July 3, 2020

Basic Rappelling Gear Kit and List of Rappelling Equipment You Will Need

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by Kevin

Using the right rappelling gear kit can make a huge difference to your climbing experience. It can make or break your experience. To ensure you have the best possible experience, you should have an understanding of the basic rappelling equipment that you will need to make the rappel.

From ropes to shoes, we are going to take you through a comprehensive list of gear that most basic rappelling equipment kits should contain. Every adventure sport comes with a host of special and safe equipment.

We are going to go over all the essential rappelling gear so you know what you need to take with you when you head out.

What Rappelling Gear Do I Need for Rappelling?

The basic rappelling gear kit consists of about 12 items, each rappelling equipment serving its purpose. This is the list of the basic rappelling gear to start with.

  • Rappelling helmet
  • Rappelling harness
  • Rappelling rope
  • Rappelling device
  • Rappelling gloves
  • Rappelling pants
  • Climbing shoes
  • Rappelling rings
  • Prusik cord
  • Carabiners
  • Anchors
  • Slings

Rappelling, being one of the most adrenaline-pumping of all sports, is no exception. Without further ado, let’s review in detail the rappelling equipment list you need to check out all the ticks on before you head out for an outdoor adventure.

Table of Contents

1) Rappelling Helmet

Rappelling helmets and climbing helmets are a type of helmet that is used for protection during rappelling. They are designed to protect the climber from head injuries and provide a secure fit.

Rappelling helmets come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have the same basic design. The most common type of rappelling helmet is made from hard plastic, which is lightweight and durable.

The inside of the helmet has foam padding to cushion the wearer’s head in case they fall or drop suddenly.

There are also straps on the back and sides that hold it securely on the wearer’s head so it doesn’t move around or fall off easily when they’re rappelling down a rock face or other steep surface.

Black Diamond Half Dome Rock Climbing Helmet, BD Orange, Small/Medium
1,392 Reviews
Black Diamond Half Dome Rock Climbing Helmet, BD Orange, Small/Medium
  • The Black Diamond Half Dome rock climbing helmet has long been a staple for climbers worldwide. The simple yet highly effective design and construction make it a easy choice for safety helmets.
  • Made with a durable ABS outer shell material for impact protection and EPS impact foam for shock absorbsion, this helmets meets climbing safety standards.
  • The easily adjustable chin strap and lower profile suspension system with a one-handed fit dial make fitting simple and secure.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

2) Rappelling Harness

Of course, there can’t be safe rappelling without a harness. This is the key safety equipment of basic rappelling equipment kits.

The harness goes around the waist and the legs of climbers to secure the rappelling device. Several different brands and manufacturers make harnesses of all shapes and sizes. Each of them offers a range of functionality and comfort levels, based on the specific application.

While harnesses can differ from each other in the specification, the primary use of this basic rappelling gear is to provide a seat for the climber.

You need to get a harness that is in very good condition, offers you comfort, and has a belay loop in the front. While you might know of old-school techniques of makeshift harnesses fashioned from climbing ropes themselves, it is not a smart idea if you are starting out.

A proper rappelling harness made with good quality materials will also feature the location where you attach your rappelling device, a belay loop, and extra loops for you to carry more equipment with you, like a chalk bag and anchor equipment.

Weanas Thicken Climbing Harness, Protect Waist Safety Harness, Wider Half Body Harness for Mountaineering/Fire Rescuing/Rock Climbing/Rappelling/Tree Climbing (1.16pound)
  • Beginner's Harness: CE Certified,, but not certified for indoor climbing.Harness weight limited: 300KG,breaking strength-22KN. Half body climbing harness, traditional buckle, harness construction distributes pressure to keep you comfortable while climbing Comfortable wear is a good companion for your outdoor sports
  • Size: Fits waist strap 20" to 46"(51cm to 118cm), Leg strap 15" to 27" (38cm to 70m), one size fits for person. Well on all ages and can be shared by the whole family. Easy to operate, wear and remove
  • Durable Bearing Loop: High load bearing, all the connections and webbing are very sturdy with reinforced ends to bear your weight and protect your safety at all times

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

3) Rappelling Ropes

Rappelling ropes are one of the most important pieces of equipment when it comes to rappelling. The reason why it is an essential rappelling gear is that you cannot rappel down without a rope.

