Best Rock Climbing Gear
Though it may be safe, you still need to be cautious when you are rock climbing. Maybe the best way to accomplish this is having the best equipment possible. Safety is the most important aspect and proper equipment can be the difference between life and death. Rock climbing is a terrific recreational activity that can take place either indoors or outdoors. However, no matter where it is performed, there are several pieces of gear that the average rock climber will want to have. All types of rock climbing gear are on the list and we also listed detailed criteria on each product to pros and cons to help you decide which gear items will fit your climbing needs best.
- Teton Sports Oasis Backpack
- Black Diamond Momentum Harness
- Petzl Corax Harness
- GM Climbing Rappel Ring
- Mosher Mountain Chalk Bag
- GM Prusik Cord
- GM Climbing Hand Ascender
- GM Climbing Locking Carabiner
- Elite Sportz Chalk Bag
- Newdoar Hand Ascender
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top Ten Rock Climbing Gear
1. Teton Sports Oasis Backpack
For airflow and comfort, the back panels are made from large air-mesh padding
Fits most bodies perfectly with its adjustable nature
An included limited lifetime warranty
The water bottle pockets are really small
Past all the essential rock climbing gear, it would be helpful if you had a pack to carry it all in. A perfect product for that is the Oasis Hydration backpack from Teton Sports.Read more
To make this pack a perfect companion for all sorts of adventures, not just rock climbing, this backpack is comfortable, lightweight, and adjustable. The straps are made from high-density notched foam and mesh which provides comfort for hours.
For the only time on this list, safety is not an issue with this product. This is beneficial for transporting your gear and even if you choose to have it one while climbing, it is lightweight enough to not be a hindrance to your safety.
Men, women, and youth alike can enjoy the pleasures of this pack as it is fully adjustable. There is a large pocket with a hidden-teeth zipper, bungee cord system for a helmet, butterfly opening for your jackets and a weather guard. In addition, it is constructed to hold 18L of gear; which could be enough for all your rock climbing gear.
Ease of Use and Transport
A backpack is always one of the easiest products to utilize; its lightweight nature and comfort make it ideal for transport.
There are a strong amount of color options for you to choose from including bright blue, bright green, green, orange, and black.
It is ironic how this product has nothing to do with rock climbing itself but may be the most important for rock climbers. After all, the Oasis is a perfect companion for carrying all the necessary gear you need.
2. Black Diamond Momentum Harness
The waist belt buckle is pre-threaded to eliminate errors
For easy loop customization, the adjustment is patent-pending
A lot of size options are available
Around the waist, the comfort could be improved
To reiterate how important a harness is, here is another model to consider. This one is made by Black Diamond and is nearly as amazing as the Corax from Petzl.Read more
The leg loops easily adjust and the design features two bands of webbing that split around the waist belt ensuring a maximum amount of comfort without pressure points. For versatility and durability, this harness is also constructed from an abrasion-resistant nylon shell.
Much like the previous harness, this is designed to secure you to an anchor point. Thus, providing you with a sense of safety if you accidentally slip or fall.
You can simply move the slide adjuster along the webbing of the leg loop to adequately loosen and tighten the harness. Also, the diameter automatically adjusts and provides a great range.
Ease of Use and Transport
When you are tying in and preparing the harness, the pre-threaded speed-adjust waist belt buckle will eliminate errors and save you time.
With two choices of colors, lava and graphite, and several size options, from x-small to 2x-large, there are an adequate amount of choices at your disposal.
Black Diamond constructed this harness impeccably and its innovation and convenience provide you with an excellent choice. But, there are a few issues that you may want to keep in your mind.
3. Petzl Corax Harness
Includes a 3-year manufacturer’s guarantee
This includes a belay device, carabiner and sliding connection piece
Can be worn comfortably with other gear
There is a limited amount of color options
When sky high in the air, it is nice to be secured with a harness system. One of the many great harnesses that you can find is the Petzl Corax. Its design and safety more than attest for that.Read more
The waist belt is equipped with two DoubleBack buckles which ensure an easy adjustment and centering of the harness. For maximum comfort, the waist belt is also properly ventilated and the overall design distributes the weight between the leg loops and waist belt perfectly.
The entire design of a harness is catered to safety and Petzl made sure to get the Corax both UIAA and CE certified.
