Equipment Checklist for Outdoor Rock Climbing

Going on a rock climbing expedition can be a thrilling experience.

Whether you’re going alone or with friends, rock climbing can be a fun-filled and relaxing excursion.

But in order for your trip to go as planned, it’s important that you carry a checklist of much-needed items. You don’t want to get all the way out only to find that you forgot your climbing shoes, do you?

Let’s face it: it’s easy to forget things—even important things—when we’re busy.

And you’re going to be very busy as you plan for your trip.

Making a checklist of the important items you’ll need can save you time and hassle.

Not sure where to start?

No problem! We’ve done the work for you. Let our comprehensive checklist below guide you as you assemble the gear required for your trip.

Checklist for outdoors rock climbing

Essential Bouldering Equipment Checklist

For starters, let’s consider the items you’ll need if you’re going bouldering. Note: some of the items included may depend on the length of your trip.


When going bouldering, be sure that you take a pair of your best rock climbing shoes. You’re going to want a pair that has a good grip so that you can get a better hold onto the rock you’re trying to climb.

Rock climbing shoes come in different grades: neutral, moderate, and aggressive.

For those who plan to do some all-day climbing, neutral shoes provide unparalleled comfort. Though they don’t provide the best grip in tough climbing situations, they are a great choice for beginners or those wanting to do a lot of climbing.

Moderate shoes, recognizable by their distinctive downturned shape, are better for making tough climbs. The sturdier rubber of these shoes allows for a better grip—even if they aren’t as comfortable for all day wear.

Those looking to get the maximum performance should consider investing in aggressive shoes. Though the least comfortable, their unique design will allow you to perform even the most complicated of climbing maneuvers.


You should make sure to take the right clothes to your rock climbing trip. Bringing an outfit that suits the weather is absolutely imperative. If you are going in the summer time, it’s important that you bring clothes that are light. It’s much easier to rock climb when you’re not sweaty.

You should also take clothes that provide extra protection in case of slippage. While experienced rock climbers likely won’t have much to fear, it’s a good idea to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet will keep your head protected if you fall and will help ensure that your trip is safe and hazard-free.

That’s why you should take the time to invest in a quality helmet. Try checking out brands that cater to rock climbers to see what design and models appeal to you. In general, the higher the price, the more quality helmet you will be receiving. While this may not sound too attractive, keep in mind that higher quality helmets provide for better protection in case of an accident.

Making sure you invest in the right clothes and helmet is more than a worthwhile investment for your rock climbing trip. It’s an absolute necessity and could be the make or break factor of your overall rock climbing experience.


Don’t forget to take your chalk. Applying chalk to your hands allows you to get a better grip. Because of the lack of safety equipment when bouldering, it’s important that you make sure to always pack your chalk.


If you’re planning on camping out for any period of time, you’ll want to bring a tent. Having a quality tent can make or break your stay, as it’s important to have a comfortable place to rest. Though investing in a top-notch tent may seem expensive at first, there’s a worthy payout involved.

Take it from someone who’s been there—you’ll be thankful that you bought one.

First Aid Kit

Though we don’t like to think about it, accidents do happen. That’s why it’s important that you bring along a good first aid kit. Doing so can help ensure that your rock climbing experience is safe and enjoyable. In general, you will want to get a larger first aid kit that has everything you need. It may be tempting to scrimp and save, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Essential Outdoor Rock Climbing Equipment

Those who are going to do more traditional rock climbing need to bring all the aforementioned items, as well as:

Carabiners and quickdraws

Carabiners are essential to your rock climbing safety. Make sure that you don’t leave it behind when packing your belongings. Without this piece of equipment, you won’t be able to go rock climbing.

We recommend that you take at least 6 to 12 quickdraws with you. Read our article ‘How many quickdraws do I need‘ if you need more specific advice on the quantity of quickdraws you may need for your specific type of climbing.

Climbing Harness

You’ll attach your carabiner to your climbing harness. Unless you’re going to free solo (which we don’t recommend to anyone that needs to read blog posts about climbing!) or bouldering with a crash pad to a maximum of a couple of meters high, you’ll absolutely need to bring your climbing harness.


Be sure to not leave your climbing ropes behind. Having enough rope—even backup rope—can sometimes make or break your trip.

Additionally, it’s good practice to make sure that the rope you’re taking hasn’t been incorrectly coiled or kinked in any way. Kinked rope can actually get caught in belaying devices, posing a health risk for the climber.

When packing your extra rope, make sure you do so in a way that will prevent these dangerous kinks.

Don’t Leave Home Without Doing These Things First

Here’s some other things you need to think of in preparation for your next rock climbing trip:

Checking the Weather

Okay, this one’s obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. You don’t (and oftentimes simply can’t) want to rock climb in bad weather. It’s always important to check the weather a few days in advance and follow the daily weather report to notice any changes. Doing this can help you stay on top of the weather and know what type of clothes to bring and what conditions to expect throughout the day.

