First get boots that fit your feet. Then buy crampons that fit the boots. IMO the 'poons are not so important in the early years, so you might consider a used pair. If you buy something snazzy later on, you'll have your first pair to loan to friends. Same with the axes, but here I am going to agree with those who suggest trying a bunch first. There ARE differences in tools, and yes, the top brands can easily be resold, but why take a $100+ hit if you don't have to. I borrowed 8 different tools before I bought, and they are still my favorites (Quarks FWIW).