6 Sport Climbing Essentials for Beginners

Sport climbing isn’t a new Olympic sport, but the recent games brought sport climbing into the limelight. Beginners should get started with a rock wall within your local gym, with harness and other safety measures, including a spotter. Once you have the basics, you can tag along on climbs with friends, and eventually you will be able to lead a group yourself.

You’ll need some essential climbing necessities before you can make your first climb. Personal gear is required for any type of sport climbing, but you will need additional equipment when you start climbing outdoors. Here are the six items that should be on your shopping list before you tackle the rock wall at the gym.

1. Personal safety essentials

There are a few things that you will need to buy in preparation for your first climb. These simple and inexpensive supplies go a long way toward promoting safety during sport climbing, both gym and outdoors.

  • Chalk – When you play billiards, you apply chalk to both your hands and the tip of the cue to improve friction and accuracy. Chalk is used in a similar way when climbing. Being able to chalk your hands occasionally helps you maintain your grip. You can pick up a chalk bag for cheap.

  • Helmet – Some gyms will require you to wear a helmet while climbing their rock wall, but you should also wear one when you go for outdoor climbs.

  • Locking carabiners – You will need a general locking carabiner for use in attaching your safety sling to the wall.

2. Harness

The harness is the most important safety equipment in your arsenal. It is very important that the harness fits you correctly. A poorly fitting harness can be as dangerous as not using one at all. Let your local sports equipment dealer or gym staff assist you in finding the right harness for you.

3. Climbing shoes

Tennis shoes, running shoes, boots, and supportive footwear are not safe for sport climbing. Climbing shoes are specifically designed to give you both traction and grip, with a smaller and more flexible sole that allows you to step on narrower holds. Again, make sure these fit properly for safety.

4. Climbing rope

Most seasoned sport climbers will have their own climbing rope, and if you are heading out for a climb with friends you may not need a rope of your own. However, it can be comforting to have your own climbing rope. You’ll know how old the rope is, how well it’s been cared for, and whether or not it is safe to use. Follow manufacturer's instructions for care and maintenance.

5. Belay device and carabiner

The belay device is extremely important. There are different types of belays, but sport climbing calls for an assisted braking belay device. The device acts as a brake for your climbing rope by applying friction to it. The belay device will need to be used with an appropriate HMS style belay locking carabiner (in addition to the carabiner mentioned above).

6. Tubular webbing

Tubular webbing is very handy on a climb, especially for outdoor sport climbing. This webbing can be used to create a sling or anchor while climbing. Although flat webbing is available, tubular webbing is far superior. Not only is it much stronger, but it is also easier to tie knots that will hold up against pressure.

Tubular webbing is also more durable during outdoor sport climbing. The rough or jagged surfaces of the rocks can rip through flat webbing, but tubular webbing isn’t likely to take the same type of damage. We offer tubular webbing that is perfect for most climbers at lower prices than a retailer targeted for climbers specifically.

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