Most people learn climb in a gym. I learned in 40 degree rain on granite slabs in western North Carolina. I haven’t climbed a gym until I’ve done some alpine ice climbs. Let me tell you one thing, it’s less intimidating to learn about safety routines, lingo, and equipment when climbing indoors. Still, it’s perfectly fine to start outdoors if you fall with the right climbers or sign up for an American Mountain Guides Association accredited course.
Whether you are indoors or outdoors, you will need some basic equipment. I’m keeping things simple (and affordable) in this guide because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the tech gear jargon. You’re also not going to be climbing in the lead until you’re more experienced, so I’m omitting things like rope and quickdraws, which your climb leader will have. You can get away with any flexible garment (no jeans!), But I suggest you turn to synthetic technical layers to climb on the outside.
Special offer for Gear readers: get a One year subscription to WIRED for $ 5 ($ 25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.