Essential climbing equipment for beginners (2021): harnesses, belay devices and more

Most people learn climb in a gym. I learned in 40 degree rain on granite slabs in western North Carolina. I haven’t climbed a gym until I’ve done some alpine ice climbs. Let me tell you one thing, it’s less intimidating to learn about safety routines, lingo, and equipment when climbing indoors. Still, it’s perfectly fine to start outdoors if you fall with the right climbers or sign up for an American Mountain Guides Association accredited course.

Whether you are indoors or outdoors, you will need some basic equipment. I’m keeping things simple (and affordable) in this guide because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the tech gear jargon. You’re also not going to be climbing on a leash until you are more experienced, so I’m omitting things like rope and quickdraws, which your climb leader will have. You can get away with all the flexible clothes (no jeans!), But I suggest you turn to technical synthetic layers for climbing on the outside.

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