Taking off on an exciting rock-climbing adventure? Then you’ll want to do all you can to prepare, so you can put your full focus into enjoying the thrills and physical benefits of this ultimate outdoor pursuit. That means knowing exactly what to take with you.
Remember that before you go, it’s crucial to have proper safety training that covers how to use your equipment correctly. If you’re new to climbing, consider taking a class or going with an experienced climber. After all, it’s no use having all the gear without full knowledge of how to use it.
Whether you’re packing for an overnight climbing trip or a longer break, rock climbing or bouldering, we’ve broken down everything you’ll need to take.
What do you need to bring for rock climbing?
Rock climbing requires a specific kit, apparatus and accessories to maximise safety and enhance your experience. Bear in mind that the specific gear you need can slightly vary based on your chosen type of climbing (indoor, sport, trad, bouldering) and the location.
Here’s a general list of what you’ll need to pack for rock climbing.
It’s important to be familiar with exactly what climbing gear you’ll need, so that nothing gets in the way of scaling new heights and getting your heart pumping.
Chalk: This will help keep your hands dry, for a better grip. You can also purchase a chalk bag, which is a pouch that can be attached to your harness.
Personal anchor system (PAS): This will help you to attach to your anchor and can consist of single or double lanyards, or chains.
Climbing harness: A harness is essential for attaching yourself to the rope. Make sure it fits comfortably and securely.
Carabiners: These are used for various purposes, including attaching your harness to the rope, building anchors, and connecting gear.
Belay: This is used to control the rope when belaying or rappelling. Common types include tubular belay devices and assisted braking devices.
Climbing rope: For roped climbing, you’ll need a dynamic climbing rope. The length and diameter of the rope will depend on the type of climbing and your specific needs.
Rope bag or tarp: This will protect your rope when not in use and facilitate easy storage. A rope bag with a built-in tarp is even better, to keep it clean and fit for use.
Crash pad: Particularly useful for bouldering, these are imperative for safety. Choose memory foam for the softest of landings.
Quickdraws: You can use these to connect your rope to both your gear and to bolts on the wall. They consist of two carabiners connected by a dogbone.
Slings and runners: Made from tied or sewn webbing, in various lengths and materials, these will help you build anchors, give you more protection, and more.
Nut tool and cams: These are used in traditional (trad) climbing for placing and removing protection pieces, such as nuts and cams.
What you wear to go rock climbing is highly important. Wear comfortable and flexible garments suitable for the weather and climbing conditions. Here’s what you’ll need to incorporate into your clothing:
Climbing shoes: A well-fitting pair of rock shoes is crucial for grip and control. They should fit snugly but not be painfully tight.
Helmet: It’s important to protect your head from falling debris, falls or accidental impacts. Helmets are especially important for outdoor climbing.
Layers: Remember extra items to throw on over T-shirts and shorts at a moment’s notice, including waterproofs. Long-sleeved tops and trousers are essential; light layers will protect you from UV rays during prolonged exposure to the sun, even if it’s cloudy.
Thermal wear: make sure you can keep off the chill when required, with thicker outerwear, heat-giving inner layers and a warm hat. Even if it’s comfortable enough for light clothing during the day, temperatures can drop significantly after sunset.
Backpack: Whether you keep a smaller pack to use during the day, or use your climbing pack for everything, this is a non-negotiable for carrying all your essentials, such as water, snacks, torches, clothing items and your first aid kit.
Belay gloves: these are optional but can help protect your hands while belaying or rappelling.
Sunglasses: look for tinted varieties that will protect your eyes from glare.
Having everything covered in terms of personal care will help you feel your best on your trip. These can include:
Shampoo and conditioner
It’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit on hand for minor injuries or emergencies. Here’s what it should consist of:
Insect repellant/sting ease
Make sure you always have the right papers and written information to hand, to take any potential stress out of your trip.
Guidebook or route information, which will help locate specific climbs and understand their difficulty.
Passport/other travel documents
Travel insurance documents
Accommodation booking confirmation
EHC (if travelling within Europe)
Whether you need to use your tech to capture memories, contact home or stay organised, here’s what you probably won’t want to neglect:
Here’s a reminder of anything else that will help your rock-climbing trip go smoothly:
Dining supplies, such as a bowl, cup and spoon
Water bottle; ideally a sturdy design with an easy-to-use cap
Tent: If you’ll be camping for some or all of your trip, you’ll also need a lightweight sleeping bag with an appropriate temperature rating.
How do you pack a climbing pack?
Packing a climbing pack efficiently and effectively will go a long way to enhancing your comfort and safety. This is why choosing the right one is of the utmost importance. Select a climbing-specific design suitable for your needs, which is large enough to carry all your gear but not so big that it’s cumbersome.
Follow these steps to pack your climbing pack correctly:
1. Before packing, lay out all your climbing gear and clothing to assess what you need to take. Confirm that you have all the necessary items for the type of climbing you’ll be doing, making a written list you can consult when needed.
2. Packing cubes or stuff sacks will keep gear organised and prevent smaller items from getting lost in your pack. Separate into convenient categories, such as clothing, climbing hardware, and other smaller items.
3. Place the heaviest items at the bottom of the pack. This helps distribute weight evenly and makes the pack more stable.
4. Fold or roll your clothing to save space and place it near the top.
5. If you’re carrying a climbing rope, coil it and secure it on top of the clothing or in a designated rope bag, if your pack has one.
6. Place your climbing hardware like quickdraws, carabiners, and cams securely, so they can’t swing around and cause discomfort or damage. You can use gear loops or pockets if your pack has them.
7. Pack your water bottles or hydration reservoir in an exterior pocket, or within the pack’s designated hydration sleeve. Place your food in a separate sealed bag to keep it from mixing with other gear and spoiling, or creating mess.
8. Secure your climbing helmet and shoes either in a designated helmet holder, or on top of the pack for easy access.
9. Keep items you’ll use most in an exterior pocket so that they’ll be easily accessible. This includes your route guidebook, maps, navigation tools, first aid kit, multi-tool, headlamp, and sunscreen.
10. If you have extra gear like trekking poles, make sure they’re securely attached to the outside of your pack.
11. Once you’ve packed, test how your pack feels to be certain it’ll hold everything well and you’ll be comfortable with it on your back for long periods. Adjust the shoulder straps, hip belt, and chest strap so that they’re secure.
Before leaving, do a final check to confirm you have all the necessary gear. Inspect everything to ensure that it’s properly packed and in good working condition.
Get Rock Climbing Insurance with SportsCover Direct
Extreme hobbies are made for enjoying to the fullest. While you’re getting maximum fun from your favourite sport, you don’t want to let anything stop you from pushing your limits. That’s why taking out a reliable rock-climbing insurance policy is one of the best ways to prepare for your next adventure.
SportsCover Direct’s specialist Rock Climbing Insurance offers cover for up to 7,000m. You can select from three policy options, including our Travel Insurance which includes going abroad either for leisure or to compete. You’ll benefit from financial cover for medical and repatriation fees, as well as being protected in the event your trip is cancelled or impacted in some way. There’s also our Travel Insurance Bolt-On, in case you already have a policy for going overseas that doesn’t cover rock climbing. Lastly, the Sports Accident policy gives you peace of mind if an incident occurs, including personal liability and protection for loss of earnings.
Get an instant quote for Rock Climbing Insurance to suit your needs. If you have any questions, contact our friendly team.