How To Start Rock Climbing: A Beginner's Guide to Gear and Shoes

Posted in: Hiking + Outdoor
How To Start Rock Climbing: A Beginner's Guide to Gear and Shoes

Rock climbing is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding sports out there. From spending quality time with friends to challenging ourselves up a difficult route, rock climbing can be very enjoyable.

Interested in participating in this amazing sport for the first time? Not sure how to get started? We get it—knowing where to begin can be a steep mountain to climb. For those who are serious about starting this new adventure, having the right gear is essential.

Keep reading to learn tips on how to get started in rock climbing, including how to choose the right gear for climbing success.

How to Start Rock Climbing: Learn from an Expert

The first step in a new rock-climbing journey is to gain some knowledge about the sport. It’s important to learn the basics, like how rock climbing works, what gear is needed, and the different types of climbing out there. Many people gain this knowledge from experienced friends, but another approach is to sign up for a professional training course. Certified instructors can be found at most indoor climbing gyms, and some organizations also offer outdoor classes.

How to Start Rock Climbing: Decide Climbing Preference

Rock climbing is a broad sport that has many different varieties. Each of these areas involves the use of different gear, including the training that's needed. The type of climbing we choose will also determine where we climb and the difficulty level involved. When new to the sport, indoor climbing, bouldering, and top-rope climbing will be a great starting point.

Take a look at the different climbing varieties below:


This type of climbing involves minimal equipment and less time. Bouldering requires only three pieces of gear: climbing shoes, a chalk bag, and a crash pad. The process involves climbing up a rock, but only high enough to where we could jump off comfortably. We’ll climb with the crash pad below us, and we’ll also want an experienced spotter in case of a fall.

Indoor Climbing

More often than not, beginner climbers will first learn at an indoor climbing gym. These facilities include multiple walls with various climbing routes. Hand and footholds are placed up these walls, creating various routes with a variety of difficulty levels.

Outdoor Top Rope Climbing

Top-rope climbing involves a rope that's tied around an anchor on the top of the route. One end of the rope is linked to the climber, while the other end is used to belay. The belayer keeps the rope taut as the climber moves up the wall, which prevents a long, hard fall if that were to happen. Top-rope is the same type of climbing used in climbing gyms.

More Advanced Climbing Types

  • Outdoor sport climbing
  •  Traditional ("trad") climbing

How to Start Rock Climbing: Get Geared Up

Before trekking up a wall, having the right gear is critical. When just starting out at an indoor climbing gym, some facilities will provide the gear free of charge, or they may be able to rent it out. However, every climber should have their own setup eventually.

Here’s a list of the gear that’s needed:

•             Proper clothes

•             Climbing shoes

•             Helmet

•             Chalk

•             Harness

•             Carabiners

•             Belay device

•             Climbing rope

•             Crash Pad (only for bouldering)

•             Climbing protection (for sport and trad climbing)

While having all of this equipment is essential, choosing the right gear is vital for our safety and comfort.

How to Start Rock Climbing: Choosing the Perfect Gear

Before taking the first step up a massive rock wall, it’s vital to have the proper gear that fits perfectly.

Here are some tips for choosing some of the most essential climbing gear: 

Climbing Shoes

When just starting out with climbing, focus on the most important gear first. Climbing shoes are certainly in that category. However, don’t expect these shoes to be very comfortable; they should actually be tight and snug, but not to the point that they’re painful.

These shoes are designed to protect our feet and give them the necessary friction to meander up a route. The majority of climbing shoes can be used for any type of climbing, but our ability level and where we climb play a factor when choosing the right shoe. As we want these to be snug, make sure there isn't much room between the end of the toes and the shoe. This makes it easier to climb.

Climbing Harness

A harness comes with a waist belt and leg loops. These should both be worn comfortably, but we want them snug, especially in the waist belt. Before climbing, our belayer should always do a safety check to ensure the harness is being worn correctly.

Rock climbing is an outdoor adventure many of us love. It's time to give this incredible sport a try! 

May 25, 2021
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