Bouldering Essentials

FC BoulderingOld school rock climbers use to view bouldering as training for “real” climbing. Nobody bouldered exclusively, and if you did, then you weren’t truly a rock climber. But over the years, bouldering has developed into it’s own discipline, and there are climbers who stick to lowball climbs, pulling moves rope climbers couldn’t dream of. Some trad and sport rock climbers will still boulder purely for the training and strength building, but an increasing number of climbers prefer to spend their time on a boulder rather than a bluff.

Bouldering is appealing to rock climbers for many different reasons. Bouldering is pure rock climbing. You don’t have to worry about clipping bolts or pulling ropes. It’s just you and the rock. Bouldering also requires the less gear than rope climbing, which means it’s less expensive and require less setup. You can boulder in a group or you can boulder by yourself, which definitely can’t be said for rope climbing where three is a crowd and one is asking for trouble.

There’s definitely a lot to like about bouldering, and if you’re looking start, here’s what you need to have. These are the bouldering essentials.

Rock climbing shoes are a must have. These are designed to fit tighter than regular shoes, and are made with special rubber to provide maximum friction. Different shoes lend themselves to different types of climbing. Some climbing shoes are designed for slabs, while others are ideal for overhangs. Your first pair of shoes should be pretty basic. You won’t be able to tell the difference in the performance of high end shoes, and you can save some money by going with a good introductory pair.

Old school climbers will tell you that you don’t really need chalk, but there’s a reason people are climbing problems that were previously thought to be impossible. Chalk provides increased friction for your hands by absorbing sweat and oils. You also need a chalk bag or chalk bucket to keep your chalk.

While the necessity for chalk is up for debate, there’ s no question that you need a crash pad. Well, if you don’t want to break a leg that is. Crash pads are portable foam mats that you place beneath a climb to protect a fall.

Really that’s all you need to boulder. If you have those three items, you can boulder safely and effectively. Of course there are other things that you should bring bouldering to make your experience better.

Athletic tape can be useful for covering flappers, fashioning makeshift stick brushes to reach high holds, and more. It might not be necessary, but it’s definitely handy.

A good sturdy brush is another climbing luxury that can make your experience better. Some serious climbers will even say that a brush is a climbing necessity. Brushes are used to clean holds to create optimal hold conditions.

Hand salve is great for post-climb recovery. Hand salve is meant to repair the skin on your hands and fingers without softening the skin. You want to keep those hard earned callouses after all.

A lot of experienced climbers never think to bring this along hand sanitizer. It’s not only great for removing all the chalk from your hands after you’re done climbing, but it’s nice to have as a disinfectant if you get a flapper.

Guide books are very convenient. There’s something to be said for exploratory climbing, but knowing where the best climbs are located can choosing where to climb a lot easier.

That’s a pretty comprehensive list for bouldering gear. Of course, some people like to bring extra little luxuries such as sunglasses, portable speakers, or hammocks, but if you bring the items mentioned above on your next bouldering trip, you certainly won’t be lacking.

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