Basic Rock Climbing Equipment For Beginners

Beginners often rent equipment from indoor climbing gyms or guides, but owning your own basic set can provide more freedom and flexibility to explore outdoor routes. This article covers rope, belay device and locking carabiners.

Carabiners are light metal clips used to secure gear to your harness. Look for one with an autolocker that is easy to operate while wearing gloves.

Belay device

Belay devices are mechanical friction brakes designed to protect climbers from falls or lower them safely from an ascent. Their intuitive use makes belaying easier while providing multiple points of friction allowing the belayer to focus solely on aiding their partner ascend safely. Unfortunately, misusing belay devices could have severe repercussions so it’s essential that climbers understand how best to utilize these tools correctly.

There are various belay device types, and selecting one depends on a number of variables, including the type and diameter of rope you will use for climbing and its diameter. Some devices can accommodate two ropes simultaneously while others only support single ones – some even specifically cater to indoor sport climbing, trad climbing or alpine climbing!

Belay devices typically take the form of tubular devices with ridged slots that can accommodate two strands of rope, and this type of belay device has become the go-to choice when it comes to belaying traditional belay techniques such as lead climbing or rappelling. They’re easier to use with traditional techniques and offer optimal friction, supporting even heavier climbers.

Plate-style belay devices with carabiners that automatically block the line when pulled are also popular among sport, trad, and alpine climbers as they can save both time and effort by providing rest stops during long rest periods for lead climbers. These belays provide relief from anchor belays when lead climbers take long rest breaks allowing more rapid ascents.


As soon as you start rock climbing, carabiners will become essential tools. There are various kinds of carabiners on the market and you will need one that suits your climbing style best: strength ratings, size and shape considerations and how easy it is to lock and unlock its gate are key aspects. Test out different models before selecting one that feels most natural in your hands and operates efficiently.

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Climbing carabiners come in either aluminum or steel materials. Steel is more durable, as it can hold a greater load without cracking under pressure, although it does weigh slightly more than aluminum. When selecting carabiners for climbing purposes, check their strength rating rating so as to ensure the best experience and results.

Runners (slings) can be used with locking carabiners to form anchors at the top of a route, as well as assist with taking down quickdraws when rappelling down walls. Made from either nylon or Dyneema material, runners should measure at least 80cm long.

Screwgate carabiners require manual screwing to lock and unlock their gate, offering safety when building anchors and belaying. However, their convenience for general use is lessened by their threadless design which does not need screwing for locking purposes – though screwgates may provide superior safety in certain scenarios. Autolocking carabiners do not require this step but may still not offer adequate safety in all circumstances.


Quickdraws are essential accessories, following on from climbing ropes and belay devices. A pair of quickdraws consists of two carabiners connected by semi-rigid webbing known as a dogbone; one carabiner should be used to attach itself directly to metal bolts while the other may clip into traditional forms of protection such as stoppers, cams, or pitons–none of which penetrate rock surfaces like metal bolts do.

Quickdraws come in various lengths and colors to meet every climbing need. Your choice may depend on what kind of climbing you do as well as the weight that’s comfortable to carry; some climbers prefer longer draws while others can manage with shorter ones.

Strength is another consideration when selecting a quickdraw. While all climbing carabiners meet UIAA and CE standards, some models differ significantly in strength from one another. Pay close attention to how strength ratings for gate-open and minor axis strengths are displayed on each carabiner.

Another key consideration when selecting quickdraws is whether or not their carabiners face in opposite directions. Both approaches have their own set of benefits, but most climbers agree that two carabiners pointing in opposite directions is preferable due to making clipping easier with your left hand by easily grasping one carabiner with your left hand when clipping lines with right hands.

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Rock climbers rely on harnesses as an essential piece of gear, used to securely attach themselves to the rope. A comfortable harness should feature plenty of gear loops and an easily grippable waistbelt.

Harnesses can be found for rent at indoor climbing gyms, but investing in one for outdoor climbing may be beneficial. They’re relatively cheap and will stand the test of time. As metal parts are prone to corrosion, it’s essential that this equipment be protected – the best way is through waterproofing products applied directly onto it.

Basic harnesses will feature two leg loops that wrap around your legs and a waistbelt, as well as carabiners to attach items such as your belay device and chalk bag. Locking carabiners may be worthwhile investing in, especially if you plan on trying lead climbing and creating anchors of your own.

Your climbing equipment depends on the style of climbing you prefer; bouldering typically only requires shoes and chalk; for sport climbing, an additional rope, belay device and quickdraws will be needed to clip into pre-drilled bolts. Traditional climbing requires temporary passive and active protection devices while big wall and multi-pitch require portaledges and other specialized gear.


Climbing shoes are essential pieces of equipment for beginner rock climbers, and are the single most essential piece you should own. Climbing shoes provide friction between your feet and the rock or wall while protecting them by cushioning falls. The ideal rock climbing shoes should be lightweight, comfortable, easy to put on/take off, with openings that fit all four toes comfortably as well as laces or Velcro closures that snugly encases each one of them.

As you become an intermediate or advanced climber, it is important to carefully consider the level of aggression of your shoe. Aggressive shoes are designed for steep technical climbing with their more downturned shape and tighter fit while beginner or intermediate shoes tend to feature flatter, more neutral forms.

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Chalk is essential equipment for beginning rock climbers as it helps increase grip on rocks or walls and absorb sweat from your hands – both essential components of beginner climbing gear. Organic chalk bags offer one of the best value bucket options on the market, featuring a spacious main compartment with zippered stash pocket and multiple brush loops for optimal storage of climbing gear. Buckets made of 1000-D Cordura nylon are extremely rugged and sewn at a solar-powered facility in central Pennsylvania. You will also require a crash pad, which acts like a soft foam cushion to break your fall when bouldering; this piece of safety gear should always be included when taking part in outdoor climbing as any falls can cause serious injuries, potentially including breaking legs or heads.

Chalk bag

Chalk bags are small pouches used by climbers to apply blocks or loose chalk directly onto their hands and fingers in order to improve grip on rock surfaces. Climbers typically wear them around their waist secured via belt loop or clipped onto backpack, usually wearing it at waist level with belt loop attached and secured by belt loop or clip. Loose chalk powder may be stored inside it as well, though for optimal use consult your climbing gym for a bucket full of loose powder or blocks as part of their gym membership package.

Chalk bags come in many varieties, so choosing one depends on individual preferences. Some climbers like having pockets to store phones, topo maps or tape. Others might opt for zippered compartments with brush slots to keep their chalk dry between dips.

Climbers seeking easy and precise chalking often opt for shape-retaining openings with arcuate shapes in their bags that allow their hand to fit easily through without needing to bend at an angle. Such openings allow users to place their hand through without having to bend at an angle; filled bags may then be closed either flat or folded before being attached via belt loop and secured using cord locks for secure closure.

About the author

Adrian Cruce

I just love to travel, write about travel and so much more! :D Hope you enjoy my articles and Travel Tips. Feel free to comment below and get in touch with me on my blog and on Twitter!