This is part eight of a multi-part series. The next installments will be published in the coming weeks. You can read the entire series here.

After gathering and analyzing data to glean insights about the industry's best and most difficult manufacturers, men's and women's apparel, footwear, and camping gear, we're forging into another category this week with a look at climbing equipment.

As a reminder, we're talking about specialty retail sales here—which brands sold best at shops across the nation, as reported by 136 independent stores that weighed in. This week, we have four sections of gear we're examining: climbing hardware, climbing shoes, climbing rope, and climbing harnesses. 

How we collected our data

As with the rest of the sections in our survey, we didn't supply a list of responses for retailers to choose from. The results you see below all came from write-ins.

The numbers here reflect the percentages of respondents who actually answered each question. Some respondents declined to answer one or more of our questions about climbing gear sales. These omissions were not included in the calculation of vote percentages. We also included a question about whether or not respondents' shops sold climbing gear at all. If they didn't, we omitted them from the calculation of vote percentages.

Finally, survey responses were gathered with the promise of anonymity to ensure the collection of the most accurate possible data from retailers.

The overview

It's obvious from the numbers below that one brand holds a dominant place in the market at specialty retail: Black Diamond. That may be no shock to anyone, but we found it somewhat surprising just how much of the vote share BD captured in two of the categories below—hardware and harnesses. In hardware specifically, no other brand came close, with nearly eight out of 10 retailers reporting BD hardware as the bestseller throughout 2020.

BD lagged behind its competitors in one category particularly: shoes. Here, more than half of respondents reported La Sportiva as the bestseller, with Scarpa coming in second. BD also trailed Sterling in the rope category, though here the percentages were much closer, with the two companies nearly splitting the market.

Petzl put up a fight in the harness category, far outperforming its closest competitors, but still losing to BD overall by a hefty margin. And three other brands got on the board more than once, even if their numbers didn't come close to reaching the top spot in any category: Metolius, Singing Rock, and Mammut.

The complete data for each category is listed below.

Best-selling brands: Climbing hardware

Black Diamond: 78.4 percent

Petzl: 10.8 percent

CAMP: 5.4 percent

Metolius: 2.7 percent

Singing Rock: 2.7 percent

Best-selling brands: Climbing shoes

La Sportiva: 51.6 percent

Scarpa: 19.4 percent

Black Diamond: 16.1 percent

Five Ten: 6.5 percent

Butora: 3.2 percent

Tenaya: 3.2 percent

Best-selling brands: Climbing rope

Sterling: 42.4 percent

Black Diamond: 30.3 percent

Mammut: 9.1 percent

Petzl: 6.1 percent

Edelrid: 6.1 percent

Maxim: 3 percent

BlueWater: 3 percent

Best-selling brands: Climbing harnesses

Black Diamond: 64.9 percent

Petzl: 27 percent

Mammut: 2.7 percent

Metolius: 2.7 percent

Singing Rock: 2.7 percent

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