If you’re an avid climber, chances are you’ve got at least a small pile of nuts, hexes, karabiners and slings in your house, not to mention all the ropes, harnesses and shoes lying around. In order for climbing to remain safe, your gear should be checked for wear and damage regularly, and replaced after excessive use. But old, unwanted or unsafe climbing gear can become difficult to dispose of, and where can you even start when it comes to recycling or making the process a little greener? Here are a few tips to find new uses for old climbing gear.
Donating old gear
Sometimes the urge to buy shiny, new gear is just too great, but your old pieces of kit are still in perfectly good working order. If any old shoes, harnesses or protection have been replaced by newer models, try donating them to local climbing or activity centres. Places like this are often in need of donations of functioning pieces of kit, and inexpensive items are perfect for helping beginners access the sport, providing endless uses for old climbing gear.
Outdoor pursuits centres and university climbing clubs always welcome fully functioning:
nuts, hexes, cams and other protection
Another great way to find a new home for your old gear is to sell it second hand on Recycle Outdoor Gear, a great classified advertising site especially for outdoor equipment. Someone else can find a use for your unwanted gear, and you can even make some money out to put towards your next purchase! Buying and selling second hand is a great way of keeping items out of the waste stream, leaving them more useful for longer.
After a certain amount of wear, your outdoor kit and climbing equipment will be beyond their intended use. But plenty of items can still be fit for other purposes, and can be recycled into useful items that can come in handy around the home.
Climbing harnesses can provide strong metal buckles which can be used for adjusting straps on a number of items, or replacing older, worn out buckles. The broad webbing used for harness adjustment can be used for tying things together around the home, or even for supporting weak trees and branches in the garden. If you’re good with a needle and thread, you can even use the adjustable waistband of a harness to make a versatile belt to wear.
Rope which has taken a number of shock loads and has been used for over 5 years should be retired and replaced. Old ropes, however, can be useful in the home and garden. Ropes can be used for tying together cut branches or moving heavy logs. They can be ideal for a child’s rope swing or tied up to make a climbable net. There are even ways of weaving your old rope into a recycled rug!
Your old karabiners may have seen better days, but they can still come in useful around the home, or even on days out climbing, provided you aren’t using them to support your weight! Old screwgate or snapgate karabiners are great for keeping things together- attaching water bottles onto your bag, keeping boots or climbing shoes together or attaching your chalk bag to your harness. At home, you can use an old karabiner for keeping keys together, hanging up clothes to dry, arranging small pieces of jewellery, or carrying multiple full shopping bags at once. Just remember to mark them with pen or coloured tape so you don’t get them mixed up with your load-bearing, newer karabiners.
Nuts, hexes and cams
Your old pieces of metal protection might have been retired from climbing use, but recycling in a scrap metal bin allows them to have a new life, while reducing the demand upon new metal resources. Scrap metal recycling is a “closed loop” process, meaning that it almost directly goes back into the metal production industry, helping to save energy and resources.
Climbing slings, along with karabiners, can take on multiple versatile uses around the home or whilst outdoors. Use them to fasten smaller pieces of climbing kit to harnesses or bags, or keep your entire rack together in your rucksack. At home, slings can be used to hang up wet clothes or tying things together. A small sling or prussock cord is great for tying up bunches of fresh herbs before hanging up to dry. And larger slings can be great fun- try hanging off a sturdy tree branch for kids to climb and swing on.
Once they’ve taken a beating, it’s best to get rid of your helmet, even if it’s only been used for a few months. There’s no point in gambling with the risk of head injuries for the sake of saving money. Old helmets shouldn’t be passed from climber to climber unless they’re in a safe condition. An old helmet can find new use as a bowl or plant pot around the house. If you’d prefer to see it sent for recycling, speak to your local climbing shop, who may have a helmet (or other gear) recycling programme in place to ensure their material is safely reused.
A bouldering pad is built to take a beating, and can generally last for years. If you end up replacing your pad and find your old one is now redundant, try using it as a versatile piece of outdoor furniture. Many “hinged” bouldering pads can be converted into a couch shape, making great seating at a garden barbecue or picnic. Bouldering pads are often favoured by pets, so try leaving it in a corner or on top of a high surface and your cat or dog will probably begin to use it as a new bed!
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Image sourced: Eric T Gunthertagsclimbingoutdoor activitiesrecycling