Unlike many outdoor or outdoor-adjacent sports, climbing requires a lot of crap. When I just went on runs everyday, all I needed were some shoes, but now that I’ve been climbing, I need to maintain and prune a small army of very specific items. There is an essentially limitless arsenal of shit available to enhance your climbing experience, and while belay glasses or a $200 climbing pack can be useful, here’s the most essential crap.
You don’t want to lose feeling in your legs when you’re climbing, but you also want a harness that will distribute your weight evenly so as not to give yourself a wedgie while rappelling down off the wall. There’s some value in getting a nicer harness (good padding is nice!) but one of the better harnesses I’ve used was the bog standard rental rig offered by my local top roping gym. This Black Diamond one works best for me now, and if you’re also a top roping amateur forced into it by a brain injury, maybe it will work for you too.
Through my first six months at the climbing gym, I climbed in some embarrassingly padded Evolv shoes. They were loose fitting, clunky, and bereft of any toe hook or arch. After they began to smell like a rotting raccoon corpse, I upgraded and have been solving harder bouldering problems thanks to a finer control of my toes. Even more than with harnesses, you have to find the shoe that fits you exactly, down to the quarter size. These La Sportivas seem to be one of the best pairs to upgrade from flat bottom shoes you can make. Also they look cool, so.
In this blogger’s opinion, Metolius chalk is crummy and prone to turn into a fine mush, whereas White Gold clings to your hands and works better in a wider range of temperature conditions.
Because I have an inexplicable aversion to climbing with socks (it feels wrong, like I have less control), those Evolvs began to smell like the crypt. I’ve been diligent about spraying the inside of my new shoes after every session, and thank God, they smell ... well, better. I asked resident cleaning guru Jolie Kerr about how to keep your kicks from turning into a Superfund site and she recommended a disinfectant or a sports shoe deodorizer, as well as some other tips to keep them dry:
If you have a dehumidifier in the home, put the shoes near that when you take them off, because it will dry them out faster and help to prevent odor-causing bacteria from getting too bacteria-y. Also, shove balled up newspaper in the shoes when you take them off. Weirdly, newspaper is a moisture and odor absorber? I dunno, but it’s a way to save print media, so win-win.
Eventually, everyone gets sick of climbing the same top roping and bouldering terrain and wants to try lead climbing. You need a rope, and this one has good reviews and my local gym uses them, so, yeah, seems like a good one.
Make sure you lock yours!