If you are thinking of buying used climbing gear, remember this: you are only as safe as the equipment you choose. Climbing equipment takes a lot of abuse and can get a ton of use by someone that enjoys being in the Colorado mountains. Climbing gear will get wet, baked by the sun, and deteriorate with age, which are all things to keep in mind if you decide to buy used equipment. A single piece of equipment can hold your life in its hands.

Tips for Safely Buying Used Climbing Gear

New climbing gear can also cost a pretty penny, and some people try out the equipment once and decide either they hate climbing or they want to buy something else. In other words, there are amazing deals to be had on used gear. But, just how safe is it?

 After months of stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders, many Colorado mountain lovers are anxious to hit the great outdoors now that the temperatures are climbing. If you’re ready to buy some used climbing gear, here are some tips for making the safest choices.

1. Used Climbing Shoes

One of the most popular pieces of used climbing gear you can buy are climbing shoes. These items tend to lose half their value as soon as they are purchased, and you can find some monster good deals on used climbing footwear that someone has worn once or twice and then set aside for one reason or another.

If you can get past the idea of buying someone else’s shoes, the next step is to inspect them for quality. Once you find a pair that fits, you’ll need to do an examination to make sure you’re getting shoes that are safe for climbing. Check the seams to make sure they aren’t coming apart. Also, check the rubber on the bottom and avoid anything that has any deep cuts, gouges, or uneven wear.

2. Crash Pads for Climbing

The purpose of a climbing crash pad is to add a cushion between the climber and the ground, to reduce the impact of a climbing fall. Visit climbing.com and learn everything there is to know about them.

When shopping for used crash pads, exercise your best judgment regarding wear and tear. Look for signs of fading or other indicators that show significant age. Avoid purchasing crash pads that are ripped, cut, or otherwise damaged. Check all buckles, straps, and tie points before you purchase.

3. Climbing Apparel

You can also get some excellent bargains on hiking and climbing apparel, which proves entirely safe to buy used. But, if you want to get your money’s worth, be sure to check the zippers and seams to avoid any surprises after the sale.

4. Chalk Bags

Chalk bags are a vital piece of equipment for any climber and are completely safe to buy used! Just make sure to do a quick inspection to ensure the bag doesn’t contain any rips or tears. You don’t want all your chalk falling out the bottom of the bag on way up the rock! And, local sporting consignment stores are the perfect spot to snag one of these necessary climbing tools! 

Climbing Gear You Shouldn’t Buy Used 

While you can get plenty of good deals on used climbing gear, there are things you should always buy new. Your safety is simply too important to compromise for the sake of a few dollars. Some items you should avoid buying used include helmets and ropes.

1. Harnesses

Though there are places that sell used harnesses, it’s not a good idea to purchase one. Harnesses truly hold your life on the line and no matter how well you inspect one, you can’t be completely sure there isn’t hidden damage. However, consignment stores are still a great option as they also sell new gear that is often cheaper than other stores. 

2. Helmets

The maximum lifespan of a helmet with zero use is about 10 years, and the useful life of a helmet with any use is about 8 years. If a helmet was involved in a fall, it can be damaged and its integrity compromised.

Even something dropping from above and striking a helmet can damage the internal structure. Furthermore, paint and stickers (adhesives) can degrade the plastic on a helmet. Be safe and buy a new one.

3. Ropes

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that a rope hasn’t taken falls or been stored improperly, even though it looks brand new. An entire rope might have UV damage. Even the lack of use of a rope can be cause for concern. While you can technically buy used rope and not die, it’s a considerable risk and not something we recommend. To err on the side of caution, spend a little extra and get new equipment. You don’t want to climb halfway up kissing camels at Garden of the Gods and have your rope fail on you!

4. Carabiners & Belay Devices

The good news about hard climbing gear component goods like carabiners and belay devices is that metal gear can be more resilient than soft goods and therefore have a long life span. But, you still shouldn’t risk your life on used ones. New carabiners and belay devices tend to be close in price to used ones, so the money just isn’t worth the risk. 


Mountain Equip Recyclers (MER) is an excellent source for buying used and new climbing gear in the Colorado Springs area. Whether you are just getting started climbing or are a seasoned pro, we offer a great selection of value-priced harnesses, climbing shoes, and other climbing gear. Plus,100% of our net profits go towards charitable causes.

Give us a call for more information or stop by to browse our used equipment in stock. 

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