When wearing other apparel or accessories, the adjustable leg loops allow the harness to be able to fit properly. The two rigid loops and two flexible loops in the back also allow you to carry any other equipment without interference.
Ease of Use and Transport
As each person is different, everyone will need an alteration when fitting into a harness. The DoubleBack buckles provide the easiest adjustment possible to lessen the annoyance for you.
You can either choose a blue or yellow variation and also between a few sizes. One is sized at 490g while the other is at 530g.
Do not overlook the need for a harness when you are rock climbing, no matter the height. Besides aesthetics, it is hard to ask for more than the Corax provides.
4. GM Climbing Rappel Ring
Weighs less than two ounces, making it easy to carry
Smooth rope pull avoids any chance of a stuck rope
Excellent strength rating of up to 5600 pounds
It only comes in packs of two and five
Why not start off this list with a simple, yet crucial, part of rock climbing? You will need some sort of carabiner or rappel ring and the aluminum model from GM CLIMBING is as terrific choice as you will find.Read more
This aluminum rappel ring is forged by a solid construction and a rating of up to 5600 pounds of strength. So, you do not have to worry about improper loading direction, the rappel ring is circular to withstand forces from all directions.
Besides being an essential piece of equipment to ensure your safety while you are several feet in the air, the ring’s thick radius ensures that ropes will not get stuck when it pulls.
It is very light and easy to carry, and also is multifunctional. Outside of rock climbing, you can use it for a trolley system, tree care, and a slackline system.
Ease of Use and Transport
During travel, their lightweight nature ensures they will take little to no space. When using it, simply attach the rappel ring to the static one.
There are a few ways in which you can purchase this rappel ring. You have your choices of color (gold, blue or red) and quantity (pack of two or five).
This is perfection in nearly every sense of the word. However, looking through objective eyes, it would be nice to have more quantity options than just two or five.
5. Mosher Mountain Chalk Bag
The included pocket will store additional items and accessories
Due to the squared bottom stitching, the bag stays upright so the chalk will not spill as easily
The waist belt is removable and adjustable
Can be awkward to clip the bag on your harness
Chalk can be a man’s best friend when rock climbing, so why not have an exclusive bag that holds it? Not only does the Mosher Mountain chalk bag provide you with this, it gives you additional features.Read more
To keep the chalk from becoming susceptible to water damage, this bag is made from a heavy-duty material that is resistant to water. Even in the worst condition, this will keep your chalk safe. In addition, the inside has an extra-fuzzy felt that prevents any from seeping out.
Chalk is used by rock climbers to improve their grip when there is moisture on their hands. Not only will this bag ensure the chalk’s safety, it is included with a chalk ball.
Besides chalk capabilities, there is also a large pocket that will hold key essentials such as keys, phones and wallets (although not that many at the same time). This pocket is constructed from the exact same material as the bag itself.
Ease of Use and Transport
No matter your hand size, this chalk bag will accommodate for you. It opens up around 5 ½ inches wide and 7 inches deep.
Unfortunately, you do not have room to be very picky when it comes to the design. Only two color options are available blue and brown.
Even in non-rainy or hot conditions, chalk is something that every rock climber should consider. To ensure the easiest and best experience using it, it would be wise to consider this chalk bag.
6. GM Prusik Cord
It has a high resistance to moisture
Very light in nature and compact
It is double braided and highly-resistant to abrasion
Does not grip against synthetic rope very well
The list ends as it began, with an entry from GM CLIMBING. This time, they provide rock climbers with a prusik pre-sewn cord. To nobody’s surprise, they sport one of the best versions on the market.Read more
It is constructed from a double braid 8mm polyester rope which provides a long-lasting performance, high amount of strength and resistance to abrasion. Also, it has a high resistance to moisture and is ultra-firm for an extra amount of strength.
The ends of the loop/cord are professionally sewn by a machine with a high-strength thread. Plus, it is covered by a heat-shrink plastic. Both of these elements guarantee its safety when it is in action.
While it can be used for rock climbing, you can also utilize it for several other activities. This includes tree climbing, caving and mountaineering.
Ease of Use and Transport
Being extremely light and compact, this will take up no space at all in your carrying pack.
There are only two options for you to choose from. Firstly, is a black cord that is 30 inches in length. Secondly, is a fluorescent orange cord that is 45 inches in length.
This prusik cord efficiently caps off this list. It is an excellent choice to use on your rock climbing adventure and you probably will not even realize it is there.
