You have finally managed to put together a couple of plywood panels on the garage wall or you have build a fancy backyard bouldering wall matching all industry standards. In any case you’ll end up looking for climbing holds for your new home wall. But there are so many hold companies out there. What holds should I get for my homewall? Where to start?
We will try to put together some major key points that will guide you through the process.
You have probably noticed the rather big difference in the price range of different hold brands. One of the main reasons for this difference is the material of the holds. Here are some of the most common materials, as well as their pros and cons:
Polyurethane. Polyurethane or PU is probably the most common material used for the production of climbing holds worldwide. Most of the holds at your nearby commercial climbing gym are probably poured in polyurethane. This material is light and strong. PU enables hold manufacturers to produce very large, versatile holds and this is why most of the trending brands use this material. However these glamorous, eye-catchy holds don’t come cheap. PU is more expensive in general. It’s important to mention that there are many different producers on the market. Some of them offer cheaper plastic that wears off much faster, others pour high-end holds that last much longer and feel a lot better.
Polyester. Polyester or PE is very common in the European climbing gyms. PE holds have extremely nice sandy friction which lasts for years. Grabbing a PE holds definitely has a real rock sensation. Furthermore PE is much cheaper and suitable for outdoor usage because the color of the holds won’t change that fast compared to PU. But there are downsides. PE is very heavy. This material chips and breaks easily, which is an obstacle for the production of large size holds. Most of the PE hold production facilities are based in Europe, so if you are located elsewhere it might be hard to get your hands on a quality PE grips.
It’s worth mentioning wooden holds, which are a great choice for training walls due to the skin friendly surface. Aside from the common plastics there are manufacturers offering a wide range of fiberglass macros, plywood volumes and ceramic holds.
There are literally thousands of shapes on the market- from tiny foot holds to massive macros. You should consider few important things while making your first home wall selection of holds.
Type of grips. Get a good variety of different grips. Make sure you get enough jugs for warming-up and setting on the overhang parts of your wall, but also get enough crimps, slopers and pocket to create challenging routest that will help you improve your climbing skills. Getting the right amount of footholds is also crucial.
Size. Avoid getting too many big holds. Yes, all of us love climbing on big holds but if you have limited wall space you better choose your new holds wisely.
Hold colors. Before making a decision regarding the color distribution of your first hold selection you should make some Basic route decisions. For example how you are going to mark your routes. Check out the following video by DoughJo Setting that should help you make these important decision:
As you have already noticed there are huge price differences between some of the hold brands on the market. These differences are due to the material used (PU, PE or other) or the size of the holds. But there are other factors that reflect on the price. One of them is the skills of the shaper. Most of the trending hold brands offer holds shaped by professional climbing hold shapers. Shaping an ergonomic, skin-friendly hold requires a real craftsmanship and developing these skills take years of climbing, setting and shaping experience. Therefore, paying extra for a certain brand is because of the design skills and man hours spent by the shaper. Do not underestimate this, because climbing on good holds will most definitely help you progress as a climber. Furthermore climbing on well-made holds might prevent injuries by forcing you position your body and hands the right way while climbing.
There are ways to get your hands on great holds without breaking your budget. One of the most common ways is to get cosmetic seconds. Most of the hold brands offer this type of holds with small production imperfections. In most cases the holds were poured in the wrong color or have other visible imperfections.