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Top-Rope Climbing Equipment

Here's What You Need to Go Top-Roping


Climbing at Red Rock Canyon, Colorado Springs

Rock shoes, a harness, and a helmet are all you need to take the kids top-rope climbing.

Photo © Stewart M. Green

Top-rope climbing doesn’t require as much gear as other types of climbing. This makes it a good way to start out climbing, since you don’t have to invest a lot of money to get out on the rocks.

Basic top-rope anchor gear:

  1. Rope: One 165-foot (50-meter) or 200-foot (60-meter) 10.5mm or 11mm rope.

  2. 9/16-inch sewn slings: 6-10 24-inch slings; 2-4
    48-inch slings. Used to
    create anchor system.

  3. 1-inch tubular webbing:
    1 tied in a 10-foot loop;
    1 tied in a 20-foot loop. Use to create anchor system; ideal for tying off trees.

  4. Oval carabiners: 6-10. Always double them up with gates opposed for safety.

  5. Locking carabiners: 2-6. I prefer to always use locking carabiners on my entire top-rope anchor system rather than regular ovals.

  6. Locking steel carabiners: 2. Steel carabiners are the strongest gear to thread the rope through. Aluminum wears much faster, leading to grooves in the carabiner.

Personal top-rope gear:

  1. Rock shoes: 1 pair per climber. Snug sneakers can also work for beginners.

  2. Harness: 1 per climber. Ideally each climber wears their own harness. If not, make sure you have harnesses for the belayer and the climber.

  3. Belay and rappel device: At least 1 with a locking carabiner to attach it to your harness.

  4. Helmet: 1 per climber. Essential cranial protection when climbing, belaying, or standing at the cliff-base.

  5. Chalk bag and chalk: Optional for sweaty hands. Dip your hand in the chalk in your chalk bag and problem solved.

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