New To Sport Climbing? Here are 10 Essential Pieces of Gear You'll Need

New To Sport Climbing? Here are 10 Essential Pieces of Gear You'll Need

So... you wanna sport climb?! Awesome, welcome to the club.

You're most likely interested in sport climbing because maybe you've been bouldering for a while and you're now interested in longer routes and a different type of challenge. From iconic crags like Red Rock Canyon to Red River Gorge to Smith Rock and beyond, get ready to rope up.

When it comes to gear, you could really get lost in all the options, but we're here to make it easy. If you're ready, let's dive into this detailed guide showcasing the top 10 pieces of gear every sport climber needs.

1. Climbing Shoes

The right pair of climbing shoes can make the difference between a successful ascent and a frustrating day. Designed for grip, precision, and comfort, these shoes are the foundation of any climb.

Keep in mind what type of climbing you'll be attracted to as well. If you're into crimpier routes, a more aggressive shoe will be your best friend. If you're a slab addict, then a more flexible sole will help you trust your feet. Remember that you'll be climbing longer than you would on a quick boulder problem, so find a shoe that you can wear without too much pain, especially if you're going to progress into multi-pitch climbs. 

Here is a great visual and guide on how to choose the best climbing shoes.

2. Harness

Your climbing harness is more than just a piece of gear; it's a lifeline. A snug fit ensures safety, while ample gear loops accommodate all your climbing essentials. Modern harnesses combine lightweight materials with durability, ensuring both comfort and longevity.

We recommend talking to your climbing gym's retail shop or hopping into a local gear shop to try on all the different types of harnesses there are to offer. There are lots of different little features on a harness (weight, number of gear loops, adjustability, etc). This article is a great start on details you should keep in mind. 

3. Carabiners

Carabiners might seem simple, but their importance cannot be overstated. There are several styles of carabiners, so make sure you do your research on what each type is used for. A good rule of thumb is to have a handful of both locking and non-locking carabiners. From building anchors to attaching gear, make sure you have include these on your rack.

4. Chalk and Chalk Bag

Chalk is the unsung hero for climbers, providing that extra grip when things get sweaty. Our favorite chalk is Bison Design's Competition Chalk. And we may be a little biased, but our favorite chalk bag are these super luxe ones from MONOPKT. 

5. Ropes

A climber's lifeline, climbing ropes are vital.  Dynamic ropes, designed to stretch and absorb the force of falls, are the go-to for sport climbing. Their length and type should match your climbing style and location. Peep this article to get more in-depth on how to choose the right rope. You also have the option to coil your rope into a backpack for easy transport or you can also invest in a rope bag to keep it out of the dirt. 

6. Quickdraws

Comprising two carabiners linked by a sling, quickdraws secure your rope to the rock's bolts. 

If you plan to get into lead climbing (which we assume you will!), you'll ned a rack of quick draws. Make sure to check your routes before you climb to make sure you have enough carabiners. We recommend having a 12-pack to start, as this usually covers enough for most routes. 

7. Belay Device/Rappel Device

Safety first! The belay device is a climber's best friend, controlling rope tension and ensuring a safe ascent and descent. It's a must-have, whether you're climbing indoors or out.

You can choose from an ATC, Gri-Gri, or other assisted braking device to belay your partner. In addition, it's best practice to always have an ATC device on hand if you are in charge of cleaning the route and rappeling down. 

8. Helmet

While some might overlook it, a climbing helmet is essential. We highly recommend having one because you just never know when it'll save you from a big whip or falling rock. Modern designs offer protection without compromising comfort, ensuring you're safe from falling debris and impacts.

9. Climbing Journal

As you journey into sport climbing, make sure you keep a journal of all the adventures and climbs you get into! It's so much fun to look back on what you've done and all the memories that come with it. We love these fun and sassy climbing journals – they come in both soft and hardcover, and different colors, too! 

10. Climbing Tape

Last but not least, you'll need some good 'ol climbing tape! From keeping injured fingers intact to keeping a flapper at bay, tape is a must for any climber. 


Understanding your gear is crucial.

It's not just about having the best equipment but knowing its purpose and ensuring it's right for you. For instance, while all climbing shoes provide grip, the type of rubber, shoe shape, and closure system can vary, each catering to different climbing styles. Similarly, harnesses come with different weight distributions and adjustability features. It's essential to try various options and understand their nuances.

Sport climbing is a journey, one that challenges both the body and mind. The right gear, ensures you're well-equipped for every challenge. So, gear up, stay safe, and climb on!

Did we miss any must-haves? Comment below and share your faves!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published