Whether it's your go to climbing shoes, or that gear bag that holds everything just right, every climber has their favorite piece of climbing gear. We polled some of our Elemental climbers to see what their favorite pieces of gear are as the sport climbing season approaches. Whether it's safety, performance, or style, you might be surprised to find out what gear we always have in our bags.
Tyler's Top Gear Pick: Five Ten Dragons
Maybe it's confidence, and maybe it's just coincidence, but it seems that every time I've sent a hard project, it's because I've laced up my Dragons. Not only are they extremely sticky shoes, but they're also amazingly comfortable for something that down-turned. I feel like when I put my foot on ANYTHING, whether that's a smear, tiny jib, or sloping rail, the Dragons are going to stick every time. I've climbed everything from hard slab to horizontal roofs in these shoes and never once regretted lacing up the dragons. Most notably, the Dragons helped me climb Twinkie, my first 5.12 at the Red River Gorge. For those who have never seen or been on the route, it starts off with a technical 5.11 slab, capped off by a massive overhanging head wall that seems to go on forever. Finding a shoe that will allow you to perform well on the slab, but then is aggressive enough to tackle the head wall is a challenge, and my Solutions were letting me down on the slab. Frustrated with my La Sportivas, I laced up the dragons, and was amazed at how differently I climbed. Standing on the tiniest edges felt totally secure. I floated through the slab, wasting no energy, and pumped my way to the top first go in my Dragons! For $164.95 (you get what you pay for, right?) The Dragons can also be your go-to shoes, but you can usually find a good deal floating around on the internet to save your checkbook a little heartache.
Rob Moore's Top Gear Pick:
Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
The Half Dome is a light, durable, and easy to use helmet. It's so easy to use, in fact, that it's almost a mystery why it isn't used more. With EPS foam panels to protect your head from falling rock (a common belaying accident), it works for sport lead, trad, approaches, Miguels, rappelling, looking cool, and everything in between. It's internal headband fits comfortably onto my still-intact head each time I climb, and virtually disappears once I realize that real style is being alive at the end of a climb. This helmet is so badass, you can finally come to terms with that little voice in your head that tells you to look cool at the crag. The half dome lets you really take in nature comfortably, which is good, since you have no control over falling rock, errant winds, a caught foot, or any one of the hundred things that can happen on any climb regardless of your experience. Its stylish grey dome will fit right in in your 80s, which you will be far more likely to see when wearing it. At an average MSRP of $59.65, it's 3,389% cheaper than brain surgery, and a reasonable price considering it is protecting the literal most important & vulnerable part of your body. The Black Diamond Half Dome is a 5 star way to protect your noggin. Must Buy.
Blake Maddux's Top Climbing Gear Pick:
Petzl GriGri 2 assisted braking belay device.
As a husband and a father who rock climbs, this device is my most trusted piece of gear. I would say it's definitely not dummy-proof but it comes pretty close. My main reason for choosing this piece is the safety factor. I can know and trust that if my belayer somehow gets knocked out or passes out that I'm not going to be hitting the ground because his hand comes off the rope. I have heard many complaints about the second-generation GriGri and how it doesn't work well with certain ropes but I have not found that to be the case at all. With the amount of people stepping into climbing nowadays, which is growing the amount of uneducated climbers and the belayers, go ahead and grab yourself one of these before something potentially bad happens. At a mere $99.95, don't make a mistake and pass this up if it could save your life.