Last updated: September 20, 2023
The best gifts for rock climbers from an avid climber.
Are you friends with a rock climber but need to know what to gift them? Or perhaps you’re an experienced climber looking for fresh ideas for your crew?
Rock climbing can seem like an intense and confusing hobby to non-climbers, full of jargon and strange-looking equipment.
That’s how I felt when I started climbing a few years ago.
Now that I’m not *entirely* new to the sport, I have a pretty good idea of what makes the best gifts for climbers.
Whether you’re shopping for indoor rock climber gifts, outdoor climbing gifts, or fun Christmas gifts for rock climbers, I’ve compiled a list of the best gifts based on my experience and the experiences of my climber friends and family.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
A helmet is an excellent gift for new and experienced climbers because helmets expire!
Most climbers will bang their noggins at some point. Even standing up under a ledge fast enough can put a ding in a helmet, and once that happens, you’ll need a new one.
The Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet is the perfect present for your rock-climbing friend. It’s the helmet I have, and it has excellent quality with impressive durability.
Harnesses wear out and expire too! Seams and threads get weak over time, and the whole thing eventually needs to be replaced.
Finding a climbing harness that fits snugly is essential, so you’ll need your rock climber’s approximate waist size.
Each harness brand has its own size chart, so make sure to check out the chart for the brand you pick.
#3 Hand Salve
If you’re in the market for an all-purpose present option, climbing salve is an excellent gift.
Whether you’re sport climbing or trad climbing, climbing outside is super tough on the hands.
Between the splits on your knuckles, the scrapes, the chafing, and the inevitable cuts, rock climbers need to show their hands some love.
Even climbing in a gym will wear your hands out because of how drying the chalk is.
Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment is a classic, all-natural hand salve option.
Otherwise, ClimbSkin Hand Cream was designed by climbers to moisturize without leaving a slippery residue on the hands.
#4 Climbing Chalk
For budget-friendly climbing gifts under $20, climbing chalk is the perfect gift. Sweaty hands are a climber’s nemesis, and chalk helps dry their hands out.
All chalk is not the same so impress your rock climber with the good stuff.
Climbing chalk can be sold as pure magnesium carbonate or with added drying agents. There’s also “eco chalk,” which doesn’t leave white (unsightly) residue on rocks.
And there’s loose, block, and liquid chalk. Many climbers prefer one over the other, but below are some of my favorites.
#5 Chalk Bag
One of the classic rock climbing gifts is a chalk bag. My chalk bag was gifted to me way back when and is one of my favorite gifts!
Chalk bags, or chalk buckets (for bouldering), are so fun. They come in a million patterns, sizes, and designs, so they’re easy to personalize.
One feature I like on chalk bags is a cinch top, so I can close it while transporting my gear.
Chalk buckets are bigger and are usually used by boulderers. The bucket sits on the ground and is big enough for both hands.
Check out these fun chalk bags and buckets.
#6 Chalk Brushes
Chalk brushes, otherwise known as climbing brushes, are used for dusting off the built-up chalk on popular climbing routes.
These brushes are great, inexpensive gifts for rock climbers, and climbers can use them both indoors and outdoors.
Generally speaking, big climbing brushes are better for boulderers, while smaller brushes are used for rope climbing (or free soloing).
I like this Two Stone Climbing and Bouldering Brush because the bristles are firm but won’t wear down the rock.
The handle is also made of plastic, which makes it a little harder to snap than a wooden brush. Plus, it has a little loophole at the bottom so you can clip it on your harness.
#7 Climbing Tape
As I’ve said, climbing outdoors can be tough on the hands. The first time I did crack climbing, my hands were super sad until someone made me tape gloves!
Some climbers will tape up their fingers (or tape gloves!) to protect their hands while climbing.
Since this is such an inexpensive item, it’s a great gift for a stocking stuffer or a rock climbing gift basket.
#8 Crash Pad
A crash pad is easily one of the best gifts for boulderers because it’s pretty much the only piece of gear they use.
Crash pads are thick pads you put under your route to cushion your fall when you inevitably come off the rock.
Crash pads usually have backpack-like straps on them for easy carrying. But besides that, there isn’t too much nuance in design.
Check out this ol’ reliable Black Diamond Circuit Crash Pad or the newer Drop Zone Crash Pad.
#9 Haul Bag
If you have friends who are big wall trad climbers or do any “big” rope climbing, a haul bag is the perfect gift to help them send harder.
Haul bags aren’t like other climbing bags. They get dragged against rock faces all day and are made of durable materials.
They’re used to get the climbing rope and other gear up the wall on big, multi-pitch climbs.
Black Diamond is a brand you’ll repeatedly see in climbing gear because they make high-quality stuff. Check out the Black Diamond Wall Hauler Haul Bag.
