Thursday, August 18, 2016

PUR Climbing - Rifle & Singularity Series Hold Review

Just a quick introduction to the hold reviewer – this is Josh’s first review, but he’s been with us from the beginning.  He is as down-to-earth as is humanly possible, yet is the strongest climber in our crew - having thrown down some of the hardest lines in Illinois - Holy Boulders testpieces The New Zero (V13) and Michael Jordan (V12).  He recently moved and expanded on his beastly 60 degree wall to include a lot more terrain and angles, making for an excellent review setup.  We figured we’d expand our operations – giving you all new perspectives, more frequent content, and another unbiased & honest voice.   His first review is of some stuff from PUR Holds.  Enjoy.   

PUR Holds and owner Randall Chapman are based in Colorado and feature shapes from Louie Anderson, Aaron Culver and Ferran Guerrero.  One of the first things you notice when browsing their website is their focus on real rock themed holds.  They are poured by the fine folks at Element Climbing, so you can be confident in the quality of the plastic and the pour. All the holds in the review were well sanded and most came with predrilled set screw holes. The Rifle XL series features a typical hollow back design to eliminate unnecessary weight and ultimately reduce the cost of manufacturing. 

The Singularity series by shaper Aaron Culver is a really cool line of futuristic looking holds featuring pinches, incuts, sloping dishes and slopers. I would put more of an emphasis on pinches over slopers since in many cases it will be hard to eliminate using your thumb. The problems shown in the video are set on a 60o wall and to keep them reasonable were used with volumes to tone it down a bit. I would say it’s possible to set on a 60o without volumes but you can expect them to be in the double digit range. The ideal angle for intermediate to advanced climbers would be in the range of 20o-45o without the use of volumes.  The angular transition between pinch surfaces is abrupt, but the obtuse angle doesn’t really create any serious comfort issues.  The texture is gritty enough to be sticky, but not so gritty that you're going to be shedding tons of skin.  The only real complaint I have is the weight - there is room for a hollowbacking on the XLs, and a few of the Larges would be candidates as well.  Obviously this is a non-issue for homewallers, but commercial setters will definitely notice the heft.  

The Rifle series by shaper Louie Anderson can be described as blocky slopes, crimps and pinches that are intended to emulate the limestone features typically found in Rifle Mountain Park. With the use of some volumes and a little creativity you might be able to mock up some knee bars and other technical moves found in RMP. 

The Rifle XL IV are easily my favorite of all the holds sent!  The 3 hold set consists of two large blocky pinches and one rail, all of which include rounded edges that give just enough bite to use on steeper terrain. The problems in the videos are on a 60o wall making for fairly stout problems (V7+), but you could get down to V4ish on 30o – 45o walls.  Not sure if anyone could honestly say pinching on a single pad was comfortable but there are no notable comfort issues with the holds themselves.  

The Medium II and Large I sets don't have quite the "wow factor" that the XLs do, but they are solid sets of incuts with a few pinches thrown in.  Most (not all) of the incuts worked really well on the 60o wall especially when the hold is kept horizontal. They also worked well to force certain moves by orienting them to be used as gastons or sidepulls. For those that didn’t work well on the 60o, such as the pinches and a couple of the incuts, we were able to use them on volumes or on the head wall. All of these holds would be pretty positive if used on a 30o – 45o wall, probably checking in around V3-4.  

As far as the feet go, nothing revolutionary here, but they keep in theme with the larger holds to make a visually pleasing route.

Rifle Feet $40.95
Rifle XL IV $80.95

Prior to this review, I'd barely heard of PUR, let alone actually climbed on the holds.  The plastic & finishing are solid, the shapes are pretty unique, and they are a lot of fun.  The standouts for me were the Large and XL Singularities & the Rifle XL IV and I'd highly recommend those 2 sets, but I can't imagine anyone would be sorry they bought any of the sets.  Give PUR a look!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Solve Climbing Granites Hold Review

Solve Climbing is a relative newcomer to the hold market.  Their current line has a sizeable focus on granite style holds, but they have some other more unique offerings on their site as well.  They sent 7 sets of holds & one feature, all from their Granite Series.  They also elected to send an identical shipment to the guys over at CHR and asked that we drop the reviews at the same time.  So make sure to get a second opinion here! 

