Best Trad Climbing Books

So you want to move from sport climbing to trad climbing? If you want to learn trad climbing without a mentor, then reading a trad climbing book is one of your best, safest options.


Luckily there are many educational climbing books out there. for you to choose from.

Below we’re rounded up a list of the best books for learning trad climbing.


These climbing books are best used in combination with a rock climbing class taught by a certified rock climbing guide. Seeing the climbing techniques diagrammed in the books demonstrated by a real live human climbing guide is an incredibly helpful supplement to book learning.


But if you can’t afford a trad climbing course, or simply want to suppleement your instruction in some other ways, there are plenty of YouTube videos demonstrating the most common climbing techniques.


Below you’ll find outr list of the best Trad Climbing Books to help get you climbing outside as quickly as possible.

Freedom of the Hills

This is the “climbing bible” in the USA, and has been for many years. It covers just about every aspect of rock climbing, sport climbing, trad climbing, ice climbing, expedition climbing, and general mountaineering. It’s a LARGE book, and not too specialized. A good starting point, but not the best specialized book if your main goal is to learn trad climbing.

Buy it for $27 on    (8th Edition for $18)

John Long Anchors Book

The Falcon Guides “Climbing Anchors,” commonly referred to as the “John Long Anchors Book,” is another classic book aspiring outdoor trad climbers should read. As you advance from short, single-pitch climbs to longer multi-pitch routes, you will often need to construct and evaluate “anchors.” Building reliable anchors is one of the most critical skills for a new trad climber to learn, as both your life and the life of your partner will rely on your climbing anchors.

So, practice a lot, read the anchors book, and stay alive for a long time to come.

Buy it for $20 on Amazon

More Trad Climbing Anchors

If John Long’s book doesn’t do it for you or isn’t available, the Mountaineers Series book on Climbing Anchors, written by Craig Luebben, is a good alternative. It’s a bit cheaper, as well.

You can buy it for only $15 on Amazon

The Trad Climber’s Bible

Written by Peter Croft and John Long (of ‘John Long Anchors Book’ fame), this book is more a series of climbing essays and adventure tales, rather than a technical how-to manual. If you find technical guides and climbing books dry and boring, this might be a more gripping intro to trad climbing. But this book definitely needs to be supplemented with qualified instruction. You will not learn to trad climb from this book alone.

Buy it for $30 on Amazon

Traditional Lead Climbing: Surviving the Learning Years

This book should be on your to-read list solely because of the title. After all, this is the main concern of any aspiring trad climber: surviving. The book was re-issued with a new title, “Traditional Lead Climbing: A Rock Climber’s Guide to Taking the Sharp End of the Rope,” but we all know which is the better title.

It’s not sorcery, but you should be a little scared of trad climbing. Read books, practice with skilled partners,and you’ll survive your learning years. Buying some of these books will be a good starting point.

Buy it for $18 on Amazon

Training for the New Alpinism

Do you aspire to climb real mountains?Do you want to learn trad climbing solely as a stepping stone to alpinism and mountaineering? If so, then this is the book for you.

Commissioned by Patagonia, Training for the New Alpinism is less a technical how-to book, and more a conditioning, training, and mindset piece.

You can learn your technical skills in some of the other climbing books listed here, while this one will serve as an education about what to expect and how to train when you want to take your basic trad climbing skills to the next level: into an alpine setting.

Buy it on Amazon for $33

Honorable Mentions

The above books are the most seminal texts for a person looking to learn the basics of trad climbing outdoors. For anyone looking for texts that go beyond these books, here are some more options, including some that discuss more specialized climbing techniques like speed climbing and big-wall climbing in close detail: