Rock climbing is known to be an expensive sport, but how much does it really cost to get started rock climbing? And are there ways to cut that cost down?
Maybe all of your friends are getting into rock climbing, but you keep getting freaked out by how much it all costs. It does cost a lot, but there are plenty of cost-effective ways to get started with climbing.
There are a variety of styles of climbing and a variety of places that you can go climbing, all of which bring along different costs with them. We’re going to break down some of the main types of climbing, both indoor and outdoor, and the typical initial investment costs as well as the recurring costs associated with each one. These costs are all average price ranges and will vary depending on where you live and where you buy your gear, but this should give you a good idea of what to expect overall.
How Much Does it Cost to Start Rock Climbing the First Time?
The cost of starting out will depend greatly on what type of climbing it is that you want to be doing. The cheapest way to start out is by bouldering, either outdoors or indoors. Outdoor will require you to buy more gear, but you won’t have to pay every time you go like you would with indoor bouldering.
Top-rope climbing, sport climbing, and trad climbing all go up in price, with trad climbing being the most expensive common form of climbing.
Generally, bouldering indoors will cost the entry to the gym ($15-25) and the gear you need. To boulder indoors, you will need rock climbing shoes. Renting climbing shoes tends to be about $5 while buying climbing shoes tends to start around $60, with the most basic model and on sale, and increase to a few hundred dollars.
The average climbing shoe is about $125-150 and will need to be replaced as they wear out, which depends on how well you take care of them and how often you climb.
All styles of climbing that we’re talking about in this article will need chalk and a chalk bag, although this is not as necessary as something like climbing shoes.
Chalk bags tend to be $10-20, and often you can find them with chalk included. It costs $5-15 to refill the chalk once you’ve used it, depending on the type and quality of chalk you like and how fast you go through it.
Outdoor bouldering requires the same gear as indoor bouldering, plus a crash pad. A crash pad is a portable mat that you can fall on, and it will help keep you safe. A good crash pad generally costs around $200, but it is a one-time purchase, so make sure you find one you like.
If you’re climbing in a popular location, it’s possible to skip on the crash pad and rent pads from local outdoor shops.
Everything involving a rope will involve climbing shoes, chalk and a chalk bag, a harness, and a helmet if the climbing is outdoor climbing.
Harnesses can cost anywhere from around $60 to well over $100, depending on what you want your harness to have. Helmets usually cost around $80-120, but we recommend that you take your helmet seriously, since it is the thing that will be protecting your head.
Top-rope climbing indoors only requires a little gear beyond bouldering. You will need a belay device and a locking carabiner. There are two types of belay devices, tubular (ex. ATC) and assisted braking (ex. grigri). Tubular belay devices tend to cost $20-30, but can sometimes be purchased with a locking carabiner for $20-40. A locking carabiner on its own will cost $10-20.
Outdoor top-rope climbing will require you to invest in a dynamic rope. Climbing ropes come in many lengths, with the most common being 60 meters or 70 meters. Make sure you get a thickness of rope that will work with the belay device that you have. Ropes typically start in price around $100, with most being in the $150-250 range. Ropes will need to be replaced every five or so years, depending on what the manufacturer recommends.
Another thing that you’ll need to think about with top-rope climbing is your anchor set up.
An anchor set up usually includes a few non-locking carabiners ($6-10/carabiner), a few locking carabiners ($10-20/carabiner), and cordelette or webbing to attach it all together ($20-30, depending on material and size). As with the climbing rope, the soft goods, i.e., the cordelette and webbing, will need to be replaced every five to ten years, but a well cared for carabiner can last years.
If you want to start lead climbing, you will need to invest in either sport or trad gear. Sport gear consists of everything you need for top-roping and quickdraws. Quickdraws are non-locking carabiners attached together with a strip of nylon known as a “dogbone”. Quickdraws tend to cost $12-20/quickdraw, but a good number to have is usually around 12 or so. Many companies that make quickdraws sell a set of 12 for $100-110, saving you money on each quickdraw.
Getting into trad climbing is a whole different challenge. To start trad climbing, you will need a full trad rack, which can cost around $1000. Trad climbing, or traditional climbing, is not something that you can just pick up. It takes lots of time and monetary investments and can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing.
How Much Does Indoor Rock Climbing Cost?
To go rock climbing at an indoor climbing gym will probably cost you $15-25, depending on where you live. Most gyms will charge an extra $5-10 to rent shoes and a harness, so make sure you don’t forget about that when figuring out cost. This might be worth it for a few climbing gym visits, but for more than a few visits, it’s going to be way more cost-effective to look into getting a punch card or membership at the gym and to begin to invest in your own gear.
Typically the break-even point for most gyms is around 4-5 visits a month.
We’re going to include some possible cost ranges for indoor climbing:
- Bouldering with gear rental: $20-35/visit
- Bouldering with gear purchase: $150-170 & $15-25/visit
- Top-rope with gear rental: $35-40/visit
- Top-rope with gear purchase: $170-200 & $15-25/visit
These costs are an average cost with a daily pass to a climbing gym. It may be more cost-effective to look into either a punch pass or a monthly membership if you plan on climbing frequently.
