Climbing has never been more popular. Whether you’re discovering nearby outdoor climbs on Mountain Project or Googling local indoor climbing gyms, you’ve likely got a climbing spot near your home no matter where you live. Most climbers get acquainted with the safety routines, lingo, and gear when climbing indoors. But it’s fine to start outdoors if you fall in with the right climbers or enroll in an American Mountain Guides Association-accredited course.
Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, you’re going to need some essential gear. I’m keeping it simple (and affordable) in this guide, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the jargon for technical gear. You’re also not going to be a climbing lead until you’re more experienced, so I’ve omitted items like rope and quickdraws, which your climb leader will have. You can get by with any flexible clothes (no jeans!), but I suggest you veer toward technical synthetic layers for climbing outside.
Updated June 2022: We’ve added the Camp Nano 22, Photon Lock, Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock, and Black Diamond Creek 20 backpack.
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