If you’ve been keeping up with social media for the last few years, you’ve probably seen an explosion of people interested in indoor rock climbing. With its popularity growing, it can seem somewhat intimidating to start, but don’t worry! Here’s a quick guide to what you’ll need.
We’ll start with the number one necessity, climbing shoes! Climbing shoes were developed to help with precision and traction while climbing. Three main categories of climbing shoes are neutral, moderate, and aggressive. Each refers to the overall curvature of the shoes. Since we are talking about the need to know about starting indoor climbing, I’d recommend starting with a neutral pair. The neutral shape will offer a more comfortable place to adjust to the new fit. Climbing shoes need to be snug against your foot but not feel like they will cut off circulation or cause pain.
Next up is a harness. I put this after shoes because it may be optional, depending on what gym you go to. Some gyms, if not most, will supply the harnesses and ropes required to climb their walls safely. As you start your journey into indoor rock climbing, talk to your gym and see what they offer before diving into buying an expensive piece of gear. If you are still deciding whether to buy a harness, consider purchasing a used one in next to new shape with little to no use from your local consignment shop while you get a feel for the fit/style/needs, etc.
Climbing clothing is up to personal preference and meeting your individual needs. But, if you want to get to the nitty gritty - here are my recommendations for what to look for in clothing you’ll be climbing in.
Snug but comfortable - that perfect-fitting t-shirt you have works great!
Durable or reinforced
Full coverage of legs
Moisture-wicking socks, such as cycling socks, if you wear socks with your climbing shoes
Clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty, damaged, or beat up
Since this is just a quick and dirty run down on how to start, we won’t be deep-diving into the technical items you can purchase independently. Most climbing gyms will provide everything you need. If you have any questions, your local gym can help provide you with answers. Alternatively, find climbers in your area and glean information from them!
The final portion of this equation is a desire to learn, curiosity, and a mindset to succeed. Indoor rock climbing can be intimidating, but you’ve got this. Show up to the local gym, ask questions, sign up for beginner classes, and immerse yourself in the sport. There’s a lot to learn about the vocabulary and the general process, but climbers are a great group of people that will help you get up the wall in no time.
A final thought for you; like other outdoor enthusiasts, climbers often focus on sustainability and protecting our environment. One way you can start engaging in these practices before you even touch the wall is to buy from used gear stores. We don’t need to leave a bigger footprint than needed; most of all, we want to keep our outdoors accessible for the next generations and more.