Best Beginner Sport Climbing Gear

Posted September 21, 2014 by Joel Schopp in Climbing

If you are just getting started in sport climbing you have a decent amount of gear to acquire. Our authors have been climbing for more than a decade and bring that experience to help you choose great gear at an affordable price.

Sport Climbing Gear List:

Gear Type Recommendation Estimated $
Shoes Evolv Defy $80
Harness Black Diamond Momentum SA $50
Chalk Bag New Fiend Climb X $15
Chalk Metoilus Super Chalk $6
Belay Carabiner Jake Keylock Quik-lok $19
Belay Device ATC-XP $20
6 Quickdraws Omega Pacific Dirt Bag Draws $65
60m Rope Sterling Evolution Velocity $190
Total $445

Climbing Shoes

When you are starting out you should be climbing with someone experienced, either a certified rock climbing guide or a very experienced friend. Those people will likely have most of the gear that you need, but having a pair of climbing shoes that fit you right is the first investment you want to make. Your first pair should be a good all around pair that can do a little bit of everything and not cost you an arm and a leg. The Evolv Defy (mens) and Evolv Electra (womens) fit the bill perfectly.

Evolv Defy (men)

Evolv Electra (women)


After you have some shoes, having your own harness that fits you right is the next item to get. You can read our in depth review on our recommendation for best beginner harness, which is also our recommendation for best all around harness.

Black Diamond Momentum SA (men)

Black Diamond Primrose SA (women)

Chalk Bag

Pretty much all the chalk bags are the same, so just get one you like and that doesn’t cost too much. We like Pandas so the New Fiend Climb X Rock Climbing Addict Chalk Bag seems like a great choice to us, but really any chalk bag would be fine.


You’d look pretty silly with an empty chalk bag. When you climb your hands sweat, either because you are nervous or because it is hot. Either way wet hands don’t grip rock very well. Dry your hands with chalk and they will stick much better.

Metoilus Super Chalk

Step Up Pick:
Primo chalk costs a bit more, but they add essential oils that help fight Staph infection and help your hands heal faster. It also smells nice.

Belay Carabiner

We have an in depth reccomendation of the Omega Pacific Jake Keylock Quik-lok for those who are interested in reading more. The short version is you want an autolocking carabiner with a wide rope surface and snag free nose for your belay carabiner.

Omega Pacific Jake Keylock Quik-lok

Belay Device

We recommend the time-proven and inexpensive ATC-XP as the best beginner belay device. We also recommend professional training on how to use a belay device, as improper belaying technique is probably the number one cause of accidents when rock climbing.


Step Up Pick:
For $7 more you can get the ATC-Guide, which also has a mode for belaying a climber from above directly off of the anchor in an autoblocking mode. It is great for multi-pitch climbing. As you get more experienced that added versatility could be worth the few extra dollars.



We recommend the Omega Pacific Dirt Bag Draws as a great quickdraw for beginners. We go into more depth on it in the best dirtbag draw section of our best quickdraw recommendation article.

6 pack Dirt Bag Draws with locking carabiner included

Step Up:

The Omega Pacific Helium is the best quickdraw at any price, even if that price is high, but can be hard to find.

The Petzl Spirit is our best projecting quickdraw, but the price is a bit steep for beginners.


The last piece of gear you should get is a rope. When you have a rope you won’t have to rely on your experienced friends to go climbing any-more, so you really should have climbed enough to know what you are doing before you buy a rope. You also will have used several ropes by this point so you will know which ropes you liked and didn’t like.

We recommend beginner climbers get a medium thickness (about 9.8mm) single (identified by a number 1 with a circle around it) rope that is long enough for most circumstances (60m). Most climbers own several ropes. The may own a thinner (8.9mm) rope for special days and a thicker (10mm) rope for regular use. They may own a shorter (35m) rope for saving weight on short cliffs and a longer (70m) rope for long multi-pitch climbing. They may own a pair of half ropes for serious trad climbing.

Sterling Evolution Velocity Rope – our favourite 60m length, 9.8mm thickness, single rope.

About the Author

Joel Schopp

Joel is a a rock climber, canoer, backpacker, camper, father, skiier, programmer, swimmer, cyclist, zipliner, kayaker, and adventurer in no particular order. He is president of the Central Texas Mountaineers, Texas regional coordinator for the Access Fund, and sits on the board of the non-profit Ascend Outdoor Adventures. Joel wants you to have the best gear so you don't think about your gear and instead focus on the wonder that is the outdoors.


    Scott Hammock

    Joel, thank you for this article. Your bio says it all, “Joel wants you to have the best gear so you don’t think about your gear and instead focus on the wonder that is the outdoors.” When trying to find the right gear, a knowledgeable recommendation is invaluable!


    This is pretty cool! :-) me and my fiance would like to get into Rick climbing around Austin! Please feel free to email me if like info and guidance.

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