I am admittedly not a huge fan of this style and feel it is overdone.  The Pusher Big Stone and Granite Smile set the standard for broken foam granite around 15 years ago, and I’ve yet to see anyone raise the bar.  Just wanted to throw my preference out there, so you all are aware of what might be considered a bias.  All the problems we set with these required relatively extensive forerunning – it was difficult to hit a target grade.  A few degrees of rotation of any of the big holds can result in a considerable change in difficulty. Consequently, we’ve elected not to provide our typical grade expectations for each set. 

These holds are poured by the folks over at Element Climbing, so it is no surprise that the plastic is bomber, sanding is good, and hollow backs impeccable.  All the holds have a predrilled & countersunk set screw hole – something we have come to expect from everyone.   There are 3 different logos used on the holds we have, and while the actual logos are cool, there are several that did not translate well from the mold.  Just like any brand poured by Element, orders are filled startlingly fast.  Solve contacted us about a review, we agreed and chose a color, and we had the holds in hand 6 days later!

TSUNAMI #2:  This thing is an absolute beast.  It’s huge, aesthetic, versatile, surprisingly difficult, and very heavy.  We used it exclusively on the 50 degree wall set as undercling, sidepull and in a “roof” on out biggest volume.  You expect it to be one of those holds that’s nearly impossible to fall off of, and in most scenarios, that is indeed the case.  When set in a roof however, unless you kept opposition on it with solid feet or through compression with another hold, it actually spit us off.  On the V5 through the volume in the video, if your feet cut while matched on this hold, your hands just slid off like a slide - which is fantastic.  The grip surface is too deep though – there’s no way the back inch or so will ever see chalk.  I’d suggest trying a shallow pour.  You’d end up with a lighter & less expensive hold that will climb identically. 

Tsunami 2
XXL #3:  These two holds are definitely my favorites in the batch.  It’s easy to match on either of them because they are so big, but there is really only one grip option.  The pinch in particular is a real beauty.  It’s wide enough on the bottom that it functions more like a slopey ledge, becoming more positive and pinchable as it tapers toward the top.  While the footprint is fairly large, their low profile makes them reasonable additions to homewalls.  These are highly recommended.

XL #6:  The two look great and are really fun.  Some nice smooth scooped ledges with a few pinching options.  The shallow profile makes these a great choice if you’re looking for some bigger holds on your homewall.  Recommended for sure.

XL #4:  Three holds that are too easily matched & meathooked.  We were able to set some great lines, but when you can match on either of the 2 major gripping surfaces, the worse one ends up without any chalk…  A little more attention to finishing these up to reduce their “cheatability” would allow setters to more effectively utilize the 2 distinct the intended grip surfaces.  Obviously matching and hooking can be a good thing, but this set doesn’t live up to its aesthetics when it comes to function.  
Granite XL 4 - Easily matched - the only surface that got any chalk
Granite XL 4 - Meat hook to cheat off main grip
Large #9:  I’m not going to beat around the bush here.  I don’t like this set at all - three fairly uninspiring shapes with nothing in common but their size.  It's not that they aren't comfortable or anything like that - just boring.  Trim the fat.

Medium Pinches #1:  The five pinches are all pretty shallow and would be ideally used on walls less than 30 degrees overhanging.  Really comfortable and they do a great job of actually forcing a pinch grip.  Far from symmetric, these things are easy to force a sequence with – you won’t be matching on an overhang…  These were among my favorites for sure. 

Medium #6:   Another  set with little in common but their size.  Like the Large #9 set, I feel there is too much diversity here - a strange spike crimp, a slopey pinch, a jug, etc...  They do a good job of noting how diverse this set is on their website though, so I’ve got to give them credit for that.  This also seems like a good opportunity to improve the line by subtraction or conversely expand upon and explore some of the themes in more coherent sets?

Small #1:  Cool set that really captures the diversity of the granite crimp.  There is a decent range of positivity on these, but don’t expect to get much out of them beyond 30 degrees overhung.  Nothing groundbreaking or exceptional here – just a solid set of crimps.

