• Kit

The climber's essentials

Photo by Gemma Thorpe.

So, you want to get climbing but you're wondering what you need? First, make sure you've read up on the difference between indoor and outdoor climbing. Now, let's see what pieces of kit are essential for each.

1. Bouldering
Bouldering is one of the simplest climbing sports in terms of equipment. For indoor centres all you need are climbing shoes and a chalk bag. That’s it.

You can hire the shoes at most indoor walls, and some may also offer a chalk bag or bucket. But if you enjoy bouldering and start going regularly, then it may be time to buy your own.
Climbing shoes: £60-125
Chalkbag & chalk: £10-20

2. Roped climbing
For indoor climbing you’ll need a climbing harness, belay device and a screwgate carabiner – all of which can all be hired at climbing walls. Shoes and chalk bags are an optional extra, but will aid you in progressing further with your climbing. Like with bouldering, if you enjoy climbing and start to go regularly it’s best to buy your own gear.
Harness: £40-60
Belay device: £15
Screwgate carabiner: £10
Rope: £100 (only if you learn to lead climb indoors)

All climbing centres will have an induction process that will help you learn how to climb safely within their centres. View their websites, call them, or visit in person to find out more information.

1. Bouldering
For the artificial boulders around the city, all you need is personal bravery! You can climb on these in your trainers. If you want to improve, you might need to get some shoes and a chalk bag, just like with indoor bouldering.

For climbing in the Peak District, you’ll need a climbing brush (to remove chalk marks from the boulders) and a bouldering pad, to help protect you if you fall off. A guidebook to the best routes would also be handy. You should know that climbing has its own lexicon, so be prepared to be confused on first read.
Climbing brush: £5
Climbing guide: £20-30
Bouldering pad: £150+

2. Roped climbing
This is where climbing can get expensive; there are almost limitless bits of equipment you may need/want for outdoor climbing with ropes. For your first visit, it's worth going with a guide or on a course, to learn exactly what you need.

Whether climbing indoors or out of doors, you want to be comfortable and be able to move freely. Try to avoid clothing with tassels or dangly bits that could get caught in the equipment. Standard gym wear is great (joggers/leggings, t-shirt/vest) but if outside, remember you have to deal with the British weather – so pack waterproofs. And always take an extra layer: even a climbing wall can get cold in winter, and you'd be surprised how chilly it can get outside on a windy summer's day.

Written by Brian McAlinden



Useful links: UK Climbing.
The BMC's Regional Access Database – the definitive source of information for the access issues at crags.

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