Gear to Start Climbing

beginner climbing new zealand

So, you’re getting into climbing; first of all, welcome to the dark side it’s a fantastic place with some amazing people (especially in NZ)...

Second of all, you’re going to need some kit but where to start? Harnesses, rock climbing shoes, belays, carabiners, ropes and loads of other fancy shiny bits its of metal. Sounds confusing when you first start out, but really... It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…


One: Shoes and a Harness

The first lot of climbing kit you’ll need will be a pair of climbing shoes and a harness. The very first thing to get when you decide that climbing is for you is a pair of climbing shoes, when you make the change from sneakers or hired shoes to your own pair climbing gets a lot more rewarding. You’ll be looking at a pair of beginner’s climbing shoes that are comfortable and ideally Velcro for an easy on-easy off experience. Something like the men’s and women’s Boreal Beta or Joker or La Sportiva Tarantula are a great thing to check if you’re looking for value for money the Beta is ideal.

A harness should be the second piece of gear you get, unless you’re only bouldering. If you’re climbing outdoors, you’ll need it pretty early on, but if you’re indoor climbing you can hire it for a bit longer though. Harnesses when you’re starting out should be comfortable with nice adjustability, something like the Edelrid Jay and Jayne or Petzl Corax.

If you are climbing outside a Helmet should be on your kit list straight away.. more on that below.

Optional but not necessary

jahna climbing with rope


Two: Helmet & Belay Gear

So, you’ve been climbing for a wee while now, you’ve learnt how to belay but you don’t have the kit to do it. You’re looking at outdoor climbing, maybe daylight savings is just around the corner and the long warm days are tempting you outside, or maybe an excuse to nip outside in the winter months. Now’s the time to get set up with it, here’s what you’ll need:

  • You will need a locking carabiner to go with it – the Edelrid Bulletproof is a is a perfect belay carabiner, it has a bar at the base to prevent cross loading and steel reinforcement at the top of the carabiner to protect it from wear.        
  • There’s added risk when your climbing outdoors so it’s important to get a helmet too, your head is valuable, please look after it.

When you start climbing outdoors, you’ll also need a prusik and a safety for when you are cleaning climbs and rappelling.

  • Prusik – a cord either 6 or 7mm thick cord about 5m long that you can tie yourself alternatively you can get a pre-sewn prusik loop.
  • Locking carabiners for your safety device – I like screw lock carabiners because they’re easier to clip in, just remember to do them up, check out the Petzl Attache  or Magnum Screw Lock, for a triple locking option there is the Magnum Triple.
  • Safety – to keep you safely clipped in at the top of a climb when you “clean” it there are a few different kinds, I like this personal anchor system  or this adjustable double lanyard. For a more budget conscious option though you can get slings that are 80-120cm long depending on your arm length. These are less convenient though as they are harder to alter the length of at the top of the climb.
climbing harness and climbing gear nz



Now you’re properly into climbing, you want the freedom to go wherever the need takes you, it’s time for a rope and some quickdraws. For advice on ropes check out this blog post about which climbing ropes if best for you, or contact us at the store in Christchurch.

For quickdraws you should be looking at 8-12 for climbing, if you’re doing some longer routes that need any more than this, you’ll probably be with a friend and you can pool your resources. My favourite is the Petzl Spirit quickdraw, it’s a nice balance between lighter weight and hardy, the colour coding of the carabiners is also perfect for easy racking and clipping on the wall. For even lighter options you can get wire quickdraws in a set  or heavier duty ones.

climbing nz


Hopefully that helps you pick out what gear you are missing and need right now if you’re wondering how to start climbing and what gear you need to do it. The most important things are look after yourself and have fun. Climbing is a fantastic way to make friends, keep fit and have fun. So when will we be seeing you at the crag?