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A Beginner's Guide to Climbing Gear

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A Beginner's Guide to Climbing Gear

For novice climbers, the world of gear can easily consume more than its fair share of time, energy and money. If you're none-too-keen on mulling about the the local gym store where the big and imposing sales guy is always busy helping out the other big and imposing climbing Adonises and Athenas on their way to conquer Mt. Olympus, you've come to the right spot.

Shoes

As far as investments go, having your own climbing shoes for the first time is akin to breathing fresh woodland air. Rental pairs usually sport worn-down souls that hobble your performance. Your feet will also thank you, as the shoes become attuned to their particular shape. There are three things to bear in mind here.

1. You should be able to slip into them easily. If you're in too much pain when you start out, it's a give-away that you've chosen the wrong size or style.

2. Flatter-bottomed shoes are best for beginners,but even professionals use them for more regular routines. Not only are they more comfortable, they'll also last longer. Since it takes a while to get your climbing chops in, your first pair of shoes need to last you through this fledgling stage. The Scarpa Origins or Black Diamond Momentum ranges are a good reference for what a quality shoe looks like. These are also relatively cheaper, setting you back around $60 - $70.

3. When you're experienced enough, down-turned shoes will afford you a more aggressive style of climbing. The soft yet durable Scarpa Furia S is a great intermediate shoe, enabling you to scale different inclines and giving you a sense of what a truly professional pair looks like. These might set you back anywhere between $100 and $180 . Later, but only much later, should you move onto the next category: more specifically designed shoes for very challenging climbs.

Harness

The Black Diamond Momentum harness is a great benchmark as far as this vital piece of equipment goes. Again if you're only used to the uncomfortable webbing of a rental harness, this item of equipment is going to surprise you as to how pleasant climbing can be. Harnesses are by definition safety regulated, so the only real criterion is how comfortably it fits around your body. The Black Diamond Solution harness cushions your weight even better during steeper climbs and harder routes where you'll negotiate difficult sections for longer time frames.

Locking Carabiner

You'll need one of these to belay. The only prerequisite here is a closing mechanism that you will enjoy using. Black Diamond is again a brand worthy of consideration.

Other Belay Devices

Here you'll be deciding between your ATC and Grigri devices. The added safety features of the Petzl Grigri make it the preferred choice of professionals, but make sure you've completed the relevant climbing courses before you even think to head out to purchase one of these.

Chalk bag

Here you might opt for a bucket style or a hand clip-on. Really, there's no right or wrong choice, so let your own instinct guide you.

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