Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Climbing Gear of 2022

The best climbing gear from our veteran testers, hand selected just for you
Best Climbing Gear of 2022
When there is a lot of air between you and the ground, and the rock quality is questionable, it's good to have a crash pad with firm, reliable foam.
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Wednesday November 30, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

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.


climbing gear - according to our testers, who compared all the best climbing shoes...
According to our testers, who compared all the best climbing shoes, the TC Pro's biggest weakness is the performance on overhanging terrain. The burlier heel cup, in particular, offers limited sensitivity when heel hooking.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Shoes


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.

Best Overall Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Katana Lace

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Best for Beginners and Tight Budgets

La Sportiva Tarantulace

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Best Bargain for Solid Performance

La Sportiva Finale

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Best Overall Women's Climbing Shoes

La Sportiva Miura VS - Women's

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Best Bang for the Buck

Five Ten Kirigami - Women's

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Great Value for Beginners

La Sportiva Tarantulace - Women's

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Best Overall Kids Climbing Shoes

Evolv Venga

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Best for Beginners on Tight Budgets

Butora Brava

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Best Overall Approach Shoes

La Sportiva TX Guide

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Best Bang for Your Buck

Scarpa Crux

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Best Overall Women's Approach Shoe

La Sportiva TX2 Evo - Women's

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Best Bang for the Buck

La Sportiva Boulder X - Women's

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climbing gear - the petzl sirocco is made with a combination of eps foam on the top...
The Petzl Sirocco is made with a combination of EPS foam on the top for the best absorption coming from a rock or ice impact, which is covered by the orange plastic top piece. On the sides it is comprised of EPP foam, which has the ability to absorb multiple impacts without deforming. Our testers compared all the top climbing helmets, and the Sirocco was one of the best.

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.

Best All-Around Climbing Harness

Arc'teryx C-Quence

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Best Bang for the Buck

Petzl Sama

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Best Overall Kids Sit Harness

Mammut Ophir - Kid's

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Best Overall Kids Full Body Harness

Petzl Ouistiti

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Best Overall Climbing Helmet

Black Diamond Vision MIPS

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Best Lightweight Climbing Helmet

Petzl Sirocco

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climbing gear - never compromise on rope quality. our testers compared all the top...
Never compromise on rope quality. Our testers compared all the top climbing ropes on the market, in all types of scenarios, to ensure our recommendations are based on real-life conditions. They tested for handling, durability, weight and catch.
Credit: Jack Cramer

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.

Best Overall Rock Climbing Rope

Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic

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Best Bang for the Buck

Beal Booster III

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Best Overall for Experienced Climbers

Petzl GriGri

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Best for New Climbers

Petzl GriGri+

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Best Overall Rope Bag

DMM Classic

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Best Bang for the Buck

Metolius Dirt Bag II

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climbing gear - the pack materials of the route rocket strike a good balance between...
The pack materials of the Route Rocket strike a good balance between weight and durability. Our testers compared all the top climbing packs on the market, keeping an eye out for comfort, versatility, ability to climb, pockets, and so on.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Climbing Packs


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.

Best Overall Climbing Backpack

The North Face Route Rocket

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Best for the Budget-Minded

Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15

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climbing gear - contrary to what is sometimes popular believed, hangboards are not...
Contrary to what is sometimes popular believed, hangboards are not primarily for pull-ups. They are for building finger strength, which requires a good progression of holds that are challenging for their user. In order to determine the best of the best, our testers bought, used, analyzed and compared all the top hangboards on the market.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

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.

Best Overall Hangboard

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center

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Best Wooden Hangboard

Metolius Wood Grips Deluxe II

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Best Bang for the Buck

Metolius 3D Simulator

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Best Overall Slackline

Slackline Industries Aggro Line

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Best Primitive Kit

Balance Community Prim-40 Kit

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Best Overall Climbing Chalk

Black Diamond White Gold

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Best Bang for the Buck

Metolius Super Chalk

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climbing gear - racking up for some single-pitch trad climbs while out cragging. the...
Racking up for some single-pitch trad climbs while out cragging. The very large gear loops easily fit an entire triple set of cams (or more!), and the fifth gear loop on the back, made of flexible black webbing, can hold the necessities for multi-pitching. Add in the ice clipper slots, and this is a very versatile harness, suitable for literally any style of climbing.

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.

Best Overall Medium and Large Camming Devices

Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight

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Best Overall Small Camming Devices

Black Diamond Camalot Z4

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Best Overall Quickdraw for Climbing

Petzl Spirit Express

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Best Bang for the Buck

Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid

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Best Overall Climbing Nut

DMM Alloy Offset

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Best for All-Around Small Nuts

DMM Peenut

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Best Overall Nut Tool

Metolius Torque

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Good Balance of Performance and Weight

Black Diamond Wiregate

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Best Overall Carabiner

CAMP Photon Wire

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Easiest to Clip

Wild Country Helium 3 Carabiner

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Best Overall Climbing Sling

Mammut Contact Dyneema

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Best Bang for the Buck

Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner

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climbing gear - the session ii gets the job done for low-medium falls.
The Session II gets the job done for low-medium falls.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Bouldering


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.

Best Overall Bouldering Crash Pad

Mad Rock Duo

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Best Large Pad

Metolius Magnum

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climbing gear - a selection of our test fleet. for our mountaineering boots' review...
A selection of our test fleet. For our mountaineering boots' review, we bought, tested and compared all the top models. We tested for weight, warmth, climbing ability, lacing, in addition to other metrics.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Mountaineering


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.

Best Overall Mountaineering and Alpine Model

Osprey Mutant 38

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Best Bang for Your Buck

Black Diamond Blitz 28L

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Best Overall Mountaineering Boot

Asolo Eiger XT GV Evo

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Best Bang for the Buck

La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX

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Best Overall Gaiter

Rab Muztag GTX

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Best Bang for Your Buck

REI Co-op Backpacker Low

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Best Overall Ice Axe

Petzl Summit Evo

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Best Bang for the Buck

Black Diamond Raven

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climbing gear
Credit: Steven Tata

Big Wall


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!

Best Overall Big Wall Harness

Metolius Safe Tech Waldo

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Best for Most Big Wall Applications

Yates Big Wall Ladder

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Best Etrier-Style

Metolius 5 Step Aider

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Best Overall Haul Bag

Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag

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Excellent For One Night Walls

Metolius Quarter Dome Haul Bag

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Best Overall

Petzl Ascension

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Best Bang for Your Buck

Kong Lift

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climbing gear - to test our softshells we ran and biked and hiked and climbed - a...
To test our softshells we ran and biked and hiked and climbed - a lot. Our testers are dedicated to their craft, whether they are testing softshells or climbing gear...or both at the same time!
Credit: Mary Witlacil

Our Intention


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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