Starting your ascent in the world of indoor rock climbing? Here's the gear you need

Ever since the historic first free ascent of Yosemite’s intimidating Dawn Wall was broadcast on social media last summer, rock climbing has been having a moment. With indoor climbing gyms all over the country growing at a rate of 10% every year, you don’t have to face down a sheer granite cliff to get your intro to the sport.

Climbing gyms have basic rentals – shoes, harness, and chalk bag – but if you are serious about getting into the sport, having your own gear makes a huge difference. If you’ve ever walked through the rock climbing section of an outdoor retailer, however, you know that it is an intimidatingly gear-intensive sport. So, where to start?

Here’s Digital Trends’ guide to the first four pieces of climbing gear you’ll need:

First Thing’s First: The Vocab

Before you get started in buying your equipment, you should understand the differences between the two types of climbing offered in most indoor facilities.

Bouldering is climbing on shorter walls without ropes. In bouldering, climbers stay lower to the ground, which lowers their chance of injury in case of a fall. Each climb is called a “bouldering problem”, or simply “problem.” In the United States, bouldering problems range in difficulty per the V Scale, with V0 being the easiest, and each number up indicating an increase in difficulty.

For many indoor climbers, bouldering presents a great introduction to the sport, since all you need to get started is a good pair of climbing shoes, and optional chalk and chalk-bag.

Top rope climbing or “top roping,” is the basic type of rope-based climbing. In top roping, the climber is securely attached to a rope set up in an anchor system at the top of the climb. Mastering top roping is essential before moving on to other ropes-based climbs, such as lead climbing, in which the climber and the rope start at the bottom and ascend together. In rope climbing, each route is simply called a “route”.

The difficulty ratings of top rope routes differ from the ratings in bouldering, divided by two numbers indicating class and grade. Class 5 indicates a vertical or nearly vertical wall that requires a rope, while grade refers to the difficulty level. Rope climbing routes start at 5.1 and currently go up to 5.15a, with each increasing number and letter indicating increased difficulty.

Top roping usually requires a belay test at your local climbing gym to make sure that you can use the equipment safely, as well as a climbing harness and sometimes a belay device, in addition to climbing shoes and chalk/chalk bag.

Mobile

Alphabet’s Verily is reportedly working on shoes that can track your weight

Fitness tracking is getting increasingly important, but while the likes of Apple are working on fitness-tracking watches, Alphabet's Verily is turning to shoes. According to a report, Verily is working on shoes that can track your weight.
Deals

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…
Computing

These 30 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Outdoors

Strava joins Slopes to record your ski and snowboard stats

Skiers and snowboarders can now share their activity on the hill within their Strava profile thanks to a new collaboration with the fitness-tracking app and Slopes, an app designed for use on the hill.
Deals

REI slashes prices on The North Face, Columbia, and Nike clearance Items

It's never too early to plan your next adventure and REI is your one-stop shop to get you prepared. Now until February 18, REI is offering up to 50 percent off on camp gear, outerwear, winter boots, and lifestyle footwear. Find discounts…
Deals

REI drops prices on Suunto, Fitbit, and Garmin Fenix smartwatches

Looking for some great deals on outdoor and fitness watches? Garmin, Fitbit, and Suunto smartwatches have all been discounted for a limited time during the REI Winter Clearance Sale.
Emerging Tech

Tokyo 2020 is on track to create Olympic medals with recycled electronics

The committee behind the Tokyo 2020 Olympics revealed that it is on target to be able to forge all winning athletes’ gold, silver and bronze medals from recycled electronic waste.
Outdoors

Skullcandy turns to action sports with the Vert Bluetooth earbuds

The new Skullcandy Vert Bluetooth earbuds are designed with action sports athletes in mind, putting audio controls on a convenient dial that provides glove-friendly options to pause and play music, and adjust volume.
Outdoors

Uber’s bikesharing service is eating into its regular business

A bikesharing service acquired by Uber nearly a year ago is causing riders to take fewer car journeys with the company. It is, however, part of the plan as Uber looks to offer an integrated mobility platform for cities.
Outdoors

Keep the rain away and the bugs at bay with this hybrid camping hammock

The new Kammock Mantis hammock is a lightweight all-in-one solution that includes a rainfly, built-in insect netting, onboard storage, and tree-friendly straps to create a complete and comfortable camping system that is easy to set up.
1 of 5