One of the most appealing aspects of bouldering over other rock climbing disciplines is that you don't need much gear to get started. Not only does this make bouldering cheaper to get into, it also makes it far more accessible and beginner-friendly.
Even so, there are a few absolute essentials that you'll want to get as early as possible to help you progress. We've listed these below to get you started!
Ask any experienced climber and they will tell you that your most important first purchase when getting into climbing is a pair of climbing shoes. Picking a first set of shoes can be daunting with so many options, but for beginners fit and comfort are the key considerations.
While more technical bouldering calls for aggressively downturned and asymmetric shoes with a very tight fit, beginner boulderers should opt for a flatter shoe with some stiffness in the sole to provide support. Picking the right size is very important and depends on the shoe model as well as your foot shape. Check out our Shoe Sizing Guide for a full rundown of sizing advice for the models we stock here at Dyno. and the EB Mojo
There's no need to spend a small fortune on your first pair of shoes - in fact, the more durable rubber on inexpensive beginner climbing shoes is better suited to a beginner's climbing style and will help your shoes last longer than a premium pair!
Chalk is a must-have for any boulderer. Whether you're climbing indoors or outside, chances are your hands will start to sweat after a while. This reduces your grip on smaller or less juggy holds and makes them more slippery for other climbers! Chalk is a fantastic way to keep your hands drier and more grippy, and it comes in block, powder, ball and liquid form.
Most beginners will opt for a chalk ball or some powdered chalk as this is inexpensive and easy on the hands. Some powdered chalk like the Metolius Super Chalk contains drying agents, which can be great for grip as it prevents your hands sweating so much, but it can cause your skin to crack from being to dry - be sure to bear this in mind when buying!
Liquid chalk is a mixture of powdered chalk and alcohol gel which evaporates when applied, leaving a super dry layer of grippy chalk on your hands. This is great for trickier climbs but can leave your hands very dry after the session - make sure you use a good skincare balm after climbing with liquid chalk to keep your hands in good shape! Many climbing centers are currently recommending or even requiring climbers to use liquid chalk given its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, so it's certainly worth the investment!
Having bought some chalk to keep your hands grippy, the next thing you'll want is somewhere to keep it! Chalk bags come in a huge range of different styles and sizes but ultimately they are all designed with storing your chalk in mind.
Beginner climbers will often opt for a smaller chalk bag which can attach to your waist with a belt. These are great for holding a decent amount of powdered chalk or a chalk ball and keeping it on your person at all times. Regular boulderers also tend to invest a bit more in a chalk bucket - a much bigger chalk bag with a wider base which sits on the floor while you climb. These usually come with pockets to store your valuables, tape and brushes and have a more sturdy closure system.
As you start to progress with your bouldering and you find your self pulling on small crimpy holds or big smooth slopers, you'll find that some seem much more slippery than others. This is usually because of a build up of chalk, shoe rubber and sweat (gross) which leaves the hold with much less texture than when it's clean, especially when you're climbing indoors!
The solution? A good climbing brush. Brushing holds helps to clean them of the aforementioned gunk, giving you the best chance of clinging on when you're at your limit! While a more expensive boar's hair brush with dense bristles and a solid hand will always give the hold a better clean, cheaper options will also do the job and help keep those holds clean for you and everyone else.
You've been working on that tricky climb with a big dynamic move all session. Your hands are sore and sweaty and your grip is starting to fail you. You resolve to give it one more go, reach out and grab the hold, then ping off and fall to the mats. You look down at your fingers to find a flap of skin missing, leaving nothing but a big red sore!
We've all been there - big rips in your skin, or flappers, are common for climbers of all levels, but are particularly prevalent among beginners as their skin hasn't hardened up as much as those with more climbing behind them. While the only way to let these heal is to give them some rest, you may want to prolong your session by taping the skin up to stop any further abrasions. Finger tape is used by climbers right up to the very elite, and can also be used to help support joints as well as covering up flappers. Simply wrap the tape a few times around the affected finger, taking care not to wrap it too tight.
A Positive Attitude!
Okay, so this might not be a physical necessity to get into climbing. But staying positive with climbing is the most important step you can take to get into the sport and keep improving. Getting too disheartened or being afraid to fail is only going to restrict what you're willing to try, and there's no shame at all in failed attempts! Even the pros take tens or even hundreds of attempts before sending their projects, so give it your best and stay positive!
If you're still relatively new to climbing and you're looking for more guides and advice, check out our Top 10 Tips For Getting Into Bouldering.