It’s great that you want to give bouldering a try. Are you finally motivated enough to try out the bouldering gym? It’s good to start with bouldering rather than climbing because there will be a lot fewer things for you to prepare, and it’s also much safer. We will say much about why bouldering is better than climbing, to begin with, but more on that later in this article, for now, let’s focus on how to prepare for a first bouldering session.
Bouldering is a great way to start your climbing adventure but to make sure you won’t abandon it after the first try, you need to prepare yourself properly. You don’t need to spend much money on a first bouldering session. Your bare minimum to start will be a simple and stretchy gym outfit, for women it can be leggings and a t-shirt, and for men also a t-shirt with shorts. The shoes are most important here in this sport, and if you can’t afford expensive climbing shoes you can borrow them at the gym for about 5$ to 10$ USD. If you want to use your own shoes then trainers are also good for climbing.
That is your bare minimum to enter the bouldering gym, but there are also some important items that can be very useful at the climbing gym, chalk or liquid magnesium, they are both used on your hands before every boulder attempt. Don’t forget to grab something to drink like a protein shake or old plain water. All of those you can buy at most of the bouldering gyms, and we recommend you to buy liquid magnesium because you don’t need the chalk bag to store chalk, so liquid magnesium should be a great pick for a first try, and it costs about 5$ USD.
Let’s sum this up and point everything out, how to prepare for a first bouldering session:
Required items for bouldering are:
- Sport outfit
- Climbing shoes or trainer
- An outfit to change after a session
Optional items for bouldering are:
- Water or protein shake
- Chalk or liquid magnesium
- A partner to share the fun with and support each other
So now you can grab your backpack and pack whatever you need from the list above.
Is better to start with bouldering rather than climbing?
Climbing is way more complicated than bouldering in terms of preparation because there are much more things to have before starting your climbing session. Let’s start with something simple like in bouldering you could use normal shoes like trainers but for climbing it can be impossible to climb on a 35 feet tall wall without climbing shoes.
But the most important difference is that you can’t do climbing without some who has some experience in it, because there are a lot of things you need to learn before your first sessions like “how climbing harness work”, or any other climbing terms, and even special commands. So you need someone who is experienced to guide you or you will need to buy a special course where you will learn basics, and that can take up to 3 hours.
There are some exceptions to that, like the gym can have an automatic belay device to let you climb without support from anyone else, but we still recommend you to take a quick course or to ask someone experienced to help you at your first climbing session.
Also climbing is way more dangerous than bouldering because every fall needs to be coordinated with a partner on the ground and it can lead to many injuries like hitting the wall or the impact from the rope that you are attached to. On the other hand, we have bouldering where falling is compressed by a special crash pad (mattress) on the ground that will prevent you from the injuries
As you can see first bouldering session is less dangerous and less complex in preparation than the climbing session. For your first bouldering session, you will need a sports outfit and pair of trainers, and that’s all you will need to take care of before going to a bouldering gym, no special courses are needed.
First time bouldering is it hard?
Bouldering and climbing overall isn’t an easy sport at first, when you don’t know many techniques and have no experience, but it will be fun for sure! Especially if you’re going for a first bouldering session with a partner or a friend.
The routes on bouldering are called “problems” because they are literally a problem to solve. When you will be together then solving that problem can be really fun, but how can you solve those problems? You can solve bouldering problems with:
- Shift the center of your body weight
- Grab hold with a different hand
- Use bouldering techniques like heel hooks, or flagging, but don’t expect to do them at your first bouldering session
- Switching the feet on the footholds
If you will want to improve your bouldering skills, we recommend you to check out this article “How to get better at bouldering” it will give you simple and easy tips for your next bouldering session, or even climbing session.
Many climbers are more into indoor bouldering than outdoor climbing because it’s simpler, and doesn’t need that much preparation beforehand. If you are afraid of heights then bouldering is way better than climbing because an average height of a bouldering wall is 13 feet, and there is also a thick mattress on the ground for your safety.
In conclusion – How to prepare for a first bouldering session?
A preparation for bouldering is simple, just grab your sports suit and trainers or even normal running shoes should be enough. If you want to feel more comfortable at your first bouldering session then buy liquid magnesium and don’t forget something to drink.
If you’ve planned to go alone for bouldering, then ask your partner or a friend to go check it out with you! It’s always good to have someone to support you, and healthy rivalry is also great motivation!