Buyer's Guide: Indoor Climbing

March 30, 2015

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  • andrew tower

Before you venture to a land of rope and rock, sweat and stone, find your bearings in the climbing gym. As you hunt for your first handholds, let this buyer’s guide serve as your roadmap.


La Sportiva Tarantula: A Little Bit for Everyone

Lasportiva tarantula6 La Sportiva Tarantula Starting at: $75.64

The Tarantula was designed with new climbers in mind. It’s built to be comfortable across a variety of climbing styles and terrains. From slabs to overhangs to plastic and outdoor rock, the asymmetrical shape and 5mm FriXion rubber deliver the durability and performance new climbers need as they explore different types of climbing.

Key Attribute: Versatility

Best For: Whatever style your heart desires. This shoe can go anywhere.

5.10 Team Shoe: Curved for Crags

5 10 team shoe6 5.10 Team Shoe

With an aggressive downturned angle along with soft, supple and wildly sticky Stealth HF rubber, your steep projects get completed. The Team Shoe is minimalist with a thinner rubber sole for better response, fitted with a single hook-and-loop fastener; Team Shoe increases control compared to clunkier shoes costing about the same.

Key Attribute: Edge-sticking power

Best For: Micro feet and overhanging walls.


Black Diamond Ozone: Works as Hard as You Do

Bdozone2 Black Diamond Ozone $56.76 - $63.65

Substituting Vectran for traditional webbing, Black Diamond’s Kinetic Core Construction is why Ozone stays thin, light and oh-so comfortable. With an abrasion resistant shell and soft 3d mesh interior, it holds up while remaining pleasant to wear.

Key Attribute: Minimalist fit, durability

Best for: Rope guns and Hang dogs alike

Petzl Sama: Count on Comfort

Petzlsama4 Petzl Sama

Petzl’s standard for sport climbers, Sama straps in all-star performance and comfort to boot. Built with ENDOFRAME technology, Sama promises to distribute weight evenly, mitigating pressure points should you fall or remain suspended to work out a problem. A unique leg loop equipped with an elastic band provides perfect fit and greater movement.

Key Attribute: Comfort

Best For: All-around sport climbing and top roping

Belay Device

Petzl GriGri 2: The Standard to Measure Us All

Petzlgrigri1 Petzl GriGri 2

In braking assisted devices, GriGri 2 is the Kleenex of climbing. It’s ubiquitous in sport climbing crags for good reason; it works. Accommodating ropes from 8.9 to 11mm, GriGri 2 possesses super smooth action when feeding lead climbers slack.  Likewise, lowering is simple and smooth. If you’re dealing with single pitch rope drag, this is the one.

Key Attribute: Reliability

Best For: Sport climbing, hang dogging, top roping

Black Diamond ATC Guide: Old Reliable

Bdatcbelayguide5 Black Diamond ATC Guide

An upgrade from Old School tube style belay devices, the ATC-Guide contains far more than its tiny size suggests. For starters, ATC offers two friction modes based upon how much weight is suspended at rope’s end. The auto-blocking mode allows climbers to belay directly off the anchors while climbing multi-pitch. It’s light, durable and functions as a full service belay device in all scenarios.

Key Attribute: Versatility

Best for: Light and fast multi pitch

Guys Shorts

Prana Mojo: Cool Shorts on Hot Days

Mojo shorts mens 935 prAna Men’s Mojo Short Starting at: $42.96

Made from recycled polyester micro twill, the Prana Mojo short’s a mainstay for those braving the heat. They’re soft, ultra comfortable and feature an elastic waistband prevent slipping down on the sweatiest days. Two front and one rear pocket travel well when you’re not climbing.  Colors suit your style and quick drying is guaranteed.

Key Attribute: Comfort

Best For: Bouldering and sport climbing when the sun is out

Arc’Teryx Rampart Long Shorts: Shorts Long on Coverage

Arcteryxrampartshorts6 Arc’Teryx Rampart Long Shorts

For picky climbers, Rampart offers more coverage without sacrificing range of motion. The gusseted crotch and all-way stretch give the wearer an uncommon sense of freedom rarely found in below-the-knee styles. Plenty of colors and pocket capacity mean easy access to essentials whether starting a long approach or cruxing on a hard pitch.

