I am interested in getting into rappelling, and was wondering what the basic gear I would need is. I would like examples of good quality products for everything I would need, what everything is used for, and where I can get it. I don’t want to spend too much money, but I want to be safe. I just want to know so that I know if it realistic for me to pursue this hobby. I would definitely take a class before I actually go out. After looking around, I learned — You need at least 5 primary pieces of equipment: rope, harness, helmet, locking biner, and a belay device. Rope: If you are just rappelling, you should purchase a static climbing rope (not designed to stretch). This rope should be UIAA-approved, be between 9 and 11mm in diameter, and will probably cost you somewhere between $120 and $200. There are many great rope companies out there, including Beal, Petzl, Bluewater, Sterling, Edelweiss, New England Ropes, Mammut, and many more. . Again, just look for a UIAA-approved rope. Harness: This will be an investment that depends on your needs. You can buy a UIAA-approved climbing harness for as little as $25 (the cheap webbing-style gym harnesses) but they will quickly become uncomfortable and a pain in the a@@ (literally). If you want to invest in a decent climbing harness, it will cost you between $50 and $100. The more expensive ones mostly have thicker straps and more padding, so if you will be in your harness for hours at a time on long rappelling trips, it may be worth it to splurge on the harness. Again, many good companies out there like Black Diamond, Petzl, Arc’Teryx, Mammut, etc. Helmet: You should definitely wear a climbing helmet, I have hit my head while rappelling before and the consequences can be dire. Make sure it is designed for climbing, and it will cost between $50 and $100. Locking carabiner: A large pear-shaped carabiner is ideal for this. They will be between $10 and $20, depending on how fancy it is. This is what connects the belay device to your harness. Belay device: There is a lot of leeway here. There are really dozens of different belay devices on the market. Stay away from figure-8 type devices as they twist the heck out of the rope. The most popular are aperture-type devices like the ATC from Black Diamond and the Reverso from Petzl. I like these devices because they are very versatile, but since you are only rappelling, this may be different for you. The point of the belay device is to connect you to the rope. It grips the rope by friction and the amount of that friction is controlled by your braking hand, which allows you to control your descent speed. These will cost between $25 and $40. I would add a prussik loop and a second small locking carabiner to this list. This will probably add another $10, but is well worth the investment. While a lot of people don’t use them, nearly all the guides I have talked to and most of the climbing books I have read recommend the use of an autoblock device. This is a small piece of cord that is clipped to your leg loop, the wrapped into a friction hitch to the rope, below your belay device. When setup properly, this will save your life in the event you let go of the braking rope. While rappelling, if the braking rope is released even momentarily, you will quickly accelerate out of control and will not be able to stop your fall. In the case that you hit your head, become inverted, slip, or simply need two free hands to untangle the rope, etc. , you can fully release your braking hand and transfer your weight onto the autoblock device, which will hold the rope tightly and stop your descent. Good luck, and make sure your get the proper training on rappelling technique and setting up the rope for rappels, which I did not discuss here and may require any extra cordelette, webbing, etc.
Mark rappelling for the first time.