Beginners Guide to Recreational Rock Climbing

Have you ever wanted to escape your normal routine of all work & no play? You can take your weekends to new heights with rock climbing!

Recreational rock climbing can satiate your desire for memorable and adventurous weekends that will make your coworkers envious. Want to learn more about this adrenaline-filled activity? Keep reading to understand the basics of rock climbing and the essential equipment you’ll need to start your rock climbing journey.

The Basic Types of Climbing

If you’re a beginner, it’s important to know that there are different types of climbing. The most-used for recreational purposes are bouldering, top-rope climbing, solo top roping, and lead climbing.


Bouldering is a type of rock climbing without the aid of any ropes or harnesses. While that may seem like an advanced activity strictly reserved for professionals whose careers consist of climbing, it is not as daunting as it seems. Bouldering is performed on artificial rock walls and boulders, and the climb usually is no higher than 20ft. This type of rock climbing can be done indoors or outdoors and is a great way to build stamina, strength, and other disciplines required for this exhilarating, yet strenuous hobby.

Top Rope Climbing

Top rope climbing is a type of rock climbing where the climber is attached to a rope through a harness. The rope passes up to an anchor system at the top and back down to a belayer, a climbing partner who wears a harness containing a belay device, and applies variations of tension to help prevent a large fall.  This is the most common style of climbing used at indoor climbing walls, but it also serves as a great method of climbing outdoors while trekking a hike with your buddy.

Solo Top Roping

If you are a more experienced climber, solo top roping can be a more exhilarating option. It is a type of rock climbing which is like top rope climbing, except you rely on a climbing pulley instead of a partner. The Petzl Micro Traxion Capture Pulley gives you the feeling of freedom while climbing but still provides safety. This rock climbing pulley is ultra-compact perfect for bringing with you on a quick getaway to explore the outdoors.   

Lead Climbing

Lead climbing is a more advanced type of rock climbing where the lead climber, who is attached to a rope, ascends while the partner provides the belay and serves as protection from the header falling. While this method may seem like top rope climbing, there is one distinct difference: a pre-placed anchor is not needed at the top of the route. This is the method to try if you’re a thrill-seeker because the climber takes more risks knowing he or she can fall greater distances without an anchor.

Rock Climbing Safety Equipment

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, safety should always come first regarding rock climbing. Here’s a list of all the essential equipment needed for a safe climb.


A rope should be one of the first items you purchase before you begin your venture. It’s what you rely on to prevent mishaps. You can learn more about the differences between a dynamic rope and static rope here.


 If you’re just starting, it’s important to have a trustworthy harness, so you feel safer and more comfortable knowing you are secured. We carry climbing harnesses from leading brands like PMI, Petzl, and Kong.




A lanyard can simplify your climbing experience and even save you time while solo climbing. Lanyards are also great for tree climbing, just make sure to find the proper length that works for you. For instance, the Kong Trimmer Adjustable Positioning Lanyard comes in 5 meters as its largest length while the Petzl Grillon Lanyard comes in a whopping 20 meters.


Wearing helmets while rock climbing protects your head from major injuries. There’s nothing fun about a hospital bill. The Kong Mouse Sport Climbing Helmet is a popular option for rock climbing and is available in a variety of colors.





You’re going to want a strong, secure carabiner to prevent unintentional opening, so make sure they’ve been tested to ensure safety on your climb. You can search our selection of carabiners here.

Climbing Pulleys

Like the Petzl Micro Traxion, you want a lightweight pulley that you can bring with you on your climb. You can use rock climbing pulleys during solo top roping (as mentioned above) or help you carry light loads on your journey. Plus, it has a toothed cam with a self-cleaning slot which means you can expect top-notch performance no matter if your ropes are dirty or frozen.

Recreational rock climbing is an activity for the adrenaline-seekers. It can also be a great escape from everyday stressors. Begin your adventure today! Learn more about specific rock climbing products through MTN Shop.