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#10 Climbing Shoes
All rock climbers need a good pair of climbing shoes and, ideally, approach shoes.
Climbing shoes come in a vast array of styles, so find out if your rock climber friend has a preference for a brand.
All climbing shoes generally have sticky rubber soles that help you grip the rock.
Approach shoes are similar in that they have some sticky rubber soles but are comfortable enough to wear as you hike to the approach of the climb.
Approach shoes basically look like tennis shoes.
#11 Rack Tags
Trad climbers use removable gear placed in cracks in the wall to secure their rope and continue their ascent.
That gear is known as a rack, and climbers tend to be quite protective of their racks because of how expensive they are.
Most rock climbers will mark the gear in their rack with something like tape or nail polish to help distinguish their gear pieces from those of fellow climbers.
You can help your friend or family member identify their rack with Trango Rack Tags, made explicitly with colored labels for climbing gear.
#12 Backcountry Coffee Setup
One of the best gifts I can think of for hikers and climbers is a backcountry coffee setup.
I am not a coffee drinker, but I can still appreciate the life-giving power of a hot drink in the morning.
Elevate your friend’s coffee game from instant with this GSI Outdoors JavaGrind Coffee Grinder.
It’s a hand-crank coffee grinder that comes apart and nests for maximum space saving.
Then take a look at this AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press. My boyfriend has both of these, and they have each lasted many years and many camping trips.
#13 Self-Massage Tools
Self-massage tools make perfect gifts for rock climbers because I swear nothing will make you sore like climbing. Like, nothing.
Climbing uses muscles humans aren’t even supposed to be using, so show your giftee some love with this simple Thera Cane massager.
I’m literally looking at my Thera Cane massager as I write this. I love mine. It’s simple but highly effective.
For hand-specific massage tools, check out these acupressure massage rings. Acupressure massage rings also have the benefit of being small and portable.
Finally, you could step it up a notch with the Theragun Elite as a good wedding gift for climbers.
#14 Climbing pants
Climbing pants make excellent gifts because of all the busted crotches you get with climbing.
There’s nothing particularly fancy about climbing pants except that they stretch in all the right places.
Whether it’s climbing gifts for him or her, a good pair of climbing pants won’t do you wrong. Plus, climbers can wear most climbing pants in casual settings too.
I particularly love Patagonia’s climbing pants because their Worn Wear program will fix your clothes for free, for life!
#15 Stick Clip
A great gift idea for sport climbers is a stick clip. When someone starts climbing a sport route, they are unprotected from a fall until they clip into the first bolt on the route.
A stick clip helps the climber place that first piece of protection while they’re still a few feet under it, thus giving them better fall protection.
If you don’t understand any of that, know that a stick clip can make you safer while climbing.
Check out the Trango Beta Stick Clip. I like this one because it’s extendable.
#16 Belay Glasses
I love ergonomics, and if your giftee is anything like me, they will love belay glasses.
Belay glasses allow your belay slave to belay you without craning their neck up for hours or days.
Do they look cool? Not exactly, but they’re one of those things worth looking dorky for.
#17 Rugged Radios
Two-way radios make great gifts for rock climbers and hikers, for that matter.
Climbers on big routes can end up pretty far apart. So far apart, it can be tiring to shout all that way.
These Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Radios are housed in weatherproof cases with low-power settings to preserve battery life.
#18 ATC Belay Device
My brother is mostly a gym climber, and the first time we did a rappel outside, I found out he didn’t have an ATC belay device…after we were already at the top.
Let’s just say something was clenched pretty tight that day.
We made it down fine but don’t let your giftee get into the same situation! An ATC is one of those essential rock climbing accessories that’s a great gift for beginner climbers.
This Black Diamond ATC is a super sturdy choice.
#19 Water Bottle
Ok, a water bottle might not seem like a good gift because everyone already has one, but a Hydro Flask water bottle is a gift-worthy item.
Hydro Flasks are particularly well-suited to climbing because they’re well-insulated and indestructible.
These are metal water bottles that never leach gross chemicals into your water, and they keep the water both cold and warm, regardless of the temperature.
I do a lot of work and play outside and only use a Hydro Flask water bottle.
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#20 Rope Tarp/Bag
I could tell I’d breached climbing etiquette the first time I stepped on someone’s rope outside.
My friend gently explained that it’s best to try to keep ropes as clean as possible, and I facepalmed and took note.
Climbing rope is super expensive, and it’s common practice to use a tarp at the base of the route to lay the rope on.
Otherwise, dirt and sand grains can work their way into the fiber of the rope and shorten its useful lifespan.
This Metolius Rope Tarp is a super lightweight way to protect climbing rope. Plus, it doubles as a rope bag.
