Dirtbags With Furbags With

Gear For Rock Climbing: What The Dirtbags Use!

Various climbing gear

Rock climbing is a thrilling and challenging sport that requires focus, strength, and skill. But beyond raw talent and technique, choosing the right gear for rock climbing is essential to ensure a safe and successful climbing experience.

From ropes and helmets to carabiners and shoes, the right equipment can make all the difference when tackling challenging routes and reaching new heights. In this article, we’ll be discussing all the gear for rock climbing.

Gear for rock climbing

As an experienced climber, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of selecting the right gear for rock climbing and how it can impact our performance and safety.

I’ll be sharing my insights into the specific equipment we Dirtbags with Furbags use for rock climbing, providing tips for selecting the best gear for rock climbing for your needs, and highlighting some of my favorite pieces of equipment that have helped me on my climbing journeys.

This post includes affiliate links, but rest assured that we only recommend items we would use ourselves. And if you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission. No sponsorships, just the truth about our favorite finds.

Climbing Shoes

Shoes are an essential piece of gear for rock climbing, as they serve as the crucial connection between you and the rock. There are three basic types of rock climbing shoes: neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Each class has advantages depending on what style of climbing you are doing.

For a more in-depth look at the different styles of climbing shoes, check out our article on finding the perfect climbing shoes.

For now, we’ll move on to the gear for rock climbing that we use!

What We Use

Let’s review what we Dirtbags With Furbags use when scaling cliffs with our furbags.

ClimberClimbing StyleNeutralModerateAggressive
RobynSlab, moderate climbs. Avoids dynos and routes that require strong, powerful movesScarpa HelixLa Sportiva Theory

La Sportiva Kubo
N/A
JarrodDynamic climber. Routes with big, strong moves.5.10 Gambit (retired) Evolv RaveN/ALa Sportiva Miura

La Sportiva Solutions 

Evolv Shaman Pro

Here’s what we like about our climbing shoes:

  • Scarpa Helix (Women’s): These were my first ever rock climbing shoes. I love these for slab climbing, and they’ve held up over time (5 years of light use!). These are fastened with laces, which I’ve learned I don’t really like, but if you don’t mind lacing them up, they’re an excellent neutral shoe.
  • La Sportiva Theory (Women’s): These babies are my everything shoe! They can do slab, overhang, edging, or whatever the wall throws at me! I put a hole in the toe of my first pair and knew I didn’t want any other climbing shoes, so I got a second pair of the identical shoe. The rubber is pretty sticky, which I like. They’re a bit stiff until you break them in, then you can wear them for long sessions with no problem. These fasten with velcro, which I like.
  • La Sportiva Kubo (Women’s): These are my newest climbing shoes that instantly felt comfortable when I slipped my feet into them. I was surprised at how quickly these shoes formed to my feet. The break-in period was far less than my theories. They feel slightly more aggressive than my theories, so I typically use these for more overhangs and avoid them for slab and edging.
  • Evolv Rave (Men’s): Possibly the most comfortable climbing shoe ever invented. These have a neutral profile and are slip-on, so no need to mess with velcro or laces. They’re great for all-day climbing sessions.
  • La Sportiva Miura (Men’s): These were Jarrod’s first pair of aggressive climbing shoes. He remembers that he bought too small a size and ended up paying for it. These shoes got the job done, but there isn’t anything very memorable about them.
  • La Sportiva Solutions (Men’s): This shoe is great for heel and toe hooks. It complements the strong moves necessary on overhanging routes. These were comfortable for extended periods and helped Jarrod feel comfortable on tiny footholds.
  • Evolv Shaman Pro (Men’s): These have a very similar feel to the La Sportiva Solutions. They are an aggressive shoe but are comfortable to wear for extended periods. The downturned shape makes overhangs and footwork more manageable.

Shoes are an essential piece of gear for rock climbing for any serious rock climber. They can really make a difference on specific routes. Be sure to thoroughly research your shoes and try them on to find the best fit for you!

Climbing Harness

A climbing harness ensures your safety while you’re off the ground and provides you with a comfortable and secure connection to the rope.

Choosing the right type of harness with the appropriate features for your needs can significantly enhance your overall climbing experience.

