn’t the time to lie about a few extra pounds. If your harness isn’t strong enough to accommodate your weight, then you could be putting yourself in real danger. 

Best Ways to Store and Organize Climbing Gear

Remember, once you’ve stocked up on all of the climbing gear that you think you’re going to need to keep you safe on the open road, you need to choose a way to store and maintain that gear. For instance, where are you going to put your harness when you’re done using it? Throwing your rock climbing gear into a corner of the room could mean that it gets damaged faster and becomes less comfortable over time. 

Storage bins could make it easy to keep all of your gear in the same place. There’s also the option to use wall hooks in your garage and other rooms to sort harnesses out if you have different types for different kinds of climbing. 

Remember, when you’re storing and organizing your climbing gear, you also need to make sure that it’s clean and in good condition. Knowing how to clean individual pieces of equipment can make a huge difference in how long these items last. For instance, you can easily clean your ropes by hand with a tub of water, just make sure that you don’t use any detergent on the fabric, or it could loosen. 

Your climbing shoes are another easy item to care for. Avoid wearing them on the path to where you’re going to be climbing, and make sure that you only pull them out when they’re ready to use. You can rest your shoes on a clean tarp at your climbing site to stop them from gathering dirt. 

When you’re done climbing, wipe the lining and insoles of your shoes with a bit of damp material, and leave them to dry, while keeping them out of direct sunlight. You can clean various spots on the tops of your climbing shoes with water too, but you shouldn’t drench these areas, as that can cause them to shrink. 

Even harnesses and slings are easy enough to clean if you know your way around them. Most harnesses only require a light scrubbing from time to time. You can rinse a lot of dirt off a harness with a bit of water, and then leave it to air dry. Don’t put any of your climbing materials into a washing machine or tumble dryer. Using these pieces of equipment could make your gear less comfortable or increase the risk of damage. 

When to Retire Climbing Gear

Finally, like anything else in life, your climbing gear won’t last forever. Over time, the comfort level of your shoes and harness will diminish. You might even find that you need to switch to a different size of harness to improve your comfort. 

Most of the climbing equipment available for climbers today comes with a manufacturer’s recommendation for how long you can use it. It’s a good idea to make sure that you don’t keep using your gear for longer than the manufacturer recommends. Even if comfort isn’t an issue, as is the case with things like carabiners, you might be putting your safety at risk. 

If you can’t find any information on your equipment, or you don’t feel comfortable continuing to use it after so many years have passed, it’s best to err on the side of caution. No-one should continue to use a harness or any other gear that they don’t feel comfortable in.