Failing to check the weather can lead to serious consequences.

The less serious, but just as annoying, consequence is that you arrive at your destination only to find that the weather is so bad that you’re going to have to cancel your plans. It could even be that the weather conditions have made it too unsafe to climb, in which case you lose the very purpose of your entire trip.

That’s still a better option than the second-case scenario, however. It’s even worse if your poor planning puts you and your friends in a dangerous situation.

Some storms can be unexpected, and you don’t want to be caught climbing up a rock when the bottom falls out. This can pose serious safety risks to everyone involved.

As you can see, it’s absolutely critical that you maintain a constant eye on the weather. You may even choose to have a weather alert on your phone.

Planning and Packing Your Food

If you are planning on being out all day or for an extended trip, you will likely want to prepare meals in advance. This gives you extra time to rest while you are on your trip and gives you the added convenience of knowing what you are going to eat ahead of time. When your body has time to prepare for something, it is generally more accepting. As such, planning your meals can allow you to enjoy a stress-free rock climbing experience.

If you’re planning on camping out, there’s a strong possibility that you’re not going to be around any mainstream food sources. Make sure to take your own so that you won’t have to go hungry during the day or the night. Rock climbing on an empty stomach can be distracting—and therefore dangerous—so don’t assume that you will have convenient access to restaurants when you head out.

Taking a Map or a GPS

Though we like to think of ourselves as expert navigators, the truth is that it’s possible for any of us to get turned around. At the end of the day, we are all humans—so it’s best to bring along some sort of navigational tool when you go rock climbing.

If you are more traditional, consider bringing a map so that you can always stay on track of where you are. This is especially useful if you are rock climbing in an area you know relatively well. If you are going to a lesser-known location, however, you should consider bringing some sort of GPS tracking system.

These days, GPS systems are widely available, and there are even mobile apps that can help you know your location. As such, there’s little excuse to get lost while rock climbing. Remember, even if you bring a GPS, it’s still a good idea to bring a traditional map. You can’t always guarantee perfect connectivity while you are out in nature, so having a traditional map can help you stay on top of your location.

As a tip, if you want to have some extra security, bring a compass. Though you won’t know precisely where you are, you can still use it to find your way if you get lost.

Special Circumstances

Every excursion is different and requires a different set of things to consider:

Preparing for the Temperature

If you plan on going rock climbing in a location with a different climate than you’re used to, be sure to take appropriate precautions ahead of time.

Climates that are significantly different than what you’re used to can pose problems as you climb. Generally speaking, we’re talking about climates that are either hotter or colder than you’re used to. For now, we’re not talking about weather in the extremes or specific forms of rock climbing, such as ice climbing.

Just keep in mind the following tips as you travel to rock climb in a different climate.

  • Hot Weather—If you’re going climbing in a hot location, be sure to take the appropriate precautions. If you’re not used to the heat, you may find it difficult to concentrate while climbing. Additionally, excess sweating can lead to thirst and dehydration if not dealt with properly.

In extreme cases, you may even have a heat stroke when exposed to direct sunlight in very high temperatures.

Before starting your climb, make sure that you are fully capable of handling the heat and the weather. It’s a good idea to stay hydrated and to have a plan in place if you or any of your party need a little break from the heat.

If possible, you may even consider practicing for the heat ahead of time. Building your tolerance for hotter weather can help you as you climb—just make sure not to overdo it.

  • Cold Weather—Cold weather is a different beast entirely. If you’ve never been rock climbing in cold weather, you’re in for a surprise. If it’s cold enough, the weather can stiffen your joints, making it harder to climb. Bulkier jackets and climbing gear designed to combat the cold can make climbing more difficult, so make sure that you’re capable of climbing in the required gear.

The Bottom Line

Failing to bring even one item on this list can disrupt your entire rock climbing trip.

By making a checklist of the goods that you will need, you can make sure that silly mistakes like these just don’t happen.

Keep in mind that the gear and supplies you take will depend on several factors. For starters, those who look to spend any length of time on their excursion should remember to bring food and shelter (it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring travel hygiene products, either).

Perhaps even more importantly, be sure that you have a thorough understanding of the weather your entire trip so that you aren’t caught in a dangerous and trip-ending situation. For this reason, you may want to hold off from scheduling your trips too early, as it may be next-to-impossible to tell what the weather will be.

Finally, be sure to bring all necessary equipment needed for a safe climb. Those who are going bouldering may need less in the way of equipment, but daily necessities and first aid kits should still be on the list.

By making sure that you have all your equipment—including backup rope if necessary—you’ll be on your way to enjoying a safe and fun-filled weekend.

If you’re in need of a checklist and don’t know where to start, use the information above to point you in the right direction.

Climbing Blogger

Zealous boulderer, gear geek and editor. Typically has more flappers than fingers on his hands. Occasionally enjoys the feeling of being scared of heights. Mostly prevents looking down too much, though, and cheers at the invention of climbing chalk.

Leave a Reply