7. GM Climbing Hand Ascender
A stainless-steel function cam provides extra firmness in wet and icy conditions
The safety catch is made from rubber making it easy to operate the cam system
Rubber handle provides a comfortable grip
Over time, it tends to chew the rope a tad
As important as any gear you could get is a hand ascender. Once again, GM CLIMBING provides you with a superb model that will work perfectly on your next rock climbing trip.Read more
To provide an excellent amount of grip and comfort, the ergonomic thermos-molded rubber handle has an ample amount of inner space and impeccable design. For even better grip in rainy or icy conditions, the function cam is made of stainless steel.
As opposed to using metal, the rubber handle allows any operator to easily operate the cam system with their thumb. In addition, this hand ascender is both CE and UIAA certified and is designed with the utmost safety in mind.
There are multiple holes located on both the top and bottom of this ascender allowing you to use it for different purposes.
Ease of Use and Transport
Overall, it is not rocket science to how this piece of equipment works. Hold it upwards, with the arrow pointing up, pull the safety catch outward clip it to the body, pass the rope through the body and cam, and then release the safety catch to ensure the cam bites the rope.
The options are available for you to choose between a left-hand ascender, right-hand ascender or for both hands.
For rock climbers, this is a vital piece to add to your collection. When looking for a hand ascender, you would be hard pressed to find a model superior to this one.
8. GM Climbing Locking Carabiner
It is both CE and UIAA certified
They transfer most of the weight to the spine providing enhanced strength
The design ensures no concern of your rope snagging
The screw gate sometimes gets stuck in place
Outside of a rappel ring, you can also choose to use carabiners while you climb. If this path is chosen, the construction and lightweight nature of the model from GM CLIMBING make it worth your while.Read more
When it is loaded, its offset D shape properly shifts most of the weight to the spine. This provides improved strength and shape. Overall, GM CLIMBING constructed this carabiner with light aircraft-grade aluminum making it compact but strong.
With its key-lock mechanism that prevents any chance of your rope snagging, the worry for snags is gone. In addition, it is both CE and UIAA certified to guarantee that it was designed with your safety in mind.
Outside of the fact that the rope will not snag, it will also run smoothly through the carabiner. The section of the carabiner where the rope is in direct contact is rounded to ensure it runs smoothly.
Ease of Use and Transport
The design, like most carabiners, is simple and easy to use. What is truly fantastic is they only weight 53 grams, making them ideal for any type of trip.
Depending on how many you need, you can either get a single unit, a pack of two, or a pack of five. Plus, you can select between red or black.
GM CLIMBING is proving that they are an elite manufacturer when it comes to rock climbing gear. Their carabiners are ideal for everyone and the option for multiple quantity options is a nice touch.
9. Elite Sportz Chalk Bag
To be 100 percent satisfied, it comes with a lifetime replacement warranty
The chalk will not stain your clothing
The chalk is made from the finest grade of magnesium carbonate
The included strap is practically useless
The Elite Sportz chalk bag is a terrific alternative to anyone uninterested in the previous model. While there are a few concerns, the overall quality can’t be ignored.Read more
This bag is built-to last and is constructed out of heavy-duty material. Not only is it strong and durable, it is also scratch-resistant. In addition, the chalk ball inside is secure at all times with the cord lock system. Plus, it can be worn comfortably.
The included chalk balls will not stain any of your clothing, gear or equipment if exposed accidentally to the chalk. Speaking of the chalk, it is made from the finest grade of magnesium carbonate making them completely skin-safe.
For the easiest opening and closing possible, which is essential if you bring it with you while you are climbing, there are quality drawstrings. Also, for extra storage, there is a handy front pocket that can store any small accessories you have.
Ease of Use and Transport
Not each person in the world has the same hand size and some chalk bags designers do not understand this. However, Elite Sportz added extra space to the opening for a decreased hassle.
Each version has two chalk balls included, but you can choose between a few different colors including blue, pink, and gray.
Even when moisture is not an issue, this can be a life saver for rock climbers. A few issues aside, this bag is absolutely fantastic and will make a great accomplice for you.
