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Beginner Rock Climbing Gear: Five Pieces You Need

If you’re a beginner at rock climbing, here are five pieces of gear to get you started off on the right hold! We here at ORB have created this gear guide for new climbers heading to the gym.

We’ve taken our past experiences into account and are recommending pieces of gear that will have longevity and remain useful throughout your climbing career.

A climbing gym is a friendly place and you can learn a lot from the other climbers and employees there. Ask around to see what beginner rock climbing gear they recommend!

What gear do I need for climbing?

  1. Black Diamond Solution Harness – Rock Climbing Harness
  2. La Sportiva Finale Climbing Shoes – Climbing Shoes
  3. Black Diamond ATC Guide – Belay Device
  4. Black Diamond Rocklock – Locking Carabiner
  5. Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag – Chalk Bag

Black Diamond Solution Harness

The Black Diamond Solution Harness is a great harness to take you from gym climbing to sport climbing and beyond.

Pros

  • Works great for any style of climbing
  • Lightweight waist belt built with Fusion Comfort Technology for maximum comfort
  • Lightweight harness

Cons

  • Non-adjustable legloops
  • Gear loops run small which can be difficult if carrying a large rack

We want a harness that will grow with our climbing career. Any harness that comes with gear loops is perfect for taking you from climbing in the gym and to holding our trad rack when we are multi pitch climbing!

We love the Solution for a first climbing harness because it is suitable for any style of climbing. It is initially designed as a sport climbing harness, but it’s

The Solution is a time-tested, durable, and versatile climbing harness. The Solution can withstand three gym visits a week and has enough features to keep you comfortable as you progress through your climbing career.

There are usually two things I’m looking for in a harness: comfort and functionality. When I think of harness comfort, I think of how it feels while I’m wearing it and climbing in it. Ideally, the harness should be an extension of my body and I don’t even have to think about it. Comfort is a huge factor in multi-pitch climbing and as you start to belay from a hanging position.

In a hanging belay, the waistbelt and leg padding play a huge role in how long we can withstand that position. In an uncomfortable harness, the waist belt and leg loops will begin to gnaw at our legs and waists. The harness needs to distribute the load evenly across our body.

The momentum gives us that comfort in the gym and out on the rock.

For functionality, I’m usually looking at how the gear loops are. In sport climbing and trad climbing, the gear loops will carry up my rack as I climb a route. Sometimes, I’ll be in a precarious position and I don’t want to be fiddling with unclipping gear from my harness. On the solution, the gear loops are a bit small and can cause some crowding on a larger rack. But it’s never been enough of an issue that I decided to look for a new harness entirely.

Petzl Sama Harness

The Petzl Sama is a great harness for new climbers.

Pros

  • Easy speed adjuster for waist belt
  • Rigid front gear loops for ease of clipping and unclipping which is very helpful when sport climbing
  • Back gear loops are flexible and angled make it easier to grab gear behind your back

Cons

  • Non adjustable leg loops
  • Leg loops feel tight on bigger thighs

The Sama is affordable and has a wide range of features. For starters, Petzl took time in crafting the gear loops on the harness. The front two gear loops are rigid. Usually, when I’m sport climbing I will keep all of my quickdraws on the front two gear loops. Since these front loops are rigid, I don’t have my draws snagging on the loops two often.

Petzl designed the back two gear loops differently. The back two loops are flexible and are also at an angle. Many times while I’m trad climbing, I’ll end up in a precarious position, maybe just because I’m extra nervous! Since I find myself in these contorted circus positions, I’ll have to thread my arms in and around my body to reach gear on my harness.

Climber at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia using the Petzl Sama climbing harness and Black Diamond Mojo chalk bag. These two pieces of gear are a fantastic value for a beginner rock climber. They will transition well from the gym to the great outdoors.
Petzl Sama and Black Diamond Mojo in use at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Since the back two loops are at an angle, It’s easy to slide through gear to find what I’m looking for even when I can’t fully turn around to see.

Hanging belays feel good in this harness as well. Petzl added in comfort padding technology to the waist and leg loops that distribute the load across your body.

We can grow as climbers with this harness, taking it from the gym to long climbing routes.

La Sportiva Finale Climbing Shoes

Pros

  • Versatile for all styles of climbing
  • Comfortable for all day at the crag
  • Friendly price and excellent value for the shoes

Cons

  • Neutral profile not ideal for hard sport climbing and bouldering
  • Can feel insensitive when edging on smaller footholds

Can one shoe do it all? The answer is…yea!

