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Sport Climbing Equipment: All The Gear In One List!

LAST UPDATED: 30th March 2024

Sport climbing is a natural progression from top roping. With sport climbing, the climber ‘leads’ the route, placing quickdraws and clipping in the rope as they go up.

Unlike trad climbing, sport climbing routes are already bolted with either stainless steel or titanium bolts, so in terms of gear, you won’t need anywhere near as much as you’ll need with trad

Below are some essential and non-essential sport climbing equipment and gear you’ll want to take with you next time you go to the crag.

©Manuel Sulzer

13 Essential Sport Climbing Gear You’ll Need

Just like bouldering, you can just turn up to the rock climbing gym with your shoes and chalk. Many gyms these days have auto-belay routes where you don’t even need a partner to rope climb with. 

Hiring equipment at the gym means you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, making rock climbing a very accessible sport. Plus, you’re bound to find a friendly climber at the crag who is willing to share his rope and draws. 

As you progress with your sport climbing though, you’ll probably want to start building up a sport climbing rack.

Below are the essential sport climbing gear you will need to take with you.

#1: Climbing Harness

A climbing harness is your lifeline on the rock. It’s where you’ll attach yourself to the rope, belay device, and quickdraws. Look for a harness that fits snugly but comfortably around your waist and thighs, with adjustable leg loops and enough gear loops to hold your quickdraws, belay device, and other essentials.

#2: Climbing Shoes

Climbing shoes are designed to provide better grip and sensitivity on the rock. They should fit tightly, allowing you to feel small footholds and push off with precision. Shoes vary in stiffness, shape, and closure system (lace-up, Velcro, or slip-on), so choose a pair that matches your climbing style and the type of routes you’ll be tackling.

#3: Helmet

A helmet is a non-negotiable piece of safety equipment. It protects your head from falling rocks and debris, as well as from impact in case of a fall. Modern climbing helmets are lightweight, comfortable, and well-ventilated. Make sure yours fits well and is specifically designed for climbing.

#4: Dynamic Climbing Rope

The rope is your primary safety line. In sport climbing, a dynamic rope is used to absorb the energy of a fall, reducing the impact on the climber and belayer. Ropes come in various lengths and diameters; a common choice for sport climbing is a single rope between 9.5mm and 10.2mm in diameter and 60 to 70 meters long, suitable for most crags.

#5: Quickdraws

Quickdraws are used to connect the climbing rope to bolt anchors on the wall. A typical sport climbing rack includes 12 to 18 quickdraws. They consist of two carabiners connected by a strong, short sling. One carabiner clips into the bolt, while the other clips into the rope. 

Consider carrying a mix of straight-gate and wire-gate carabiners, as each has its advantages.

#6: Belay Device

A belay device controls the rope during climbing and belaying. It helps the belayer manage the rope efficiently and lock it off quickly in case of a fall. There are various types of belay devices, including tubular (ATCs), assisted braking, and figure 8, with the most popular belay device for beginners being the Petzl GriGri. The GriGri locks the rope to prevent the climber from hitting the ground. 

For rappelling, I would suggest you always have an ATC with you.

climber using GriGri

#7: Chalk & Chalk Bag

Chalk absorbs moisture from your hands, improving grip on the rock. A chalk bag worn around the waist allows easy access during climbs. Some climbers prefer loose chalk, while others use chalk balls to minimize mess. Choose a chalk bag with a closure system to prevent spillage and a brush for cleaning holds.

#8: PAS/Safety Sling

PAS for climbing

A Personal Anchor System (PAS) or a safety sling is used for securing yourself to the anchor at the top of a climb, especially when cleaning a route or setting up a rappel. It’s a series of sewn loops that offer a secure and adjustable connection point, providing an extra layer of safety during transitions.

#9: Anchor Kit

If you need to set up a toprope at the anchor you will need some extra gear with you. To build a sport climbing anchor you will need a sling and extra carabiners. It’s useful to have at least 4 extra carabiners on you just in case you need to build an anchor or bail from a route.

#11: Rope Bag

A good rope bag will not only protect your rope from the elements and general wear and tear, it means you can thread the rope out without having to coil it each time you get to the crag. Just open your rope bag and voila, your rope is ready to be used.

#12: Climbing Tape

Climber with taped fingers

Climbing tape can be used to protect fingers from injuries or to tape up existing injuries. It’s also useful for makeshift repairs on gear or shoes in a pinch.

#13: First Aid Kit

First aid kit for climbing

A basic first aid kit is essential for treating minor injuries. Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, blister treatment, and any personal medications.

5 Non-Essential Sport Climbing Equipment List

There are a few non-essential sport climbing gear you can bring that will make your day at the crag easier, especially if you are going for a long time or have a long approach.

#1: Hat or Beanie

Shawn Raboutou climbing Alphane

Depending on the weather, you might want to a wear a baseball cap on warmer days to keep your head and face protected from the sun. During the coldest months, a beanie is definitely needed, especially while belaying.

#2: Belay Glasses

belay glasses for climbing

Does your friend spend a good 20 minutes on one move? Bet your neck hates you and your friend for it! Belay glasses are not essential and you can do without them, but for long days at the crag, they really help you from not getting a stiff neck.

#3: Warm Jacket

Again, this is very weather-dependent, but if you are climbing in the cold, then you’ll definitely want a warm down jacket for the approach and for belaying.

#4: Approach Shoes

Approach shoes can literally be any shoe you want to ‘approach’ the crag in. My approach shoes in the summer are crocs. They are the best crag shoe and don’t tell me otherwise! For a more difficult approach if you are climbing in winter time, you will probably need a more substantial approach shoe. Five Ten and La Sportiva do approach shoes pretty well so check them out!

#5 Clip Stick

clip stick for climbing

For all my short gals and girls out there who can’t reach the first bolt, the clip stick will become your best friend. If the bolts is too high to clip, you insert your quickdraw with the rope, extent the stick and clip the quickdraw in.

It might seem a bit pointless travelling around with a clip stick, but most sticks these days are telescopic and can fit easily in your bag.

rock climber with all rock climbing essential gear on harness


Meet Angel, a former desk-jockey turned global wanderer. After catching a severe case of the climbing (and travel) bug, she's now a world traveller, living the dirtbag dream. Highballs? Too mainstream for her taste. She's all about the thrills of lowballs, where the real action happens. Nowadays, you'll find her in Thailand, either precariously balanced on a granite slab or trading stories with Nemo and his buddies underwater!

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