It can be daunting buying,hiring,borrowing new climbing gear especially when your safety is involved. Our guide to 'what to buy,hire, borrow, wear' should help point you in the right direction. The section covers most of the kit you would need for indoor climbing in London and touches on some of the climbing equipment you may need if you are thinking about heading farther afield.
Indoor Equipment covered:
-Climbing 'gear' - Carabiners, Belays and slings etc.
-Other gear rock climbing gear
What to climbing gear to buy, hire, borrow, wear?
Rock Climbing Essentials
Any sports or loose fitting clothes work well for climbing and bouldering for both men and women. We would recommend not wearing your best sports gear as it can get worn out and dirty on the climbing wall. Most people wear shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt (sometimes you will see male climbers with no tops on!) but you should climb in what ever you feel most comfortable in and will provide you with a good amount of flexibility.
Good climbing/rock shoes will hold you in great stead and should be your first purchase as a climber (as wearing sweaty hire shoes can be a bit off putting). Sizes vary greatly and as standard you should pick a size lower than your normal shoe size. Climbing shoes are inherently uncomfortable, painfully so at times, but it is imperative that shoes be tight to support your foot and give you rigidity in the foot to help you climb on even the smallest toe holds.
Chalk bags come in all shapes, sizes, colours and styles but they all do one thing, carry chalk. Chalk is used to remove sweat and give added adhesion to climbing holds and is used by climbers of all levels. We recommend the around the waist type bags as they are easy to climb with and don't get so easily misplaced. We also suggest using the 'chalk balls' rather than loose chalk as it's less likely to spill out of the bag in those dynamic manoeuvres.
Harnesses come in all shapes and sizes but as it is arguably the most important piece of personal safety equipment, attaching you to the rope and belayer, you should invest wisely. Sit in harnesses are the most common type you will use for climbing. All harnesses have a waist loop and 2 leg loops. The waistbelt should settle just above your hipbones and should not be able to be pulled down over your hips, leg loops should be tight but not hinder movement. Check our shop to buy.
Belay devices are another essential piece of climbing equipment. There are several styles of devices - ATC's, Figure 8's, stitch plates and gri-gris etc. They mainly use friction to control the rope of a person climbing/repelling and if used correctly will stop a falling climber. We use the ATC style (in the image) as they are light and easy to use but that is personal preference. For more info on belays check out the wikipedia section link below.
Most people climbing in London won't need to purchase a rope as most of the centres provide them on top-roped sections. However if you are going to lead climb then you will need to provide you own. There are tons of different rope manufactures, lengths, thicknesses and treatment options and the right rope will depend on what type(s) of climbing you will be doing. If you're looking at buying a climbing rope we recommend that you do your research and don't always go for the cheapest option
Not always a necessity for indoor climbing in London but that being said personal safety should always be a top priority when climbing. Climbing helmets are mainly used outdoors to protect you against falling rock and other debris. Indoors this isn't such a concern but will provide some protection from bumps and falls. There are some decent styles and makes about so have a look at our shop for more information.
Are metal loops that perform multiple jobs when climbing. They are used mainly as a connecting loop for differing functions and are an essential piece of gear in any climbers arsenal. Again there are loads of manufactures and designs but to start off you should invest in at least 2-3 locking "screwgate" carabiners (shown in the image) as these are the most widely used variations You buy carabiners though our shop.
sometimes called 'runners' consist of a tied or sewn loop of webbing that again perform many functions, like being wrapped around sections of rock, as extenders or for anchoring people while belaying indoors (useful if you climbing partner is heavier than you). As always there's loads of variations in colour, thickness and length but a selection of 2-3 differing length slings (e.g. 1x 8mm-60cm and 2x 11mm-120cm) is a good bet. Check our shop for more info
A quick draw forms the link between the climber's rope and the protecting gear (cams,anchor,etc). They come in various lengths and are made up of two carabiners and the connecting "extender" in the middle. The longer they are the less likely twists and turns in the rope will lift out protection in trad-climbing but for sport this is less of a concern. When lead climbing indoors the majority of the centres will have quick draws already placed but if you are heading out then invest.
Cams, Nuts (shown), Hexes, wires. All perform the job of filling narrow cracks and forming a jamming hold to protect climbers. These are not an essential piece of kit for London Climbers but if you are heading out onto real rock then they are a sound investment. The best known, best value and probably the best designed are Wild Country Rocks but DMM make a good selection also. Do your research and carry a good variety of gear when climbing as you never know what size/shape you may need!