The Dangerous and Addictive Realm of Gear Ownership


As you progress with your undying love for climbing you may begin to feel an irresistible urge to spend all your money on shiny things which will undoubtedly make you climb much harder. It is often a source of much heated discussion as to what gear is currently ‘in’, what you’re going to buy next and which cams are best (Dragons FYI), just get in a car with Rob Mills, Carl and myself to enjoy these debates for hours on end. We do however know that maybe not everyone is looking to buy micro-nuts or cams for hairline cracks and so the aim of this post is to help people with the process of what order to buy their own gear.

The first obvious things a climber will buy is shoes, as lovely, fragrant and well-fitting (with absolutely no holes) as the club shoes are, it’s nice to have your own pair, good starting shoes will cost ~£50. After this it’s often a harness and for this many people choose to go for a starter pack with a harness, chalk bag and ball and a belay plate and carabiner, this can often be found on sale for a very reasonable price of ~£80. (Edit- you need a helmet too otherwise Richard will shout at you).

If you’re a sport climber then here you would buy some heavy, fat, potentially overpriced quickdraws however if you’re reading this article about gear then I would suggest you would be suited to trad climbing…

Once these essentials are under your wing it’s time for the proper shiny things, it’s a good idea to begin with sport climbing gear and so a 3-pack of standard screwgate carabiners, a 60cm or 120cm dyneema sling and 2 prusiks will be a good addition to your small but perfectly formed rack costing only ~£30.

The next stage gets interesting as there are 2 distinct options for a trad climber, as you all know we have a great club stores (with an amazing gear sec) and anyone can borrow what they want, this leads to an interesting option of buying gear to compliment the club racks, Firstly would be some extender slingdraws to try and stop you feeling like you’re pulling a horse up a route behind you due to rope drag. Then we get to the really fun part, I’m talking CAMS! These are one of the few things we don’t offer as a club so some members choose to buy a few intermediate sized cams whilst continuing to save for passive protection, a set of 3 cams however may set you back ~£150 (but a worthwhile investment)

The other option is simply to go balls to the wall and buy passive protection (nuts, offsets and hexes) because you’re a strong (or not) independent climber who doesn’t need cams. DMM offer a great starter set of all the above passive pro for ~£140. A nutkey also won’t go amiss accidentally hopping into a shopping basket somewhere along this journey.

From this it would be wise to buy something allowing you to clip to all this shiny gear you have weighing you down and so you’ll want some quickdraws, there are so many different types that there is no chance you would still be reading this by the end if I explained them all, however DMM, Black Diamond and Wild Country all have good offerings from £10-£20 per quickdraw.

Beyond protection is where people generally bulk up their rack with extra slings, more cams, carabiners (including a giant boa), fancy belay devices, cordelette, or if you’re Rob Mills you buy about 40 nuts from different brands and add them all to your spreadsheet to analyse in depth the optimal size configurations. By this stage you may realise your rack is becoming rather heavy and excessive and so, naturally, you will continue buying gear with less and less real use until you realise you have no money left to actually go climbing and all you can buy is some nice coloured gear tape to help you remind yourself where all your student loan went whilst you watch climbing movies.

Happy Gear Hunting,

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Gear Sec