If you’re on a tight budget, the biggest entry barrier to starting any new hobby will be the cost.
Sure, there are more expensive hobbies out there than climbing, but you can always do with saving that little bit more. After all, if you save money every time you go out, it starts to really up in the end.
This is especially true if you want to climb regularly. The costs can really stack up if you don’t cut them down early on, so I’d recommend following the advice in this post so that you can save the maximum amount of money possible.
For the less-financially endowed, a cheap hobby is a sustainable hobby, and you’re going to need it to be sustainable if you want to get anywhere with it.
So, how do you make climbing as sustainable as possible?
How to Slash Your Climbing Budget by 40%
The secret to this is simple.
Take a look at the standard costs for your usual climbing session, and then see which costs you can cut out. No, you rascal, I don’t mean that you should avoid paying for admission. I mean that you should avoid having to hire any equipment at all.
You see, what puts people off from doing this straight away is that your average climbing shoe or harness is going to take a chunk out of your paycheck.
That is precisely why you won’t be getting your average climbing shoe, harness and so on. You’re going to be getting the cheapest gear that money can buy… that isn’t completely unusable trash.
A reliable set of low-budget starter gear will end up paying for itself after around 10 climbing sessions. This means that it’s basically free, and what’s more, you’ll technically be gaining money after that point.
This is why it’s worth investing in a starter set of gear the second you realize you’d like to go climbing again in the future. Most people wait too long and then realize they could have saved money if they weren’t relying on rentals all this time.
So, let’s start by taking a look at the single most important piece of climbing equipment: the climbing shoe.
Decent Climbing Shoes on the Cheap
If you’re smart, you’ll want cheap climbing shoes that don’t fall apart after a week. It’s no longer cheap if you have to buy them often.
Fortunately, I have in mind a durable, and most importantly, comfortable pair of climbing shoes that don’t cost any more than the minimum anyway. They’re men’s shoes, but that just means that you should order them according to men’s sizing if you’re a woman.
They’re the Evolv Royale climbing shoes.
Why is it important that they’re comfortable? Because beginners always make the mistake of buying shoes which look sharp, curved and professional.
Those kinds of shoe will absolutely destroy your feet. Their shape makes them excellent for climbing, but is so unnatural to beginners that they’re practically unusable.
Start with climbing shoes like the Evolv Royale, and you won’t have any problems.
What’s Good About the “Evolv Royale” Climbing Shoes?
The thing that makes these shoes so good for beginners is the symmetrical toebox, which has a double layer of rubber. What this does is give you a decent amount of curve at the toe without your toes being crushed miserably.
You see, climbing shoes are meant to be tight. The advanced climbers out there might like an “aggressive” shoe with extra curvature, but that makes them even tighter against your foot.
These Evolv Royale climbing shoes are relatively loose, as far as climbing shoes go, which would ordinarily make them bad for climbing.
That’s why the symmetrical toebox with a double layer of rubber is so useful.
It makes the curvature of uncomfortable climbing shoes available to those that require comfort, which is why it’s an excellent design for beginners.
Of course, the downside to this is that the thicker sole leads to reduced agility, but that isn’t even close to being something that beginners should worry about. In fact, it’s contribution to the overall durability of the shoe is excellent for those who want to climb on a budget.
Think about this. These shoes will last you a good six months’ worth of regular climbing.
You’re going to save so much money over that time, from not buying rentals, that you’re practically going to be getting a pair of more expensive and more advanced climbing shoes for free once you’ve worn them out. Investments don’t get much better than that.
Sure, in six months’ time, you might be experienced enough to want a more aggressive shoe, and that’s exactly why you should buy these one right now.
You can buy them from Amazon if you click here.
While I’m at it, I’ll just mention a few other things about these shoes.
First of all, the top-to-bottom lacing of the shoe is really nice because you can adjust the tightness along the length of the shoe, according to what suits you best. Most climbing shoes are fastened by two Velcro straps, which can tend to put too much pressure on the midsection of your foot.
Another thing, is that they look good, but the blue dye does come off onto your feet the first bunch of times that you use them. It’ll stop doing this after a while, and it’s a common thing with blue climbing shoes in general, so it’s not necessarily a downside of this particular shoe.
