With Summertime peaking around the corner, it’s time to stash that crash pad, switch out that chalk bag, and head down to your favourite crag, because sport climbing season is upon us people! In this post, we’re going to be looking at what items should be coming with you down to the crag. I’m talking ropes, rope bags, harnesses, belay devices, shoes and and and… So, grab a cuppa joe, plug in and let’s get reviewing.
First item on the agenda is a bag. Ideally, we want something that is large enough to store all that awesome gear you’ve picked up at your favourite gear shop. Keep in mind, the most basic bags will fit, well, the basics (rope, a set of quick draws, harness, shoes, slings, belay device, a couple biners and a chalk bag) so if you think you’re going to need something a little more spacious to fit moms left over Quinoa salad, and a warm jacket, look at one of the larger volume bags. Make sure it’s comfy - remember, it’s going to be coming with you every weekend to the crag, so make sure you’re happy with the feel and fit. For the entry level bag, I’ve chosen the Wild Country Rope Bag. It’s just spacious enough to fit all your goodies for the day, and comes with a 135cm x 105cm rope tarp with integrated tie-in points for easy rope end identification. The quick clip buckles and draw cord keep everything nice and snug, so packing up is simple and easy. If you feel like splashing out a bit, then I’d definitely recommend the Black Diamond Creek 35L or 50L. Its barrel bottom design makes it easy for the bag to sit up straight while packing or unpacking, so you don’t have worry about your gear bailing out whilst you move around the crag. It comes with a rain cover top that also acts as a helmet cover. It’s built from a super durable and waterproof fabric, which makes it perfect for places like Silvermine or Waterval Boven. Its well-padded hip belt will absorb a lot of the weight making your approach even more enjoyable. Definitely my top pick in the shop!
Next up we’re looking at ropes. With our Mammut shipment having recently arrived, what better time to talk about their new rope collection for 2020. One rope that sticks out for me is the Mammut Crag Classic 9.8mm x 60m. A great rope whether you are a beginner climber, or a seasoned pro. The thinner 9.8 diameter means three things. (1) – it’s slightly lighter than your conventional 10mm diameter, (2) - it will run smoother and handle better through your belay device, and (3) - it’s durable! This means perfect handling for top roping and durable enough for a working session on your proj. It also has that ever so important visible middle mark to let you know how much rope is being used during your climb.
Can’t leave for the crag without a belay device, and I’ve chosen the Mammut Smart 2.0 for this category. An assisted braking device that will give you that surety in blocking the rope in the event of your climber taking a fall. You can add the Smarter clip on attachment for even more safety. Great for beginner sport climbers or for anyone who just wants a bit of assistance in holding up their partner without the extra effort of locking off the dead-end of the rope in that familiar downward position. Less strain on your hands and arms means more energy for those sends. If you’re looking for a more traditional belay device, check out the Wild Country Pro Guide Lite or Wild Country Pro Lite. While they don’t feature an assisted breaking feature, they are a fraction of the price and can handle two ropes at a time with a large range of rope diameters.
What about a belay carabiner? We got you covered with a Flashed Twistlock carabiner. Definitely one of the best priced belay biners you’ll find on the market. I find a twistlock biner, in my opinion, the safer option. It puts your mind at ease knowing that the second that biner closes, it’s locked and ready to go! If that’s not good enough for you, why not grab yourself a biner that has a wire clip for your belay loop to stop any chance of cross loading during a fall. Something like the Black Diamond Gridlock biner or Wild Country Ascent Lite is perfect for the job. These are probably some of the safest biners on the market.
We’re going to need some cleaning equipment to get our gear back at the end of the day, so let’s go with two Ocun O 16mm x 80cm slings and some Flashed Screwgate carabiners. These particular slings are soft and easy to work with, while the flashed biners are cost effective and will easily get the job done. If you want to get something a little more built for the job, look out for the Wild Country EOS Keylock carabiner, it’s my personal favourite! Its sleek offset D-shape design makes it easy to slip into any hanger/anchor that may present itself on the many routes you will encounter. Remember! Always make sure your gates are screwed closed once you’ve clipped into the wall.
With the vast selection of quickdraws that we have to offer, you can bet your kombucha hat that you’ll find something that suits your preference. Typically, any ‘draws will work fine for sport climbing, however, some are built more rugged to withstand the abuse and multiple falls you will almost definitely encounter on your sport climbing journey. That being said, I’ve chosen the Ocun Hawk quickdraw.A durable and light draw with wire gates to allow for easy and smooth rope clipping. One of our best sellers by a mile! They come in packs of five, so two of these combo packs (maybe one or two more singles if you need them for your local crag) and you’re ready to head straight down to the crag. If you want to treat yourself and get something special, why not go for my personal favourite, the Petzl Djinn quickdraw. Its larger sized biners make clipping even more efficient, and the bent gate on the rope end is super smooth. They also come in lengths of 12cm and 17cm which is handy. Whatever set of draws you end up taking, make sure you’re happy with them as you are probably going to be with them for some time to come. Or until you lose one or leave one behind at the crag by accident. Trust me… it happens. So always count your draws before leaving the crag.
SHOES SHOES SHOES!! We need them, we love them, but frankly, which sport climbing shoe is best for you is up for debate. It’s such a personal thing, mainly because everybody has different shaped feet, that everybody you ask will have a different opinion on what works and what doesn’t. My advice? Take your favourite or current pair of shoes down to the crag, as pretty much any rock climbing shoe will do the trick. Otherwise pop into the gear shop to chat with us and we’ll find the perfect shoe that works for you and your feet!
Helmets are optional, but highly recommended. It only takes one bad knock on the head from a flying biner or an upside fall straight onto the cranium to have you waiting for Dr. Edelstein in the ‘ER’ to stitch you up. Not to mention the headache of a bill that you will have to pay. Any rock climbing helmet will do, just make sure it’s a comfy fit, has good all-around protection (not just from falling objects but can handle side impacts too), and is well ventilated.
And that’s that my friends! The innards of a basic sport climbing bag. Obviously there are a couple of items we didn’t cover, but these are the essentials to get you in and out the crag, climbing safely and adequately, like the ROCKSTAR you were born to be! What better way to test out your beautiful new gear than by ticking off some the countries best climbs through our CityROCKtober challenge! Download our must do outdoor climbs check list and tick off as many climbs as you can in the month of October. Post your photos, video, story on social media with the hashtag #cityrocktober to enter (make sure you give our climbing photography blog post a read for some pointers). Prizes for the most enthusiastic climber, most completed checklist and best photo, video or story will be awarded at the end of the month.
If you have any gear related questions please feel free to pop into our gear shop where any of our friendly shop staff will be more than happy to assist in your thirst for knowledge and the quest for the perfect piece of kit. Or if you just want to come say hi, that’s cool too :) We always appreciate it!
Stay strong my brother and sisters and keep your crimp hand STRONG!!