Before you start cragging outside, you probably want to perfect your climbing skills at the gym. Thankfully, getting started is easier (and cheaper) than you might think. Below, five professional climbers share their favorite gear for beginners looking to get off the ground.
For the gym, Evolv-sponsored climber and national championship winner Kai Lightner recommends the unisex Defy shoes, because theyâre comfortable (as far as climbing shoes go), have an easy hook-and-loop strap system, and sport a vegan-friendly synthetic upper. âFor beginners who are buying their first pair of shoes, itâs important to try on many different styles and sizes to find the best fitâone that is comfortable and snug without being too tight,â Lightner says. These reasonably priced all-arounders feature an antimicrobial liner to keep the funk at bay.
Lightner also carries this massage ball to relieve kinks and muscle tension after climbing. âFoam rollers are great at home but bulky for travel,â he says. âThis massage ball accomplishes the same goal in a more travel-friendly size.â
Ben Hanna brightens things up with his furry monster chalk bag from 8bPlus. âTheyâre a good way to keep climbing fun and lighthearted,â he says. Besides its crazy looks, this chalk bag has a wide five-inch opening for quick and easy hand access, a brush holder on either side, and a carabiner and waist belt for versatile attachment. The best part? Each monster has its own name and backstory to go with its personality. âI am a fan of Kelly, cuz pink,â Hanna says.
Hanna fills Kelly with climbing chalk from Chalk Cartel, an up-and-coming company based in New Mexico. âTheyâre local, and I think they have the best chalk on the market,â he says. Chalk Cartel sells its high-quality magnesium carbonate by the quarter or kilo in eco-friendly packaging at a reasonable price.
As the first woman to send Necessary Evil (5.14c), Michaela Kiersch knows the importance of a good belay. âThe GriGri+ is an absolute must,â she says. âThis belay device offers top-of-the-line safety features, including an anti-panic handle to prevent rapid and uncontrolled lowering.â This third-generation GriGri is good for beginners, with lead and top rope belay modes for easy handling and an extended rope diameter range of 8.5 to 11 millimeters. âAnother great feature is the stainless-steel wear plate, which gives the device a longer lifespan,â Kiersch says.
Ben Rueckâs list of accomplishments includes climbing the first ascent of Pure Pressure (5.14a), but the Camp-sponsored athlete often sees new climbers get ahead of themselves by buying the most expensive gear right away, which can be overkill for the gym. âI recommend starting out with a simple, clean, and comfortable harness like Campâs Energy,â he says. The fully featured harness has thermoformed padding, adjustable leg loops, four gear loops, and a haul loopâat a price that wonât break the bank. Itâs lightweight and versatile and serves as an âeasy transition harness to the outdoors,â Rueck says.
To stay loose and accelerate his recovery process, Rueck rolls out with the Nonagon after training and gym sessions. The 13-inch-long roller has an EVA foam core and nine sides with a textured surface to hit the sore spots. âI enjoy rolling out for about ten to 15 minutes, mostly focusing on legs, back, and shoulders to create mobility,â Rueck says.
Pulling on plastic quickly wears down your hands, especially for newer climbers who havenât built up callouses. But Nina Williams, the first female to send Ambrosia, has a solution. âRhino Skin Repair Cream is great for stinging, post-gym-sesh hands, because you can put it on right after climbing once youâve washed the chalk off your hands,â she says. Unlike wax-based hand balms, Repair Cream is a nongreasy lotion that absorbs quickly after application, so you wonât leave streaks on everything you touch. âIt sinks into your skin instead of hanging out on the surface,â Williams says. âFeels great, smells great.â
Williams also keeps a Split Stick on hand for quick spot-treatment to flappers, splits, and problem creases. âMy hands are naturally super dry and crack easily,â she says, âbut Rhino Skin fixes it the fastest.â