The holidays are coming and you have to figure out what you’re going to ask Santa for. “Okay,” you think, “I want to climb stronger cause I wanna send my project so I’m going to ask for Chris Sharma’s strength and style.” Then you think, “Oh right, Santa’s not a genie. He can’t make me into Sharma.” Chris Sharma, of course, is one of the world's best climbers. Year after year he crushes all the toughies. Well, since you’re not a mutant like Sharma then ask Santa for the next best thing—the gear that Chris uses. Here’s a list of my top Sharma choices. Go ahead, ask Santa for them and maybe you'll climb like Chris.
The Pontas climbing shoes, designed for Evolv as the Chris Sharma Signature Series of rock shoes, is a superb choice for your climbs at Rifle, the Gunks, New River Gorge, and Ceuse. The Pontas, named after Pontas Arch, one of Chris’s hard deep water solos in Spain, is a Climbing Magazine Editor’s Choice shoe. It offers precision edging on small holds; has a full mid-sole and extra half mid-sole for support and stiffness; and fits like a glove in the toe box and heel. The Lace-Up model has a high rand for friction when heel-hooking and foot-scumming, perfect for overhanging routes. The shoes are soled with Evolv’s TRAX XT-5 friction rubber, one of the stickiest rubbers available. Try them and you'll see how Chris climbs the hard stuff.
Hands down, Sterling makes some of the best ropes in the world. They maintain their shape, they last a long time, and they handle well. Jim Ewing with Sterling Ropes tells me: “Chris is not actually using any special rope. He is not too keen on super skinny ropes and prefers ropes in the 9.7mm to 10mm range. He's been using our Velocity 9.8 for most stuff and the Nano 9.2 for the special sends. In my opinion, the Velocity is the absolute best all-around rope on the market. Its combo of lightweight and durability are the perfect balance. If I had to buy rope, it would be the Velocity. I'm biased, of course, but I really don't see a comparable rope out there.”
Wear a pair of Sanuk’s Sidewalk Surfer Shoes for an hour and you’ll see why Chris Sharma joined Sanuk’s Climbing Team. These shoes, actually a sandal with a shoe upper, are, as the Sanuk website says, “addictively comfortable.” Or as Chris says, “Since I got on board I’ve hardly taken off my Sidewalk Surfers. They really are the most comfortable things ever!” Another testimonial is from Ian Spencer-Green: “They are the most awesome shoes I have. Wearing them is like walking around barefoot. I’ve done heinous approaches in them and they performed excellent. They were sticky while scrambling across boulders and they DO NOT have a sticky sole!” Wear these surfer shoes and I guarantee you’ll never wear flip-flops or plastic Crocs again.
Chris Sharma usually wears Petzl’s Sama climbing harness, a men’s harness that is ideal for both long routes as well as short hard sport routes. The Sama has snug, comfortable leg loops for hanging belays and repeated falls while not restricting leg movement. It’s also lightweight; has mesh inside the harness to wick moisture away from skin on hot days; has prethreaded buckles making it easy to put on and take off; and has reinforced tie-in points, making it perfect for working tough routes and putting in a lot of air time. Petzl, a French company, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of climbing goods.
Photograph courtesy prAna
Since the early 1990s prAna has become the gold standard for climbing clothes. Using the motto “Born From The Experience,” prAna designs functional clothes and accessories from sustainable materials. Chris Sharma, from the time he was an 11-year-old climbing phenom, has been sponsored by prAna, wearing their clothes on his climbing adventures. If you want to climb like Chris, start dressing like him by wearing prAna favorites including the Komodo Pant, the Snakebite shirt, the Cadet Beanie, the Zion Pant, the Tenaya Pant, the Hornet Pullover, and their Chalk Bag. In the 1970s I used to wear painter’s pants and rugby shirts on the rock, but now I outfit myself in prAna’s excellent clothes, some of which I’ve used for 15 years. Good stuff.