Best Climbing Equipment
Climbing can be exhilarating, exciting, frustrating and joyful in its nature. It’s a true test of man’s ingenuity, adaptive nature, and perseverance. Having the best climbing equipment for your particular adventure will not only keep you safe, and allow you to have a great time, but also keep you coming back for more. While there are many different choices about what is essential for a great climb, we do have a few of our favorite must-haves. Here’s a list of the top ten best climbing equipment on the market today. We also reviewed detailed criteria on each product to help you decide which one suits your climbing needs.
- Friction Labs Chalk Cream
- Sterling Rope Velocity
- Friction Labs Chalk Bucket
- Black Diamond Crag Climbing Gloves
- Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoe
- Wild Country Carabiner
- Petzl Grigri Belay 2 Device
- Arc'teryx Gamma Rock Pants
- Black Diamond Half-dome Helmet
- Black Diamond Harness
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top Ten Gear for Climbing
1. Friction Labs Chalk Cream
Easy to use
Naturally antibacterial in nature
Tube can be a bit of a hassle to use one handed
Whether you choose to use, loose, block, or a liquid chalk like this one, chalk is one of the most essential climbing gear that you need in your arsenal. We’re partial to this one based on its ability to keep your hands and feet dry, its ease of use, and overall neatness.Read more
Ease of Use
Chalk is one of those items in a climber’s equipment list that can easily become a hassle. It can be messy, get over absolutely everything, and you constantly have to reapply. However, this liquid chalk is designed to reduce all those problems. It’s long lasting, easy to apply, and the chalk is contained within an easy to use tube that fits easily into your chalk bag.
When it comes to climbing chalk, one would think that the ingredients would be fairly simple. Just chalk, right? Unfortunately, sometimes the manufacturers of climbing chalk add things like silica which is used as a drying agent. Only problem is that the silica works a little too well, leading to cracked hands and feet. Thankfully, this liquid chalk has been stripped of those additives.
In order for chalk to be truly effective, it needs to be able to handle grime, sweat, and bacteria that can easily prevent you from maintaining the grip you need. This chalk easily excels in those departments with its antibacterial nature and ability to wick moisture away from the surface of your skin.
When it comes to using chalk for climbing, there are two basic ways to use it. First, you add a base layer on your hands and feet before climbing to get rid of excess sweat and bacteria before you begin. Second, you add a little bit to the hands during the climb to “refresh” and make sure the grip stays sure. The nice thing about this liquid chalk is that it can easily be used for both instances. A dab will do you quite well while on the mountain, and a little bit more adds a great base layer before you begin.
The type of chalk that a climber chooses to use is entirely a personal preference. If you choose to use liquid chalk, this entry from FrictionLabs is a great choice based on its ability to keep your skin clean, healthy and dry while you climb.
2. Sterling Rope Velocity
High visibility color
Meets all safety standards
Impact Force rating could be lower
Like the belay device, helmet, and harness, the climbing rope you choose can go a long way to making sure that your climbing adventure ends the way you want it to, and not with you seriously injured. While there are quite a few choices out there, this single dynamic rope is a great all around choice for climbing, whether you’re a beginner or more advanced.Read more
When it comes to climbing rope, how it handles sudden drops or changes in the tension is important, since too much elongation or to little can both lead to serious injury. In this case, the static elongation, or how much a rope extends with a constant weight on it, is a respectable 8.6%. The dynamic elongation, or how much the length changes during a tested fall is about 26.4% in this case. Both are well within safety guidelines.
The impact force rating of a climbing rope is the amount of force the rope will place on a climber if a fall and sudden stops occurs. The lower the number, the less impact the climber – and potentially less injury-- the climber will sustain. In this case, the 8.8 kilo newtons. While that is certainly not a number to sneeze at, it is possible to be impacted by that much force and still only have minor injuries.
The amount a rope weighs is dependent on its length, diameter and core construction. Traditionally, the rope weight is given in grams per meter, and the overall weight is calculated by multiplying that number by the length of the rope. In this case, the weight is 62 grams per meter, making it a fairly lightweight rope that suited for sport and traditional climbing.
Ease of Care
Like most climbing ropes, taking care of it is fairly easy; simply fill a large bucket or bathtub with mild soap and water, swish around the rope, rinse and repeat as needed, then allow to air dry. What could be simpler?
