You don’t need much to start climbing. In fact, you only need four items. Below are beginner picks for climbing shoes, harnesses, chalk bags, and helmets.
More climbing gyms are built each year in the U.S., and for good reason. Climbing is fun! Between the physical challenge, fear, and climbing community, people get hooked.
Thankfully, you don’t need much to start. And it’s never a bad time to try climbing. That rock isn’t going anywhere – well, for the most part.
We outlined four essentials below as the bare minimum to start climbing. And the best part is that you can get all four combined for under $200.
What You Need to Start Climbing
Climbing Shoes – La Sportiva Tarantulace: $64 (20% off)
Leather lace-ups are a top recommendation for novice and advanced climbers. New climbers may wince at the pain of fitting into notoriously tiny climbing shoes. But leather options mold and stretch to fit the dimensions of your feet.
The Tarantulace has a leather upper and synthetic leather overlay. The heel cup keeps the shoe sturdy when standing on the tips of your toes, allowing you to apply more pressure on the smallest footholds. On the bottom is La Sportiva’s FriXion RS rubber compound, a mixture of grip and durability, so this shoe will last.
My first climbing shoes were leather, and I used them for the better part of two years. While they aren’t usable anymore thanks to two big holes in the toes, when I put them on today, they are the best-fitting shoes I own.
Climbing Harness – Petzl Adjama & Luna: $60 (25% off)
Comfort and freedom of movement are key in a climbing harness. From it, you’ll tie into the rope and hang your gear.
Petzl’s Adjama and Luna build off the same harness model but offer men- and women-specific designs. There are ample gear loops, including two that stick out for easier gear interchange. The leg loops include comfortable webbing that adjusts to varying thigh sizes and clothing layers. And the waistband disperses pressure evenly along the hips for comfortable use after hours of wear.
The Adjama and Luna are great starter harnesses that will excel at sport, trad, and multipitch climbing. After using this harness, you’ll have a frame of reference for moving on to more expensive harnesses that offer extra padding or super-lightweight builds.
Climbing Chalk Bag – Edelrid Cosmic Twist: $9 (50% off)
Don’t spend a lot of money on chalk bags. You need one that cinches all the way closed (be sure to check) so chalk doesn’t spill in your bag. And that’s all there is to it. Sure, fancy chalk bag tech exists, like collapsible designs and extra pockets. But those are pointless. Just find the best discount.
The Edelrid Cosmic Twist Chalk Bag will hold all the chalk you need for a week of climbing. And it has a nylon webbing waistband that adjusts easily. There’s a spot for a brush if you need to clean nasty holds, and the interior is fleece-lined.
Climbing Helmet – Petzl Elia & Boreo: $49 (25% off)
Holds break loose. No matter how trafficked your local crag may be, it can always happen. Between more people climbing, weather patterns, and high winds, debris can come loose. Go for comfort in a helmet – that way, you won’t mind wearing it all day.
The Petzl Boreo protects against vertical, lateral, front, and rear impacts. With an ABS shell and EPS foam, the Boreo is compact and sturdy. There are ventilation ports on the sides and clip-points for a headlamp. A soft headband conforms to your head and keeps you comfortable.
Some people use helmets, others don’t. You’ll rarely find people use helmets in gyms, but they’re more common outdoors. Helmet technology has advanced today to the point where climbers can ascend without obstructed vision or extra weight, and do so fashionably. (Climbing helmets look cool! Trust us.)
Plus, you’ll definitely want to tell your loved ones you were climbing with a helmet.