Every piece of climbing equipment we buy must keep us from dying or being maimed for life. If you remember that climbing equipment is a safety issue, then you’ll be smarter about your purchases. For example, make sure the rope you’re buying isn’t core-shot. Pinch every last inch of that rope at least twice to make sure that there are no soft spots, frays, or tears in the rope. Slings shouldn’t be fuzzy or discolored (as in, yellowing from age), nor should the dogbones on your quickdraws. Inspect all soft equipment this way, including your harness! Check that harness to make sure that every last bit of stitching is intact and for the other things listed above. Now, for hard gear, make sure there are no sharp, rough, cracked, or broken sections of carabiners and the like. Sharp is bad when it comes to hard gear, because it’s probably going to come in contact with your rope, which we know is susceptible to being damaged by sharp things. Again, think of it as life or death, because it is. Belay devices need to be in working order, and if you don’t know how to check to make sure a device of any type is in good working order and good shape, have a more experienced climber help you check it out. You don’t want the cam on a Gri-Gri or a piece of trad gear failing when you need it most! Wires and cables should be intact and not frayed or worn-looking. Those are signs that it needs to be replaced. Finally, chalk. Don’t go cheap on your chalk. Buy what works for you. I personally use Friction Labs chalk, which is a little more expensive, but a lot more effective for me. I have a subscription plan, which saves me 20% per month on my chalk, so it works out fine. Chalk bags? Chalk buckets? Make sure they hold chalk. What can I say? They have one job.
Hopefully these tips help if you’re buying used climbing equipment or swapping with another climber. Check new equipment as well, though, because defects do happen. All of these things are vitally important because the safer our equipment is, the less likely things are to go wrong. Keep your ropes as clean as possible by investing in either a tarp or a rope bag with a built-in tarp. This will help preserve the good condition of the rest of your equipment, as well. Make sure your packs are in good condition. You don’t want to be losing pieces of gear on the way to the crag out the bottom of the pack because it has a hole in it! Losing that expensive gear is tragic… If a piece of gear is questionable, replace it. Don’t fool around with your life or your partner’s life by using a piece of gear that you’re not sure about. Remember, life and death is the game here. If you want to avoid serious injury or death and continue to climb well into your golden years, then make sure your gear is up to snuff!