Now, you need to understand that there are different kinds of ropes that you can choose from. Depending on your specific application, you should choose the right rope for your own safety.

Most climbers use dynamic ropes for climbing. The thing is that dynamic ropes work well for shock absorption to reduce the impact of a fall by stretching but that can be slightly problematic for a beginner on the way down. For rappelling, you must use static ropes. 

Static ropes do not stretch and that helps you get a good measure of your speed of descent while you are rappelling down. That works well while you are climbing up and fixing the ropes as well.

A rope of around 200 feet for a double back rope will do just fine, especially if you’re a beginner. Static ropes also offer better durability against rocks and sharp edges.

Aoneky 10 mm Static Outdoor Rock Climbing Rope, Fire Escape Safety Rappelling Rope (Blue 2, 65)
  • High quality polyester material, very strong and durable, heavy duty rot and tear resistant
  • Loan-bearing of the rope reach 2000 lb, safe enough to do any outdoor activity
  • Can be rolled up to a small part, easy to keep them tidy and clean, very compact to carry it with you

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

4) Rappelling Device

Part of your basic rappelling equipment kits is the rappelling devices. Also known as rappelling descenders, the rappel device is a friction hitch. You can also learn how to use rappel racks.

It allows you to feed a rope through the rope in a controlled manner while having a load on it – without you having to make too much effort to control the flow of the rope.

This is a climber’s best friend and is the most essential component of the rappelling equipment list. It helps the climber control the speed of descent.

The device works by altering the angle at which the rope leaves the device or by managing the force applied to the rope below the device.

Whether you are someone who wants to descend at a decent pace or if you’re an adrenaline junkie who wants to feel the thrill, you are in control because of this device.

It is better to get a rappelling device that works as a belayer as well so that you do not have to bother carrying extra gear for climbing up and then descending back down.

Black Diamond ATC Belay Device (Black)
  • Unique, smooth-handling geometry
  • Minimalist design is durable in all conditions
  • Large surface area dissipates heat when lowering or rappelling

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

5) Rappelling Gloves

Plenty of rock climbers scoffs at the very mention of rappelling gloves. For the experienced climber, this is not an essential rock climbing rappelling gear but having at least one glove can make your life a whole lot easier, especially when you are rappelling down.

A vital part of the basic rappelling equipment list is a decent pair of climbing gloves. Gloves can protect your hands from the rope while you descend and make the process more comfortable for you. Almost all climbers use ropes, but the more adventurous ones choose to go gloveless.

You see, experienced mountaineers and climbers tend to go gloveless in high-risk situations because the direct contact with the rope gives them a greater feel.

However, amateur climbers should consider this a necessary part of their basic rappelling equipment kit. A good pair of leather gloves designed for rappelling can protect your hands from the possibility of getting rope burns if you rappel down too fast.

There might even be instances where you can slightly lose control of the rope and descend faster than you want to.

The autoblock knot will help you stop if you let go of it but if you forget about it and try to grip the rope with a bare hand, which can cause quite a lot of damage. A glove will make sure nothing like that happens.

Petzl CORDEX PLUS Gloves - Lightweight, Breathable Leather Belay Gloves for Climbing and Rappelling - Tan - L
613 Reviews
Petzl CORDEX PLUS Gloves - Lightweight, Breathable Leather Belay Gloves for Climbing and Rappelling - Tan - L
  • UNCOMPROMISED DURABILITY: Sometimes 'durable' gloves are bulky, stiff, and uncomfortable. With the Petzl CORDEX PLUS gloves, you don't have to compromise. The CORDEX PLUS features more leather in than our CORDEX glove, especially in the back of the glove and the palm. Soft, premium leather requires no break in period — striking a perfect balance between dexterity and durability.
  • PROTECTION WHERE YOU NEED IT MOST: A double layer of leather provides enhanced protection in high-traffic areas (fingertips, between thumb and forefinger) help prolong the CORDEX PLUS's lifespan. Extra padding in the palm of the glove helps prevent protect against heat generated during multiple rappels.
  • EASE OF USE: Simple, yet durable velcrohook-and-loop closure. Carabiner hole for easy storage and/or racking. No break-in period. Easy on and off.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

