Whether you are engaging in rock climbing as a hobbyist or want to compete, you will undoubtedly need some equipment to minimize injury risks while tackling challenging climbing routes. The good thing is, you can purchase various specialized climbing equipment in the market today that can provide you with a specific safety level when engaging in this sport. Moreover, your choice of these essential equipment pieces will depend on what type of climber you are and the climbing type you would like to engage.
You can engage in free climbing and buy equipment more for protection and less for support. You can also do aid climbing, which is the opposite of free climbing. Aid climbing is a gear-dependent type of climbing which were popular in the early days of this sport.
Essential Equipment You Should Have
Climbers usually set out on their routes in pairs, and they also use a system of anchors and ropes to mitigate and arrest fall. They will also need other equipment aside from anchors and ropes. Thus, if you want to jumpstart your rock-climbing adventure, it will help to be cognizant of the following essential equipment for rock climbing:
1) Climbing Ropes
If you are a beginner, you will surely start with top-rope climbing, which is a style of climbing in which you securely hook yourself to a rope anchored at the top of the route and to a belayer down at the start of the climb. Climbing ropes come with a kernmantle construction. This construction type consists of a kern (core) made of twisted fibers and an outer sheath called the mantle, made of woven fibers (colored).
The tensile strength of the rope depends heavily on the core (80%). However, the durable outer layer or sheath provides the rope with the needed characteristics for easy handling).
The tensile strength of the rope depends heavily on the core (80%). However, the durable outer layer or sheath provides the rope with the needed characteristics for easy handling.
Climbing ropes come in two classes: low elongation ropes and dynamic ropes. The low-elongation rope does not stretch much, and you can use it for anchoring. They are perfect for rappelling and for ascending. On the other hand, dynamic ropes can absorb the energy and momentum of a climber who falls. Hence, these ropes are utilized as belaying ropes.
The primary thing you should consider when choosing a harness is the safety level it provides you. Check for any indication of damage or defects. Ensure that your choice is devoid of defects and damages, for it is your safety at stake here.
The next important consideration when selecting a harness is the level of comfort it offers you. The ideal harness is integrated into your clothing or built into it to allow for flexibility and versatility. It will be useful if it has padding, ventilation, moisture transport, extra-wide webbing, and other comfort features.
Your head is one of your most important assets. However, when you do rock climbing, your head will come under various threats from falling debris. It is also susceptible to injury from a fall or bump. In a way, your head is under threat from all sides. For this reason, you must have a helmet when rock climbing.
The climbing helmet, as a piece of safety equipment, protects your skull from impact forces. It can mitigate most risks from impact forces. Moreover, it adds a protection level to your head, especially if you are engaged in ice climbing, mountaineering, trad climbing, or sport climbing. Helmets come in various designs and materials, and thus, you have myriads of options when selecting a climbing helmet.
Wearing a helmet in rock climbing is necessary to manage risks. Nevertheless, helmets will never protect your head one hundred percent. But it does not mean that you should not wear one.
However, when choosing a helmet, you should opt for helmets that comply with the established standards and are certified by certifying organizations.
4) Climbing Shoes
When rock climbing, it will be helpful to invest in a quality pair of climbing shoes. Climbing shoes protect your feet while letting you achieve better agility and peak performance. These shoes come with sticky soles for optimum friction and footholds for climbing.
Climbing shoes come in a broad range of designs and made. Nevertheless, when choosing climbing shoes, you should choose according to your climbing ability and the routes you will tackle. Moreover, it should snugly fit on your feet while protecting your feet from injury.
You will find shoes for beginners and experienced climbers. Moreover, it will be useful to look for durable ones that do not crack or snap easily. Go for those shoes with tough rubber. Look also for those with innovative heels for heel hooking. Your choice should also be light on your feet and breathable.
If you are a new climber, you may be wondering why you should use chalk on your hand when rock climbing. Well, your body emits moisture when you exert effort. It generates sweat and oil that may affect your climbing performance. Therefore, to increase friction and improve grip on the holds, you need to use chalk.
Climbing chalks come in different types and forms. They may be loose, block, or liquid, likewise. Whichever you choose is just a matter of your preference. The block chalk is a highly compressed one, made of solid Magnesium Carbonate chunk. You should break it apart when using it.
On the other hand, Loose chalk comes in hardly broken up to delicate powder forms. However, liquid chalk comes in a mixture of Magnesium Carbonate and alcohol. You can use it by squirting it on your hand and spreading it as if it is a lotion.
6) Chalk Bag
Since you will be bringing chalks, you would surely need chalk bags to hold chalk balls or loose chalk. The chalk bag is a convenient way of carrying around your chalk. You can either attach this bag to your clothes or your harness for easy access.
Chalk bags come in various designs and sizes, likewise. Besides, you will find most chalk bags equipped with a brush loop and a belt strap. Moreover, to close the chalk bag, you only need to pull on its drawstrings to avoid spillage.
If you have large hands, it will help to choose chalk bags of larger sizes. Furthermore, it will be useful to choose large chalk bags for lengthy multi-pitch climbing routes, for you will need more chalk for such climbing routes. Moreover, for longer climbs, you will need a cylindrical bag, while for a shorter route, the tapered bag would do.
7) Belay Device
One device that you would need when rock climbing is the mechanical friction brake called the belay device. This device controls a rope when you engage in belaying. Belaying refers to the different techniques climbers utilize to increase friction in the rope or climbing system.
This belaying device prevents a climber who falls from falling further. To optimize the use of a belaying device, you should have a climbing partner who applies tension to the rope’s other end whenever the other climber isn’t moving.
There are different types of belay devices like the tubers and the active assisted-braking devices that you can use for controlled descent on your rope. Experts have rated most belay devices in the market today on how aggressively they bite on the rope for arresting the fall of a climber. Hence, when searching for a belay device, it will help if you read these ratings.
Another device that you may need is the carabiner. It is also called “biner.” The carabiner is a very sturdy ring, metal loop, or shackle equipped with a spring-loaded gate that you can use to connect the rope with other climbing protection devices like bolts, nuts, and camming devices.
Carabiners are wrought in steel and plastic and come with a gate to insert the rope. You can attach the carabiners to your clothing and equipment to let you move down and up a rock face or wall. As a beginner, it will help to use a locking biner, designed for a belay device. Moreover, carabiners come in various sizes and shapes.
9) Rappel Devices
You can also use some belay devices for descending, but these descenders are hard to feed with rope. So, if you want something that is specifically designed for descending, you should buy rappel devices. Rappel devices are specifically designed for ropes that are descending.
The quickdraw is called extender in some instances, and it is a convenient piece of equipment to have. It features two carabiners attached by a textile sling that lets the climbing rope freely run through the other protection or bolt anchors while you lead.
The use of the quickdraw differs depending on the climbing routes or climbing types you will engage in. It will be useful to choose the safest quickdraw type in the market today.
Another thing you would need is the sling or runner. It consists of a sewn or tied loop of webbing, which you can wrap around a rock section. It is tied to other equipment pieces or directly hitched to a tensioned line, utilizing a prusik knot. You can also use it for anchor extension, climbing the rope, or equalization.
12) Camming and Nuts
You can use the nuts and camming devices as climbing protection equipment. With their use, you can secure the rope to any rock. You can also use them to prevent you from falling too far.
The hangboard is a plastic or wooden board for enhancing the climber’s endurance and strength. You can use it to increase your forearm muscle strength and the pulleys and tendons of your fingers. You can also use it as additional exercise equipment for developing your antagonist and core muscles.
The hangboards come in many pockets of different sizes and edges. You would usually hang them according to specific protocols. Moreover, their edges and pockets range from micro crimp to large jug hold edges.
You can benefit much from the use of hangboards if you use them correctly. Moreover, it will help if you use the correct technique; otherwise, you may end up injuring your muscles and joints.
Rock climbing is not a sport for everyone, for to engage in it, you would need enough preparation before you can even tackle a route. Moreover, it is not a trial-and-error sport that you can engage in without knowing the different techniques for safe climbing. Hence, I would not hesitate, at this point, to overstate the importance of having the right equipment when engaging in rock climbing.
At the start, it will be helpful to avail of the abovementioned necessary equipment if you are raring to engage in rock climbing. In doing so, you can mitigate the risks concomitant with this extreme sport while enjoying the exhilaration and adventure that accompany this type of sport.