The harness needs to be comfortable enough to hang out in for hours and still have the features necessary to tackle anything from gym climbing to trad. The Misty Mountain Ranger is a new multi-purpose harness with some beginner-friendly features like double-backed, quick-adjust waist and leg loop buckles, which gives you one less thing to worry about as a new climber. The gear loops on each side of the hips are key for Southeastern trad climbing. You may not be leading multi-pitch routes, but you will be following, which means it’s your job to clean and store protection on your harness as you climb. $89.95 // mistymountain.org
The key piece is an ATC (Air Traffic Controller), which allows you to rappel and belay. Quickdraws are used to clip into fixed anchors at top rope sites as well as anchors along sport routes. Carabiners are the workhorse of the climbing world, used for a variety of applications, most importantly attaching your ATC to your harness. One is essential, but you’ll need a handful at least. If you drop a carabiner from a route, it needs to be retired. Black Diamond equipment is the industry leader in climbing hardware: blackdiamondequipment.com
Ropes come in a variety of sizes and lengths, as well as two main categories: dynamic and static. You can only support a climber with a dynamic rope, so forget static lines until you’re good enough to guide others. Within the dynamic category, you can choose between “dry” and “non-dry.” Get the dry and you’ll be safe to climb whatever the weather conditions. Size matters, and for the most versatility, choose a rope between 9.2mm and 11mm. As for length, 60 meters should be plenty long for any pitch you find yourself on. Check out Mammut’s 10.2mm Supersafe, which is coated with Teflon to build resistance against sharp edges. Marks appear five meters from each end letting you know when you’re about to run out of rope. $259.95 // mammut.ch
Forget edging for your first climbing shoe. What you want is a shoe that’s comfortable enough to keep you climbing. (Try wedging your feet into performance-based climbing shoes on your first climb and you won’t come back for a second). The La Sportiva Tradmaster has a stiff midsole and plush lining, both of which help new climbers transition into the masochistic world of climbing shoes. It’s comfy enough to belay in, while also giving you the performance you need on the rock. $110 // sportiva.com.
Climbing often loosens rock, which tends to fall on top of the belayer. Mammut’s Tripod is designed for all-day comfort (light, padded, numerous vents), but we like the quick-adjust headband, which can be fitted with one hand on the fly. $79.95 // mammut.ch