10. Newdoar Hand Ascender
There is an included 90-day warranty
The cams are installed to allow the rope to easily pull up
You can easily engage the cams with your thumb
If you regularly take the ascender on and off the rope, it will damage it
With its excellent construction and above-average cam system, the Newdoar hand ascender takes its rightful place on this list. As there is only one issue you need to concern yourself with, it is a keeper.Read more
This hand ascender is truly constructed through a rock climbers view point with an ergonomic thermo-molded handle that provides an ample amount of space and excellent comfort. In times of fatigue, this will properly aid your hands and wrist.
Overall, the design of a hand ascender is created to allow you to ascend or descend a rope in a vertical motion. With this model, in particular, the cams are installed in a way that allows the rope to easily slide up but also clamp when pulled in an opposite direction.
The multiple holes on both the top and the bottom of the ascender provide many attachments for connecting with various other equipment.
Ease of Use and Transport
When you reach your desired height, this will store away with little to no hassle as it is designed with an optimum size and shape.
You can buy an orange-colored ascender for the left hand and a blue-colored version for the right hand.
Not too many gripes are present with this nearly impeccable hand ascender. Altogether, just a terrific piece of equipment to add to your rock climbing library.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Due to the fact that the products are not the same, the criteria had to be kept in a broad scope. When talking about rock climbing gear, or any other type of gear for that matter, it all starts with the design and construction. This is critically enhanced when referring to a sport that could end your life in a matter of mere seconds. Again, each piece of gear is going to work a little differently but there are general factors that you can keep in mind.
For gear, such as hand ascenders, rappel rings, carabiners, and ropes the main aspect to concern yourself with is how durable they are. When this specific gear malfunctions, you risk a serious chance of injury. Other gear (such as backpacks, harnesses, and chalk bags) also need to be durable and long lasting but unlike the others, need to also be comfortable. If you tag along with your chalk bag and backpack, they should not provide you discomfort. But, the harness is vitally important as it will literally be strapped to your torso. Any discomfort, to the point of pain, can alter the rock climbing experience.
With some gear, the safety features are obvious but for others, there are some points of interest to be aware of. Let’s start with the obvious ones, chalk bags, and harnesses. A harness’s sole purpose is to allow you to secure to an anchor point so in case you slip and fall, you will not tumble down to the earth below. Chalk bags, on the other hand, or an adequate way to hold chalk balls. Chalk is used by rock climbers to counter the effects of moisture on hands. When hands get sweaty and wet, it is harder to maintain a grip and chalk is a remedy for it.
However, for other gear (such as rappel rings, carabiners, and hand ascenders) you can keep an eye out for a few features. One, for rappel rings and carabiners specifically, is to make sure there is no chance of the rope getting stuck. Also, for hand ascenders, you can ensure that the cam system is easy to operate. Of course, always pay attention to see what safety certification a product has.
From gear to gear, this criterion is going to vary. Convenience is a word that can have many meanings and depending on what type of gear you are referring to, can be significantly different from one product to the next. Take, for example, how it works when you are investing in a harness, chalk bag, or backpack. With a harness, even though there are usually multiple sizes to choose from, it is convenient when they have a simple adjustment system to adapt for multiple people. When referring to a backpack, you could look at how many pockets it possesses and the overall storage capabilities. Similarly, even though chalk bags are designed to hold chalk balls, an extra storage pocket can conveniently hold key essentials.
But, more practical gear such as rappel rings, carabiners, and hand ascenders can have convenience implemented as well. Keep an eye out if they have multiple holes for other attachments and if they can be used for other activities past rock climbing.
Truthfully, once you have mastered the craft of rock climbing, new gear will not give you any issues. For most of them, rappel rings, carabiners, hand ascenders, ropes, etc. once you use them a few times you have it down. But, it can be beneficial when these types of gear are lightweight and easy to transport. If you decide to invest in a backpack, your transportation process will already be made easier. However, the weight can quickly add up with all the gear you need. Looking past extra-bulky and heavy models may be of use to you.
As far as a harness is concerned, as long as it has an easy adjustment system there is not too much to concern yourself with.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When starting to rock climb do not rush to build your strength and think that once you have the forearm strength you will be able to rock climb like a professional. Focus on the technique of rock climbing and train your body to stretch and bend. Once you master the technique, focus on your strength. If you follow this tip you will be a capable rock climber in no time!
Other Factors to Consider
Variety is the spice of life and no matter the product you are investing in, it is nice when you have options. Not necessarily the options between different models, but between different variations of the same model (different colors, sizes, quantity, etc.). With each type of gear, keep an eye out for the following. For backpacks and chalk bags, you may want a specific color and/or design type. After all, you might as well be stylish while climbing.
