Even if you’ve tried rock climbing indoors, nothing compares to the real deal: scaling crags and slabs outdoors, says world-class climber Steve Bechtel, C.S.C.S. “When you’re out on the trails and rocks, you start to lose the ‘work’ part of workout,” he says. For the most “pure” form of climbing, try bouldering. You don’t have to mess with ropes or safety gear—it’s all movement—and it’s a great prep for climbing. Or catch serious air while paragliding. You’ll need to take classes certified by the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, but few thrills beat running off a mountain to catch a pocket of hot air with your fabric wing, soaring high for hours on end.
1. Scarpa Instinct VS
A high-performance shoe that’s surprisingly comfortable, its Bi-tension rand system and all- lorica construction allows it to dynamically adjust to all kinds of climbing, and the vibram Xs edge rubber sole provides added grip and durability. ($169; scarpa.com)
2. Wild Country Petit Chalk Bag
The chalk will help keep your fingers dry and improve their contact with the rock. ($19; wildcountry.com)
3. Petzl GriGri 2 Belay Device
Safely anchor with your climbing partner. “The GriGri 2 is by far the safest because it has an auto-locking feature,” Bechtel says. ($100; petzl.com)