Trekking: Hit the slab with these 10 bouldering essentials


Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons, or fiending to catch some waves someplace other than the North Shore. One day we may highlight a new ultra-light camping stove or minimalist water filter, and the next you may find us getting wrapped up in a set of Norquayco’s handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace and home, so get outside and live it.

Rock climbing, particularly bouldering, is a dynamic sport if there ever was one. However, whether you’re straddling a granite arête overlooking Yosemite Valley or taking it to the sandstone foothills of Alabama, it’s also a sport with a heavy reliance on gear if you want to play it safe without utterly destroying your body in the process. There’s plenty of equipment to think about — from helmets and chalk bags to backpacks for hauling it all to your local crag or gym — much of which comes from renowned manufacturers who’ve gradually come to dominate the field since mathematician John Gill revolutionized the sport in the ’60s. They may not have introduced chalk or cloth pants to the industry, but they did produce some of our favorite outdoor gear for your next bouldering endeavor.

Related: Step into Spring with our favorite backcountry packs

Lapis Boar’s Hair Brush ($10)


Although you could always use a standard toothbrush to clean holds, Lapis’ offering allows you to do so without damaging or polishing the rock. The soft bristles ensure the rock will never erode at your fingertips, while the tool’s brush lengthy stature allows you rid rock of dirt and chalk in fewer swipes than most other alternatives. The wood build makes it even more durable.

Voormi Eleven.9 Hoodie ($150)


Voormi is a company on the verge of breaking big. The small, Colorado-based company still maintains the stature of a startup, but its gear could rival that of industry leaders. The Eleven.9 Hoodie is a perfect example, a go-anywhere piece of technical clothing that utilizes both 21.5-micron wool and water-repellent construction to help boost performance and the utmost comfort.

Patagonia Cragsmith 35L Pack ($130)


Stylish versatility is the heart and soul of Patagonia’s Cragsmith series. The bag’s nylon construction and reinforced base allow it to stand up to abrasion, while the DWR coating helps thwart the elements you may endure at the crag. The intuitive design also provides easy access through the top or back panel, so you can crab your shoes, chalk bag, or any other piece of gear with ease.

Braven BRV-X ($200)


The rough-and-tumble Braven BRV-X is the Bluetooth speaker for the outdoor enthusiast, one that offers durability, portability, and blue-ribbon sound at a commendable price. Not only does the feature-rich speaker sport waterproof construction and marathon battery life, but it dishes out rich, detailed sound that’s just as suitable for Sylvan Esso and Spoon as the Grateful Dead.

Ice Breaker Tech Lite T Short Sleeve ($75)


A basic t-shirt is paramount when climbing, and one that wicks moisture and curbs unwanted odor is even better. Ice Breaker’s minimalist Tech crews capitalize on a merino-wrapped nylon core, which adds to their longevity and helps your body regulate temperature when climbing under cool conditions or in the blistering heat of the afternoon. The color options are only a plus.

Mad Rock R3 ($190)


Falling is inevitable, especially when you’re pushing yourself to your limits. The beautiful thing about the Mad Rock R3 is the way the recycled EVA foam quickly conforms to uneven ground, thus better protecting your ankles and shielding the earth beneath your feet. The hefty, baffled pad can also haul a substantial amount of gear when folded, whether talking climbing ropes or shoes.

Scarpa Techno X Climbing Shoes ($155)


The Techno X boasts the remarkable ability to combine the performance hallmarks of Scarpa’s with the all-day comfort of the company’s more relaxed models. The Italian-made shoes excel when it comes to edge performance, and because they conveniently utilize uppers made of micro-suede synthetic leather, you don’t have to worry about them stretching after prolonged periods of use.

Petzl Sirocco Helmet ($130)


Helmets are not a necessity when climbing, sure, but that doesn’t mean you should wear one. With the Sirocco helmet, Petzl incorporated the same kind of foam typically found in car bumpers, resulting in a one-piece lid that disperses impact and keeps weight to an absolute minimum. And if you factor in the excellent ventilation and the magnetic buckle, you have the best of all worlds.

prAna Stretch Zion Pant ($85)


Few pants are as comfortable as prAna’s Stretch Zion Pant. It’s a staple among both hikers and climbers, mostly due to its stretchy, quick-drying properties and understated sense of style. Moreover, it’s available in a bevy of attractive colors and features a cinch belt system, along with a multi-access cargo pocket and roll-up snaps that allow for increased breathability when it gets warm.

Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag ($17)


There isn’t much to the wide-rim Mojo Chalk Bag, which is probably why it’s quickly become a well-known stalwart. Black Diamond’s classic, cylindrical pouch is equipped with a durable TPU bottom, not to mention a fleece-lined interior and cinching cord-lock, that latter of which aids with securing loose chalk while on the move. Like most bags, it also features a built-in brush holder.