Indoor Rock Climbing: What You'll Need and What To Look For

If you're new to the sport, indoor rock climbing offers a safe, controlled environment to learn the basics and get used to climbing. Indoor rock walls provide safe and easily visible holds so you can concentrate on the basic technique of climbing without worrying about finding safe routes and footholds. Of course, you'll need some equipment before you get started. If you're a brand new climber, you may choose to rent or borrow your gear as you give climbing a try and decide if it's right for you. Once you get more experienced and you start finding your own climbing style and preferences, you can start investing in gear of your own.


Like with any sport, it's important to wear the right shoes when you go climbing. Rock climbing shoes can run anywhere from $60 to $150. Realistically you should expect to pay between $100 and $120 for a good pair. When you try them on, they should fit snugly, but leave enough room to allow you to move your foot in all directions. You'll want to avoid space between your toes and the inside of the shoe, and your toes should be flat or comfortably curved at the knuckles. They may feel uncomfortable at first, but a snug fit is important to prevent slipping. Remember that every brand has its own size, so a size 40 in one brand will not be the same as a size 40 in another. If you're brand new to climbing, you may want to consider renting shoes at first before investing in a pair of your own. It is always a good idea to bring an extra pair of regular shoes that you can wear into the gym. Rock climbing shoes are quite uncomfortable for everyday use and should be used exclusively for rock climbing to reduce wear and tear.


A harness is a must-have piece of equipment for both indoor and outdoor climbers. The rope will be fed through it and your equipment will be clipped to it, so it is important that it fits properly like your shoes. Keep in mind that some harnesses are designed specifically for women and some are designed for children. When you try on your harness, the gap between your waist and the harness should be no bigger than two fingers and you should be able to adjust the diameter equally. The leg loops should fit snugly around your legs, but not so tightly that they restrict range of motion. When you're looking for a harness, consider what kind of climbing you plan to do. If you're planning for high-end climbing, you may want to avoid those with adjustable leg loops, since the extra straps and buckles add extra bulk and weight. On the other hand, if you climb for sport, an adjustable harness will add comfort. Every harness comes with certain features that you may or may not need based on what kind of climbing you plan to do, so be sure to check the information on the harness so you're getting the right one for your needs.

Chalk and Chalk Bag

You'll most likely be sweating while climbing, so you'll want to have some chalk to keep your hands dry to prevent slipping. You can keep your chalk in a small bag around your waist. As for the chalk itself, you have two options: loose chalk or a chalk ball. Some climbers prefer to use a ball because loose chalk tends to spill out of the bag and make a mess. In fact, some gyms actually prohibit loose chalk. Be sure to check your gym's specific policy before you invest in loose chalk should you decide to go that route. You can expect to pay around $25 for your chalk and bag.


This is arguably the most important piece of equipment. Climbing rope is designed to be durable and able to stretch under tension. Climbing rope will cost you between $100 and $180 and are available in two forms: dynamic and low elongation, or static ropes. Dynamic ropes are typically used for belaying because they stretch to catch the tension of a falling climber. Static ropes stretch less and are usually used for anchoring.


The carabiner is a solid aluminum ring with a spring-loaded gate for the rope to go through. They cost between $5 and $20, and come in a number of different styles. Some are shaped like a "D", while some are oval-shaped. There is also a style with a curved gate, making it easier to introduce the rope. However, this style makes it easier for the gate to open inadvertently, making it less safe than others. You will want to chose a carabiner style based on your individual needs and rock climbing goals. The "D" style offers the most versatility, but you may need to pair it with another carabiner for extra safety. The oval shape is best when you need a symmetrical carabiner, like for longer routes. If you need to be able to very quickly secure your rope, the bent-gate design may be best.

Belay Device

The belay device is hooked to the front of your harness. The rope is run through it so your climbing partner can belay the rope for you. For new climbers, a simple belay device is the best bet. You can get a simple belay tube device which has a slot to feed the rope through and a wire keeper loop. With no other moving parts, a belay tube is a great way to learn basic belaying techniques. And since the device is so simple, there isn't much difference between models so you won't have to do much comparison shopping.

A Partner

This is an important one that people sometimes forget about. Never go rock climbing, inside or outside, without a partner. Not only will you need a partner to feed the rope, they can also catch you or call for medical help if you fall, point out danger spots you might not see, and motivate you to keep going!

These are some basic pieces of equipment that beginning rock climbers should be aware of. As you become more experienced, you may want to upgrade your equipment or add more tools to your arsenal.

Back to the guide list