The increasing popularity of climbing gyms isn’t a new story, but gym-specific gear is finally starting to catch up to the particular demands of the indoor setting—and the climbers who are flocking there in ever-larger numbers. “Gyms attract newer climbers, so simplified equipment that includes more safety features makes the experience safer and more user-friendly,” says Bo Beck, manager at The Desert Rat, a climbing gym in St. George, Utah. Look for new, easier-to-use assisted-braking belay devices that add another layer of protection and durability for the beginner (like Edelweiss’s new Kinetic). Heavier pieces (like Black Diamond’s new, 92-gram belay device, the ATC Pilot), are also more comfortable and ergonomic for heavy gym mileage.
Spring 2018 Climbing gear trends
Start ‘em young: Kids' climbing trends
Retailers report that the average age of new climbers continues to get younger and younger—something many attribute to the newfound popularity of gyms—so manufacturers are catering more to the kid crowd. “I’ve seen a tremendous growth with kids learning to climb,” Beck says. “Adults who learned 10 to 15 years ago now want to involve their children.” What’s normally a pretty small selection will see a big boost this season. “Petzl has been making full-body kid harnesses long before the popularity boom that climbing is currently experiencing,” says Ben Eaton, marketing manager at Petzl.“With more and more families getting into the sport and involving their toddlers, this generates a need for more variety in climbing gear for all ages.”