How Much Does Outdoor Rock Climbing Cost?
Outdoor rock climbing has a much more significant initial investment than indoor climbing, but a lower ongoing cost, unless you climb somewhere that you need a permit for. Many places charge a small fee to climb there. The money then goes to help maintain the area, replacing bolts, and doing trail work. If an area has a fee, make sure you pay it so the area can be maintained for everyone.
This is some possible price ranges for getting started outdoor climbing:
- Bouldering gear purchase: $150+
- Top-rope gear purchase: $250+
- Sport climbing gear purchase: $375+
- Trad climbing gear purchase: $1250+
There is an almost endless amount of gear to buy for outdoor rock climbing, which is why we haven’t included a range of prices but have instead given an average starting point.
These costs also don’t include the cost of buying climbing shoes, a harness, and a helmet.
Together, those three personal gear items tend to cost around $250, with harnesses starting in cost around $60, helmets starting in cost around $70, and climbing shoes starting in cost around $100.
What are the Cheapest Ways to Rock Climb
The cheapest way to rock climb is usually bouldering, but this also depends on how you think about the cost.
If you want the lowest start-out cost, then outdoor bouldering is probably your best bet, as the only recurring cost associated with outdoor bouldering is chalk.
If you want a lower initial cost, but aren’t worried about the cost going away anytime soon, then indoor bouldering may be your best option. The initial cost is low, but you do have to pay for a membership or day pass to a climbing gym every time.
It might be a good idea to create a budget of the money that you are willing to spend on climbing and then decide what style of climbing is within your budget.
Make sure you take into account all the costs associated with the styles of climbing that you’re interested in. Don’t forget about the extraneous costs, the recurring costs, and the initial investment costs when you’re making your budget.
How to Reduce the Cost of Rock Climbing
We know that rock climbing is expensive, but it doesn’t always have to break the bank. If you do your research before buying anything, you can almost always find something on sale. There are a number of reputable retailers with stores, who tend to have good sales. You can also look on sites such as backcountry.com to try to find cheap climbing gear. When we say cheap, we don’t mean crazy cheap, but saving even a few dollars is never a bad thing.
Another way to start climbing and minimize how much money you have to spend for the initial investment is to buy gear with someone else. If you want to do top-rope or any type of lead climbing, you will be in need of a climbing partner, so you could buy one gear set-up between two people.
The main worry people tend to have to buying gear together is not being able to climb with anyone else, which could be an issue. This is the main reason why many people invest in their own personal climbing gear, but it is a potential option for spending less on gear. Just make sure you choose someone that you aren’t likely to dislike anytime in the near future.
How Much Does One-on-One Rock Climbing Coaching Cost?
To hire a private climbing coach will usually cost between $200-300 for half a day of climbing coaching outdoors.
A good way to make the price go down is to find friends to go with you. Most climbing schools will lower the cost per person if you add more people, up to a certain number. If you’ve never had any experience with climbing before and don’t have anyone you trust to teach you, it’s a good idea to take a course to learn how to climb how to climb safely.
If you’re looking to take an intro to climbing course at an indoor climbing gym, the cost will likely be around $20-40, depending on the course and how long it is.
Many gyms offer short, hour or two long belay or general safety courses. Even if you think that you’ll mostly want to climb outdoors, it’s not a bad idea to take a safety course, and a short course may be cheaper than a full day-long course.
What are Other Miscellaneous Rock Climbing Costs?
The extraneous costs associated with climbing can range from massages post climbing to training gear to use before you even climb. It is important to take care of your body both before and after climbing, but unfortunately, there are a variety of costs associated with that. Make sure you warm-up well before climbing to minimize the risk of injury. It is also important to take care of your muscles after climbing since it can be hard on you.
Below we’re going to break down some potential costs that you could choose to spend time and money on. These costs are all average price ranges of products, but since some of these are services, the prices will vary significantly depending on where you live.
- Hand exercisers: $10-20
- Foam roller: $10-30
- Full body massage: $50-100/hour
- Theracane: $30-40
- Resistance bands: $20-30
Investing in these things are not a sure-fire way to avoid injuries all together with climbing, but these can be used to help speed up the time it takes to heal from any potential injuries you incur while climbing or training for climbing.
Wrappings things up The Costs of Rock Climbing
Overall, climbing is an expensive sport, but with some effort, you can reduce the cost as much as possible.
One of the main things to take into account when you start looking at investing in climbing gear is your personal safety, so investing in good, safe gear is necessary. You may want to check out our climbing gear reviews here.
Take the time to search around for sales and good deals, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your local climbing gym, store, community, or forum for help. It can feel like a lot of gear, but it’s there for your safety, so make sure to take care of it.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like our other climbing tips here. If you’re new to rock climbing, then make sure to check out our rock climbing tips for beginners and intermediates.