August 1, 2021

Best Gifts for Rock Climbers

9 min read

As the holidays approach, you may be wondering what kind of presents to get for the climbers in your life. 

Picking out gifts for rock climbers can be challenging, especially if you do not climb yourself. You may overhear cryptic gear discussions about nuts and cams, or feel overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar equipment you see at climbing stores. 

Even if you do climb, it’s always helpful to get a little inspiration for holiday shopping. No matter what your situation is, we’ve got you covered with unique gift ideas for any friends, family, partners, or colleagues that rock climb. 

Generally, it’s best to avoid buying any technical gear for another climber if you don’t know exactly what they’re looking for since gear choices are highly personal – especially in climbing. 

Because a significant portion of climbing gear is considered safety equipment, it’s not returnable at most outdoor retailers. Unless you know exactly what brand, model, and size of gear the climber in your life is looking for, it’s wise to skip purchasing things like harnesses, quickdraws, ropes, cams, and other equipment. If you buy a harness that doesn’t fit right or the wrong size cams, they likely won’t be able to return or exchange these items. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of other excellent gift options. Below are our picks for the best gifts for rock climbers. 

Best Gifts for Rock Climbers Under $25

Climbing Chalk 

Nearly all climbers have a never-ending need for chalk since their existing supply will eventually run out. If you know your climber has an affinity for a specific chalk brand, such as Black Diamond, Metolius, or Petzl, then go with that type of chalk. 

If you’re not sure what brand of chalk they prefer, we recommend going with a high-end, popular option like Friction Labs. The chalk comes in various textures: super chunky Bam Bam, medium-textured Gorilla Grip, and ultra-fine Unicorn Dust. The Gorilla Grip is the most popular product and is a safe bet if you don’t know what texture suits your climber best. 

The brand sells quantities as small as one ounce, so you can even get your climber a sampler pack to try a little bit of everything. The Friction Labs chalk varies from $5 to $25 depending on what size bag you purchase. 

Skin Repair 

Climbing, both indoors and out, takes a significant toll on the skin. From flappers to split fingertips, climbers have to deal with a variety of gnarly skin problems. 

Conventional moisturizers soften the skin, an effect climbers typically wish to avoid. However, there are various climbing-specific products on the market designed to help climbers’ skin heal without softening it. 

These popular climbing skincare products cost between $6 and $25 and are packed with nourishing ingredients that can help speed up healing and recovery time:

Climbing Hold Mug 

This novelty climbing hold mug ($14) makes a fun and unique gift for climbers. The resin handle comes in either blue or red and is shaped like a climbing hold found in the gym, so climbers can practice their crimps while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.  

Climbing Books 

If your climber likes to read, a book about rock climbing would be an excellent choice to inspire their adventurous pursuits. There are many different options available, ranging from autobiographies and musings on climbing culture to in-depth explorations of the mental challenges of climbing. Below, we’ve selected some of the best books about rock climbing to help you narrow down your choice. 

  • Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold and David Roberts ($11-18): This autobiography recounts Honnold’s legendary free solo ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite and delves into his personal life.  
  • The Push by Tommy Caldwell ($15): Read this inspiring memoir to learn about Caldwell’s upbringing, challenges he’s faced, experience being held hostage in Kyrgyzstan, ascent of El Capitan’s The Dawn Wall, and much more. 
  • Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill ($15):  In this autobiography, Hill describes her groundbreaking first free ascent of the Nose on El Capitan and other bold experiences. The book makes a great gift for any climber and is a particularly good choice for women. 
  • Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rock Climber by Steve Roper ($12-16): History buffs will love this rousing account of the Yosemite Valley climbing scene in the 1960s, often referred to as the “Golden Age” of Yosemite climbing. 
  • The Rock Warrior’s Way by Arno Ilgner ($12-23): Ilgner offers readers a unique approach to mental training and provides actionable tips to help climbers increase their performance and enjoyment of the sport.
  • Vertical Mind by Don McGrath and Jeff Elison ($12-26): This book teaches climbers how to improve their climbing by boosting mental strength and reducing fear and anxiety on the wall. 

Climbing Movies 

A great climbing film can inspire climbers to pursue their dreams and get them psyched to crush their next project. Some of the best movies about climbing include Valley Uprising, The Dawn Wall, Free Solo, Meru, and Everest. Any of these would make an excellent gift for a climber. 

You can also consider a season of Reel Rock, a collection of documentaries about the world’s best climbers, mountaineers, and alpinists and their epic journeys. 

Keychain or Keyholder

Sites like Etsy are full of rock climbing themed keychains and keyholders. Choose from assorted designs like a personalized carabiner, a miniature climbing shoe, a climbing rope, rock climbing holds, or even nuts (a type of trad gear) wedged into a crack in the rock. Prices start around $8. 

Grip Strengtheners

Help your climber improve their grip strength and protect them from injury with a hand exerciser. Some popular models include the Gripmaster Pro Hand Exerciser ($23) and IronMind Captains of Crush Gripper ($25). However, these devices are not adjustable and require you to know what resistance the climber needs. 

If you’re not sure what resistance level would be most useful for them, you can opt for a set like the Iron Crush Hand Grip Strengthener ($14) or an adjustable model like the Longang Hand Grip Strengthener ($8). Check out our article about the best grip strengtheners for additional help in choosing between the numerous options on the market.  

