If you’re new to sport climbing or just new to rock climbing in general, it can be hard to know what equipment to bring along when you’re headed out for a day at the crag. You may have questions about what harness is the best for clipping bolts, why you would want to pick one belay device over another and if bringing a 2-pound bag of gummy bears is overkill (hint: it isn’t). In this article, we’ll explore the essential gear you’ll want to bring along with you to make sure that your day on the rocks goes off without a hitch.
You wouldn’t make it very far without a good rope, unless of course you’re Alex Honnold and if you’re Alex Honnold, then why are you reading this article? The Petzl Volta is a thin, lightweight option that is perfect for both on-sight attempts and redpoint burns alike. I’ve used it for everything from 35-meter limestone overhangs to the classic 6-bolt pump-fests that make Big Cottonwood Canyon famous. This rope also makes the top of my list as it handles incredibly well, giving me more confidence that my belayer won’t short rope me when I’m pumping off at the crux clip. Topped off with a dry treated sheath, the Volta also ensures that a passing shower won’t ruin your day when your rope gets little wet.
While the Volta is a great rope for many reasons, its main downfall is that since it is so thin and light, it isn’t as durable as some other options on the market. If you’re looking for a workhorse or a gym rope, something like the Black Diamond 9.9 Climbing Rope would be a better option.
Let’s get this out of the way, the Grigri is by far the most user-friendly and reliable belay device on the market. If you don’t have one, buy one, it will change your life. I’ve been using the Grigri for about as long as I have been climbing and I can’t remember the last time I opted for a tube style belay device instead, including while climbing multi-pitch. It’s only 4 ounces heavier than a traditional style belay device like the Petzl Reverso and is much safer and more convenient for long belays. The only downfall is that rappelling with a Grigri is generally considered a no-no for several reasons which is why something like the Reverso still has a place on the sport climber’s rack, particularly for belaying from the anchor as well as for rappelling to clean a route. This old-school style belay device isn’t dead, just repurposed.
These draws are Black Diamond's no-frills design built to be relatively cheap, durable, and simple, which is really everything you want out of a quickdraw. The bolt side carabiner is the Black Diamond Positron which is great for avoiding snags on the bolt hanger while the rope side carabiner is the Freewire wire-gate carabiner perfect for easy clipping and reducing gate flutter. They’re nothing super fancy, but they get the job done and are super durable for taking on the mega-project.
If you’re looking for something really simple for your starter kit though, the Freewire Quickpack is a great and versatile, wire-gate option that won’t break the bank.
Black Diamond has had the White Gold Chalk around for a long time and while it's fine as far as climbing chalk goes, it’s nothing to write home about. Since they introduced Black Gold though, everything changed. With the addition of Upsalite to their chalk line, also known as fancy, super drying magnesium carbonate, Black Diamond radically changed the climbing chalk game. It stays on my hands longer, keeping them dry and free from sweat when it matters most.
Plus, Adam Ondra uses it. ‘Nuff said.
Remember a few years ago when the hottest climbing harness on the market was that flashy, sleek looking Arc'teryx one? Thanks to Black Diamond, you can have a similar design and construction at a fraction of the cost. Perfect for the gym or days at the crag, this lightweight, low-profile design is built to send. For me, this is the only harness I have for sport climbing days and the super comfortable design is perfect for gearing up with a rack of quickdraws and playing rope gun.
That’s it as far as gear goes. Other items to consider bringing along are: water, snacks (lots of them), tape, send beer or La Croix, and a stick clip in case you like your ankles the way they are. And no, I didn’t forget the shoes, but we’ll cover those in a future article.
About the Author
I spend pretty much all of my free time climbing to the tops of things, looking around, saying “wow”, and then making my way back to the ground one way or another. Even though I am in a constant and losing battle with gravity, I occasionally celebrate a redpoint victory or two which gives me about a 0.000001% success rate. I like to think that since I climb more than any rational person should, I probably know at least one or two things about climbing gear and I hope that this article can pass along some of that knowledge to you, dear reader. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about our climbing gear selection or anything related to climbing, I’d love to chat!
Campman is an outdoor retail store located in Salt Lake City, Utah that specializes in gear and equipment for camping, skiing, backpacking, climbing, and everything in between. We understand that the difference between a bad memory and the experience of a lifetime can come down to the gear you take with you when you head into the outdoors, and we want our customers to have the best experiences possible. That’s why we put our gear to the test, write reviews, and work directly with our customers to make sure that every piece we sell is simply the best.
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