Home > Buyer's Guide

The Best Climbing Gear According to Our Editors – January

Every month we're bringing you our favourite gear so you can complete your climbing kit with the latest and best stuff out there

Our expert testers go through a lot of gear, but we’ve narrowed it down to some of our favourites. Each month, we’ll update this list with our absolute top picks in five categories, including shoes, harnesses, quickdraws, ropes, training, and helmets. Hopefully, this list will simplify your purchasing decisions and help you get the right piece, whether you’re spending your time climbing on plastic or rock.

 

Shoes

Best for climbers seeking the convenience of a slipper with a more secure heel fit
Scarpa Vapor S

Scarpa Vapor S

A soft performance-oriented slipper with an innovative closure

Built as a flexible and sensitive slipper for steep routes, bouldering, and even thin crack climbing, the Vapor S delivers admirably in all these situations. The shoe features a sophisticated construction that focuses power to your toes without the mind-numbing pain frequently encountered with less technical tensioning systems. A large swatch of super-sticky M50 rubber covers the front of the shoe for exceptional security when toe hooking or in thin cracks. The shoe features Scarpa’s new Nano Strap closure that can be adjusted to provide three levels of security and convenience; you can remove it for maximum ease-of-use, or thread it two different ways for an increasingly secure fit.

Best for extended training and steep climbing
Scarpa Veloce

Scarpa Veloce Rock Shoes

A super-soft and comfortable performance shoe

If you spending your time training on plastic this winter (and who isn’t), you need to get yourself a pair of Veloces. This super-soft shoe excels on steep plastic as well as on the slabby shenanigans that comprise so much of modern comp-style bouldering. The shoe features Scarpa’s extremely sticky S-72 rubber compound for exceptional grip on even the most tenuous holds. From a fit perspective, Scarpa has employed a more relaxed last with a roomier toe box, a slight downturn, and gentle tensioning. The result is a comfortable fit that does not sacrifice performance. This an ideal shoe for intermediate climbers looking to upgrade their footwear or experienced climbers seeking a comfortable shoe for extended training sessions.

 

Harnesses

Best for climbers seeking a one-harness solution for trad, sport and multi-pitch routes
Black Diamond Solution Harness

Black Diamond Solution Harness

A versatile harness for cragging and multi-pitch climbing

Most climbers spend their time clipping bolts, plugging gear, and occasionally venturing onto some longer multi-pitch climbs. If this sounds like you, then check out the Solution harness. This versatile harness delivers the comfort and support you need on longer climbs while still being sufficiently light and agile for desperate sport-climbing redpoints. The Solution features BD’s Fusion Comfort Technology, which consists of three rows of webbing in the waist and leg loops to better distribute the pressure when you’re hanging. BD also specs four moulded gear loops for plenty of racking space on those longer routes.

Best for climbers seeking low weight and comfort when climbing harder routes
Petzl Hirundos Harness

Petzl Hirundos Harness

A comfortable high-end sport climbing harness

Climbers looking to push their grades will appreciate the Hirundos. This tried-and-true sport climbing harness continues to deliver the comfort, low weight and non-restrictive fit valued by climbers attempting challenging routes. The harness features Petzl’s Fuseframe construction that reduces pressure points while providing solid support. For durability, Petzl specs lightweight TPU overlays on the back of the leg loops and uses a Dynema for the belay loop as well as tie-in points. A silky-smooth aluminum double-back buckle allows for effortless waist adjustment, while the four gear loops provide carrying capacity for large trad-cragging and sport climbing racks.

 

Quickdraws

Best for climbers seeking a durable and easy-to-clip draw for sport climbing
Black Diamond Hotforge Quickdraw

Black Diamond Hotforge Quickdraw

An easy-to-clip sport climbing quickdraw at a great price

Sport climbing can be hard on draws, and most of us have a few that are either gouged out by hangers or worn down by the rope. So, rather than risk a dirt nap, consider updating your current quickdraw rack with the BD’s Hotforge Quickdraw Pack. Consisting of a straight and bent gate Hotforge carabiner and a beefy polyester dogbone, this draw offers excellent performance during desperate clips. The biners feature hot-forged construction, which allows BD to move material where it is most needed, resulting in lower weight and superb durability. The relatively simple-looking dogbone has an integrated rubber Straitjacket insert that prevents the bent gate biner from shifting during clips. Get some of these draws and put your mind at ease when you’re racing to the anchors.

Best for climbers seeking a robust quickdraw with extra internal space
Petzl Djinn Axess Quickdraw

Petzl Djinn Axess Quickdraw

A generously sized quickdraw for sport climbing and cragging

The Djinn Axess quickdraw has to one of the best-kept secrets in the climbing world. Built to the same exacting standards as Petzl’s hyper-premium Spirit Express draws, the Djinns deliver excellent durability and greater internal space, making them a perfect choice for sport climbing or for climbers with larger paws. The carabiners feature a large body for easy handling even when wearing gloves, while the I-beam cross-section sheds some grams without comprising strength. These are excellent all-around draws with an optimal blend of weight, size, and durability, and they will provide solid service when cragging.