6) Rappelling Pants

Rappelling pants are a type of specialized wear that is designed to be worn while rappelling. Rappelling pants are usually made from cotton twill or ripstop fabrics and they have a double layer of fabric in the seat and crotch area to provide extra protection against friction.

The most common style of rappelling pants has a straight leg with an elastic cuff at the bottom and two front pockets. They also have suspenders that can be attached to the waistline or belt loops.

Rappelling pants are available in different lengths, depending on the height of the person wearing them, but they typically come in lengths for people who stand between 5’4” and 6’2” tall.

No products found.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

7) Climbing/Rappelling Shoes

Last but not least, you will need rappelling shoes. It goes without saying but using good quality shoes is important.

You want to use rappelling shoes that have sturdy soles that provide a firm grip and at the same time, they allow you to maintain good traction with the wall while you descend. Neutral climbing shoes and approach shoes are ideal for rappelling.

Black Diamond Momentum Lace Climbing Shoe - Men's Midnight 9.5
17 Reviews
Black Diamond Momentum Lace Climbing Shoe - Men's Midnight 9.5
  • Neutral, flat last for vertical climbing and all-day comfort
  • Engineered Knit Technology upper provides exceptional breathability and comfort
  • 4.3mm rubber is built for durability and molded for optimal consistency and performance
Black Diamond Equipment Momentum Climbing Shoes - Women's - Black-Alloy - 5
174 Reviews
Black Diamond Equipment Momentum Climbing Shoes - Women's - Black-Alloy - 5
  • Neutral, flat last for vertical climbing or all-day comfort
  • Updated midsole for improved edging ability
  • Women’s specific last provides customized fit

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

8) Rappelling Rings

Rappelling rings, also called rap rings, are also known as descent devices, and they are used to descend from a high place to the ground. Rappelling rings are typically made out of metal, most often they are aluminum. They can be used for any type of rappelling situation.

Paliston 25kN Rappel Ring for Rock Climbing Arborist and Hammock Red (4 pcs)
  • Made from hot forged aluminum alloy, Paliston rappel ring features high strength, sturdy, light weight and portable.
  • The rappel ring adopts seamless forge technique, which can be used as a safe connection point or anchor.
  • 360 degrees all-round design avoids the danger of improper loading direction while loading stuff.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

No products found.

9) Prusik Cord (Backup Knot)

We discussed the backup knot earlier. Used by some of the more experienced climbers, this is an essential part of the whole safety apparatus while rappelling.

Also known as a Klemheist knot, prusik, or an autoblock knot, a backup knot is used by climbers in case they lose control at any point while ascending or descending.

Tied below the rappelling device on the rope, these knots are tied around the rope using a short climbing sling. The loop is attached to the belay loop of the harness using a carabiner.

GM CLIMBING 8mm (5/16') Prusik Loop Pre-Sewn 18 inches
926 Reviews
GM CLIMBING 8mm (5/16") Prusik Loop Pre-Sewn 18 inches
  • GM CLIMBING 8mm Prusik Loop, available in lengths of 18" and 24", yielding an MBS of 24kN /5400Lbs, and made of 100% high tenacity Polyester with CNC machine stitchings at joints. Used to tie friction hitches on the standing line of 11~12.5mm (7/16~1/2inch), such as prusik knot, autoblock, and Klemheist knot in mountaineering, climbing, canyoneering, caving, rope rescue, tree care by the arborist, rigging aerial hammock, lifting, and etc.
  • Supple in handling, and double-braid constructed to be solidly round, it's easy to tie, dress and untie hitch knots (Prusik, Autoblock, Klemheist, etc) with this Prusik loop. When hitches around the rope, to have a good grip, the recommended diameter range of the standing line is 11~12.5mm / 7/16~1/2 inch.
  • 24kN High Breaking Strength allows the Prusik loop to expand its areas from professional to general uses. CNC machine stitching of sewn joints keeps the loop neat and free from traditional bulky knots, whilst still withstanding high strengths; A heavy transparent heat shrink sleeve is applied around the stitching to protect it from abrading during use and allow you to easily inspect the stitching condition. That has the Prusik loop gain unbeatable durability and longer service life.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

