Updated: December 2017

Climbing Gear Reviews:

Guide to the Essentials of Rock Climbing - Whether you are tackling Yosemite National Park or a new rock climbing wall, you're doing it for the excitement, the challenge. Of the many words that can be used to describe rock climbing, "boring" is not one of them. Not only does it give you the ultimate in workouts, it gives you adventure, pressure, adrenaline, and the rapid-heart-beating-thrill that is impossible to get while standing on the ground. The element of difficulty is what makes rock climbing so rewarding, but it also makes it crucial to have the right climbing gear. What do you need? What are the best brands? When can you scrimp and when should you go all out? This guide will walk through some essentials of rock climbing.

What Do You Need for Rock Climbing? - Those who love rock climbing don't choose their supplies for their flash, their color, or because they're the trend of the minute. They choose their climbing gear based on what they need when they're out on the ledge. They choose based on safety and reliability first. If the climbing equipment happens to be in a great color, so much the better. If your harness doesn't match your climbing shoes, who really cares? Anyone giving criticism is bound to be giving it from the ground. Here are the essentials for safe climbing:

*Good climbing shoes
*Chalk bags
*Climbing ropes
*Belay and descending devices
*Active and passive protection, including ball nuts and pitons

Best Rock Climbing Equipment Brands - Savvy shoppers know that generic products can save a ton of money. This is fine if you're picking out spaghetti noodles or laundry soap. It is not always a good idea when it comes to rock climbing. Because your safety is in the hands of your gear, it is worth it to buy the best you can afford. Look out for top brands in the industry, including:

*Black Diamond
*Mad Rock
*La Sportiva
*Five Ten Rock Climbing Shoes
*BlueWater Climbing Ropes
*Back Country Access
*New England Climbing Ropes
*The North Face

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you a good place to start your search for the best rock climbing gear. You can browse the best selling climbing gear here.

Best Climbing Gear: Helmets:

For tips on choosing your rock climbing helmet, check out REI's site (http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/climbing+helmet.html) and watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyLVy2hcacE). Research, research, and more research before you start climbing sheer rock faces. Both BestCovery and SierraDescents name the Petzl Elios Climbing Helmet as a top choice, with the latter saying, "If you're looking for an all-around climbing and mountaineering helmet (and an ultralight design is not suitable for your needs), this is the helmet to beat." The Elios is not one of the trendy new ultralight helmets you can find, but it is a reliable, sturdy, durable, and safe choice. This Finnish-made helmet features an injection-molded ABS shell for lightweight and durable protection, expanded polystyrene liner to absorb impact, adjustable chin strap, nape height, and headband for customized fit, molded adjustment wheel for headband, side-release chin strap, clips for headlamp, 10 vents, and a 3-year warranty. The Elios can be used for rock climbing, alpine climbing, and ice climbing. Just slip on a stocking cap, turn the headband adjustment wheel a little, and you're ready to hit the cold. BestCovery calls it a "class leading, all around helmet." You can find the 12-ounce Elios for $66.

Other rock climbing helmets to consider:
*CAMP Speed. This is an ultralight helmet at only 7 ounces. This is a great choice for adventure racers; not such a great choice for everyone else. It's $130. *Black Diamond Half Dome. This is an affordable choice for $60. SierraDescents recommends it for all-around use and says it's a "top pick for harsh conditions and expedition use."

Best Climbing Shoes:

Look here for some tips on buying your rock climbing shoes (http://climbing.about.com/od/climbinggear/tp/10-Rock-Shoe-Buying-Tips.htm). If you're just starting out, BestCovery's top pick for climbing shoes is the La Sportiva Nago Rock Climbing Shoe. The best part is that the Nago allows for both learning and progressing. They feature a perforated synthetic leather build for comfort and breathability, a Vibram XS Grip sole, standard lacing, medium asymmetrical curvature, and a 1-year manufacturer's warranty. These are not "beginner's" shoes, per se. They are just useful, versatile, and comfortable shoes for climbers of all ability levels and are especially great for long routes. You can find these for $100. View top rated climbing shoes here.

Other climbing shoes to consider:
*Five Ten Anasazi. These are favored by Gear.com, Trailspace.com, SuperTopo, BackCountry, Epinions, RockClimbing.com, and OutdoorReview for their flexible fit and exceptional stability. The V2 is a popular model and is about $150. Look online for other Anasazi models. *La Sportiva Muira VS for $140. This is a "high end edging and smearing shoe" that is useful for bouldering and high-difficulty rock climbing. See all La Sportiva rock climbing shoes here.

Best Rock Climbing Harnesses:

Look here for some tips about choosing rock climbing harnesses (http://www.climbing.com/print/equipment/harness233/). You are putting your life - or at least the integrity of your bones - in the hands of something that weighs less than a pound. Having a high quality harness is essential, and Climbing.com puts their faith in the CAMP Geko. The winner of Climbing Magazine's Editor's Choice Award for best lightweight sport climbing harness. It features anatomical cut, unrestricting contours, ventilated padding, ultra light weight of 11 ounces, interchangeable leg loops, Cordura and mesh foam, adjustable leg loops and waist, and a lifetime warranty. It can be found at various climbing and outdoor sites for a bit under $75. RECOMMENDED - Black Diamond is another top name and reviews for their harnesses are nearly perfect at Amazon.com. View the most popular Black Diamond harnesses here. This page (http://www.supertopo.com/best/Climbing-Harness-Review) at SuperTopo has a quick video on choosing your harness, as well as several models that won their Editor's Choice Awards, including the CAMP Quartz CR3, Black Diamond Chaos, Black Diamond Momentum, and Mad Rock Alpha. Rock climbing is one of the most challenging and rewarding activities to which we can treat our bodies and minds. Make sure it is also a safe activity by choosing the best climbing equipment.