The Climbing Gear I Recommend for Beginners – New York Magazine | Gmx Pharm

Photo: Jeremy Rellosa

Among my friends, I’m the de facto outdoor gear guy. And for years they have consulted me for climbing gear recommendations, especially when they are new to the sport and have no idea where to start. I’ve been climbing for a decade and have tested my beginner gear both outdoors and indoors. More importantly, I’ve learned a lot from the beginner mistakes I’ve made, like buying the wrong shoes for the type of climbing I’m going to be doing (more on that below) or wearing them on a bike (do this never). . If you’re a first-time climber, want to introduce someone to the sport, or if you’ve used smelly rental gear at the gym and think it’s time to upgrade to your own gear, then read on to find out what you’re doing must Make your climbing experience fun and safe. You don’t need much – I would recommend learning rope climbing at your local gym before investing in your own rope for example – just a few essentials that will get your money’s worth down the road.

shoes | harnesses | helmets | belay devices | chalk and chalk bag | dress

La Sportiva Tarantulace climbing shoe
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Whenever I recommend shoes to new climbers, I tell them that their shoes should have a snug, semi-rigid stiffness. Some new climbers will buy the softest, most flexible shoe they can try on at REI or the gym. I tell them to apply the brakes. A sole that is too soft and flexible could even affect their performance: weaker foot muscles that are new to climbing need more support and therefore a stiffer sole. I also tell them to look at the shape of a shoe. A low-profile, supportive, accommodating shape is what you want in a beginner’s shoe. You don’t want an aggressively downward-curved shoe (one shaped like an arch, like a claw or talon) that’s better suited to steep, overhanging sport routes. You should look for one that will ease your feet from the demands of flexing and curling your foot muscles.

The La Sportiva Tarantulace is a solid, affordable pair that ticks all of the boxes above. They were my first climbing shoes and they lasted continuously outside and in gyms for about a year before my rubber punctured and I had to retire them. (It’s very common to have climbing shoes resoled, which means replacing the rubber on the bottom of the shoe while keeping the upper construction the same. I prefer a service like Rock and Resole, a service based in Boulder, Colorado , which allows you to send in your shoes, which will then be resoled and shipped back to you.) La Sportiva also makes the Tarantula, which is the same shoe but with a Velcro strap instead of laces. I prefer the laces because they really allow me to dial in the right fit, but the Tarantula might be a better option for indoor climbing where you’ll be putting your shoes on and off more frequently.

For sizing, I usually recommend new climbers start with a half to full size up from their normal road shoe size. There shouldn’t be much room for your toes to wiggle and move around in the toe box. Also, don’t wear socks.

Petzl Corax LT harness

Comfort is my mantra when recommending harnesses, but especially for beginners. You want something that feels soft, which comes from the padding around the waist and leg loops, and the thickness of that padding. Harnesses with thin leg loops that exert more pressure will make your legs fall asleep if you hang in them for a long time. A good rule of thumb is to have a wide waist and leg loops.

The first harness I ever bought was a Petzl Corax, and it’s a classic entry-level harness for the reasons above: It’s simple and super comfortable. The newer Petzl Corax LT has slightly wider leg straps that add even more cushioning. I love my Corax LT for gym and sport climbing and would recommend it to both beginners and people looking for an upgrade that puts comfort first.

Black Diamond Half Dome

In general, I recommend buying something that feels comfortable. As with shoes, helmets should be tried on in person as helmet sizing can vary from brand to brand.

My first helmet was a Black Diamond Half Dome, which I still have and wear occasionally. It’s been with me on climbs in Argentina, Chile, Yosemite, the Rocky Mountains and New Mexico and has lasted for over half a decade. It’s a good option for new climbers, mainly because of its affordability. At only $60, it’s a great value from a reputable climbing brand like Black Diamond, which makes some of my favorite outdoor gear.

Before you begin, research and practice the belaying process with instructors at your local climbing gym or have an expert guide you through the process.

Black Diamond ATC XP belay device

Rope climbing requires a belayer – the person working with the climber – to provide friction at one end of the rope. The belayer keeps the climber safe and prevents them from hitting the ground with the rope system or hitting the ground requiring a belay device. (Here, climbing legend Chris Sharma explains the process.) A Black Diamond ATC is the most common and one of the simplest belay devices on the market. I prefer the ATC XP, which has two sets of friction teeth that make it a little easier to keep the rope in the locked position. A locking carabiner is required to use any belay device, and if you don’t already have one, Black Diamond makes a carabiner/ATC package that I recommend for anyone starting out in rope climbing. (This pack was on my Christmas wish list the year I started climbing.)

Petzl GriGri

My main belay device both outdoors and in the gym is a Petzl GriGri. It’s just as ubiquitous as the ATC, but the difference is that the GriGri locks automatically, meaning if the belayer becomes incapacitated or for some reason is unable to arrest a fall effectively with the correct belay technique, the GriGri “locks” the rope when weighted in place, preventing the rope from slipping through the belay device. This added security feature makes GriGris popular, but they work a little differently than traditional belay devices like the ATC. You have a little more room for user error (when you’re lead climbing, for example, it can be harder to feed the rope quickly when you’re used to a device like the ATC, and that can lead to a dangerous climbing scenario). So if you get a GriGri, make sure you use it before you give anyone a snag.

Petzl Power Crunch Chalk

Chalk isn’t necessary for rock climbing, but it does help your hands grab holds, both outside and in the gym. I recommend a loose magnesium chalk like the Petzl Power Crunch. It’s inexpensive and easy to use: just pour it into your chalk bag, mash it up, and rub it on your palms and fingers. Some people also prefer to toss a refillable chalk ball in their chalk bag. You rub it around your hands and it acts like a web preventing the chunkier pieces from falling out.

Topo Designs chalk bag

I like to keep my chalk in a bag like this one from Topo Designs. Chalk bags generally don’t differ much in design and technology, other than the sizes they come in. They all usually have some type of cinch closure and waist belt with a clip. Larger chalk bags, usually referred to as chalk buckets, are meant to be carried around from route to route for bouldering – like a bucket – and not to be strapped to the body.

Outdoor Voices Fast Track Short Sleeve

Photo: voices outdoors

There are many different things to wear while climbing, and they vary depending on the time of year and whether you’re climbing outdoors or indoors, but I generally recommend tops and bottoms that are generously stretchy and breathable. Climbing involves puffing and contorting your body into a ton of different positions, so having the right clothing that allows you a wide range of motion – while regulating your temperature – is crucial. I prefer a loose fitting, breathable shirt like this one from Outdoor Voices. Depending on the route and your climbing style, indoor climbing can feel like either a HIIT session or a slower, less sweaty weightlifting session. I like this shirt because it keeps me dry and cool in both scenarios.

Forged denim pants by Black Diamond

I have been climbing in these BD jeans for over four years now and they have endured countless training sessions and long days of climbing. They’re woven into the denim with plenty of stretch, allowing for the freedom of movement of leggings but with the understated look of black jeans.

Arc'teryx Essent High Rise Leggings

Photo: Arc’teryx

The Arc’teryx Oriel leggings were universally loved by my female colleagues Outside Magazine (which I used to be an editor for) because they offered loads of stretch while providing protection from the rough, nasty bushes and thorns they encountered on hikes. The Essent Leggings are the newer version of the Oriel and are made from the same abrasion-resistant nylon/elastane blend.

Prana Stretch Zion II Pants
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These Prana pants are classic hiking pants that are good for climbing due to their stretchy, durable nylon blend. I prefer to climb in these outdoors because they protect my knees and legs from scratching the rock a little better than denim-style pants.

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