Key Attribute: Coverage

Best For: Climbers who want knee protection for scrappy pitches.

Girls Shorts

Arc’Teryx Parapet Short: Functionality Without Frills

Arcteryx parapet5 Arc'teryx Parapet Short

Here’s the pick for climbers seeking a performance short. Made from TerraTex nylon and spandex for stretch (and complete with thoughtful articulation and gusseted crotch), Parapet dodges snags and sticks.  Fast drying means comfort on hot days while four, easy access pockets stand at the ready.

Key Attribute: Movement

Best for: Bouldering and hiking

Patagonia Quandary: Goldilock’s Length

Patagonia quandary1 Patagonia Quandary Shorts - Women's Starting at: $50.74

Many woman-specific shorts might as well be 1) pants or 2) underwear. The happy medium is Patagonia’s Quandary. The nylon/spandex blend has 40-UPF sun protection and feels cool to the skin on scorching days. Sporting a five-inch inseam, Quandary hovers at the convergence of comfort and modesty.

Key Attribute: Fit

Best for: Summer hiking and climbing

Guys Tops

Icebreaker Tech Lite Shirt: No Tech, No Problem

Icebreaker tech lite shirt upf 30 plus  merino wool short sleeve for men in field~p~8234x 03~1500.2 Icebreaker Tech Lite Short-Sleeve Shirt

Some performance shirts look more marathon than multi-pitch. Avoid looking teched to the neck with the time-tested, Merino wool Icebreaker. Naturally odor-resistant, the shirt keeps you clean, comfortable and confident even in cramped, sweaty gyms. 

Key Attribute: Fabric performance

Best for: Smelling nice in spite of conditions

Poler Rainbow Tank Top: Stylish and Solid

Poler rainbow tank2 Poler Rainbow Tank Top

There’s no substitute for a soft tank and Poler knows it. Their Rainbow Tank is simply a great looking, 100% cotton top for guys out for style points. No patented secrets here; Rainbow Tank pulls on good ol’ fashioned sleeveless comfort along with a touch of color.

Key Attribute: Style

Best for: Bouldering and turning heads

Girls Tops

Lucy Crossback Tank Top: Fitted to Reach Higher

Lucy crossback tank top6 Lucy Crossback Tank Top Starting at: $59.00

With a built-in bra, Crossback Tank is a flattering piece for the gym. Supplex Nylon construction provides excellent mobility as the crossed back keeps straps securely in place. Take note; there’s a small zippered pocket on the back for valuables.

Key Attribute: Form fit

Best For: Staying cool without losing your shirt

Prana Luca Tank Top: Comfort Contender #1

Prana luca tank4 prAna Luca Tank Top Starting at: $33.25

Luca is a top performer in woman’s tanks. Built with a loose fit, wearers find welcome breathing room. A relaxed fit is complemented by fast drying, soft polyester.  Racerback construction keeps fabric off both back and shoulder blades.  Three colors stand apart without being audacious.

Key Attribute: Relaxed fit

Best For: Climbers who aren’t looking to be wrapped up


Black Diamond White Gold: Stay Dry, Send More

Bd white gold Black Diamond White Gold

All chalks accomplish a similar job in drying sweaty hands.  Some simply accomplish the task faster and more completely. White Gold contains no added drying agent, instead relying on a 100% pure magnesium carbonate.  Moisture sucks and so does this bomber chalk (in a good way).

Key Attribute: Drying without additives

Best For: Sweaty hands

DMM Edge Chalk Bucket:

Dmm edge chalk bucket4 DMM Edge Chalk Bucket

The chalk bucket is indispensable as a bouldering accessory.  Exhibit A: the Edge Chalk Bucket. Four brush holders and a large Velcro pocket organize your skin kit, tape, nail clippers, glue and idiosyncratic accessories. Nothing goes missing and Edge has a wide base to prevent spilling.  The plush liner plus a durable exterior and handle make for easy toting from problem to problem.

Key Attribute: Organization

Best For: Bouldering 

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