For the past few weeks, we have been learning about Rock Climbing. You learned a few new climbing terms, you learned about the various types of rock climbing holds and despite all that, you still have a bit more to learn. Therefore, this week , we will dive into the wonderful world of Rock Climbing Gear!
Rock climbing has had an explosion of growth over the last couple of decades. The unique sport offers excitement, a challenge for all abilities, and different ways to explore and play in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Sometimes a new sport can be intimidating: the gear, systems, and language can be a lot to learn. If you are uncertain about what comes first, it can be helpful to research and learn more about how to get into rock climbing. If you have never climbed before or want to upgrade from rental gear, this rock climbing gear list has all the beginner climbing essentials you need to start your journey into the vertical world.
Rock Climbing Shoes
Rock climbing shoes are an important part of climbing. The special rubber sole and snug shape allow you to grip the rock, offer protection for your feet, and give you the ability to place your feet on small holds. There are various shoes for all styles of climbing, and climbing shoes can be organized into the following categories: neutral “flat” sole, moderate “slightly downturned” sole, aggressive “very downturned” sole. Many shoes also offer options of “slip-on,” laced, or velcro closures.As a beginner, you should go with more neutral shoes as they tend to be the most comfortable and least expensive. Downturned, aggressive shoes are tight, uncomfortable, and typically reserved for more technical terrain. When you are just getting started, comfort is key as you get used to wearing these new shoes. Climbing shoes should be snug, but not so tight that they cause pain. Due to the fit, you should not walk in the shoes or wear them if you are not climbing.Some examples of beginner rock climbing shoes include:Black Diamond Momentum, La Sportiva Tarantulace, Mad Rock Drifter
Rock Climbing Harness
Just like climbing shoes, a harness is an essential piece of protective rock climbing gear for any rock climbing with ropes. All harnesses come with basic features of holes for your waist and legs, gear loops, and a belay loop. There are many differences between harnesses such as adjustable leg loops, weight, material, and fit. These features become more important if you choose to specialize in a style of climbing down the road.For a beginner rock climbing harness, look for an “all-around” harness that is comfortable and affordable. Fit will be one of the most important factors when buying your first harness. Make sure it has a snug fit around your upper legs and waist. Some people prefer the ease of non-adjustable leg loops but if you are looking to get used to the fit and feel of a harness, the ability to adjust your leg loops can be helpful.Some examples of all-around rock climbing harnesses include:Black Diamond Momentum, CAMP Energy, Petzl LUNA
Chalk & Chalk Bag
Whether bouldering or top-rope climbing, chalk can be a game changer while climbing, especially if it is hot or humid. Chalk comes in a variety of forms: block, loose, and liquid. An easy way to start is by purchasing a “chalk ball,” which is a small cloth pouch filled with loose chalk. You chalk up simply by grabbing the chalk ball and easily refill the ball when it gets low with separately purchased loose chalk. It’s not a great idea to just dump loose chalk into your bag without a ball, and in fact prohibited at some gyms, as it is messy, wasteful, and annoying for your belayer to have chalk dropped on them when you use it mid-climb. Liquid chalk is preferred by some but not as common for top-rope climbing. Also, “eco” chalks, most often reserved for outdoor climbing, vary in color to match the rock.Most chalk bags are pretty small with a closure mechanism and a waist loop. A bouldering-specific chalk bag or “buckets” will be larger, without a waist strap, and often come with a brush. If you are new to climbing, an affordable waist belt chalk bag with a chalk ball inside should be all you need. Chalk bags come in all sorts of colors, designs, patterns, and shapes so have fun. You can’t go wrong with this piece of rock climbing gear!
If you want to rope climb, belaying will be necessary. You will need a locking carabiner and a belay device. Again, there is a multitude of devices to choose from. Belay devices often come in the following broad categories: tube style, semi-assisted braking, auto-locking, and figure 8 (not commonly used). The most traditional and entry-level option is a “tube style” device such as an ATC. Most climbers learn to belay with an ATC and then switch to an assisted or auto-braking device. No matter which device you choose, be sure to seek instruction on how to use the device safely and appropriately.Some examples of common belay devices:Black Diamond ATC- XP, Edelrid Mega Jul, Petzl GRIGRIN.A.C. NOTE: In climbing gyms all across North America, the only accepted belay device is the Petzle Gri-Gri. When top rope climbing in these gyms, it is most likely the Gri-Gri will be supplied and already on the rope. If you plan to Lead Climb in a gym, you will need to supply your own Gri-Gri and rope.
Helmets for Outdoor Rock Climbing
While helmets are not commonly used inside, they are a must-have piece of rock climbing gear for any outdoor climbing. This important piece of gear protects you from anything that may fall from above – or protect you from the ground in the event that you fall. You will want to look for a designated rock climbing helmet as they are designed to protect your head from specific injuries that could be encountered in the sport.There are generally two types: hard shell and shell-foamed helmets. Hardshell helmets are generally more affordable and more durable, making them great for beginners. Shelled foam helmets tend to be more expensive and have less longevity but are more breathable and lightweight. As with most types of gear, fit and comfort are top priorities when selecting your gear. Some examples of rock climbing helmets include:Black Diamond Half Dome, CAMP Armor, Petzel BOREO
There is so much more to know about the sport of climbing aside from the rock climbing gear, but it is all worth it to take the time and learn. Rock climbing is one of the most invigorating and satisfying challenges. For an introductory experience, join Niagara Adventure Club at one of our many indoor climbing events or look for a guided outdoor tour. Once you have your own rock climbing gear, the technique and knowledge, and some confidence, you can visit web sites such as Ontario Climbing or visit your local outdoor store to purchase Climbing Guide Books. Here in Ontario, the Ontario Climbing Guide Books are the most comprehensive set of Guide Books for the entire Province. The proceeds from the sales of these guide books go back into the Ontario Climbing Community!
It has been a very busy week. The Iceland trip is becoming a bit of a headache. I have been having to change the plan, rebuild the itinerary and find solutions each day. But, with quick thinking and quick planning, it will come together. Unfortunately, my week has been so busy, I had to miss Friday night's climbing event at Climber's Rock in Burlington, ON. It was a little upsetting since I do love climbing so much. However, the event went on as Debbie and Peter did still attend and had a great night climbing!Next week we will be visiting the Outdoor Adventure Show at the International Airport Center in Mississauga, ON. Over 300 exhibitors will be present, offering so much information on products, gear, adventure trips and personal experiences. There will also be a Whitewater Demo Pool, a Climbing Wall, and many special guests! Les Stroud, Camper Christina, Kevin Callan and Hap Wilson will be present to answer questions and regale you with amazing stories. Check out the details and register to attend below!