Essential Gear for Outdoor Sport Climbing

Essential Gear for Outdoor Sport Climbing

February 05, 2018

With the weather so sunny and delightful in Red Rock, it's no surprise that a lot of our indoor climbing community is getting geared up to head outside. If you're new to outdoor climbing, or just a boulderer who's ready to try sport climbing, check out this list of essential gear for sport climbing in Red Rock then head into the ORIGIN Pro Shop for expert advice and assistance in picking out the pieces that are just right for you. 

1. Climbing Shoes

Scarpa Instinct

For technical face climbing like that found throughout Red Rock, we recommend something with a good edge and a little downturn. Much of the moderate climbing in Red Rock also features at least a few moves of slab, so try to avoid styles that are rigid or bulky. The Scarpa Instinct VS is a solid choice! 

2. Harness

For beginner sport climbers or top roping, choose something with a wider waist band and leg loops that will be more comfortable for hanging and falling. If you're an experienced leader and will only be hanging in your harness for short periods, a lighter weight sport harness may be ideal. Here at ORIGIN, we're big fans of the Edelrid Orion and Solaris for either. Edelrid Solaris

3. Chalk/Chalk Bag & Brush

Chalk makes climbing easier and prevents the oils and dirt on your hands from greasing up the holds for the next guy. Always be sure to carry a chalk brush appropriate for the type of rock you'll be climbing on however,  and brush off any excessive chalk marks or ticks before you depart. 

While each chalk company will claim to be 'special' all climbing chalk is essentially the same magnesium carbonate. The only real difference is the texture of the grind, and that's just personal preference. 

4. The Right Rope
Sterling Nano

Ropes come in a variety of lengths and diameters, both of which will affect the weight, durability, and handling.

Use your guidebook or online resources to determine what length of rope you'll need for the routes you plan on tackling. For areas like Red Rock, a vast majority of routes may be accessed with ropes of 40-60 meters, but there are still many single and multi-pitch routes that may require 70-80 meter ropes.

Top rope climbing causes more wear on your rope, so choosing a thicker diameter will give you more durability. If you're mostly leading and red pointing, a thinner rope will weight less and may have better handling. Always be sure to check the range of diameters best suited to your chosen belay device before making a selection. 

5. Quick Draws 

CAMP PhotonQuickdraws typically come in two lengths; a short version that is 10 to 12 cm long, and a long version between 15 and 18 cm long. Shorter draws are lighter and less bulky on your harness. They are good for straight forward routes. Longer draws reduce rope drag and are great for meandering routes or overhung cliffs. A set of quickdraws made up of a mixture of the two lengths gives you the option to use long or short draws depending on the character of a route.

You will generally need a draw for every bolt on a route, two for the anchors, and an additional two or three in case you need more in a tricky situation. On average, 12 to 16 draws will be enough for many sport crags. However, it is important to look at the areas where you will usually be climbing and determine how many quick draws you need to bring along.

6. Belay/Rappel Device

There are a variety of belay rappel devices available, with pro's and con's of each well documented. Which belay device is best suited to you will depend in part on the type of climbing you're doing, your level of experience, and your personal preference. For our part, we recommend that climbers carry both an Assisted-breaking Belay Device like the Petzl GriGri 2 and a traditional tube-style belay/rappel device for back up like the Black Diamond ATC.   

7. Helmet

Petzl Elia HelmetHelmets are important for protecting you against rockfall that can occur even at sport crags, and especially in areas with softer quality rock like Red Rock. They will also protect your head in the event of an inverted fall with the rope behind your leg. In areas with soft, or often broken rock, wearing a helmet while belaying may be more important that wearing one for climbing. 

Always be sure to choose a well fitted helmet designed and rated for Climbing specifically. We recommend the Petzl Elios and Elia (which features a handy pony-tail cut out!)

8. Personal Anchor System

A Personal Anchor System or PAS is used to directly attach yourself to an anchor while belaying or cleaning. While a quick draw may be used in some situations, a PAS will give you more flexibility in your position relative to the anchor which is crucial for multi-pitch belay stations or anchors that are not ideally situated. We recommend the Sterling Chain Reactor. 

9. Belay Gloves

Belay gloves are designed to protect your hands from rope abrasion and burns while belaying. If you belay using a tube-style device like the Black Diamond ATC or Petzl Reverso, belay gloves are critical because a rope burn could cause you to accidentally release the break line during a fall.  It gets warm in Red Rock, so we recommend half-finger gloves like the Outdoor Research Seamseeker. 

Trango Crag Pack
10. Crag Pack

A good crag pack should hold all your essential gear, plus enough water, snacks, and personal items to ensure a comfortable day outside. We recommend choosing a pack no smaller than 35 - 55 liters, with a large top or front opening for quick access. We recommend the Trango Crag Pack. This awesome top loading pack is a bargain at $99 and features a ton of fun and useful features...including a stash of trash bags! 

Bonus Items: 

a) Stick Clip:

Stick clips are used to pre-clip your rope to a very high or unsafe first draw. They're not necessarily essential...unless you love your ankles! We recommend the classic Super Clip paired with a nice telescoping painters pole from your local hardwear store. 

b) Belay Glasses

Belay glasses are a fun little invention that make long belays much more comfortable. An array of special mirrors allow you to look up at your partner while keeping your head facing straight forward. They are a neck saver on long routes or if your partner is having an epic hang dog session. While a bit on the heavy side, Belaggles are a nice, high durability option. 


Need help picking out the right gear? Come on into the Pro Shop at ORIGIN and our friendly experts will help you find exactly what you need, while avoiding what you don't. 

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