Financing climbing – be smart about what you buy, Part 1

Climbing can be expensive.  There’s no doubt about that if you’ve shopped around at all.  You may have noticed, too, though, that there are deals if you shop around.  Shopping around is one of the best things you can do if you’re on a slim budget and need climbing gear to continue on with your passion.  You might have to forego the two-day shipping and the spiffy new look of a shiny unused biner, but at least you’ll have a usable biner!  Used climbing gear isn’t a bad thing.  You just have to know what to look for.  Hard gear, like carabiners, belay devices, ascenders, nuts, cams, and the like are fairly easy to inspect for wear and tear, and even though everything ages, it’s more straightforward to figure out if the hard gear is functioning properly and still in good working order.  Soft gear, like ropes, dogbones on quickdraws, packs, slings, and that sort of thing are a bit more dicey to get second-hand unless they’re brand new (as in, you know they’re this year’s or last year’s model) or you know how to really inspect them throroughly for wear and tear and age.  You don’t want to find out that the rope is core-shot when you fall on it 60 feet up!  You also don’t want to find out that a sling is rotten from age and sun exposure when you use it for your toprope anchor and it decides to give out!  IF at all possible, I would get used soft gear from other climbers whom you trust instead of off of Craigslist or some other site that offers things that people want to sell, but may not know the dangers of selling!

That being said, climbing shoes are probably one of the most, if not THE most expensive and crucial part of your arsenal as far as personal fit and function go.  Yes, ropes can be more expensive, as can sets of cams, etc., but for a single basic piece of critical gear, climbing shoes are the first stop to sending that proj of yours!  Make sure, if you’re going to save up your money for anything, that you save up for your own brand new pair of climbing shoes.  You don’t want second-hand shoes for a lot of reasons.  First, second-hand climbing shoes are broken in…for someone else’s feet!  You need them to be broken in for your feet.  That’s the whole point of knowing the sizing and choosing the materials from which they are made and everything else.  That’s the whole point of climbing shoes – to have them fit your feet perfectly and ultimately become part of your body!  Ropes can vary and they don’t become part of you.  Climbing shoes become part of you, so get the right ones, and break them in yourself.  Yes, I know it’s painful and it takes a while, but there’s nothing like your very own broken-in pair of climbing shoes molded perfectly to your own feet and working as part of your body while climbing!  Another reason you don’t want second-hand climbing shoes is that you don’t know what’s in them…as in, what’s growing in them.  It’s kind of like sharing unwashed jerseys at a basketball game, except you could end up with an untreatable form of foot fungus that no doctor can even identify!  A third reason not to get used climbing shoes unless they’re for the gym or some other relatively benign  purpose is that you don’t know what a used shoe has been through.  It could be on the verge of delaminating because someone stored them in their garage for years on end!  You want to know who you’re buying from and what to look for.  That’s where the fourth reason for a new pair of shoes comes in – the manufacturer’s guarantees concerning quality workmanship and against shoe defects.  That can be an important guarantee to have with as much money as you pay for climbing shoes!

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