Does your little monkey enjoy climbing? Is it time to get them some of their own climbing equipment? We’ve been selling kids’ climbing equipment online for many years as well as taking our own daughters climbing from just 2 years of age. Here are our top tips for getting young children kitted out for climbing.
There are three key pieces of equipment you need to take children climbing: a harness, a climbing helmet and climbing shoes. Don’t worry about having to buy any of these before you know your child really enjoys it; the first-time children go climbing is almost always at an indoor wall where you’ll be able to hire everything they need.
If your kids’ get the climbing bug and you want to get them some of their own gear (great for birthday or Christmas presents) here is what we have learnt over the years about how to get the right kit.
Advice on buying kids climbing shoes is different depending on whether the adult involved climbs themselves. If you are a climber buying shoes for your little-ones then forget all your preconceptions about climbing shoe fit. You’ll be used to cramming your foot into climbing shoes and whimpering a little when you take them off.
The key things to remember when buying climbing shoes for children are:
- they aren’t going to wear them if they are uncomfortable
- their feet are going to have a growth spurt the moment you hand your credit card over
- most importantly, you don’t want to put pressure on growing foot bones
All climbing shoes come up small, even kids’ ones. Don’t assume the size you need will be the same as their current school shoe size e.g. if your child is a UK 9 then you’ll most likely to need a climbing shoe that is at least a size UK 10. The best idea both for your child’s feet and your wallet is to buy a pair of climbing shoes that fit comfortably with a pair of socks on then as your child’s feet grow, lose the socks.
Many kids climbing shoes have a Velcro heel adjustment or heel reducer so you can push the foot forward in the shoe which gives you another usable half size of growing room. We have found the best way to sell climbing shoes online is for us to provide the internal length of each size of climbing shoe, you can then look for a size which is approximately 1cm longer than your child’s longest foot measurement (socks off). If your child has wide feet, look for a climbing shoe that has a square rounded toe, if their feet are narrower (typically the big toe is longer than the other toes) look for a climbing shoe with tapered toe box.
There are two types of climbing harness; a seat harness (waist belt and leg loops) and full body (leg loops, waist belt and importantly straps that go over the shoulders – like braces). It is recommended that young children climb with a full body harness; the point at which you attach the rope is higher on a full body harness, which children often like as it makes them feel more secure than a seat harness, and as young children don’t have defined waists a full body harness ensures that in the unlikely event that they invert they won’t slip out from their harness.
The golden rule with buying a climbing helmet is to make sure it’s comfortable for your child to wear, otherwise you’ll be battling to keep it on! Adjust the chin strap so it’s snug but not too tight and make sure you don’t nip the skin under your child’s chin when you close the clip – ouch! All climbing helmets are adjustable at the back of the head so you can get a good fit. If you are buying online, make sure you measure your child’s head circumference (above the eyebrows, and level around the back of the head) to get the right size, be wary of any age recommendations as head circumference can be very variable.
Happy climbing and if you need any advice on buying kids’ climbing equipment we’d be glad to help!
Rebecca, climbing Mum and founder of LittleAdventureShop.co.uk