What We Use

So far, we’ve both gone through two harnesses over six years with moderate use. Here’s what the Dirtbags With Furbags use:

ClimberBuildHarnesses UsedProsCons
RobynPetite, shortEdelrid Jayne Flexible material. Good fit for small builds. Plenty of gear loops for sport climbing.Leg loops don’t secure as well as other harnesses. Probably not enough gear loops for trad climbing
DMM VixenMaterial is more rigid, making it easier to put on and take off. Leg loops are very secure. Extra loops along the waist belt secure extra slack from tightening the waist.The rigid material is sometimes uncomfortable if hanging on the wall for long periods. 
JarrodTall, larger buildEdelrid Jay Good first harness for a beginnerNot enough straps to adjust this to my specific build.
Petzl Corax Fits my larger legs and is more comfortable around the waiste.Not enough gear loops for a full Trad rack.

Learn the key factors to consider when selecting a climbing harness in our informative guide, ensuring safety and comfort on your next vertical adventure.

Climbing Helmets

Climbing helmets serve a basic but essential function: protecting your head. When it comes to choosing the right climbing helmet, it’s all about fit. Make sure the helmet doesn’t move forward or backward when moving it with your hand, and make sure the chin strap is tight but doesn’t feel like it’s choking you.

We both use the Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet when we rock climb. I prefer to wear my helmet on every climb, even for easy warm-ups. I’ve had a few close calls where I could have gotten a big lump on my head if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet. To each their own!

Looking to ascend with confidence? Our Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Helmet is the ultimate resource to help you find the perfect helmet for your climbing adventures, ensuring safety and comfort every step of the way.

Locking Carabiners

Locking carabiners play a crucial role in ensuring safety while climbing, as they are designed to securely connect ropes and anchors when setting up belay devices or other critical points in your system.

We prefer to use screw-lock carabiners for all of our locking ‘biners. It gives us the control to ensure we are secure in all our setups. However, auto-locking and twist-lock are two other types of locking carabiners you might like to try.

Here’s what we use:

Now, let’s move on to quick draws! An essential piece of gear for rock climbing on every climber’s rack.

Quick Draws

Quickdraws are placed on pre-existing bolts on sports routes to attach your rope to. There are plenty of types of quickdraws, but here’s what we Dirtbags With Furbags use:

Another purchase that has come in handy is the carabiners themselves. We decided to go with Trango’s Phase Mega Rack Pack.

These are great to have in case you drop a quick draw from the wall – it’s not a total loss; just replace the carabiner with one of these!

Slings

Slings have many different uses in climbing, from extending a quickdraw to holding your gear. We found that we don’t use the slings very often for sport climbing.

That said, we still love having ours and mostly use them to hold our gear for rock climbing together.

We use Black Diamond’s Nylon Runners for our slings. We have one of each size. They’re nice and secure, but looking back, I think we would have waited on this purchase until we started trad climbing.

Personal Anchor System (PAS)

When you’re ready to clean an anchor or if you’re hauling up a second climber on a multi-pitch route, a personal anchor system is an easy and safe way to attach yourself to the anchor without relying on your belayer or the rope to keep you on the wall.

I love using a PAS when I’m cleaning an anchor. I clip it to the anchor with a locking carabiner and then use a quickdraw to connect it to the other anchor bolt for redundancy.

Here’s what we use for our PASs:

  • Sterling Chain Reactor Canyon Sling – Long – This is an excellent PAS for climbers with a larger build.
  • Sterling Chain Reactor – This is great for more petite climbers, as it’s only 41″ long, compared to the ‘Long’ version, which is 61.5″.
  • Petzl Connect Adjust Lanyard – These babies are great if you don’t want to mess with using the loops of PASs to adjust the length you are from the wall. Lean forward to decrease the length, and push the ATC down to increase the length. Easy Peasy

Belay Devices

Depending on the climb, we use either a Gri-Gri or an ATC device, but plenty of other options exist.

Gear for rock climbing such as the Gri-Gri bt Petzl

From personal experience, I like the Gri-gris because they are auto-locking. If something happened to me while I was belaying (such as passing out), my climber would still be safe. This does not mean you should never stop using the proper belay style to keep your climber safe as Gri-gris are not perfect.

