Canyoning: Equipment and Skills to Practice It

Learn all about canyoning, a sport that involves adrenaline, nature, fun, and grit. What elements do we need and what obstacles will we have to face?
Canyoning: Equipment and Skills to Practice It

Last update: 22 December, 2019

In addition to encouraging exercise, canyoning is a sport that promotes the exploration of natural sites. These qualities make it an adventure sport capable of providing new recreational experiences.

Deciding to enter the world of canyoning is a somewhat risky choice. However, enjoying the scenery, fun, and adrenaline can make you addicted to this sport. Take note of everything you need to know about this wonderful physical activity!

It all starts in a canyon!

Canyoning acquires that name because it takes place in ravines, deserts, jungles, and valleys, among other places. It’s usually done in a group; although, it’s not exclusive for people who want to do it alone.

Nonetheless, the sport doesn’t focus on a single action, in particular, it’s about advancing through the route. Therefore, walking, swimming, climbing, jumping, and scaling are basic actions in canyoning.

That’s why you must be careful when you’re starting out. Those who do so, are exposed to risky situations in spaces that can be dangerous. 

Canyoning equipment

Considering the fact that canyoning takes place in open places and is an activity involving different risky movements, practitioners must have special equipment. The equipment will preserve their safety at times and, in turn, will allow them to do whatever is necessary. 

The sites you’ll explore determine the equipment that you’ll use. Nevertheless, there are certain elements that are essential regardless of where the athlete is headed. That includes the following equipment:

  •  Suitable footwear (usually mountain shoes).
  • Backpack with water drainage.
  • Neoprene suit.
  • Helmet.
  • Harness.
It's important to have safety equipment.
  • Ropes.
  • Climbing descender.
  • Safety buckles.
  • Carabiners.

There are also other safety measures that shouldn’t be excluded when doing individual or group canyoning:

  • Individual: you must have the aforementioned equipment as well as a belay device, a pedal, a sling, a knife, a whistle, and a waterproof container.
  • Group: all members must own their individual equipment. At the same time, it’s necessary to complement it with group equipment consisting of progression ropes, removal equipment, rope protectors, and relief rope.

Canyoning route

The essence of canyoning is traveling and progressing through the ravines. There are different techniques to accomplish this. The application of each depends on the athlete and the type of canyon, of course. These are some of the most common progressions:

  • Climbing or scaling: in canyons, it’s more common to descend, but sometimes it’s necessary to climb or scale to reach certain areas and continue the journey.
  • Rappel: is a descending technique with rope, harness, and a descender.
  • Walking: to access the ravines, walking is essential. We recommend you don’t do it in water currents in order to avoid the strong physical wear that this entails.
  • Swimming: it’s necessary for all areas to have a minimum depth of water to swim instead of walking.
  • Handrail: this is ideal for progressing horizontally alongside a vertical wall to avoid other obstacles.
  • Sliding: descend freely through polished stone ramps; it usually leads to a place with water.
  • Jumping: if you’re in a group, the first member must rappel to ensure the there’s no obstacle that could cause injury. Thus, everyone can perform the jump in a safer way.
  • Zipline: a descent made with rope or a cable.

Canyoning, an outdoor sport

Canyoning is entirely an outdoor sport that allows you to get to know new spaces and connect with nature. At the same time, practicing it improves your physical and mental condition.

The risk in this sport doesn’t only involve the canyons, rivers with strong currents, or the mountains with high altitudes. When you’re in a completely natural environment, you also expose yourself to animals, insects, poisonous plants, and ecosystems dangerous for humans.

Canyoning is an outdoor sport.

In light of this, it’s imperative to be informed about the characteristics of the sites you’ll explore. In order to preserve your well-being, it’s important to know how to deal with and prevent situations that involve vegetation and animals from that specific place.

There are many places around the world where you can go canyoning: in Spain, they have the Pyrenees, the Sierra de Guara, and the Jerte Valley, to name a few. There’s also Lake Garda, in Italy, or Interlaken in Switzerland.

There are endless options for canyoning. Take advantage of natural places that can change your vision of the world and of yourself. Dare to try something new, fun, and full of adrenaline!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • AA.VV. (2014). Descenso de barrancos: Técnicas básicas. Madrid: Ediciones Desnivel S.L. p. 224
  • Martí Puig, Andrés (2013). Petzl, ed. Técnicas de progresión vertical. Aplicaciones científicas y deportivas.
  • Ortega Becerril, José Antonio (2009). Manual de aguas vivas en barrancos : anticipación y prevención de peligros. Desnivel, S.L.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.