If you’re looking for a single dynamic rope that is well suited for multiple climbing uses, the Sterling Rope Evolution Velocity Climbing Rope is certainly a solid choice.
3. Friction Labs Chalk Bucket
Easy to use
Added pockets for extra storage
May be a bit big for traditional climbing use
No matter what form of chalk you use, you need a way to carry it while you’re climbing. While there are many choices out there, one of the best ones we’ve found is the Organic Climbing FrictionLab Chalk Bucket.Read more
The capacity of this bucket is approximately 400 cubic inches, which is more than enough room to hold plenty of chalk or other material for use while bouldering, or climbing.
Made from a durable canvas material and lined on the inside of the bucket, there is little chance of this chalk bucket tearing or breaking at the seams while you’re climbing.
Space while your climbing is at a premium, so when a chalk bucket can do double duty it’s a plus. The added pockets and loops on the exterior of it make for an easy place to store the various tools and tape that you’ll need during the climb.
While the bucket can easily be used for both climbing and bouldering adventures, because of the overall size and shape, many choose a smaller chalk bag to use while climbing more technical climbs or traditional climbing. However, with the attachment loops and collapsible nature of the bucket, you can easily use it in a wide array of situations.
In regards to climbing equipment, this chalk bucket is one of the most affordable pieces, besides the chalk that you’re going to find.
Chalk is an essential part of climbing, and having a way to store it and access it easily is necessary to make sure you have a good climbing experience. Luckily, this chalk bucket from FrictionLabs is a great way to do just that.
4. Black Diamond Crag Climbing Gloves
Comfortable to wear
Can run a bit small for some users
When you’re climbing, your hands are liable to take a lot of abuse, so protecting them while maintaining good manual feel and dexterity is important. Thankfully, the Black Diamond Crag Climbing Gloves offer a great balance between protection and feel for the climbing surface.Read more
Fit and Size
Climbing gloves by their nature are a snug fit, and these gloves are no exception. Thankfully, they are also true to fit at least ¾ of the time, so you shouldn’t have to worry about using an ill-fitting glove. They also range in size from extra small to extra large, so finding the right pair for you shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Made of synthetic leather, these gloves offer breathability and flexibility that is hard to match. Add to that the mesh backs for added ventilation, and you’ll be wearing these gloves more often than you realize.
In addition to being made with strong leather materials, the thumb and finger areas are reinforced to help keep your gloves going strong.
With an easy to pull on glove strap, and adjustable sizing for a customized fit, these gloves are fairly comfortable.
Ease of Care
Although the leather in the gloves does make cleaning them somewhat problematic if stains are left in for too long, a simple wipe down at the end of the climbing day should be more than enough to care for these gloves.
If you’re looking for a great all around climbing glove that is well suited for a number of different styles, this pair of gloves from Black Diamond is a great choice.
5. Scarpa Origin Climbing Shoe
Natural materials provide maximum comfort and flexibility
Velcro fasteners extremely easy to use
Medium aggressive shape can be used in multiple of climbing environments
Might run a bit small for some people
While not our all-time favorite climbing shoe, the Scarpa Origin is a fantastic all around general climbing shoe that offers a great deal of comfort, traction, durability and grip, whether your climbing an indoor wall, a rock face, or bouldering your way through a challenging field.Read more
Fit and Size
Climbing shoes by their very nature are designed to mold to your feet and fit snugly. This gives your heel, toes, and even your arches the ability to grip into the tiniest crevices if needed. However, the Scarpa Origin does tend to run a little bit small, even for climbing shoes about half the time, so consider ordering a larger size than you’d normally wear.
One of the things we absolutely loved about this climbing shoe was that it was made entirely from breathable and flexible suede material with a sturdy rubber sole. This allows for added flexibility and overall comfort no matter what position your feet are in. In fact, many times climbers have forgotten to take them off when they’re done!
Ease of Use
You wouldn’t think that a climbing shoe would be hard to use, but frankly, there are quite a few examples out there of shoes that are almost impossible to get on or off, and adjust as needed. Thankfully, this one doesn’t fall into that category. The pull on straps are well proportioned, allow for easy pull on, and the Velcro strap closures are a snap to use and adjust as needed.
If you think about it, along with your hands, your climbing shoes are going to be the thing that is most in contact with your climbing surface, so they better be pretty durable. Thankfully, with the flat lasted construction, rubber sole, and suede materials these shoes are anything but flimsy.