 

Ropes

Best for climbers valuing durability when cragging or backcountry climbing
Sterling VR9 9.8 mm Dry-Core Rope

Sterling VR9 9.8 mm Dry-Core Rope

A durable all-around workhorse rope

The 9.8 mm VR9 hits the sweet spot for a general-purpose climbing rope. Not only is it able to shrug off the abuse of extended top-roping and constant sport-climbing falls, but it’s also sufficiently light and slim for harder redpoints and multi-pitch climbs. Sterling has also added a  DryCore treatment to the inner yarns to help prevent excessive fibre abrasion and reduce water absorption.

Best for difficult repoints and challenging back-country adventures
Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS Dry Rope

Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS Dry Rope

A specialized triple-rated climbing rope

With its svelte 8.9 mm diameter, the Nano is the ideal rope when weight and rope drag can mean the difference between success and failure. This specialized skinny, triple-rated rope (single, half, and twin) is versatile enough for a variety of advanced rope techniques, making it a top choice for difficult cragging and alpine routes. Sterling employs its XEROS dry technology, which treats each individual filament of the rope. The result is exceptional water resistance, which is a huge benefit when ice or alpine climbing.

 

Training

Best for climbers seeking a compact training or warm-up solution at home or at the crag
Metolius Wood Rock Rings II

Metolius Wood Rock Rings II

A minimalist finger training tool

Featuring skin-friendly wood construction, the Wood Rock Rings II allows climbers to train or warm up anywhere the rings can be safely suspended. The Wood Rock Rings II feature three hold sizes (jug, large edge, and small edge) and can quickly be deployed for training at home, in a van or at the cliff. This is an incredibly versatile and compact training tool.

Best for climbers with limited space
Metolius Project Hangboard

Metolius Project Hangboard

A versatile and affordable hangboard for finger strength development

Stay fit and amp up your finger strength with the gently-textured and relatively compact Metolius Project Hangboard. The Project’s minimalist footprint simplifies installation in smaller spaces, yet the board still offers plenty of hold shapes for optimal finger training of various grip positions.

 

Helmets

Best for climbers wanting excellent coverage and ventilation without a premium price
Petzl Meteor Helmet

Petzl Meteor Helmet

A lightweight and versatile helmet at a more accessible price

With its massive vents and full-coverage shape, the Meteor is an excellent choice for climbers seeking side impact protection during warm weather. Petzl delivers these benefits at a very reasonable price by employing more conventional EPS and polycarbonate construction. It’s worth noting that this construction was just a few years ago considered cutting-edge, so you’re, in essence, buying what would have been a premium helmet but at an average-joe price. Other features include an easy-to-adjust strap system, headlamp clips and a fumble-free magnetic strap closure.

Best for climbers seeking low weight without compromising protection
Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

An innovative helmet that combines low weight, excellent protection and ventilation

The Black Diamond’s Vapor helmet offers exceptional impact protection while remaining at the forefront of ultralight design. Black Diamond starts with a polycarbonate crown and adds an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) insert. This new insert offers a 44% higher strength-to-weight ratio than the previous Kevlar version. The result is a 40% reduction in the weight of this component without compromising protection for the climber. The rest of the helmet is constructed with moulded Expanded Polypropylene (EPP), providing excellent impact absorption and significantly greater durability than traditionally used EPS. The Vapor’s large vents allow excess heat to easily escape, while the minimalist adjustment system easily accommodates a variety of head shapes.

Products reviewed in this article:

Best for climbers seeking the convenience of a slipper with a more secure heel fit

Scarpa Vapor S

Scarpa Vapor S

Buy Now - Men's

Buy Now - Women's

Buy Now - Men's

Buy Now - Women's

Best for extended training and steep climbing

Scarpa Veloce Rock Shoes

Scarpa Veloce

Buy Now - Men's

Buy Now - Women's

Buy Now - Men's

Buy Now - Women's

Best for climbers seeking a one-harness solution for trad, sport and multi-pitch routes

Black Diamond Solution Harness

Black Diamond Solution Harness

Buy Now - Men's

Buy Now - Women's

Buy Now - Men's

Buy Now - Women's

Best for climbers seeking low weight and comfort when climbing harder routes

Petzl Hirundos Harness

Petzl Hirundos Harness

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers seeking a durable and easy-to-clip draw for sport climbing

Black Diamond Hotforge Quickdraw

Black Diamond Hotforge Quickdraw

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers seeking a robust quickdraw with extra internal space

Petzl Djinn Axess Quickdraw

Petzl Djinn Axess Quickdraw

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers valuing durability when cragging or backcountry climbing

Sterling VR9 9.8 mm Dry-Core Rope

Sterling VR9 9.8 mm Dry-Core Rope

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for difficult repoints and challenging back-country adventures

Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS Dry Rope

Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS Dry Rope

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers seeking a compact training or warm-up solution at home or at the crag

Metolius Wood Rock Rings II

Metolius Wood Rock Rings II

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers with limited space

Metolius Project Hangboard

Metolius Project Hangboard

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers wanting excellent coverage and ventilation without a premium price

Petzl Meteor Helmet

Petzl Meteor Helmet

Buy Now

Buy Now

Best for climbers seeking low weight without compromising protection

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

Buy Now

Buy Now

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Spring climbing road-trip essentials

We give these road trip climbing essentials top grade