A versatile shoe may not excel in a specific area, but it can do all styles perfectly fine. That’s why we love the La Sportiva Finale. I have personally owned multiple pairs of this shoe and have resoled the rubber countless times.

What I’m looking for in a first pair of climbing shoes is comfort. Since our footwork is the most important facet of our climbing technqiue, I always recommend to climbers that they make sure that they feel comfortable in their shoes. We don’t want to be preocuppied with a pain in our big toe when we should be focusing on our technique.

We don’t need to be cramming our feet into shoes that are three sizes too small. Footwork is the most crucial aspect of climbing. Build great habits at the beginning of your career.

La Sportiva FInale rock climbing shoes on top of the summit at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. A new rock climber can climb hard gym routes and long multipitch trad routes in the Finales.

The Finale is a neutral profile shoe, but comes with Vibram XS rubber. This is the same rubber used in higher end shoes. But we can snag it with the friendly priced Finale.

Black Diamond ATC Guide

Pros

  • Lightweight belay device
  • Able to belay single and twin ropes, as well as rappel
  • Has more applications than the Black Diamond ATC-XP

Cons

  • More expensive than the ATC-XP

If you think you will dabble in outdoor climbing, I highly recommend buying the Black Diamond ATC Guide right off the bat.

Quick fun fact! Did you know that ATC stands for Air Traffic Controller? That’s because when the climber falls, the belayer is controlling them while they’re just hanging in mid-air!

The ATC Guide comes with an additional feature that is crucial when you begin multi-pitch climbing. I think that makes buying the Guide device right off the bat totally worth it.

When I first started climbing, I just bought the ATC-XP. It’s a perfectly fine belay device and it still sees some use to this day. But as I began outdoor climbing, I had to go and buy another belay device that had the additional eyelet for belaying from above.

Having the two isn’t the end of the world, and it’s convenient when I take a new friend climbing because I can give them their own gear for the day. This is a small gesture but makes them feel more included, responsible, and integral to our day of climbing.

Black Diamond Rocklock

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Rated for 24kN (5395 pounds of force)
  • Operable with one hand
  • Perfect for setting up top rope anchors

Cons

  • Twistlocks can unlock during use
  • Heavy

The rocklock is a screw gate locking carabiner. This means that we can securely lock the gate shut by screwing the device closed. This does mean that screw can unlock during use. So it’s good practice to use two when you aren’t able to monitor the device.

We recommend the rocklock because of its versatility. The first carabiner we ever bought was a rocklock. I still use the rocklock to this day for clove hitches on multipitch climbs or setting up top rope anchors on single pitch climbs.

The rocklock is an HMS carabiner. HMS is a German word which stands for Halbmastwurfsicherung… I do not know how to say that, but I do know what it means! It means a “half clove hitch belay” which is a fancy way of saying a munter hitch.

These HMS carabiners are called that because they are designed for being able to fit a munter hitch and have a climbing rope run within the device. A munter hitch is an incredibly useful skill to have for multipitch or alpine climbing.

Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag

Pros

  • Closure system to prevent chalk from spilling
  • Loop for holding a brush
  • Zipper pocket can hold a 5.6 inch phone or emergency headlamp

Cons

  • Not as many storage options as a multi pitch dedicated chalk bag

The Mojo climbing chalk bag is perfect for anyt discipline of climbing. It’s not going to have as many storage features as a multi-pitch chalk bag and it can’t hold as much chalk as a chalk pot. But you can use it bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing.

It has a zipper that can hold a cliff bar and cell phone when you’re out on your all-day climbing adventures. The bag comes with a loop that can hold your chalk brush. And the bag comes with a belt buckle to clip to your waist.

The chalk compartment itself is generously sized. I like to put a refillable chalk ball into the bag and then pour loose chalk on top.

If you’re looking to gift a climbing chalk bag, check out Etsy! There are many fun options for chalk bags that would make a great gift!

Send It!

There you have it – five pieces of beginner rock climbing gear! Climbing is supposed to be fun… so have fun with it! It’ll be tough at first but stick with it. The awe of watching the sunset after a long day of climbing is worth everything there is.

Do you know any must-have pieces of gear to add? Let us know of the piece in the comment section below!

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