It is essential that you recognise the time when your equipment needs to be changed. Identifying the visible damages and keeping in consideration the manufacturing date, you should make the call. Sometimes, though, it gets difficult to gauge whether the equipment is still capable of being used extensively. In this scenario, you can ask around on the internet or go to a climbing equipment store.

Here are some equipment specific details on when the equipment should be retired:

Climbing Rope – The rope should be retired if you have encountered fall with heavy load or have caused some damage to the structure of the rope. Frequent users should retire the rope in a year or sooner. A regularly used climbing rope should be retired in 1-3 years. For occasional users the retirement time ranges from 4-5 years. A rarely used rope can go up to 7 years before it is retired. The life of a climbing rope is 10 years if not used at all. Also, if you have been in a fall with heavy load, you must immediately change the rope and make sure that no one uses the retired one.

Climbing Harness – Look for fraying or rips in the webbing of the harness. If there is excessive abrasion to the bar-tacks, then it is time for you to retire the harness. Damaged buckles and discolored webbing are also an indication for you to change the harness. Some harnesses have a wear indicator in the belay loop. If the indicator is visible, then it is time to throw away the harness.

Carabineers – If you find any missing, bent or loose rivets on the carabineer, throw it away. A carabineer with deep grooves caused by ropes is not safe to use and should be retired. Metal burrs, faulty locking mechanism, sharp edges, corrosion or any cracks are an indication that the carabineer is not fit to use and must be replaced.

Climbing Helmet – Check if there is any major damage like a dent or crack on the outer shell of the helmet. This is not good, especially when you are regularly using the helmet.  Look for damaged foam inside the helmet or damaged buckle or other hardware. Check if the webbing is torn or fraying. If any of these conditions are there on your helmet, then you should look forward to buy a new one.

Webbing, Cords and Climbing Slings – Just like any other gear mentioned before, the life span of webbing, cords and climbing slings depends upon the frequency of their use. Webbing, cords and climbing slings, if ripped, burnt or singed, must be retired. If the gear is fraying or has any loose stitching, it should be retired. Discoloration, fading or melted areas are not good for the safety of the gear.

You can also find different uses for all these gears instead of throwing them away in the trash. Some really cool out-of-the-box recycling ideas can be thought of to make a completely different use of the climbing equipment. For example, Carabineers can be used as keychains or keepers for water bottles, the retired rope can be turned into a dog leash or a rug.