10) Carabiners

A basic rappelling equipment kit would be incomplete without a carabiner. Carabiners are large clips that climbers use to connect different parts of the rappelling system together.

Experienced climbers use a wide variety of carabiners. The best locking carabiners, in particular, are the most crucial ones. The clip locks shut and can be secured so that there is no chance it opens up during the descent.

Carabiners can also be used to create backup knots. But in the most basic setting, the carabiner is used to attach the harness and the rappelling device.

Black Diamond Hotforge Screwgate 3 Pack, Black
  • Accommodates a clove hitch
  • Hot-Forged for lighter-weight construction
  • Keylock nose prevents snagging

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

11) Anchors

Next up in the list of gear you should have in your basic rappelling equipment is the material for anchoring. Anchors are used to securing the rope right at the top of the descent. There are different kinds of anchors you can use. Depending on the situation, these anchors may vary.

When you are out in nature, pitons and boulders tend to work the best. They are essentially metal spikes, which you can wedge into the cracks of the rock face you are climbing. Rappelling anchors are constructed from different climbing gear.

Other than pitons, these may include cams, nuts, and bolts. The anchors that consist of natural features like trees or boulders work best when you carry two-foot-long climbing slings to use with them.

NAXEN 26kN Bolt Hanger Stainless Steel Climbing Hanger Climbing Anchor for 10 mm / 3/8" Bolt Pack of 6
  • Durable Hanger. With stainless steel and vibrated polished, the climbing anchor features corrosion resistant.
  • Sturdy Anchor. The bolt hanger is rated at 26kN, which offers a safe connection point for you.
  • Rounded Edges Design. The clever design offers anti-wear effect when clip carabiner or other gear on the bolt.

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

12) Rappelling Slings

Rappelling slings are used to create a sling, or a loop of webbing, which can be used to securely tie off an object. Rappelling slings are often made from nylon webbing, have loops at both ends that can be threaded with the rope, and come in a variety of lengths and diameters.

There are many different types of climbing slings that can be used for different purposes such as long loops for tying off things at the top of rappels or shorter loops for tying off things at the bottom of rappels.

Black Diamond Equipment 18 mm Nylon Runner 120 cm
  • Versatile, strong and durable nylon construction
  • Color-coded for easy size identification
  • 30 cm / 12 inch runner is red

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Last update on 2023-09-26 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Safety is a primary concern when you are out there rappelling. This is why a couple of essential pieces of rock climbing rappelling gear are climbing slings and locking carabiners. In order to make sure that you are completely safe from accidental falls, you need to make an autoblock knot as a backup to your rappelling device.

An autoblock knot essentially locks up in case you start to descend too fast or if you need to stop midway. You can tie it using a sling (an extra bit of rope), which should be around 24 inches long. When you are descending, you should hold it in one of your hands and bring it down along with you.

As long as you are holding it and manually taking it with you, the autoblock knot will come along with you. If you try to descend without bringing it down with your hand, it doesn’t budge. You need to make the knot and attach it to your harness leg loop using a locking carabiner.

Getting to the top of any route you take while climbing is a major success for climbers of all kinds. That being said, it is still only half of the task to get to the top. The other half consists of getting back down and that is just as important as making it to the top. This requires specific rappelling equipment and techniques.

In order to descend back to where you started or somewhere else through single and multi-pitch routes, there are several ways you can go but as a climber, rappelling is the most viable option. It gets you down with relative speed and puts less wear on the fixed anchors.

The process of rappelling might seem like quite a simple technique. The thing is, rappelling equipment and technique need to be navigated skillfully because the actual practice of rappelling down is more complicated than it looks. 

