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Backpack Essentials That Every Climber Must Have

For climbing to be a positive experience, the climber must be well-prepared both technically and physically. But before you go on your first climbing expedition, you need to make sure you have all the necessary equipment and apparel. Knowing what to put in your backpack is essential to stay safe. In this article, we’ll cover all the basics every climber needs to have in their backpack, so read on.

Map and a compass

There is no way to recreate a map from memory alone. Each climber should have a paper topographical map just in case. The good idea is to keep the map in a resealable plastic bag, so it doesn’t get ruined by the elements. The maps do not need batteries and provide climbers with a backup and an overview of the area. Though Google Maps and other GPS systems are very convenient, you can’t always rely on having a service or a full battery. To make the map fully functional, you should also equip yourself with a compass. This sturdy and user-friendly device helps anyone venturing into the wild. Taking bearings in the field, measuring them, and comparing them to the map is only possible with a compass with a baseplate.


A sturdy pair of climbing boots is essential equipment. They’ll give grip and stability for traversing across uneven terrain and the option to connect crampons for climbing snow and glaciers. Your more-flexible hiking boots may seem like a decent alternative, but not all backpacking boots are compatible with crampons. The soles’ flexibility, however, may lead to rapid foot fatigue on rough ground. The stiff soles of climbing boots provide for a solid footing.


Each person should have a knife on them at all times, ideally on a leash, to keep it from becoming lost. Knives are essential for opening and preparing meal packages, making repairs, and climbing. Even something as simple as handy automatic knives can get you covered and completely ready for climbing. Backpackers often bring a surprising assortment of gear in case of emergencies, both real and imagined. Other tools, pliers, a screwdriver, an awl, and scissors, may either be included with a knife or pocket tool or carried separately.

Water bottle

If you want to backpack with minimum baggage, you should only pack one light plastic water bottle to carry a few ounces of water at once. Whenever the route passes a water source, you can fill it up, take a few drinks, and then reattach it to your backpack with the carabiner. Our advice is to clip it to your harness so that you can use it while climbing. 

Ready-made meals

When you’re climbing, you shouldn’t go with an entire Thanksgiving spread in your backpack. You should always have meals at hand, but keep it simple. You should bring a couple of homemade sandwiches or even pre-packed meals you can find in the supermarkets. If you manage to start a fire, you can easily heat up the meals and have something hot and comforting. Though it’s not a Michelin-star meal, it’s something!


You should bring a rope with you on your mountaineering adventure if you want to attempt any kind of difficult rock climbing. When working with a guide, you may expect to get ropes at no extra cost. In contrast, if you’re picking out your own mountaineering ropes, you should pay particular attention to the weight and length. Make sure that the rope can safely support your weight!


You need a climbing harness unless you’re only going to be bouldering. A rock climbing harness, which is worn around the waist and thighs, provides an anchor point for the climber to clip into the rope and belay their partner. In addition, it will have attachment points for additional gear. Invest in a new, well-padded harness from a reliable manufacturer to ensure your safety.


Wearing a helmet is now considered mandatory while rock climbing due to the inherent risks involved. The reality of climbing is that no matter how skilled you get, you will still have setbacks. After all, you should always be looking to improve your performance by taking on more difficult trails. When you fall, the rope will whip around, and your body will most likely be slammed into the rock. In most cases, the worst that will happen is a few scratches and bruises, for which you should have a first aid kit handy. Nevertheless, you should always wear a helmet to prevent concussion. In addition to protecting your head from the elements, a helmet will also shield your head from any rocks that may fall on you while you’re climbing.

Although you’ll need to spend some money on equipment before starting rock climbing, if you go through our list, you’ll be ready to go. Now all you’ll need to pay for is gas and find the nearest rock to conquer. 


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