Shoes, harness, rope, helmet, cams, locking carabiners, draws, chalk bag, wind shell, puffy, rain shell, base layer. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah, headlamp. And food. Sound familiar? If you are a climber, you probably find yourself going through checklists constantly, making sure you have all the essentials to keep you safe and stoked on your days to play. But what brand of shoe should I get? And what style of harness? And what diameter of rope?  

At Switchback Travel, we help answer these questions for you by providing up-to-date reviews on the gear climbers use. From essentials to accessories, we evaluate all types of climbing gear, pick out the top performers, and tell you precisely what makes them the best. We even show you where to buy the items you’re looking for. Too good to be true? See for yourself.

Rock Climbing Shoes 2016

Best Rock Climbing Shoes of 2018

We love rock climbing shoes, and we bet you do too. The good news for climbers is that there are more quality products and styles to choose from than ever before. Impressive new models...
Climbing Shoes for Beginners

Best Rock Climbing Shoes for Beginners

As a beginning climber, the last thing you want to spend your time worrying about is your shoes, or the poor feet that you’ve crammed into them on somebody’s bad advice...
Approach Shoes

Best Approach Shoes of 2018

I knew I was officially a climber when I bought my first pair of approach shoes. A climbing-specific style of footwear, approach shoes offer a unique combination of hiking shoes, climbing slippers, and sometimes even mountaineering boots...
Mountaineering boots

Best Mountaineering Boots of 2018

No piece of gear is more critical to summiting high peaks than footwear. A great mountaineering boot fills countless roles: it must offer support while carrying heavy loads...
Climbing Helmets roundup

Best Climbing Helmets of 2018

When people get into rock climbing, they often ask me what kind of shoes, or harness, or rope they should buy. I always tell them the same thing: the first thing you should buy is a helmet...
Climbing with Harness

Best Climbing Harnesses of 2018

Whether you’re top roping in the gym, projecting 5.14, or climbing Cerro Torre in Patagonia, you’ll want the right harness for the job. In addition to being a vital part of every climber’s safety, harness characteristics...
Climbing Rope

Best Climbing Ropes of 2018

Any piece of climbing gear has the potential to become a cherished relic, but perhaps none carries as many good memories as a trusty old rope. It’s your lifeline on everything from beginning top ropes to full-on alpine epics. A rope is...
Best Quickdraws

Best Rock Climbing Quickdraws of 2018

We love quickdraws. Few pieces of climbing protection can transform feelings of uncertainty and discomfort into peace and happiness as quickly and authoritatively. And yet...
Duffel Bags Review

Best Travel Duffel Bags of 2018

Whether you’re traveling by air, driving up to a cabin for the weekend, or venturing across the world on an expedition, you’ll likely be using a duffel bag to get your gear from one place to the next. Duffels are popular among all kinds of travelers...
Five Ten Guide Tennie (s)

Review: Five Ten Guide Tennie

Five Ten’s Guide Tennie is widely considered to be the first approach shoe ever made, and over 30 years later, it’s still a crowd favorite. The combination of durable materials, lightweight design, and a high degree of stability on rock make it one of...
Arc'teryx Acrux SL (s)

Review: Arc'teryx Acrux SL

Approaches to the granite spires of Patagonia’s Chaltén Range aren’t child’s play, with dry glaciers, steep snow, tricky moraines, and miles upon miles of hiking. It’s no small ask for an approach shoe to be able to perform well in these...
La Sportiva TX3

Review: La Sportiva TX3

As an alpine rock climber and climbing guide, my feet frequent a great deal of trail, rocks, and snow—especially during the summer months. I took on the La Sportiva TX3 as my faithful companion this season, from high-mileage...
La Sportiva Genius

Review: La Sportiva Genius

La Sportiva calls the Genius, “the highest performance climbing shoe on the market.” Climbing companies love to make superlative claims like that, but when it’s La Sportiva, it definitely gets our attention....
Evolv Shaman 2016

Review: Evolv Shaman (2016)

Chris Sharma is one of the greatest sport climbers of all time, if not the greatest. It goes without saying that he could choose any shoe company, and any shoe in their lineup that he wanted, and get paid to wear...
Salewa Firetail 3 GTX shoes

Review: Salewa Firetail 3 GTX

Salewa isn’t yet a household name, but the company has a serious following among the climbing community and those who like to get into the alpine. Their Firetail 3 GTX is an approach shoe that is robust, functional...
Mammut Infinity Protect climbing rope

Review: Mammut Infinity

I’ve been climbing for close to 16 years and have owned more than 20 different ropes, not to mention the countless other ropes borrowed other climbers. So it was not exactly a shot in the dark for me...
Evolv Addict climbing shoe

Review: Evolv Addict

The Addict is a relatively new climbing slipper from Evolv, and a solid one at that. Built similarly as the time-tested design of Five Ten’s excellent slipper, the Moccasym, Evolv managed to create a shoe that...
Scarpa Boostic climbing shoe

Review: Scarpa Boostic

Combining Italian craftsmanship with an aggressive, downturned shape, the Scarpa Boostic is a solid performance shoe. Priced at $179, it does fall into the extremely competitive high-end of the market...
Five Ten Anasazi Pink climbing shoe

Review: Five Ten Anasazi Pink Lace-Up

Ah, the Anasazi Pink. If only I could review arguably my favorite shoe ever every day. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You edge on a dime, fit like a glove, conquer virtually all terrain...
Rock Climbing Shoes

Rock Climbing Shoes Tips and Advice

Someday at your local climbing gym or crag, you may, if you’re lucky, wander around the corner to hear a grizzled Stone Master recounting the Golden Age. “Back in my day,” he may tell you...
Indoor rock climbing

Indoor Climbing Tips and Gear Advice

In 1987, a small warehouse filled with texture-painted walls and rock-shaped hand and foot holds opened for business on the shores of Salmon Bay in Seattle, Washington. The owners called the place “Vertical...
Cochamo Journals Part 1

The Cochamó Journals Part I

I had the dream again last night.  The dream is always the same—some details change here and there, different faces emerge and fade, lines of travel crisscross and follow different plans or lack thereof—but the dream is always...
Cochamo Chile climbers

The Cochamó Journals Part II

There is a short squat bird I know well who frequents the “Bivy Boulder” in Cochamó Valley’s Anfiteatro. While his latin name escapes me, I refer to him fondly as the "Work Work Work" bird.  His call sounds eerily similar...
Cochamó, Chile sunset

The Cochamó Journals Part III

When it rains in Cochamó, it rains long and hard. Now, it is raining. It has been raining, it is raining, it will continue to rain. The Cochamó season is finally over. And well enough, after a stellar February with fantastic weather, my body needs a...