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Articles - Beginner’s Guide: Building a trad rack

Jamie Maddison - Posted on 30 Jul 2009

For the beginner wanting to progress into the realm of traditional lead climbing, buying the right gear can be an absolute nightmare of indecision. The problem is often that there is no ‘right’ order in which to go about collecting a trad rack. Indeed, gear that is ‘essential’ or just merely ‘useful’ can vary enormously between different geographical area and rock types.

The list below gives one example of how a functioning rack can be made up quickly using only a few key pieces of equipment and then added to over time to cover a vast majority of rock types and climbing styles. And you can get more info from our Beginner's gear guide video.

Essential starter gear

Quickdraws - A brilliant first buy as it means you can then go sports climbing or indoor clipping if the centre does not have in-situ clips. Depending on your location and the routes you’re trying, 8-12 quickdraws should suffice.

Slings – Cowtail a sling through your harness for lower-offs at the top of sports routes. Also helpful at belays. 120mm and 240mm sized slings are the most versatile sizes. If you are going to be doing lots of long multipitch routes or aid climbs then a daisychain is also a very useful addition.

– Good for those seconding a lot of routes. Cheap and very useful.

Set of Nuts – An essential piece of equipment to begin trad climbing. A range of ten should suffice for the majority of short and easy leads.

Screwgate karabiners - For setting up belays and using in a multitude of other situations.

Prusik Loops- Essential safety gear. A piece of 5mm-7mm cord with the ends joined by a double fisherman's knot. Used for ascending a rope if the situation arises and to back up on an abseil descent. Check out our how to make a prusik loop guide for more info.

Later add-ons to your rack

Cams – Depending on where you climb these are absolutely vital or an expensive waste. Generally faster and easier to place than hexes, but more expensive to lose! If gritstone is your rock of choice then cams are essential.

Hexes - these are bigger than nuts and sound like cowbells clanging on your harness, but a well-placed hex in good, solid rock is one of the most reliable gear placements you can make. Half the crag will have to fall down before a good hex placement rips. 

Miscellaneous additions

Peanuts/Micro Nuts – A nice addition to any rack, by no means essential but a definite confidence boost in times of otherwise sparse gear placements.

An Extra Belay Plate – This saves time and hassle in the case that you drop your original belay plate on a multipitch climb.

Further Information

For a more detailed description of building your first trad rack, check out our Beginner's gear guide video.

Climber DVD Banner - Get Out on Rock

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1 comments so far...

1.nicholas ralph
07 Oct 2009 03:26
well i just watch the video first...i no it's backwards but it's 3.25 am i cant sleep better watching thna reading, but thanks for written article both go hand in hand nicley...cheers again
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