Another thing you should know about rappelling is that it is quite easy to make mistakes and unfortunately, accidents do happen a lot of the time – they can also end up being fatal mistakes.

This is the reason why you need to familiarize yourself with rappelling equipment and techniques which can help you descend quickly and more importantly, safely. Of course, we need to take a look at some of the basics about abseiling vs rappelling before we can move on to the different techniques.

What are the Different Types of Rappelling Gear Kits?

This is a list of the different types of rappelling gear kits created for different situations.

  • Tactical rappelling gear
  • Military rappelling gear (army rappelling gear)
  • Rescue rappelling gear
  • Waterfall rappelling gear
  • Top gear rappelling from a helicopter
  • Roof rappelling gear

What is tactical rappelling gear?

Tactical rappelling gear is typically used by military and law enforcement agencies. The gear is made to be lightweight, durable, and easy to use. Rappelers use the equipment to descend from helicopters, buildings, and other structures during search and rescue missions or in order to apprehend a suspect.

What is military rappelling gear (army rappelling gear)?

Military rappelling gear (army rappelling gear) is a set of equipment used by soldiers that enables them to descend from one point to another, usually on a vertical surface, such as buildings and rappel towers. Rappelling is accomplished by using ropes in order to control the descent of the rappeller.

What is rescue rappelling gear?

Rescue rappelling gear is used for rescues from heights or emergency rappelling. The person being rescued must be anchored to the top of the cliff or mountain, and then rappel down the rope. To do this, a rescue rappeller must have a harness with a locking carabiner clasped to a rope. The harness should have good padding and be comfortable on the hips and legs because it will be worn all day.

What is waterfall rappelling gear?

The waterfall rappelling gear is the rappelling gear used when rappelling waterfalls or canyoning. The main characteristic of waterfall rappelling gear is that the rappelling gear kit should be durable and resistant to water.

What is top gear rappelling from a helicopter?

Top gear rappelling is a method of rappelling from a helicopter while carrying ropes and equipment. It is considered the fastest and safest way to rappel into a rugged, mountainous environment. The rappelling gear kit when rappelling from a helicopter is specially designed for military and rescue missions.

What is roof rappelling gear?

Roof rappelling gear is used for descending from a roof. The gear can be used for roofs with a pitch of up to 70 degrees or less. The gear consists of a harness, rappelling ropes, and carabiners.

Rappelling Equipment Kit and List of Gear You Will Need

What Are the Things to Consider before Purchasing Rappelling Gear?

Before buying rappelling gear, it all comes down to knowing what you want and having the keenness to spot quality. You have to tell the difference between unsafe products and those approved for use.

  • Purchase from trusted manufacturers
  • Educate yourself
  • Research before you buy
  • Explore used equipment
  • Go to a store with a good return policy
  • Spend more for longer use
  • Only use trusted brands
  • It’s worth spending for your gear to last longer
  • Know when it’s time to replace your gear
  • If required, buy gear that’s activity-specific

Final Thoughts on the Baic Rappelling Gear Kit and List of Rappelling Equipment You Will Need

To make the decision to go rappelling is a big one. While you know about the essential rappelling gear, you cannot head out for rappelling without the knowledge of how to use them.

You need to make sure that you learn all the right techniques needed to use the gear for rappelling. If you can, you should take an experienced rock climber or rappeler with you.

No amount of safety and precautionary measures can beat the knowledge you can get from someone experienced in using the right rappelling gear at the right moment during rappelling.

Understanding the basics of the sport itself and the rappelling equipment and techniques is essential when you are taking up the sport. While you might feel tempted to take on more sophisticated techniques of rappelling, these are the most basic methods you should be aware of.

Remember that whenever you head out into the great outdoors for the activity, you need to go with climbing buddies that are experienced with the sport so they can help you learn the ropes.

Once you apply these techniques a few times, you will find rappelling a lot easier and nothing will be able to compare to the experience. Have fun and stay safe.

Related Articles:

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Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Roger

About the author


Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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