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.
8mm to 9mm ropes, 30~50 meters is generally used. Again, this depends on the route you take.
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.
Belay/rappel device ∞
one per person.
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.
Useful when there is a lot of swimming involved, keeping you afloat and warm.
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.
Check my other posts for an easy-to-understand guide of Wear & Footwear, Camping and Cooking Gear and General Mountaineering Gear.