Top Pieces of Climbing Gear
Here are our top picks for climbing gear! Some qualifications about our climbing and what our gear is used for:
- Single-pitch sport (both lead and top rope)
- Indoor boulder, top rope & lead (the gym we climb at provides draws & ropes for lead climbing and belay devices for top roping)
- Urban crags around Denver like Clear Creek Canyon
- On the weekends climb further outside of Denver (Poudre Canyon is a favorite)
- This is a mix of mostly granite and limestone
- We travel to Moab a few times a year for some sandy slab climbing
- We are both fairly new to climbing and have only been through our first round of gear
- Most of our gear is general-purpose and not for one specific type of climbing
- Somehow, we both wear the same shoe & harness (in men’s & women’s fits). Is this cute or annoying? Still unsure.
- It’s a dry core which can get heavy when it’s wet but we typically don’t climb when it’s raining so it’s not a huge factor
- 9.8mm is on the larger end (but still average) so it’s a bit heavier. We chose a wider diameter because I still top rope and the rope can definitely take a beating.
- Cody hasn’t take too many huge whippers on it and the core is still in excellent shape after a full season
- Without a good flake, it will get twisted
Honestly, Cody bought these because they were on sale at Wilderness Exchange and the guy at the store recommended them as a starter pack.
This is probably the most popular piece of equipment in climbing. It’s the standard for belay devices and rappelling and is a manual locking device. This means that it’s hands-on at all times.
Auto-Locking Belay Devices:
I use this only for lead belaying where this isn’t a super secure belay area. When I was newer lead belaying and when Cody was newer to lead climbing it just felt safer. It’s auto-locking device – which is helpful for lead belaying. If the climber takes a good sized fall, you can use your hands to steady yourself and regain your grounding. The downside is when the climber is clipping a draw- it’s not too friendly at quickly feeding rope in reverse and can get locked up if the the climber tries to take up rope too quickly.
Also, this device is standard and required for all top roping at Earth Treks, the gym where we climb. Cody had never used one prior to joining at Earth Treks and I never use mine on top rope so it’s taking some getting used to. The lowering mechanism is nice – it’s a lever but can be dangerous for lowering your climber if you’re not paying attention. I’ve seen someone hit the deck (and fast) while being lowered at the gym.
This is my ‘biner of choice because it only takes one hand to operate. It’s quick and easy once you get used to the motion of locking/unlocking. I’m a fan of the auto-locking device just because it’s safer.
Cody uses a traditional locking because he’s old-school cool.
We both wear the same harness in the men’s and women’s fit. This harness its Cody well, mine not so much. We’re both skinny legs & skinny hips. The men’s model is designed with this in mind – straight through the legs & waist. The women’s is designed to fit a more traditional figure – wider legs and hips. We’re both in the market for new harnesses soon because ours are a bit stretched out (not dangerous, just a comfort thing). I’ll keep you updated on the harness search but I’ll probably go with a men’s fit.
We both wear the same shoe, too. This is La Sportiva’s most popular shoe (just take a look around the gym or crag). It’s an entry level shoe that’s pretty comfortable. It’s not very aggressive in shape (so not very arched through the foot) but does have a tight toe for pointing on the wall.
I bought these second hand because my gargoyle toe didn’t fit in my Finales (more on how that happened during our backpacking “trip”. They’re still a pretty moderate shape but are a harder sole than the Finales. They are insanely comfortable but they’re lined with padded fabric so they absorb sweat and smell terrible!
Fun fact: 5.10 shoes are made by Adidas.
Cody’s Hot Take on these shoes:
“They are the perfect upgrade from the Finales. With a slightly more aggressive profile, they allows climbers breaking into upper level moderates, the footwork reassurance needed for a little progression. Very comfortable, and affordable. These are not my all day shoes, but the comfort from the split tongue and upper cushion of the shoe allowed me to project a route for over an hour during my first outdoor adventure in them.”
I bought this helmet at an REI Garage Sale. It’s a standard helmet that’s kind of light and kind of comfortable. We’ve never had a situation where the helmet was necessary (aka no falling rocks or climbers to put the belayer at risk) so I can’t speak to it’s effectiveness or longevity.
Don’t waste your money on a fancy bag. This this is great for carrying and as a rope tarp while climbing.
Again, you don’t need a climbing-specific bag. Anything you have that fits your stuff will work. Cody carries a 50L pack because he has more gear and I carry something a little smaller that holds my harness, shoes, and all the snacks.
Lots of water, little space. That’s really all that matters.