ATC devices are better if you’re concerned about weight. They can be used on multi-pitch routes to make your rack lighter than carrying a gri-gri.

Here’s what we use for our belay devices:

  • Petzl GRIGRI Belay Device – This is a great all-around belay device. It’s sturdy, easy to use, and has a handy diagram on the front, so you never load it incorrectly. It can fit ropes from 8.5mm to 11mm. It weighs a little over 6 ounces.

We have two of these devices in case we do a multi-pitch route and need to belay from the top of the pitch.

  • Black Diamond ATC-XP Belay Device – We have two of these, again for multi-pitch situations. These are nice and lightweight, weighing a little over 2 ounces. They can fit 7.7mm to 11mm ropes. ATCs require more care when belaying, but they’re simple to use, less bulky, and much lighter than a gri-gri.

Crash Pads

We always take three crash pads when we pack our gear for rock climbing to hit some boulder problems. This seems to be a good number to cover most areas below a problem, and we’ve rarely had issues with falling outside the pad zone with this number.

One thing to note about our crash pad choices is that we weren’t ever concerned with going bouldering solo, so we didn’t focus on weight or the ability to attach the crash pads together.

Looking back, I would have paid a little more attention to this if I thought I would be bouldering by myself.

Here are the crash pads that we use:

  • Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad – Our first crash pad. Though we have fond memories of our first times out bouldering with this pad, it is nothing to write home about. The circuit crash pad is a very basic, cost-efficient pad for beginners.
  • Metolius Session II Crash Pad – This was our second crash pad purchase and was a significant upgrade from the BD Circuit pad. It has some bells and whistles I like when bouldering, such as pockets, an area to wipe your shoes, and a velcro cover that can be placed over the shoulder straps to keep them from getting muddy while you climb.
  • Metolius Basic Pad – We bought this pad because of a huge Steap N Cheap sale! However, this pad is hard to find through climbing channels like Backcountry and REI. Overall, it’s similar to the circuit crash pad – it does its job, but nothing to gush about!

Knowing what I do now, I am the happiest with our Session II Crashpad. The Circuit and Basic pads were great to get started on our bouldering journey, but they’re a bit unwieldy and not the most convenient.

Bouldering and using crash pads for safety.

You can get a better picture of the different types of crash pads in our article about the best crash pads!

Chalk & Chalk Bags

Not all chalk is created equal! But, most of it is…

In reality, we’re not too picky about our chalk. We avoid super dusty chalk, like unicorn dust, and opt for more chunky chalk when possible. We’ve also used liquid chalk and love it for a base layer at the gym.

Here’s the chalk that we use and why we like it!

  • FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust – We have used this in the past. It works well and sticks to the hand but is very dusty! However, the dust is minimal if you keep your hands in the chalk bag as you apply.
  • Metolius Super Chalk – Recently, we started using this at the gym and outdoors, and it’s less dusty than the Unicorn Dust, but the chunks are somewhat difficult to break apart. Overall, this chalk seems better than FrictionLabs.
  • FrictionLabs Secret Stuff Hygienic 80% Alcohol Liquid Chalk – Liquid chalk is an excellent tool, especially for a base layer of chalk. It helps dry out your hands and stays on longer than regular chalk.

Climbers shouldn’t overlook the importance of chalk. There’s a scientific reason behind its use! An article in the Journal of Sports Technology found that chalk applied to the hand and fingers enhance the coefficient of friction. In other words, climbers can use less force to stick to the wall when using chalk.

Now, on to chalk bags!

Choosing a chalk bag all comes down to preference and use. How do you want your chalk bag to attach? Do you plan to wear it while bouldering or climbing, or leave it at the bottom?

Here’s what we Dirtbags with Furbags use:

  • ORGANIC Climbing Chalk Bag – We use this when we’re sport climbing outdoors or at the gym. They’re lovely little bags made in the USA and have a belt to wear while climbing. You can also ditch the strap and use a carabiner to attach them directly to your climbing harness (which is what we do).
  • Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag – A standard chalk bag. This was the bag we used before getting our organics. It’s Black Diamond, so you know it’s good quality!

