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The Ultimate Guide to Canyoneering for Beginners

a canyon with a mountain in the background

Canyoneering is a thrilling sport that allows you to experience the great outdoors in a new light. But what is canyoneering, and what should beginners know before embarking on their first canyoneering adventure?

Here’s the ultimate guide to canyoneering for beginners. In this guide, we’ll explain what canyoneering is, the gear and equipment required, and other tips to ensure your experience is safe, fun, and memorable.

What’s Canyoneering?

Canyoneering, also known as canyoning and gorge walking, is an outdoor sport that combines adventure with sightseeing. It involves traversing a canyon using diverse techniques, such as abseiling, climbing, hiking, and swimming.

You’ll navigate around impressive rocky gorges, swim through deep and dazzling rock pools, and scale rocks, trees, and other obstacles, enjoying the full extent of what nature has to offer. Canyoneering will take your breath away, both figuratively and literally!

What Makes Canyoneering So Great?

There are dozens of outdoor sports you can partake in, so what makes canyoneering better? Here are the reasons canyoneering is one of the world’s most popular sports.

Unconventional Way To Exercise

We all need exercise to stay healthy. But many conventional forms of exercise are repetitive and mundane.

On the other hand, canyoneering is exhilarating and provides a new experience every time, even if you traverse the same rock formation.

It also provides an extremely effective workout. It’s a creative combination of cardio and strength exercises that helps improve endurance, resistance, upper and lower body strength, and more.

Fun To Do With Friends and Family

Canyoneering is a group activity that requires a lot of teamwork and communication. This makes it a great way to bond with your family and friends and forge new friendships with other members of your canyoneering group.

The Scenery

Canyoneering is a fantastic way to explore the natural world. During your adventure, you’ll view various natural landmarks up close. Beautiful rock formations, deep and pristine rock pools, raging waterfalls, and don’t forget the incredible vista on the horizon! You’ll also get to see birds, insects, and other wildlife in their native habitats.

If you crave an escape from city life, canyoneering is a good opportunity to get out and see parts of the world untouched by humanity.

Equipment Used in Canyoneering

The next thing we’ll go over in our ultimate guide to canyoneering for beginners is the kind of gear and equipment that you’ll use.

During a canyoneering adventure, you’ll use various gear and equipment to navigate through the gorge. Here’s some of the essential gear and equipment you need for canyoneering.


The ropes used in canyoneering are different from traditional climbing ropes. Traditional climbing ropes are stretchy and water absorbent, qualities that make them dangerous for canyoneering.

Canyoneering ropes are static, which means they don’t stretch as readily. They also repel liquid. This keeps them dry and lightweight as you traverse through rock pools and waterfalls.

Don’t forget crucial rope components, either! You’ll also need a harness, carabiners, ascenders, descenders, and webbing to attach to your ropes as necessary.

A Helmet

A helmet will keep your head snug and safe during canyoneering. A good canyoneering helmet is well-made, water-resistant, and boldly colored for high visibility.

A Headlamp

Your surrounding’s brightness and visibility decrease whenever you travel near the bottom of a canyon or in sun-sheltered areas. A headlamp will help maintain visibility in even the dimmest areas.

Rope Bags, Packs, and Dry Bags

You’ll need a place to store your gear and other supplies when you’re not using them. This is where bags and packs come in handy. A rope bag is the easiest and safest way to transport your canyoneering ropes. A heavy-duty pack is where you’ll store your essentials, such as water bottles, snacks, and first aid supplies. Dry bags are necessary for protecting your valuables and electronics from moisture.

What To Wear While Canyoneering

Helmets, ropes, and packs aren’t the only gear you need to go canyoneering safely. Before you head off on a canyoneering adventure, ensure you dress for the occasion! The ideal canyoneering ensemble includes:

  • A long-sleeved shirt

  • Long pants

  • A weatherproof jacket

  • Canyoneering shoes

  • Gloves

  • Sun hat

  • Neoprene socks

  • Wetsuit

The Neoprene socks and wetsuits are only necessary if you’re traveling through a wet canyon—that is, a canyon that has abundant rock pools and other water features.

In general, you want to cover as much of your body as possible. The more coverage you have, the lower your likelihood of injury.

If you’re canyoneering in hot temperatures, choose clothing that’s light and breathable to avoid overheating. You should also have clothing made from synthetic materials. Natural materials like cotton absorb liquids, such as sweat and water, easily. Wet clothing is uncomfortable to wear and can sap heat from your body, leaving you feeling chilly even in the summertime!

What Skills Do I Need for Canyoneering?

Canyoneering involves a lot of climbing, hiking, and swimming! You don’t have to be an expert climber or swimmer to embark on a canyoneering journey, but you should at least know you can do these activities safely. Basic swimming skills are a must. You’ll also need enough strength and stamina to travel long distances.

Fortunately, canyoneering is something that people of all ages and skill levels can do. Your instructor or guide can structure your canyoneering experience around your skill and fitness levels.

Safety First: Don’t Go Canyoneering Alone

Canyoneering is a dangerous sport. It doesn’t matter how experienced or prepared you are; there’s always the potential of something going awry.

You could get lost, fall, drown, or, when the weather is extreme, experience heat exhaustion or hypothermia. These are some of the common dangers associated with canyoneering.

For this reason, even people experienced in canyoneering should never attempt a solo canyoneering trip. Group canyoneering is much safer and also a lot more fun! If you’re a beginner, enlist the help of an experienced guide. If you’re more experienced with canyoneering, you may not need a guide, but you should at least travel with a small group of friends, family, or fellow canyoneering peers.

That said, you shouldn’t let the dangerous nature of canyoneering deter you from trying this incredible sport. As long as you follow basic safety rules, canyoneering is a safe and unforgettable experience!

Are you interested in canyoneering in Moab, Utah? Moab Canyon Tours offers various tour packages designed for people of all skill and fitness levels. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings or to book a tour!

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