Welcome. You have stumbled onto the Holy Grail of climbing gear lists! Below you are going to find our top picks: the gear our climber-testers would recommend to their best friends. We buy every item at the store, just like you, then we test it…for months. Below we recommend the top two items in each category. We start off with climbing shoes, arguably the most important item in your pack. Next up are harnesses (men and women), then helmets, followed by ropes and packs, and so on. But there's more. The assortment is wide but the selection is narrow. Only the best here.Editor's Note: We updated this article on November 30, 2022, to incorporate our latest picks for Approach Shoes for Women.
Aside from technique and will power, climbing shoes are the most important piece of gear for a climber. Our testers have ground down the rubber on hundreds of shoes over the years, on everything from cracks to slabs to the steepness. We've got options from our men's climbing shoes review and our women's climbing shoes review, from all the top brands. If you are looking for specific shoes, say, the best for bouldering or crack climbing, look to our reviews for that kind of detailed comparison. We've even got top picks for your the best kids climbing shoes. Yes, we tested men's approach shoes and reviewed the best women's approach shoes as well.
La Sportiva Katana Lace
La Sportiva Tarantulace
La Sportiva Finale
La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's
Five Ten Kirigami - Women's
La Sportiva Tarantulace - Women's
La Sportiva TX Guide
La Sportiva TX2 Evo - Women's
La Sportiva Boulder X - Women's
Helmets and Harnesses
Our team has 10 years of experience in testing helmets. If it's on the market, we've most surely gotten our mitts on it. We've wore these brain buckets in all manners of conditions, from multi-pitch trad to single-pitch sport. Our testers analyzed each and every helmet for comfort, adjustability, weight, durability, ventilation and the ability to accommodate a headlamp. We've tested harnesses as well, for men and women, that essential item you should never, ever compromise on. And don't forget about kids harnesses.
Mammut Ophir - Kid's
Black Diamond Vision MIPS
Ropes and Belay
It's no doubt the case a rope needs to feel natural in your hands, but it needs more than that. Ropes are expensive. You want them to last, not be unnecessarily heavy, and offer the best catch. A good dry treatment helps as well. A top-shelf rope does all of this. To compile the list below, which consists of our top two picks, our testers have put dozens of ropes through the ringer, taken notes and made recommendations. Next up are belay devices, an equally important item in any climber's pack.
Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic
Beal Booster III
Metolius Dirt Bag II
I've got some unfortunate news: a good climbing pack will not make you climb harder. But that doesn't mean you should just buy the first one you see. A solid pack will last longer, carry more efficiently and properly in hard spots, and, just maybe, if you are carrying it on route, it will save a bit of pump! Enjoy.
The North Face Route Rocket
Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15
Training and Chalk
Climbers are notorious for their training plans and obsession to the latest and greatest. Yet, at least so far, one training tool has lasted the test of time: hangboards. And every year, hangboards get more clever…and so multiply the ways we get injured. It's not east as just buying any old board, however. You want a hangboard that will meet you where you are at, work your weaknesses. Thankfully, our testers have broken down the lot of boards on the market. We tested them side by side, bought all the updated models, and analyzed their performance over months. Even better, we tested slacklines too, just because.
Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center
Metolius Wood Grips Deluxe II
Metolius 3D Simulator
Slackline Industries Aggro Line
Balance Community Prim-40 Kit
Black Diamond White Gold
Metolius Super Chalk
Carabiners and Protection
Climbing protection, "pro" as it's called, doesn't come cheap. Cams are some of the most expensive items a climber will buy, which is why we took great care to test all the top models for range, durability, walking, tight placements, and so on. Stoppers and nut tools we didn't forget about, same with carabiners. Below are the top two picks in said categories, the stuff our testers would recommend to their friends.
Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight
Black Diamond Camalot Z4
Petzl Spirit Express
Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid
DMM Alloy Offset
Black Diamond Wiregate
CAMP Photon Wire
Wild Country Helium 3 Carabiner
Mammut Contact Dyneema
Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner
Bouldering is one of the fastest growing segments of climbing. For good reason. It's social, fun, and easy to get into. Aside from needing the obvious (such as chalk and shoes) you're going to want a crash pad to keep you from smacking the ground from 10 feet and hurting those precious ankles. A bouldering pad is a must have, but, of course, this doesn't mean they are all the same. They aren't. Thankfully, our testers have put all the top pads from all the top brands to the test. Our top recommendations are as follows.
Mad Rock Duo
The stuff you take into the high country best be deserving of the spot in your pack. We know from experience. The good news is that our testers are not only core climbers, but dedicated to providing the most useful, unbiased and informed reviews in the outdoor space. We have tested the top models from all the top brands in packs, boots, gaiters and ice axes.
Osprey Mutant 38
Black Diamond Blitz 28L
Asolo Eiger XT GV Evo
La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX
Rab Muztag GTX
REI Co-op Backpacker Low
Petzl Summit Evo
Black Diamond Raven
One of the founders of Outdoor GearLab, Chris McNamara, has climbed El Cap 80 times. So, yea, we know big wall gear. What you are going to find below is a hand-selected list of the best big-wall kit you will find on the internet. We've got the top two pics for big-wall harnesses, aiders, haul bags and ascenders. Stay safe out there!
Metolius Safe Tech Waldo
Yates Big Wall Ladder
Metolius 5 Step Aider
Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag
Metolius Quarter Dome Haul Bag
We hope this list of the best climbing gear out there is helpful to you. Rest assured, each of our recommendations, from every category, is tested in full. We take the testing process very seriously and do not cut any corners. We bought every item at the store, just like you would. Unlike most review sites, we accept no manufacturer freebies. Our reviews are 100% unbiased and free of all influence.
If you like what you see here, or in our full comparison reviews, tell a friend and share online. Word of mouth has always been our bread and butter.Want to get in touch? Give us a shout or a comment here. Thanks.
— Chris McNamara
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More