What Gear Do I Need for Indoor Top-Roped Climbing?

What Gear Do I Need for Indoor Top-Roped Climbing?

If you’ve already had the training, can safely belay, put on a harness and want to try roped climbing, what equipment will you need and extras might you want? Well if you’re visiting a climbing centre then the you’ll be able to rent most of the gear but over time you might want to build up your own kit. Some of these are the same as in the blog of gear for bouldering.

The one thing you won’t need if going to a climbing centre will be a rope. Ropes will already be hung and each rope will cover climbing on several different routes. If lead climbing, then centres will require you to take your own rope of at least “double +5m”, the height of the route you intend to climb.

What you’ll need – the basics

  • Comfortable, stretchy clothing – Arms and legs will need to reach at full stretch and a pair of shorts that are great for running may actually restrict full movement in one of the strange positions you end up in on a boulder problem.
  • Helmet – Centres usually require all children under 14 to wear helmets, some may require all climbers do. Some don’t . However, they protect the head from the potential knocks received when falling or from things falling from above (including the well known hazard of falling mobile phones!). They are an important piece of safety kit. A lot of centres provide them free of charge.
  • Harness – A harness is essentially a utility belt with leg loops that is used to attach a climber or belayer to the rope. They must be correctly adjusted to fit as this is also an important safety device. If it fails, the climber can fall unsupported. For children, full body harnesses which stop children flipping when falling, are also available. Harnesses can always be hired at climbing centres.
  • Belay Device – Belay devices come in many forms and require knowledge and technique to use. We will have a blog article covering this as it can be complex. However climbing walls can hire devices, usually an ATC, so it’s important to become familiar with this one.
  • Carabiner – A carabiner (or karabiner) is a common climbing clip that’s used for attaching things. They are used for everything from saving a life to clipping on a water bottle. They are made to different standards for the different functions so just make sure the safety one for belaying is a HMS locking type.
  • Climbing shoes – Shoe rental at walls is usually just a couple of pounds. These are very specifically just for climbing – you just won’t be able to climb the same in a pair of trainers. They will not feel like a normal shoe and that’s because of what they are meant to do on the wall. Shoes differ a lot and what is right for one person or one type of climbing won’t be right for another. That’s a whole article right there, just on all the differences between shoes!

  • Climbing Chalk – Chalk is used to help keep the hands dry and grip the holds. Most chalk is a ground magnesium carbonate powder that is rubbed over the hands, but brands do differ. The chalk can be purchased loose or in a ball (fabric bag filled with chalk) or as a liquid. Chalk is used liberally and gets everywhere.
  • Chalk Bags – The chalk bags you’ll use for roped climbing are small pouches that are worn on the waist on a belt and can hold loose chalk or a ball. As it’s with you on the wall you can then top up chalk if you need it. Some centres will hire chalk bags, but they generally cost less than £10 to buy a basic one and a few pounds more for some chalk.
  • Balms & Tape – Not essential for first timers but all that friction and chalk can be really tough on hands. Balms will help to soothe, heal and soften sore hands. You will see climbers with tape wrapped around fingers to protect sore skin or injury and allow them to continue climbing. These can normally purchased for a few pounds from climbing centres if they’re needed. At the point you need to buy these – you know you are on your way to becoming seriously hooked on climbing. Enjoy!


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