The best bouldering accessories for your first rock climbing trip
A chalk bag, a crash pad, and more.
Making the transition from pulling on plastic stones at your indoor rock climbing gym to clamoring real boulders requires a bit of gear and preparation. For beginner boulderers, here is a list of essential outdoor accessories to take with you on your first trip to the great outdoors.
California-based climbing brand Five Ten has been producing cutting-edge designs and proprietary ‘stealth rubber soles’ for almost 30 years. These bouldering shoes are very ‘aggressive’—think pointed and tight, like ballerina pointe shoes—so you may want to size up, but they’ll help you work on your footwork on real rock. The price point is low, too, compared to other climbing shoes, making these the perfect entry pair that are a huge step up from climbing gym rentals.
Founded by the California native and climber Taylor Carpenter, these chalk bags are hand-stitched and made out of a durable waxed canvas material that also looks good. It’s taller than your normal chalk bag, which makes access easier, and the interior is lined in fleece so it hangs onto your chalk really well. With Static, you can also feel good about supporting other climbers.
This Black Diamond crash pad is perfect for beginner boulderers; it’s lightweight (8.5 pounds), easy to move around at the crag, and non-fussy. If you live in a city, it may draw some looks from strangers (is it a couch? A massage table?), but out in the bouldering wilderness, your feet and ankles will appreciate the soft landing.
You just never know when you’ll need a towel, and there’s nothing better than one that is light, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and dries quickly. It’s handy to have in a pinch and is versatile: it can be used for an impromptu yoga session, folded up as a cushion to rest on while watching other people climb, or wrap up gear if needed. It hangs easily and is great for traveling as well. Bonus: the Wise Owl brand comes with an extra smaller towel for your face.
Forget status Swell bottles. When going on a climbing trip, you’ll need lots of water to hydrate. This classic Yeti water bottle is time-tested and highly reviewed for a reason: it’s ultra-durable and keeps your water cool or teas hot (if you prefer). The wide opening makes it easy to fill up, and the three-finger handle makes it easy to snap to a bag for carrying. We’ve personally dropped this water bottle from the top of many boulders, and are happy to say that it’s held up pretty well.
Originally launched on Kickstarter, Boulder Denim was founded by climbers who couldn’t find a pair of pants to climb in that was both functional and stylish. They are made with a proprietary 360° extreme diagonal stretch technology and a hydrophobic wash, which helps repel water. They’re great for heading to a bar or restaurant post-climb without looking too schlubby in yoga pants.