When looking at rappel rings and carabiners, figure out how many you will need. Some come in packs of two or five (or in single units) and they may be cheaper when bundled. If you only need one, then a seller who offers strictly two or five packs may not be beneficial for you. Then, for gear such as ropes and harnesses, keep note of the sizes available. For instance, how long the rope is or large the harness is. Multiple size options can often times be the difference in what you are looking for.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is hard to specify an exact time that you should replace your harness, as many different factors need to be taken into consideration. How often you use it, where you use it, and the overall abuse it takes will all alter the shelf life. But, there are some general inspection points to look at. Mainly, focus on searching for wear and tear and which ones are serious. Normal wear and tear will not be an issue, but huge abrasions may be. No matter, though, always inspect the tie-in points as they will always be the first to go.
However, a rough estimate for normal use would probably be anywhere from three to five years. Again, this can increase or decrease depending on the factors listed above but it is a good general estimate. A perfect phrase can sum up what you should do, though, if you have any reservations to the current harness you have; when in doubt, throw it out.
For both the chalk bags on this list, they include chalk balls. But, this is not the only version of chalk that you can use while rock climbing. If you do not have access to a chalk ball, you could also use loose chalk. They both will work well in aiding your climb, but a chalk ball is more convenient than loose chalk. As such, the answer to this question is a chalk ball (but you are still fine using loose chalk).
Specifically, when you are in a gym and are using loose chalk when you apply it to your hands it will spread everywhere. Often times, other people around you will be exposed to this chalk and presume to attempt to remove it from your eyes. Consider having a chalk ball to be strong rock climbing etiquette. In addition, having a chalk ball gives you an object to physically grasp.
Aluminum and steel are two popular materials that are often used in everyday appliances and consumer products. Both have their positives and both their negatives, but they are both potent materials. However, which one is better when it comes to carabiners? Honestly, it comes down to two huge major factors, strength and weight. When it comes to weight, aluminum has steel beat in the eyes of most rock climbers.
Due to their lightweight nature, aluminum carabiners will lighten your load when you are rock climbing. Steel carabiners, on the other hand, can add unnecessary weight to diminish the experience. On the contrary, steel carabiners are rated to hold much more than aluminum carabiners. But, it is not as if aluminum carabiners will break if they are holding only 200 pounds. Most of the time, you are entirely safe with either material.
The question to end all questions is if rock climbing is safe. Much like other sports or recreational activities, there is a huge risk involved every single time you hoist yourself into the air. However, rock climbing is safer than you probably realize. Years ago, a study was conducted by the German national climbing team and published in the Wilderness Environmental Medicine journal. This study collected data over a five-year period and during this period, it analyzed the number of injuries that took place at an indoor climbing wall.
Throughout this five-year span, from 2007 to 2011, there were 515,337 visits that were collected. Of these visits, only 30 injuries resulted. For you math majors out there, this works out to a rate of 0.02 injuries per 1,000 climbing hours. The lead author of this study was quoted as saying it is a very safe sport and one in which that all ages of people can perform together.
Not trying to single anyone out, but this question is specifically aimed towards novices and people who have never performed rock climbing before. For those who are paranoid about this sport, you may need some clarification on what exactly happens when you accidentally fall. Obviously, without proper safety equipment and gear, you will end up falling to your death (depending on how high you are). Do not fret, though, because with proper gear the only aspect you will have to deal with is getting your breath back.
When you fall, the rope will catch you. Even the most elite rock climbers will slip from time to time, so it will eventually happen to you. Certain times, you may drop five or ten feet before the rope stops your momentum. But, as long as the rope is in good condition and you have a harness on, you will not tumble all the way down to the earth.
No, it is not necessary to invest in a dry-treated rope when you are rock climbing in fair conditions. But, it may be wise to. In general, these types of ropes will reduce the overall friction, which will, in turn, reduce the wear and tear of the rope. In addition, a dry-treated rope will also repel dirt to increase the longevity.
Looking on the flip side, however, is the fact that non-treated ropes are usually easier to grip because they are not nearly as slippery. Though, they are more prone to kinking which can cause the rope to accidentally jam while in use. Sure, you may end up saving a few bucks on a non-treated rope and they may not be a necessity. But, for your convenience and safety, it is something you should consider.