Rock Climbing Gear Guide: Sport Climbing Essentials

We’ve sifted through the madness to hand-pick Moja Gear’s favorite entry-level gear for climbers eager to begin sport climbing. With careful consideration for performance, value, and functionality, we’ve deemed the following products as the best starting gear for new sport climbers. Recommendations are unbiased and the buying links are affiliate links—purchases made from them support our free content.

This guide was last updated on July 5, 2016


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We’ve selected the Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet as our top pick for new sport climbers. This is an entry-level option at a great value. With a highly adjustable suspension system and plenty of ventilation, this lightweight helmet will last for years and is suitable for all climbers.

Black Diamond Half Dome

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet




To get started sport climbing, you’ll need one carabiner purely for belaying and rappelling and roughly 4 more on-hand for use at anchors, setting up top ropes, and more. For belaying, it is suggested to have a wide pear-shaped carabiner. We suggest the Black Diamond Magnetron RockLock, which automatically locks and is operable with a single hand—an added safety measure since screwing the gate can sometimes be forgotten.

Black Diamond Magnetron RockLock

You’ll also often want two lockers for the masterpoint of an anchor to set up a top rope. Since the rope will be running through these carabiners, you want carabiners that provide sufficient surface area for the rope to slide across. For this, the Metolius Element Key Lock carabiner is an excellent choice.

Lastly, at the anchor, you may be in need of carabiners to attach to the bolts. Typically, these are also lockers but they don’t need to be as big as your belay or masterpoint carabiners. Consider the Black Diamond Positron Screwgate for a locker that you clip to the bolts (this may also be the carabiner of choice to go on your Metolius Alpine Personal Anchor System (PAS), if using one).

Black Diamond PositronBlack Diamond Positron Anchor Carabiner

Metolius Alpine P.A.SMetolius Alpine Personal Anchor System (PAS)

Related: Climbing Anchors: Basic Principles


Belay devices

Two belay devices have been selected: the assisted-braking Petzl GriGri 2 and the Black Diamond ATC-Guide. For belaying, both devices are sufficient, but the GriGri 2 has the added safety benefit of cinching the rope when a climber falls. While the ATC-Guide does not have any assisted-braking/locking mechanism during typical belaying, it is important for rappelling, as it’s less desirable to rappel with a GriGri 2.

Many sport climbers belay with a GriGri 2 but keep an ATC-Guide attached to their harnesses for rappelling. An alternative to the ATC-Guide is the Petzl Reverso 4—these two devices are almost identical in functionality and price. A key benefit of the ATC-Guide and the Reverso 4 is their ability to be used in Guide/Reverso mode, enabling you to easily belay a climber from the top of a climb (when used in this fashion, these ATCs do offer assisted braking). This is important when venturing into multi-pitch climbs. It is our suggestion to own both: a GriGri 2 and an ATC-style belay device with Guide/Reverso functionality.

Petzl GriGri 2Petzl GriGri 2

Black Diamond ATC-GuideBlack Diamond ATC-Guide


Shoes are largely a matter of personal preference. Reference our shoe buying guide to get the gritty details.



Three harnesses have made our list. For an entry-level affordable option, we suggest the Black Diamond Momentum Men’s and the BD Primrose Women’s. At under $55, these harnesses are very affordable and they provide similar comfort and performance to many harnesses twice their price. If looking for a step up, we suggest the ultra-light Petzl Hirundos—a very lightweight sport-specific option.

BD Momentum

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

BD Primrose

Black Diamond Primrose Harness

Petzl Hirundos

Petzl Hirundos Harness

Related: Rock Climbing Gear Guide: Harnesses



We recommend an all-around quickdraw that is lightweight and easy to handle. The Black Diamond PosiWire Quickpack offers an excellent starting spot. The price is competitive, the wiregate makes them light, and a keylock nose means they won’t get snagged on hangers when you remove them.

For some climbing areas, two packs (12 quickdraws) will suffice, but you may need up to 16 draws or more. It is suggested to accompany your standard quickdraws with a few longer ones, too. For this, consider buying 2-4 18cm PosiWires individually. The longer draws help reduce rope drag (excess friction) when leading.

PosiWire Quickpack



PosiWire Quickdraw


Will you be mostly leading or setting up top ropes, as well?. If you plan on using your rope for top ropes, consider opting for a rope over 10mm wide (such as the BlueWater Eliminator 10.2mm) due to the added wear top roping exerts.

If you’re seeking a higher performance lead rope, try the Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8mm—a reputable option that’s lightweight, durable, and versatile. In most climbing scenarios, a 60-meter rope is sufficient. But, 70-meter ropes are becoming increasingly common and the added length often provides benefits on multi-pitch climbs and while rappelling.

BlueWater Eliminator 10.2mm

BlueWater Eliminator 10.2mm

Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8mm

Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8mm Rope

Related: Rock Climbing Gear Guide: Ropes


Chalk bag

Shameless plug here: try out a Moja bag! It has near-perfect reviews on Amazon, and it’s always shipped with a dose of love.

Moja Gear Classic Geo Chalk Bag



Further reading