Ease of Care
If you’re worried about the suede in these shoes being a bother when it comes to cleaning, don’t be. Pretty much all you have to do to take care these shoes is a simple wipe down at the end of your climb, and make sure that you don’t wear them home. Then just let them air dry and they’ll be ready to go.
If you’re looking for a great all around climbing shoe that can easily be used in multiple climbing styles, the Scarpa Origins is a fantastic choice. Although it does run a little bit small, the overall durability, grip, and comfort is hard to beat.
6. Wild Country Carabiner
Easy to use
Large, can fit multiple lightweight ropes if needed
Extremely strong for it’s size and weight restrictions
Not for use with heavy or medium weight ropes
These little things may look unimportant, but carabiners are vital to making sure your climb is a safe and successful one. Versatile and tough by design, good carabiners are what holds everything together.Read more
A quality carabiner has the ability to quickly open with pressure from the hand to add additional ropes, but also has the ability to remain closed in any position and situation. Essentially you only want it to open when you decide to open it. Thankfully the clean wire gate offers an easy way to open the gate and keep it closed as needed.
This particular carabiner is lightweight in style, so it’s perfect for traditional and sport climbing using lightweight and medium weight ropes.
Not surprisingly, the larger the size of the gate, or opening in the carabiner, the easier it is to add ropes or other equipment to the mix. The 27 millimeter opening, therefore makes adding what you need a breeze.
If you think about it, this little device is supporting a whole lot of weight, so it’s important that it be made of strong materials and be able to handle quite a bit. While this particular carabiner is rated for lightweight activity and rope use, rest assured. It has more than enough strength to support you and your gear.
Ease of Use
The wire gate makes this carabiner a simple thing to open, and the strong spring action makes closing it just as simple.
While not to be used with heavier weight ropes, this particular carabiner is well suited for lightweight ropes and gear. Easy to use and solid construction should make this one a go to choice time and time again.
7. Petzl Grigri Belay 2 Device
Easy to use
Designed to keep you stable and in control
Can be a bit heavy
The belay and the belay line are your last line of defense when it comes to the inevitable fall or mishap while climbing. Having a good belay system and device is essential for a safe climb. Thankfully, this example from Petzl is one of the best on the market.Read more
The purpose of a belay is to stop you from falling too far when you lose your grip, and to slow your descent when repelling. Thankfully, this belay device does both these things with relative ease and is responsive to the changes in weight and movement.
While many belay devices are specialized for specific types of climbing, this particular example can be easily used both in top-rope or lead belay depending on your needs. In addition, the grigri braking system adds the ability to perform acrobatic feats while climbing if needed.
Ease of Use
Belay devices and systems are only effective if they can be easily used. Thankfully, the Petzl GriGri and Belay device is designed for both beginners and experts alike. It uses a traditional two hands on the rope approach, which is often the easiest to master.
If you’re looking for a belay device that is designed to aid beginners in learning how to climb safely and keep the experts safe and secure as well, this is a fantastic choice.
8. Arc'teryx Gamma Rock Pants
Easy to care for
Allows for a free range of motion
Reinforced in the knees, inner calves and seat area for climbing
Can run a bit small, not always true to size
When it comes to climbing, the pants you wear are an integral part of having a great time, or being extremely uncomfortable. Arcteryx is well known for making sure the climbers that use them are never the latter.Read more
Fit and Size
Climbing pants, by their very nature, tend to be a little on the snug or slim side to allow for the maximum range of motion while climbing, so be sure to order a size larger for a more comfortable fit. Thankfully, these pants are usually true to size, and come in a wide range from extra small up to extra large tall.
The 100% polyester material allows for natural movement and stretching while you climb, so you won’t have to worry about embarrassing or hindering tears or bunches as you move about.
Climbing pants are meant for scaling walls and cliff faces, and as such often have added features that normal pants simply do not. In this case, both the knees and the seat of the pants have double weave construction for added strength- something that is essential while climbing. In addition, there is a low profile metal hook waist adjuster, and the inner lower leg is free of seams, making it harder to snap on your crampons.
While most climbers wear their climbing pants while scaling the wall or bouldering, these pants can easily be worn out on the town as well. Sleek and comfortable, they can easily fit into a nice weekend gathering, or shopping at the local sports store with ease.