A sling is a great gift idea for rock climbers because they’re super versatile and handy.
Unlike the sling you put your broken arm into, a climbing sling is like a piece of webbing sewn into a loop.
Climbers can use them to make a quickdraw, an anchor, or to help guide a rope on zig-zaggy routes.
The Mammut Contact Sling Dyneema 8.0 is a solid choice because of the strength of the fabric and stitching.
#22 Climbing Holds
Climbing holds are some of the best gifts for rock climbers looking to improve their hand and upper body strength.
Many climbers I know have a mini rock wall in their yard or garage. The fun thing about building your own wall is you can make the routes as hard or as easy as you like.
Or maybe you have a little one obsessed with climbing and want to make her a mini wall off the deck?
Check out these Metolius Greatest Hits Super 7 Climbing Holds, which comes with seven holds.
#23 Gripmaster Pro Hand Strengthener
Another one of the best gifts for finger strength is a Gripmaster Pro Hand Strengthener.
The first time you get on a wall, you’ll be like, “Oh, I didn’t realize my hands are actually worthless.”
It takes time and practice to build the finger strength needed to send hard. So help your giftee out with a portable, pocket-sized training device!
A hangboard is like a pull-up bar, but rather than use your hands to pull yourself up, you use your fingers. Sounds pleasant, right?
Hangboards are a trendy way to build finger strength; you’ll see one in every climbing household.
I see the Metolius everywhere, but I also like that you can position the Trango Rock Prodigy and the rock rings at a customized distance apart.
#25 Solar Phone Charger
Roaming cell service can drain a cell battery, so I like to have this little charger with me on backpacking trips.
The Goal Zero Flip is small and lightweight, plus it can be recharged with a USB cord or with one of Goal Zero’s solar panels.
#26 Climbing Gym Membership
In my opinion, the best gift for indoor rock climbers is a punch pass at their local climbing gym.
Gym memberships can be expensive, so help them with a few months of free climbing.
If you live in an area with more than one climbing gym, you can get them a pass at a new gym, so they have new routes to try.
Check your local area for climbing gyms and their membership fees.
#27 Route Guide
Thankfully, gifts for rock climbers aren’t always weird pieces of expensive gear.
There are about a million rock climbing books, and the most useful ones for your giftee are specific to their local area.
Route guides will list all the known climbing routes, their difficulty, and tips for the approach.
Here are some examples of guidebooks.
#28 The Crag Survival Handbook: The Unspoken Rules of Climbing
If you’re looking for general book-y rock climbing gifts, check out the Crag Survival Handbook: The Unspoken Rules of Climbing.
As I’ve said, I learned a lot of climbing etiquette from my very gracious, experienced climbing friends. And thank goodness for them.
If you’re brand new to climbing and don’t have a reliable climbing crew, it can be intimidating to approach a new route.
This book offers advice from big-name climbers on the dos and don’ts of climbing culture.
#29 How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion
Most little kids are natural climbers, so if you’re looking to encourage a little person, look into How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion.
A “problem” in climb-speak is a route or move you haven’t been able to do but are working on.
I like this book because the hero is a lady, which is neat.
#30 Sun Hoodie
A sun hoodie is the best gift for someone who spends a lot of time in the sun.
I absolutely love mine. I don’t have to worry about reapplying goop to my skin, plus they keep me cool.
People climb in all sorts of clothing, but I think the best rock climbing shirts are sun hoodies.
#31 Backpacking Mug
Now, most folks won’t bring a drink while climbing, but it can sure be nice to have a cup of whatever as you sit and wait for your turn on the route.
I have this GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug, and it’s the closest you’ll get to a rock climbing mug.
It’s lightweight and insulated, and the flexible handle can be clipped to a pack for easy transport.
#32 High-Powered Headlamp
If you’ve ever had your outdoor adventures unexpectedly turn into a nighttime outdoor adventure, you can appreciate the value of a good headlamp.
Headlamps, or head torches, as they say across the pond, are an invaluable safety tool.
A high-quality headlamp with lots of lumens (aka brightness) is a true gift. And I’m not just saying that.
A bright light can make the difference between finding the route at night or being visible to your partner.
The Black Diamond Icon 700 Headlamp is a heavy-duty light that sits well on helmets.
The Black Diamond Storm 500-R Headlamp is a cheaper option but still has a respectable number of lumens (500).
#33 REI Gift Card
Last but not least, the most tried and true gift idea for rock climbers: an REI Gift Card.
If all else fails and you’re still scrambling for gift ideas, you can’t go wrong with an REI gift card.
Climbing gear is expensive, and climbers can be particular about their equipment. So, why not let them choose?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in six states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!
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