A Brief History of Recreational Rock Climbing Gear

Did you know that it wasn’t until the 1800s that rock climbing became a sport? Before that, trying to talk someone into climbing up a wall of rock for fun would have likely led to some laughing.

Today, the sport is extremely popular. Not only are people going out and climbing rocks, but there are also indoor climbing gyms where people can go for a good climb. But where did it all start, and what did people use for climbing before today’s products were invented?

A brief summary of rock climbing’s beginnings

It’s believed that the sport of rock climbing really got going in Germany, England, and Italy before it spread to the US and rest of the world.

In the US, Yosemite became a popular place for people to go and practice their climbing. It became a way of life, and with this revolution came the need for better equipment.  

The 1960s brought about a time when gear was really revolutionized to work for climbers. Before today’s equipment, people used Manila hemp rope instead of dynamic rope, squares of carpet instead of crash pads, and nail-spiked boots instead of climbing shoes. Basic carabiners came about in 1910 and it wasn’t until 1991 that the first wiregate carabiner was created.

The 1960-70s was a massive time of change for rock climbers, and was a time when rock climbing really took off in the US. This was when assisted climbing became practiced and all the great products we use today were created.

Today’s climbing equipment makes the sport more accessible

The technology behind the equipment that makes climbing safer than it once was has helped many more people join in on the sport. Here are the top eight pieces of gear that you should have in your climbing bag:


1) Ropes 

2) Belay

3) Gloves

4) Rope Bag/Rope Pack


5) Carabiners

6) Helmets

7) Climbing Harness

8) Cams


Crash pads, which came about in the 90s, were a great addition to the gear line for climbers. Having something to break a fall settles the mind just a bit so you can spend more time focusing on your climb.

Friction rubber shoes were invented in the 1960s, and are something that a climber cannot go without today and nylon rope before that in the 40s.

No matter your skill level, MTN SHOP has the gear to keep you climbing!

Note: Never climb without the proper training or equipment, and always climb safely.