Ease of Care
Of course, caring for your climbing pants should be just as easy as wearing them, and the Arcteryx Gamma Rock Pants fit the bill quite well. Simply wash and wear as you would any other pants made of the same material and you're good to go.
Climbing pants that are comfortable and allow for a free range of motion are an essential part of the best climbing gear that you can find. While these pants do fit a bit snugly, their quality, convenience, durability, and fashion more than make up for it.
9. Black Diamond Half-dome Helmet
Offers superior protection
Easy to adjust on the fly
Only comes in two sizes
Protecting your head while climbing is one of the most critical things that you can do to make sure that your climbing adventure is a successful one. Thankfully, the Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet lets you do just that-- and do it with style.Read more
Fit and Size
Making sure your helmet fits you right is essential to prevent unnecessary mishaps while climbing. After all, why would you want a helmet that slides into your vision or feels like a vise on your head? Thankfully, this helmet has an easy to use adjuster wheel to make sure the interior suspension is fitted just right.
It may sound strange, but having a sweaty head while climbing is not something you want. Therefore, having a helmet that allows for air flow around the head is really essential. Thankfully, the molded EPS foam and generous ventilation of this helmet won’t leave you sweltering.
When you’re looking for a helmet, one of the first things that you want to consider is how much protection it offers. In this case, a surprising amount. Although it is a half domed helmet, it can easily protect most if not all of your head and neck from injury.
When it comes to taking a brunt of abuse and still being a solid choice for protection, you really can’t go wrong with this helmet. It is made as one of Black Diamond’s most durable pieces of equipment.
This helmet also features a few things that most climbers expect to be standard, and Black Diamond certainly doesn’t disappoint. The headlamp clips are some of the most secure on the market today, and the chin straps are easily adjusted for a secure and customizable fit.
A good helmet is essential for climbing safely. A great helmet is essential for climbing safely and comfortably. Thankfully, this Black Diamond helmet answers both of these requirements with ease.
10. Black Diamond Harness
Very comfortable to wear
Helps to distribute your weight correctly
A bit on the expensive side
When it comes to climbing, arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment to keep you safe and climbing is the harness. Designed keep your body safe from falling, and still provide a load of comfort, the Black Diamond Solution Climbing Harness is one of the best for doing just that.Read more
This harness is available in sizes ranging from small to extra large, and each one is designed to fit a person easily with the adjustable elastic risers easily conforming to the perfect fit for the individual. Plus, it adds extra support just where you need it.
This harness is created used lightweight but extremely durable webbing and fusion comfort quality to make sure that the waist band and leg harnesses move with you and not against you. In fact, chances are you’ll forget that you’re wearing a harness at all.
A harness isn’t just for keeping you safe, of course. A great harness also has the ability to keep your equipment securely nearby, and the Black Diamond Solution Harness is no exception. It has four separate pressure molded gear loops within easy reach so that your chalk bag, extra carabiners, ropes, or whatever you need is close at hand.
One of the nice things about this particular harness is its ability to safely and comfortably distribute the climber's weight, which is essential in cases of accidental falls. Also, the personal anchor features multiple dynex loops that are securely sewn in, so that the climber can easily adjust his anchor or mid-pitch if needed and still keep a solid connection.
Ease of Care
The Black Diamond Solution Harness is not only easy and comfortable to use for most people, but it is also fairly easy to care for. Simply wipe down with a damp cloth, check for stress fractures or other signs of damage, and allow to air dry until next use.
The Black Diamond brand is one of the best brands for climbing equipment on the market today, and they have built their reputation up by providing excellent quality at very reasonable prices. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran at this sport, this harness can definitely be your go to piece of equipment.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The best climbing equipment is not designed to keep you safe, but it’s also designed to be easily used. After all, the last thing you want to think about is how to adjust your helmet to keep it from sliding down your face while you’re climbing. So the easier a device or piece of equipment is to use, the more natural and instinctive the use will end up being. That way you can concentrate on what’s important – mastering the climb.
Any climber will tell you that when a piece of equipment doesn’t perform the way it should, it’s pretty much useless. There really is no instance of “well if I just make this adjustment..” when you’re life is on the line. A belay either works or it doesn’t. The climbing pants will either allow you to stretch to the next hold, or they won’t.
