Getting Prepared – What is in My Gym Bag – Indoor Rock Climbing Gear

Woman standing with climbing equipment and helmet outdoor, front view. Face is not visible

If you are curious about what to bring to an indoor rock climbing gym, you are in the right place.  When I started climbing last year, I rented all of my gear at the gym.  The more I started visiting my rock climbing gym, renting gear started to become a little pricey.  So, I eventually bought my own shoes and gear.  It took me some time to figure out which shoes and gear that would work best for the level and that will work perfectly as I progress to the next level of climbing. To save you the hassle, here are some suggested climbing gear that you should bring with you at the gym.  

First, you want a nice bag to put your gear in.  You can choose any backpack or bag that you like that has various compartments.  I bought the Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack 17L.  This bag has many compartments including a bottom compartment for my rock climbing shoes. It also has an extra bag for sweaty workout clothes. There is an outer pocket for my smartphone, an inside pocket for my water bottle and a laptop compartment just in case I want to bring my laptop to the gym. The material is water resistant. So, if it rains, my items will be protected. 

When it comes to rock climbing shoes, there are many brands to choose from.  The best climbing shoe brands I believe that are on the market are the La Sportiva and the Butora.  The Butora Endeavor Wide Fit Climbing Shoe was the best choice for me because as I get better at climbing, I don’t have to upgrade my shoes right away as they are also great for advanced climbers.  You can find the Butora Endeavors in a narrower and wide version.  It’s eco-friendly and has 100% organic hemp lining to control stretch and odor. The only downfall is that Butora shoes run very small.   You must buy the shoes 1.5 size bigger than your regular shoe size.  I bought the Women’s Crimson size 10 (size 8.5 in a regular shoe).   The shoes are supposed to snug your feet but are not supposed to hurt or be painful.  If the shoes hurt, get a bigger size.  

Even though most climbers don’t wear socks with their rock climbing shoes unless they are renting their shoes from the gym, rock climbing socks are an option.  I decided to buy four pairs of rock climbing socks.  I made this decision after reading complaints about smelly shoes after wearing climbing shoes for a long period of time.  I haven’t found another brand that sells specific socks for climbing, but Butora brand has socks. They are made from 100% organic hemp like the shoes and snugs the feet so you don’t feel restricted in your shoes.  I bought a size X-large, and they fit perfectly. I’m not quite sure if these socks will stretch for people with a larger foot size, but you can either email or call the company for more information. 

Next, you will need a harness that is strong and comfortable.  All gyms have a harness for rent.  However, rental versions of a harness can be uncomfortable as it might not have padding around the leg and bottom area.  Being comfortable is vital  especially when you need to rest for a bit while on the rocks. There are many brands to choose from.  However, the Black Diamond brand is the most common and is known for its high quality gear.  During the time I bought my harness, I chose the Black Diamond Women’s XS Smoke Primose Harness.  This version is still on the market for both women and men.  It has adjustable leg loops and is well constructed. 

If you want dry hands while climbing, you need chalk.  There are many versions of chalk.  I recommend loose chalk or the chalk ball or both. There is a liquid version, but after using it for a while, I personally don’t like it very much as it dries out too quickly.  However, each individual is different.  So, it if works for you, use it. 

The type of bag you choose for your chalk depends on the type of climbing that you do.  I have seen large bouldering chalk bags and small chalk bags for rope climbing.  However, a regular small chalk bag will suffice. 

Most indoor rock climbing gyms provide belay devices and carabiners for rent, and some gyms might not allow you to bring your own belay device.  Make sure to talk to someone at your gym about gym rules.  I go to two rock climbing gyms.  One allows me to bring my own grigri while the other one doesn’t.  Most gyms use the Petzl Grigri 2 Belay Device which has a great automatic lock feature.  A lot of climbers use a ATC device, but please note, unlike the grigri, it doesn’t have an automatic locking system. So, if you are a beginner climber, I don’t recommended it. 

With any belaying device, you will need a carabiner to hold the belay device and connect it to your harness.  The two carabiners that I bought included the Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate Locking Carabiner and Black Diamond RockLock Screwgate Carabiner. 

If you still need help with finding rock climbing equipment and shoes, there is an online company called Backcountry that has Gearheads experts that will help you choose the right gear and answer any questions that you may have about a certain adventure or sport that you interested in.  

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