For a more detailed breakdown, check out our comprehensive article of grip strengtheners.

Boot Bananas 

Let’s face it – climbing shoes stink. Anyone who has ever lived with a climber knows this all too well. While Boot Bananas can’t prevent the inevitable, these $20 deodorizing inserts can slow the process and keep climbing shoes odor-free for longer. 

Brushes and Tape 

These climbing supplies make excellent stocking stuffers. Brushes are used to clean chalk and other debris off holds, while tape helps protect climbers’ skin and support injuries. We really like Sublime brushes, as the bristles are incredibly dense for unmatched brushing power.

Best Gifts for Rock Climbers Under $50 

Magazine Subscriptions 

An annual subscription to a rock climbing magazine is a great gift for climbers who like to read up on training tips, adventurous tales, and the latest climbing news. Some of the top magazines about rock climbing include:

  • Climbing Magazine ($15): Best for any climber looking for climbing news, training advice, gear recommendations, travel stories, and fantastic photos. 
  • Rock and Ice ($20-35): Best for intermediate to advanced climbers. The magazine includes in-depth gear reviews, climbing news, and long-form articles about all disciplines of climbing, ranging from bouldering to ice climbing. 
  • Gripped ($26): Best for climbers in Canada, this publication features engaging storytelling about diverse types of climbing and focuses mostly on Canadian climbers and climbing areas.  
  • Alpinist ($50): Best for alpine climbers and mountaineers, Alpinist features literary-quality writing about alpinism and intense climbing adventures. 

Chalk Bag or Bucket 

A chalk bag or bucket is a crucial component of every climber’s equipment. Sport and trad climbers most often use chalk bags, while chalk buckets are popular among boulderers. 

Many climbing brands are developing chalk bags with more personality and color choices than those available in the past, making this a fun gift option. There are a growing number of small businesses offering handmade chalk bags and buckets with artistic prints and custom designs, including Dirt Bags, Stoked Climbing, and Static Climbing. Prices range from around $25-$50. 

Headlamp 

A good headlamp is an essential item in every outdoor climber’s backpack since even the most experienced climbers can end up climbing or hiking back to the car in the dark. 

Here are some of our favorite options that will help keep your climber safe: 

  • Petzl Tikka ($30): With 300 lumens of light output and various light modes, this headlamp is a top pick among climbers. It works with standard AAA batteries (included) and is compatible with Petzl’s CORE rechargeable battery (available separately). 
  • Black Diamond Storm ($50): This headlamp is fully waterproof and offers 350 lumens of light and eight different beam options, making it a great pick for alpine and ice climbers. 
  • Petzl Tikkina ($20): This small, dependable, 150-lumen headlamp is an excellent, budget-friendly option for any climber. 

Belay Glasses 

Belay glasses are specialized spectacles that direct a belayer’s vision upwards using prisms, thereby allowing them to see the climber above while looking straight ahead. This design protects the belayer’s neck and reduces pain and discomfort often experienced while belaying. 

Belay glasses start as low as $20, but most models range from around $50 to $80. Take a look at our article about the best belay glasses to help you decide which model and brand to purchase as a gift. 

Best Gifts for Rock Climbers $50 and Up

Backpack 

Whether they prefer outdoor trad or indoor bouldering, all climbers need a backpack to haul their gear from one place to the next. Here are some of our favorites, ranging in price from around $55 to more than $200:

  • Best for gym climbers and boulderers: Organic Climbing Roll Down Pack, REI Co-op Flash 22 
  • Best for sport climbers: Mammut Neon Gear 45, Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel, Patagonia Crag Daddy 
  • Best for trad climbers: Trango Crag Pack, Black Diamond Creek 50, Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45

Climbing Pants 

Every climber needs a good pair of pants that will stand up to the abrasive walls and sharp rocks encountered while climbing. Climbing-specific pants offer superior comfort, durability, flexibility, and abrasion-resistance compared to regular workout gear. You can view our picks for the best rock climbing pants here

Climbing pants typically start at around $80, with more technically advanced models costing nearly $200. 

Coaching Gift Certificate

If you know your climber is seeking to enhance their training or improve various aspects of their climbing performance, consider getting them a gift certificate for a climbing coaching or training program. 

There are many individual coaches and coaching companies, such as Lattice Training and Power Company Climbing, that offer personal climbing training plans. The plans vary significantly in cost depending on what’s included and the amount of time covered, but they typically start around $100 and go up from there. 

Climbing Gym Membership 

A gift certificate for a monthly membership to the local rock gym is always a welcome present among climbers. Monthly gym memberships differ in cost from one gym to the next and are usually around $100. You can check with the gym beforehand to see if the person already has a membership. 

Gift Card 

If you’re still unsure what to get a climber, you are always safe with a gift card to a local climbing or outdoor shop, or a larger retailer like REI, Backcountry, or Moosejaw. This is an excellent way to contribute to a big purchase like a new climbing rope or climbing shoes while still letting the climber pick the item out for themselves. 

A gift card also allows you to contribute to their climbing adventures in accordance with your budget, since you can customize the amount on the card. 

Conclusion 

Whether you’re shopping for a friend, family member, partner, or coworker, we hope you feel inspired by our list and are ready to pick out an awesome gift for the climber in your life! 

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