Now that we’ve covered chalk and chalk bags, let’s move on to one of the most important pieces of climbing gear for rock climbing you can have – rope!

Rope And Rope Bags

If you’re strictly a boulderer, you can probably skip this section! But for those that sport climb or trad climb outdoors or at your local gym, read on!

Your climbing rope is one of the most essential purchases as a rock climber. There are two main things to take into consideration when buying a climbing rope:

  • Length
  • Diameter

Most climbing ropes are between 9.5mm and 10mm. This diameter is essential to know when you purchase belay devices. You must be sure that your rope can fit inside your belay device.

For example, the Petzl Gri Gri we use can fit rope diameters ranging from 8.5mm to 11mm, so we’re covered on most rope sizes. However, the Black Diamond ATC-Alpine Guide Belay Device can only fit rope sizes up to 9mm. So, be sure to match your rope diameter to your belay device!

For length, this will depend on how high the climbing routes are that you plan to do. The standard size is 60m, but you may only need a 40m for strictly gym climbers. If you’re climbing out west, you’ll want to opt for a 70m, at least!

We have three climbing ropes that we use for different occasions:

  • 40m – Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8mm Non-Dry Rope – we use this at our local gym to lead climb. We rarely take it outdoors as it’s too short for most routes.
  • 60m – Edelrid Python 10mm x 60m Non-Dry Rope – This was the first rope we bought when living in Colorado. It is an excellent rope and has held up over time (we still use it!). It was a little short for a lot of climbs in Colorado but was just fine for most other places we’ve climbed.
  • 70m – Sterling Ropes 9.5mm Evolution Helix Dry Core – Similar to the Metolius Basic Pad, this rope isn’t available through major outlet stores like REI anymore. However, it should be! The Sterling is an outstanding rope, and even though we only got a 9.5mm rope, it feels super secure when on the wall. Plus, we got this one with a dry core, so we don’t have to worry so much about it getting wet.

For a more in-depth look at the different kinds of ropes, check out our comprehensive guide to choosing the right rock climbing rope.

Finding a good rope isn’t too difficult. They are put through rigorous testing so that, no matter which rope you choose, you’ll be as safe as you can be while rock climbing.

Now, finding a good rope bag is another story. There’s not much on the market and you’ll see various DIY rope bags at your local gym, ranging from IKEA bags to clothes hampers. We found one that works pretty well from Sterling – the Sterling PickleBucket Climbing Tote.

The design of the pickle bucket is to be used at the gym, but you can easily convert it from two hand straps to a shoulder strap and carry this baby to the crag!

Honorable Mention: Belay Glasses

Do they look weird? Yes. Are you a little embarrassed about wearing them? Maybe. Are they worth it? Hell yea!

The belayer wears belay glasses that help them follow their climber up the wall without putting a painful crick in their neck from looking up. Belay glasses use mirrors so that you can look directly forward but see your climber above you.

We got a basic pair from Amazon – BG Belay Glasses. They’re middle-of-the-line belay glasses that are more expensive than the flimsy ones but less than the brand-name ones like Metolius.

I highly recommend getting a pair of belay glasses if you plan to spend any time belaying and you’re over the age of 30. Seriously, we can’t afford to hurt our necks or backs at this age! You youngins have no idea what’s coming…

Wrapping Up Our Gear For Rock Climbing

So, there you have it, folks! We’ve journeyed together through the essential gear for rock climbing – from the snug grip of climbing shoes to the life-saving sturdiness of climbing harnesses and helmets.

We’ve explored the trusty reliability of locking carabiners, quickdraws, and slings, not forgetting the critical role of personal anchor systems and belay devices. We’ve felt the cushioning comfort of crash pads, the gripping power of chalk in our chalk bags, and the durability of our ropes safely tucked into rope bags. And to top it all off, those nifty belay glasses that keep our focus sharp and on point.

Now, it’s your turn to take these gear buddies on your own climbing escapades. Give them a whirl, and don’t forget to drop us a line about which piece becomes your favorite climbing companion. Adventure awaits, happy climbing!

For more information on rock climbing like a dirtbag, check out our climbing blog!

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