Well, that’s it for the Evolv Royale climbing shoes. Next, let’s take a look at another essential piece of kit for your starter gear: chalk.
Chalk on the Cheap
If you want to save money on your chalk, then I’ve got a sneaky tip for you.
You can avoid dropping another $10 or so on a chalk bag if you buy a chalk ball in a resealable pouch, like the 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball.
“Why not loose chalk?” you ask. Because loose chalk gets everywhere if you don’t have a chalk bag, even if it comes in a resealable bag.
Sure, you might not care about mess, but you do care about money, and wasted chalk is wasted money. A chalk ball will last way longer than loose chalk, and because this one is refillable, you can just top it up with some cheap loose chalk like the Black Diamond White Gold Loose Chalk.
There, you’ve got a mess-free, future-proof solution to all your chalky needs. The chalk ball will still be useful for when you have a chalk bag, because it really helps keep the mess down, in addition to the general usefulness of a chalk ball in applying chalk.
You just give them a very gentle squeeze, and you’ll be chalked up nicely. The cotton material of the ball sifts the chalk while you apply it, leaving you with an evenly chalked surface on your hands without the thicker patches that you get when you try to slather loose chalk on your hands.
So, if you’re a boulderer, that’s it. You’ve got your shoes, and you’ve got your chalk. If you’re a rock climber, however, then you’ll need a few more pieces of gear.
This is why bouldering is better than rock climbing if you’re on a tight budget. I’m also biased and think bouldering is more fun, but I’m not going to stop you if rock climbing is your calling.
Rock Climbing Gear on the Cheap
For rock climbing, you’re going to need a harness.
Harness hire can be pretty expensive, but you can get a nice and strong one for a reasonable price. You don’t want to be cheaping out on a harness because broken bones are more expensive than a reasonably priced harness like the XINDA AL-NASR CE-Certified Harness.
The AL-NASR harness is made from high-strength polyester wire that can withstand 23kN of force, or 2300kg of weight.
For measure, this harness is actually stronger than a lot of the more expensive harnesses out there. You’re going to be saving money without feeling like you’re sacrificing your safety.
This harness will also pay for itself roughly twice as quickly as your climbing shoes will, because of how reasonable the price is. If you’re interested in a mix of bouldering and rock climbing, then it won’t hurt to invest in this harness anyway, because it’s essentially free if you consider the rental costs you’re saving.
The AL-NASR harness is “one size fits all” and fully adjustable, which makes it great for beginners who don’t want to faff around with their sizing. It also has an accessory loop, which you can use in the future if you need to.
Finally, you’ll need a locking carabiner to attach the belay device to your harness. If you’re a beginner, you should stick to something simple, like the Auto-Locking AYAMAYA Carabiner. A carabiner is something that you want to never break, so you should consider it to be a lifetime product, not something that you’ll likely be replacing in the future.
The self-locking capability of this carabiner is simply amazing.
Sure, there’s the peace of mind it gives you when you’re a beginner. “Did I actually lock the carabiner properly?” is something that you won’t ever be thinking.
But what’s so great about the self-locking is that it synergizes with its ability to be operated with only one hand.
All you have to do to unlock its two-stage lock gate is twist the gate and pull it open. As soon as you let go, it’ll shut and lock itself automatically.
You can do all of this with only one hand, which means your other hand is free to hold onto the belay device, or whatever else there is that you’re trying to attach to the carabiner.
The pear shape of this carabiner is also nice because of how versatile it is. The short end is usually the one which attaches to your harness, while the belay device attaches to the wider end.
You’ll sometimes encounter some belay devices that really do require a large space on your carabiner to hook onto. First-time buyers often assume a smaller carabiner is better, because of a lighter weight and all, but are bitterly disappointed when they realize that they can’t actually use it for belaying or rappelling purposes.
Lastly, this thing is strong. It can handle a maximum of 3000kg of tension when pulled longways, as it will be when you’re using it, while the gate itself can handle 700kg sideways and the straight side opposite it can handle 800kg sideways.
Basically, in the context of climbing purposes, this thing is indestructible. You’ll never have to worry about exceeding the limits of its strength no matter how much you push it.
It’s a worthwhile lifetime buy. Click here to view it on Amazon.