The Very Basics
- You will need a pair of climbing shoes. Some popular beginner shoes are:
La Sportiva Mythos (these are so cute I would seriously consider wearing them as a regular shoe)
Just know that the cheaper the shoe, typically, the faster it wears out. Just to compare these two brands, Evolv has some AMAZING shoes that are priced very reasonably, however, because of softer rubber and synthetic materials, they tend to wear out pretty quickly (and get really smelly). La Sportiva on the other hand, uses much harder rubber and leather, so they can last for a long time, but you will find yourself spending much more.
RUBBER: a soft rubber (like TRAX, used on Evolv) will be stickier on the rock but will wear down faster and a harder rubber (like Vibram, used on La Sportiva) will last longer but not give you as much friction on the rock.
SIZING: sizing is very important and there is a bit to consider when choosing the right size. You want your shoes to be tight but you don’t want them to crush your toes and you should be able to walk around in them for a few minutes without excruciating pain. (Once you are climbing a little harder you will be ready with choosing a shoe with a little more pain, and therefore a little more gain in grade). CONSIDER: a synthetic shoe (Evolv) will not stretch much, but a leather shoe (La Sportiva) will likely stretch more than you would guess. So, for leather shoes size down a bit more. If you want to buy a shoe online, my advice would be to try it on in a store first or make sure you can return it for another size.
- You do NOT need a chalk bag and chalk. My advice: don’t use chalk because you think you have to because everyone else uses it. If your hands aren’t sweaty when you climb then you don’t need to use chalk. The more you use it, the more you depend on it, kinda like crack. I didn’t start using chalk until I was climbing 10b/c
- GET a head lamp. You never know when you might get stuck on a climb that you started at dusk and have to clean and rap down in pitch black. Better to be safe than sorry
- Have some type of day pack or backpack to carry your shoes/gear/food/water/warm clothes.
If you want to rope climb you need:
- A harness, typically Black Diamond is a good place to start and they make female harnesses
- A belay device and a locking carabiner: An ATC from Black Diamond is a good start. They are simple to use, cheap and can be used to rappel when cleaning routes. If you think you might get into multi pitch climbing you might want to consider spending more to get a guide ATC which will allow you to use it as an auto locking belay device from an anchor. If you have lots of money to spend get a GriGri. I am kind of against them because I think they can potentially minimize an opportunity to learn how to use an ATC properly (which is a much needed skill in climbing), however, they are very safe(as long as you use them properly) and can save your climbers life in the event that something happens to the belayer.
- GET a friend with rope, draws, cams, anchor building shit. If you are just beginning, wait to purchase this type of gear until you are familiar with it and know what your preferences are.
If you want to boulder you need:
- A friend with a crash pad/or a crash pad of your own. You can really get any kind to start with. Often times you can get a MadRock pad for $50 at an REI gear sale or on Craigslist. Usually, the cheaper the pad, the heavier, smaller or less shock absorbing it is. If you want to spend more money, you can get a nice big pad, or one with cool add on’s like zippered pouches for guide books and stuff.
If you are camping at the crag you need:
- A backpacking sleeping bag, or at least something warmer than a “girl scout” bag. I have The North Face 15 degree down Blue Kazoo bag that I got at a REI gear sale for $80 (thanks Kevin Wong) and I ❤ it! I prefer a down bag over synthetic but that’s a whole nother debate.
- A sleeping pad. I used to have a fancy one that you blow air into. It was kind of bulky and heavy and I was always worried about using it directly on the ground because I didn’t want it to pop or get muddy. It started leaking air and then I lost it wandering around Wonderland in Joshua Tree on New Years so I got a cheap foam thermarest (the cheapest one you can get) so I wouldn’t have to worry about it popping or leaking air. It is very light and I don’t have an issue with it being uncomfortable, it actually keeps me warmer than the nicer one I had.
- A friend with a tent/or your own. I prefer a light weight two person tent. That way you can use it for backpacking, it is small and compact and easy to set up. Also smaller tents are much warmer.
Other things you might want to consider getting but you don’t NEED:
- some type of camping/backpacking stove if you want hot food or water
- a camping chair/you can also use a crash pad for this
- tape or you can always steal some from your friends
- a light weight down jacket that you can stuff in your backpack and bring everywhere with you.