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The 5 Most Essential Pieces Of Climbing Equipment

Updated on September 18, 2015

Rock climbing is an extreme sport not meant for the faint at heart.

However, if you love the outdoors, are physically active, and have a passion for hiking or mountaineering, rocking climbing will take you to the next level. Never the less, proper training and climbing equipment are essential. At first, you will not need to purchase rope or anchoring equipment, your trainers should be able to supply these items. The 5 essentials to start are shoes, harness, carabiner, helmet, chalk and chalk bag.

La Sportiva - Scorpion
La Sportiva - Scorpion

1. Rock Shoes

If you are a beginner, you will do all types of climbing. Buy an all-around rock shoe that will let you experiment and improve. Improper shoe size is a common problem, and complicated since they can come in American, UK or European sizes. If you try them on at a specialty store, it will likely have a small wall where you can test the shoe on a vertical surface. Wear them for at least five minutes before making a buying decision. Ensure the toe box is large enough for your foot. You can find terrific bargains online. However, before making an online purchase make sure you can return the shoes if they do not fit. Although rock shoes will stretch, they will stretch mostly lengthwise.

Black Diamond - Momentum DS 2012
Black Diamond - Momentum DS 2012

2. Harnesses

Five basic styles are manufactured, each designed for a specific type of climbing. If you are a beginner, an all around harness is ideal. Generally, leg loops and waist belts are well padded, and leg loops are easily detached when a bathroom break is necessary. Basic climbing harnesses will have either two or four gear loops for racking carabiners and gear to the waist belt, and a sewn dedicated belay/rappel loop in front, which connects the waist belt and leg loops.

Gym and sport harnesses are thin and lightweight with minimum padding, narrow leg loops and waistband. They are uncomfortable when used for general climbing. Big wall harnesses are designed for climbing multi-pitch routes that could take several days. An Alpine harness is lightweight and fits well over bulky clothes. Chest harnesses are essential equipment when caving, otherwise not generally used.

DMM - Boa HMS
DMM - Boa HMS

3. Carabiners

Your climbing safety depends on the strength of your carabiner. They come in a wide array of shapes and sizes and perform a great many climbing tasks. Your carabiner attaches you to the rope or to an anchor. The one you buy depends on how and what you climb. The most important consideration is that it conforms to International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation standards.

Petzl - Ecrin Roc
Petzl - Ecrin Roc

4. Climbing Helmet

A climbing helmet can be made of fiberglass, plastic or carbon. Plastic helmets are very strong, fiberglass or carbon are commonly used when ice climbing. Your helmet should sit squarely on your head with the front low on the brow to protect your forehead.

Black Diamond - Plain Chalk Bag
Black Diamond - Plain Chalk Bag

5. Chalk & Chalk Bag

When climbing sweating hands are inevitable. Climbing chalk absorbs sweat and helps ensure a tight grip. Powdered chalk, chalky balls and block chalk are all options. Do not forget to purchase a chalk bag to ensure easy access.

So, there you have it, the climbing equipment essentials. It is an exciting sport that depends great physical and mental challenge. It is also great fun.

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