FAQ Climbing Equipment

Here you find questions and answers to climbing and safety equipment. Also the usual questions of course participants regarding equipment get answered.
Not answered are getting issues of the basic use of belay devices and questions regarding safety techniques and procedures. We think these are things that have to be done in courses and practical education. Terms and their definitions and specialties (especially safety technical) are available in our glossary.

About the climbing shoe universe

Climbing shoes are no running shoes. They are tight and give you the feeling to never buy or wear these shoes voluntary. Not comfortable and tight: yes, dying: no.

The sense of climbing shoes is to bring pressure to the toes and sides of your feet. Only then it is possible to stand on the smallest band. The toes are standing a little bit and the heel should fill the back of the shoe completely.

If the shoes are too big it is not possible to get an optimal power transmission. Is the shoe to small and the toes are standing too much, the same happens. Additional it can hurt a lot.
Some shoes widen themselves because of the sweat, the ones made of artificial leather normally not.
Depending to the form of foot and toes the shoe has to be smaller or wider. 1000 different food forms – 150 different shoe forms.

Depending to condition of the feed (food tension) the shoe can be harder or softer. Also the tension of the shoe has an influence on how the food is hold in its tension. The more tension a shoe has the less it should be too small.

Beginners normally need a bit harder soles; professionals can have much softer ones. It definitely makes no sense for beginners to buy soft shoes, because the power transmission to the shoe and to the step will be not optimal. A too soft shoe then means: train your feed.
But if the soles are too hard you will tumble over the steps and the feeling for your center of gravity and the placing of the feed will not develop.

Buying climbing shoes is definitely one of the most difficult decisions of the life of a climber, even it the climbing shoes belong to the little wearing material of climbing equipment.


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What is an authorized dealer of climbing equipment?

Authorized dealers are that accepted by the particular manufacturers and official distributors. Manufacturers and distributers set different criteria for an acceptance, which normally constrain that someone simply registers as an authorized dealer.

The purchasing from manufacturers and authorized distributers guaranties original equipment.
Several manufacturers exclude explicit for example the selling of climbing equipment in the internet. In general no reliable dealer on platforms like eBay and risk his dealer status.

However the internet is the place that makes it easier for counterfeiters to sell their goods. If something is compared to other sources really cheap, the warning lights should start. The purchasing prices for products of common brands are comparative high, so that it is not possible for the dealers to sell them much under the usual price.

An identification of the status of an authorization of a particular dealer is often only possible by request to the manufacturer or the distributor. The websites of the manufacturers regarding their dealers are often not up to date.


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What is the CE marking?

Every product, entering legal the European market, gets a CE marking. The approval of the CE marking underlies the business inspectorate and when entering the EU the customs. The CE marking does not have any content declaring that something fits the applying norm standards. It’s a declaration of conformity of the manufacturer, to state that it would apply to the norm standards.

Only with inspection of an independent laboratory the manufacturer made declaration can be approved. A four digit number behind the CE marking identifies the approving laboratory. A number with 2 digits is irrelevant because it is only showing the year of production.

Despite of having a 4 digit approval laboratory number it is not documented to which norms the approval really applies.
Only the identification mark with the applying norm (ENxxx) and/or with the label of the UIAA ( Union Internationale des Association d’ Alpinisme - International Mountaineering Association) approves definite the norm standard of the inspection.

Because in climbing the European norms have displaced the national norms, DIN and ÖN etc. are not so important anymore.


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I only climb on artificial climbing walls, what equipment do I need?

Climbing is a quite cheap sport in the beginning.

For climbing in a climbing hall a harness – well fitting – a belay device and a carabiner are sufficient. Climbing shoes increase the fun of course.  With this material you are able to climb on top ropes. For lead climbing you will need a rope (and a partner that is able to belay in lead climbing properly!).
For an outdoor climbing facility a bit more is necessary. Ropes and for express sets for intermediate belay are only in the rarest cases installed. The interruption of a climbing route or special circumstances can lead to a significant higher demand of equipment. What is necessary and how to handle it is subject of climbing courses.

That it is not enough to have super equipment, but an education in using it is necessary, has no need to be declared further at this point, though the sellers in climbing shops in most cases are no climbing instructors.

Keep your fingers of super cheap equipment from the internet or “Starter-kits. In the first case you are not able to try it out or to proof if it fits or to check its functions. Additional: The company “Wild Country” as well as the big climbing equipment company Petzl are actually confronted with counterfeits sold in the internet. In the second case you usually buy more expensive than necessary. In starter-kits often equipment is sold that is not really functional for regular praxis. Often you will recognize fast that there is something better for your purpose. Carabiner, harnesses, lanyards etc. is something you are going to use for a long time, besides your life depends on it. So it is worth it not being too penurious.


When do I have to stop using a piece of climbing equipment?

Climbing equipment can be used no more, if damages stop the functioning of it or cause safety issues. This can be bad closing carabiners, worn stitching, superficially cracked webbings or lanyards etc.

In general the liability for defective equipment is on the side of the owner. Climbing equipment is personal safety equipment and the one who provides it is liable for it. The use of climbing equipment needs a certain judgment and in case of discovering damages a preventive separation of the affected equipment from use.

In the use of climbing equipment as rental equipment an inspection and assurance of an independent institution is recommendable. In case of an accident a proof for the condition of the equipment can be given to insurances or an investigating authority.


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When do I need a full-body or a chest harness?

Nowadays a full-body harness is nearly exclusively used in via ferrata or alpine mountaineering when there is a danger of falling down with your head first because of a heavy backpack.

Full-body harnesses are also used in ropes courses, as safety device in craftsmanship and in industrial climbing and rigging.

Not usually used and not commonly recommended are full-body harnesses for sport climbing, ice climbing, high-altitude mountain tours, mountaineering with day packs and canyoning etc.
This is also relevant for the well-known chest-sit harness combination, where the sit harness gets connected with an additional chest harness.

Even for children full-body harnesses are only limited suitable, because children grow fast out of them and often don’t need a full-body harness because of their build. The manufacturers have special sit harnesses in their product-line.

The use of an additional chest harness can be necessary, if a person has no waist (special body composition or very small children).


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Must climbing equipment be checked periodically?

Private climbing equipment must not be checked periodically of independent institutions, though it should be checked for damages or ware from time to time.
Way different is this matter in Equipment that is used or provided for rental or as personal safety equipment for business purposes. Similar to the mandatory periodical inspection of climbing facilities, an independent institution proves and documents the equipment. A periodical documentation in daily business does not replace the main inspection of the equipment.


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    Reverso No.4 from Petzl

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    Eleven from AustriAlpin

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    Good Terms Evo

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