Essential rock climbing gear

Even if you’ve tried rock climbing indoors, nothing compares to the real deal: scaling crags and slabs outdoors, says world-class climber Steve Bechtel, C.S.C.S. “When you’re out on the trails and rocks, you start to lose the ‘work’ part of workout, ” he says. For the most “pure” form of climbing, try bouldering. You don’t have to mess with ropes or safety gear—it’s all movement—and it’s a great prep for climbing. Or catch serious air while paragliding. You’ll need to take classes certified by the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, but few thrills beat running off a mountain to catch a pocket of hot air with your fabric wing, soaring high for hours on end.

1. Scarpa Instinct VS
A high-performance shoe that’s surprisingly comfortable, its Bi-tension rand system and all- lorica construction allows it to dynamically adjust to all kinds of climbing, and the vibram Xs edge rubber sole provides added grip and durability. ($169;

2. Wild Country Petit Chalk Bag
The chalk will help keep your fingers dry and improve their contact with the rock. ($19;

3. Petzl GriGri 2 Belay Device
Safely anchor with your climbing partner. “The GriGri 2 is by far the safest because it has an auto-locking feature, ” Bechtel says. ($100;

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