While there are countless innovations available when it comes to climbing, only the ones that are truly useful and practical rise to the top. So when trying to find the best climbing equipment, we asked ourselves, “how practical and useful is this innovation to climbers?”
There are countless different forms of climbing, from indoor to outdoor, from bouldering to sport, and of course top line and traditional climbing. For each type of climbing adventure, there is the proper type of equipment to use. By deciding what type of climbing you’ll most likely be trying out, you can more easily determine what type of climbing equipment you’re going to need.
In essence, there are only two different places that you can climb: indoors or outdoors. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. Climbing on an inside wall or bouldering field offers you the ability to climb no matter what the weather is like outside. However, you might not get the fantastic views and challenges that you can get from climbing a rock face in nature. Also, if you’re climbing a public wall, you might have to rent or use equipment that someone else has previously used. That might be considered a deterrent. If you climb outside, though, you’ll have to deal with the elements, and potentially put yourself in more dangerous situations.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Did you know that when climbing you are working primarily your glutes? Even though climbing is a full body workout, it targets and builds your glutes. When you are climbing that the power that you use comes from your glute muscles and upper legs. So if you are looking for a great upper leg workout, go get your climb on.
Frequently Asked Questions
The short answer to this question is to go and get trained by a someone who has climbed before. While climbing is an individual sport where you test yourself and find out exactly where your limits are, you’ll still need help learning the ropes, and having someone to spot you is always a good idea. While the idea of lone climber hanging off a rock face looks great in the movies, you rarely, if ever find people doing that in real life. In a very real sense, your belay and/or climbing partner is the most important “piece of equipment” that you’ll ever invest in.
Most people start by going to an indoor wall or a bouldering field at a local sporting goods store or athletic center. The people there are often trained in how to spot and handle climbs by inexperienced people. Follow their directions closely, and be sure to ask questions if you’re uncertain about something.
Another option is to try your hand at bouldering, which is the art and sport of climbing in and around large rocks or boulders. The nice thing about starting out this way is that you often don’t have very far to drop if you do – usually just a little over your height. However, it can still be quite challenging, since you need to maintain good balance, use muscles together, and do a serious amount of problem solving as well.
The list presented here gives you the bare minimum of what’s needed for climbing. There are of course a number of other things that most experienced climbers swear by. Some prefer to have a roll of medical tape on hand to use to cover up the nicks and cuts you’ll get while climbing, and to give you better grip if you choose to use fingerless gloves. Another item that most climbers have on hand is a pair of nail scissors – which can be used to cut said tape, or to deal with a pesky fingernail. Most also insist on a small climbing pack that can be used to keep their equipment safe. And of course, there is always the personal items, like sunscreen, lip balm, and a pair of dark sunglasses.
First, and we know this sounds ridiculous, but relax. Every climber falls at some point. The ropes and equipment that you are using, if you’re using them correctly are designed to either stop your fall in a short amount of time, or slow your descent so that you can do it yourself. Once you feel yourself falling, you need to let your belayer partner know that you’re falling by shouting the word “falling”. This allows your partner to take the necessary actions to slow your descent. As you fall, exhale and relax the body and legs, and keep your hands up, forward, and a little to the side to prevent accidental scrapes on the rock. And finally, be sure to look at the path of your descent to see if there are any obstacles in the way. Whatever you do, don’t try to grab onto the rocks in a panicked fashion. This will cause your body to tense up and cause more impact to your body when you do stop. Let your partner do his job and help you.
When you buy climbing equipment, it’s important to realize that it’s going to be going through a lot of abuse. It’s just the nature of the sport. The ropes need to be able to support at least three times your weight plus the weight of the equipment, the chalk needs to keep your hands dry through hours of potential climbing, and your shoes need to be able to grip the wall or crevice with astounding force and dexterity. It’s little wonder why climbing equipment is checked and replaced on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, the cost of replacement isn’t always easy to swallow. So having equipment that lasts a few years instead of a few months can be critical. So the overall durability of the climbing equipment was definitely taken into consideration.
Climbing, although exhilarating and fun can be dangerous. Most of the equipment you’ll use while climbing is designed to make it safer for you to do so. A quality climbing rope and a sturdy belay system will help prevent falls and mishaps. A helmet is designed to protect your head if impact occurs. A harness protects your back and your hips from impact forces, and a few carabiners are used to keep everything, and you connected.