Climbing Gear – What Do I Need To Get Started?

This article, 'Climbing Gear', is part of the e-book - Rock Climbing Basics: The Beginner's Guide.

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Rope
Your rope is the main piece of climbing gear. It connects you, via your harness, to the quickdraws on the wall and to your climbing partner.

Harness
Your harness keeps you safely attached to the rope. It is made of really strong, flat webbing, with buckles to fasten it tight and padding to make it comfortable.

Screwgate Carabiner
There are two main types of carabiner: screwgates and snapgates. A screwgate has a rotating tube which can be fastened over the 'nose' of the carabiner. This stops it from being opened accidentally.

What gear do I need to go rock climbing?

Belay Device
A belay device is a metal tube that you use together with a screwgate carabiner. The rope is fed through the belay device and carabiner, and the belayer holds the rope underneath. If weight is applied to the rope (e.g. if the climber falls) a huge amount of friction is created so that it is easy to hold their weight and stop them falling.

Quickdraws
A quickdraw is the 'clippy thing' that attaches your rope to the wall. They're made up of two snapgate carabiners which are joined together with a fabric sling.

Shoes
Special climbing shoes make standing on small bits of rock a lot easier! They are designed to be tight fitting (like a sock) and have a rubber sole that sticks to rock really easily.

Chalk
Chalk is kept in a small bag with a draw-cord closure at the top that you can dip your hands into to 'chalk up'. The chalk is used to stop your hands getting too sweaty to hold on to the rock.

Climbing Gear: The Harness

What is a rock climbing harness?

Gear Loops
These low strength loops are for clipping climbing gear to, such as carabiners and quickdraws. This way, you can take gear with you as you climb.

Buckle
These can be used to adjust the size of your harness for a comfortable and tight fit. It's important that they are fastened correctly.

Waist Belt
This fastens around the smallest part of your waist.

Elastic
These low-strength stretchy pieces of fabric help to stop your leg loops from sliding down at the back. They can be adjusted too.

Leg Loops
These fasten around the top of your thighs.

Belay Loop
This super strong loop connects the waist belt to the leg loops. You use it to belay from (more on this later). It's important not to get this confused with gear loops or any other part of the harness.

Climbing Gear: Quickdraws

A quickdraw (or just 'draw') is the 'clippy thing' that attaches your rope to the rock. They're made up of two snapgate carabiners with a fabric sling (known as a dog-bone) to join them. Using just one carabiner on a bolt would cause the rope to get tangled in it - a quickdraw spaces the rope safely away from the bolt.

Most walls will require 4-10 draws for the height of the routes. Check with the staff how many you'll need before you start climbing up. Quickdraws are available in many different lengths with a huge combination of carabiners. But some between 10-12cm long will be just fine to start out with.

Bolt
The quickdraw needs to be attached to something in the rock to hold it there. At the wall this will be a bolt. Many indoor walls already have quickdraws attached to the bolts for you. If yours doesn't, you'll need to bring your own.

Bolt-End Carabiner
Quickdraws are made up of a bolt-end carabiner and a rope-end carabiner. The bolt-end carabiner is the one which moves freely on the fabric sling, and is the one which you clip to the bolt.

Rope-End Carabiner
The rope-end carabiner usually has a curved gate and is 'held in' with an elastic or rubber loop. You clip the rope through this carabiner.

It's important not to get these two carabiners mixed up. The sharp edges of bolts can notch the bolt-end carabiner, which will damage your rope if you swap them over. We recommend using quickdraws with different coloured carabiners so it is easy to identify them.

What is a rock climbing quickdraw?

Climbing Gear: The Belay Device

A belay device is a metal tube that you use together with a screwgate carabiner. The rope is fed through the belay device and carabiner, and the belayer holds the rope underneath.

If weight is applied to the rope (e.g. if the climber falls) a huge amount of friction is created so that it is easy to hold their weight and stop them falling.

What is a rock climbing belay device?

Climbing Gear: Assisted Braking Belay Devices

Some belay devices, such as the Petzl GriGri have 'assisted braking', which means they lock almost by themselves if the climber falls. They must be used differently to normal belay devices.

Learn how to belay with a GriGri.

What is a rock climbing grigri belay device?

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