Archive for the ‘Gear & Skills’ Category

CarabinerHelper RopeMountain TransceiverPetzl Hammer

River climbing, as you probably have guessed by now, is not the safest of activities. The best we can do is be prepared and minimize risk where we can, and some equipment is absolutely necessary for this. Helmet, carabiner, sit harness are a few examples of needed Climbing & Safety Equipment when preparing for a trip. The difficulty of the river you are going to will change how many of what is needed too. I hope this 4 part equipment guide has helped. Please enjoy your trip and feel free to comment with any questions you may have!

∞ = always take items with the infinity mark


To protect your head. Not only for climbing waterfalls and hill slopes, but for protection against falling rocks and debris.



Since long amounts of time are spent in the water, your skin may get irritated if your harness is tight or belt fat. A simple, thin, lightweight sit harness is recommended.


Sling & carabiner

You can make quickdraws (2 carabiners & 1 sling) as in rock climbing, but generally it’s preferred to use 1 carabiner and 1 sling per point. Depending on the route and number of people, each person should have on them a few 60cm slings, locking carabiners and non-locking carabiners. Wire gate carabiners are lightweight and popular. It would also be useful for a group to carry some longer 120cm and 240cm slings for setting anchor point and natural points.  As with all climbing equipment, only bring inexpensive products on a sawanobori trip. This is because water erodes metal (carabiners) and greatly shortens the lifespan of all products. Even without that, your belongings will smell of sewer water and campfire when you get home. If you are also a rock climber, you probably want to keep your favorite and pricey toys at home.


Climbing rope

8mm to 9mm ropes, 30~50 meters is generally used. Again, this depends on the route you take.

Climbing Rope


Depending on difficulty of the route, have a set of hammers, pitons, camming devices, nuts. Not needed in Japanese streams that are popular sawanobori routes for beginners but necessary if you are going to one of the difficult or newer routes, especially in a country outside of Japan. Camming devices and nuts should be used when possible as an earth friendly alternative to pitons.

Petzl Hammer

Belay/rappel device

one per person.

Petzl Reverso 3

Helper rope

Having 5~10 meters of 6mm~8mm rope or tape can be extremely helpful. Used by leader to help a follower climb a waterfall or slope, when taking out climbing a hassle and unnecessary. Make sure to keep where you can take out immediately.

Helper Rope

Life Jacket

Useful when there is a lot of swimming involved, keeping you afloat and warm.

Life Jacket


Safer and easier for beginners to use an ascending device than a prusik knot. However, ascenders tend to damage rope so beware when using repeatedly.



Normally not needed, but useful for communication between multiple parties and when climbing falls.

Mountain Transceiver

Check my other posts for an easy-to-understand guide of Wear & Footwear, Camping and Cooking Gear and General Mountaineering Gear.

Water Bottle (Platypus)Compass (Suunto)First Aid KitHead LampBackpack 28L

This list is most useful for the total first timer. It will give you tips on the most General Mountaineering Gear needed.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment! Continue reading ‘Take to your Sawanobori Trip 3/4: General Mountaineering Gear’ »

Tent MatTarpSilverwareHat net 

After a long day of water splashing in your face, swimming through narrow Indy Jones type gorges and ascending waterfalls, you are definitely ready for a comforting campfire, a steaming hot meal, and some time to sing songs and sip whiskey under the stars. Let’s learn about  Camping (Bivouac) & Cooking Gear to learn what we need.

Continue reading ‘Take to your Sawanobori Trip 2/4: Camping Gear’ »

Sawa TabiJacketsFinger Cut-offsGaiters

footwear, jackets, accessories, neoprene material, protective gear

tabi, rain jacket, gloves, vest, gaiter

If you are planning to go on your first sawanobori trip anytime soon, you will hopefully be under direct supervision of an experienced climber who can guide you on what to take with you.  Still, it can get difficult and burdensome to ask about every detail during preparation, so I hope this will act as an easy-to-understand Wear & Gear guide for everyone out there. The posts will be divided into four bulks: Wear & Footwear, Camping (Bivouac) & Cooking Gear, Climbing & Safety Equipment,and General Mountaineering Gear. Please enjoy your trip and feel free to comment with any questions you may have! Continue reading ‘Take to Sawanobori trip 1/4: Wear & Footwear’ »

Hi, I’m an American / Japanese living in Tokyo, and I really want to share this awesome sport that I’ve been indulging myself in for the past 5 years. It is a traditionally known sport in Japan, but unheard of in the rest of the world.  I hope that, through this blog and the support of anyone out there interested, (is there anyone?? i hope there is :D) we can connect the excitement and constantly updated information in the Japanese sawanobori world —> to the rest of you out there! and spread the word and habit of climbing rivers / mountain streams throughout the world!! You must be forewarned, this is not the safest of sports.. but anybody that ventures into the wilderness knows (should know!) what he is getting himself into, and with the right information, preparation, and technique building, it is the most enjoyable of sports as long as climate permits. Thank you for your interest, we hope this site can be of service to you!