Everything You Need To Start Bouldering Outdoors
With summer just round the corner, this might be the best time to transfer your indoor bouldering skills to real rock. Pulling on colorful plastic is very different to seeking out holds on dark gritstone, or seemingly featurless sandstone, so be patient with yourself. Don't expect to dive straight into the same grades that you climb indoors. Although several seasons in you might want to trade the summer's warmth for winter's friction, there's no better way to start off than by enjoying long summer days on the rock. Add these few bouldering essentials to your psyche, and you'll be ready to hit the crags.
Finding the right shoe is a tricky task. Some people bring multiple pairs to the crag so they can tackle whatever's thrown at them, but this means fewer excuses, so beware! If you're fairly new to the sport, go for something super comfy, and don't let anybody tell you that bouldering shoes should be seven sizes smaller than your regular kicks. Tenaya Inti, or Boreal Joker will do the job. However, if you're already an indoor beast ready to tick some hard numbers on real rock, we suggest giving the La Sportiva Solution a go. For more information about the ideal bouldering shoes check out our EpicTV Climbing Daily review here.
Bouldering outdoors feels a little bit more committing than at an indoor wall. Problems can be quite high-ball, adding an extra thrill to the physical challengem but you can also cherry pick lower lines. Outdoor landings aren't always great either, but again, flat and safe ones can also be found. Make sure that you've got enough mats, and that you trust your spotters. If you plan to own more than one mat, check out how they can be stacked on your back, so that walking to the crag doesn't become a nightmare.
Can you see Mina Leslie-Wyjastyk's chalk bag? That's because she left it at home. Boulderers use chalk buckets. They're much more badass than chalk bags simply becuase they're bigger. This means you can chalk up to your elbows, and look super pro. A chalk bag dangling off your back would puff all over every time you hit the mats, not only making you look silly, but also polluting the crag. Nine out of 10 times it's a good idea to leave it on the ground.
Holds outside often get greasy, or covered in too much chalk. Give them a good clean and holding on will get much easier. For blocs that receive a healthy amount of traffic, a little brush like this Edelrid one will do the job. Its soft bristles are good for the rock. Make sure not to brush chalk into holds, as the tiny grains polish its surface. Using a tea towel to clean your shoes at the crag is also a good idea, because clean rubber is more sticky, and causes less damage to the footholds. Some bouldering mats come with little carpets to wipe your feet, but using an old coconut mat is also very cool.
An emergency source of light is generally pretty useful outdoors, as is a small first aid kit. Prophecies of doom aside, having a headtorch simply means that you can enjoy the crags for longer. Whether it's walking back home in the dark, or waiting for the temperature to drop (friction is usually better in low temps), a torch can make your life much easier.
Theoretically not essential, but practically you can't call yourself an outdoor boulderer unless you own at least one beanie. Its role is pretty crucial in any serious sendage. Take your tee off, put your beanie on. You'll instantly gain at least two V points in strength. Plus, you won't have to wash your hair during a trip ever again.