Bouldering equipment for beginners

Bouldering is gaining in popularity throughout the world. It’s an exciting and rewarding way to strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility and improve coordination. It lets you explore new locations and meet new people. Though it may seem intimidating when starting out, one of the best aspects of bouldering is the minimal equipment required. By investing in a few core pieces of climbing gear, you can tackle your next adventure and work your way up a challenging route.

Shop this article: La Sportiva Men’s TarantuLace Climbing ShoeBlack Diamond Circuit Crash Pad and Sukoa Chalk Bag

Bouldering vs. rope climbing: what’s the difference?

There are a few main differences between bouldering and traditional rock climbing. Most importantly, bouldering doesn’t require the use of any ropes since most routes are less than 15 feet in height. If you do happen to fall, you land on either a cushioned gym floor or a crash pad in outdoor situations. Traditional climbing requires the use of ropes, a harness, carabiners and often a partner to help belay while you make your ascent.

Bouldering also often uses different techniques and climbing moves compared to big wall climbs. It can be a great way for beginner climbers to build up their stamina and endurance before attempting longer routes or “boulder problems.”

Bouldering tips to get started

Here are five tips for bouldering.

  • Know the scales: Most bouldering routes have a rating that corresponds to their difficulty. The two most common grading scales are V-scale and Font scale. V-scale is the system most commonly used in the United States and grades the difficulty on a scale of V0 to V16. While V0 is usually considered the easiest, you may sometimes encounter a route rated as VB, meaning it is for beginners.
  • Start slow: As with most new sports or athletic activities, it’s always a good idea to start off slow and work your way up as you gain strength and experience. While it may seem tempting to tackle a hard boulder problem right out of the gate, overdoing it can lead to an increased risk of injury.
  • It’s fine to fall: Always take all safety precautions seriously and always use proper safety gear, such as a crash pad when bouldering outdoors. However, the occasional fall while attempting a climb is only natural. As long as you have the proper safety equipment, each fall can be a learning experience, helping you improve your climbing abilities.
  • Practice different moves: Don’t get stuck climbing in one style. Trying out different moves and varying your grip can help improve your skills. This is especially important for beginners starting out in a gym setting before transitioning to outdoor climbs.
  • Legs are important: It may seem like bouldering is all about arm strength for beginners, but that isn’t the case. Your legs and core muscles are equally important. Your legs can help tightly grip footholds and push your body upwards without relying solely on arm strength.

Beginner bouldering gear

The three main pieces of gear you need to start bouldering are climbing shoes, a crash pad and a chalk bag to keep your hands dry. Besides the big three, there are several accessories that can improve your bouldering experience.

Best climbing shoes

best La Sportiva Men’s TarantuLace Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Men’s TarantuLace Climbing Shoe

These bouldering shoes are perfect for both beginner and intermediate climbers. The high-traction Frixion sole means you can grip the rock face with confidence. The quick-lacing system provides a comfortable fit.

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best Scarpa Origin Women’s Climbing Shoe

Scarpa Origin Women’s Climbing Shoe

These women’s climbing shoes are a great beginner option. They use a flat last and heel system that reduces pressure and tension so they aren’t painful on your feet after a full day spent bouldering.

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Best crash pads

best Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad

Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad

This crash pad is great for transporting to your favorite bouldering spot without being too heavy or bulky. The closed-cell PE foam is ideal for cushioning falls from various heights. It has backpack straps and easy-to-carry handles.

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best Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad

Mad Rock Mad Pad Crash Pad

This protective crash pad features 5 inches of padding and can even serve as a comfortable chair when not in use. You can choose between several fun colors.

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Best chalk bags and chalk

best Sukoa Chalk Bag

Sukoa Chalk Bag

This budget-friendly chalk bag is great for beginners. It features two built-in pockets, letting you store important items while bouldering. The main compartment uses water-resistant materials. It’s spacious enough to accommodate larger hands.

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best Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag

Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag

This simple chalk bag with a drawstring closure makes it easy to access your chalk with one hand. It is also available in several color options.

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best FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust

FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust

This non-toxic chalk prevents any type of moisture from interfering with your climb, keeping your hands dry and your mind focused.

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Best climbing accessories

best Metolius Climbing Tape

Metolius Climbing Tape

Using climbing tape can be helpful when getting your fingers and hands used to rough rock surfaces. This tape uses durable cotton and can prevent painful scrapes and scratches while building up callouses.

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best Metolius Simulator 3D Training Board

Metolius Simulator 3D Training Board

An at-home training board can help you practice your grips on days when the weather isn’t cooperating, and you can’t make it to the gym. This Metolius model can be installed above your door frame and features a variety of holds in different sizes.

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best PETZL Unisex Boreo Climbing Helmet

PETZL Unisex Boreo Climbing Helmet

Not all people who boulder choose to wear a helmet, but they can help prevent a serious head injury in the event of an unexpected fall. This helmet has ventilation holes for breathability and sports a soft, comfortable headband.

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