My main criticism of these holds, bluntly put, is the shapes seem too random to be deliberate.  It's like Solve broke their foam until something worked out, but unfortunately set the bar a little too low for what was deemed mold-worthy.   That said, there are some shapes they sent us that DEFINITELY deserved to be molded and were a blast to climb on, but if you look at their website, the Granite Series consists of over 150 holds.  I think the line could definitely be improved by subtraction, and a little more focus on keeping a coherent theme among each set.  When I spoke with Solve, they said this was in the long term plan – they released a ton of granite sets, and are going to thin the herd once they figure out which shapes are most popular.  This is a hold review – not a business plan review, but in my opinion a new company, wanting to set themselves apart in a very saturated market, should exercise their own discretion for what shapes will sell.  Take my opinion for what it’s worth though, because the thought of owning a business terrifies me.

As stated above, I’m not granite hold guy, but I certainly respect Solve’s commitment to a comprehensive line.  They aren’t setting a new standard, but there are certainly some notable high points.  They've managed to avoid any of the comfort issues that seem to plague the broken foam granite style - an extremely commendable achievement.  I think if they trim the fat from the line, shoot for a little more focus on hold type within a set, and strive for a more consistent balance of form & function, this could be an awfully solid series of holds.    

Solve Climbing

Friday, April 1, 2016

Capital Climbing Conglomerates Review

Capital Climbing is relatively new to the hold scene, but the owner/shaper Chris Neal’s work doesn’t reflect that.  Take a gander at his entire line (distributed by Habit Climbing) and you’ll see original, artistic shapes with no “filler” to speak of.  This kid is talented – no doubt about it.  That said, when I was looking at his line, the Conglomerates were the ones I was least excited about.  Turns out those were the ones he chose to have us review - 31 holds total: (10) Small Crimps, (5) Medium Crimps, (10) Small Incuts, (3) 3XL Jugs, Feature 1Feature 2, and Colossal 1.   Out of the box, they looked a lot cooler than they do online and we were very eager to get them on the wall.  The whole line seems like an attempt to replicate the iron flake/plate holds, much like those you’d see in sandstone areas like The Red.  They look and feel very realistic.  Anyone who has climbed on this sort of hold outdoors knows that they aren’t always comfortable, and that’s certainly part of the realism with these holds.  The Small and Mediums definitely reward accuracy & controlled movement, and punish slop.  The larger stuff is considerably more comfortable, but we certainly didn’t want to set any dynos…

The Small & Medium Crimps are all roughly single pad edges with no incut/slope to speak of.  They all feature irregular edge angles, which require precise & controlled movement, and will keep climbers guessing.  All the Mediums are matchable in some capacity, and you could potentially work out some technical matches on some of the Smalls as well.  We set only one of them (the most positive Medium) on the 50 degree wall without a volume as an intermediate between Incuts.  You’re looking at no easier than 5.10 on vert, V3 and up on 30 degrees, and what I can guess would be no easier than V8 on anything steeper than 45.  
The Small Incuts range from finger buckets to single pad incuts, and are definitely best suited for steep terrain, where all of them could be reasonably used in any orientation.  As you’d expect, the steeper the wall, the fewer comfort issues you’ll have.  Expect to set no easier than V4 on a 50 degree wall.  This set would be excellent for harder problems in a roof as well.
Large Crimps
Small Crimps
Small Incuts
The 3XLs, Feature and Colossal are the shit.  They are absolutely gorgeous and represent real rock so well.  They scream to be set on steep terrain, and had me wishing we had a roof.  They are delightfully versatile, and allow for some really creative moves – toe/heel hooking, hand foot matches, knee bars, bat hangs, leading with your feet...  The possibilities are endless.  You could literally throw a line of them up in random orientation, and have a fun thought provoking sequence.  They all feature well executed hollow backs, though given how shallow the holds are, they are still pretty heavy.  The Colossal is a space hog, and while it looks really cool, it really doesn’t have to be so big.  It could be considerably lighter, and less prone to chipping if the footprint were reduced.  The 3XLs and Feature could probably be considered for use on a larger homewall though. 

3XL Jug
3XL Jug
Hollowback on Colossal 1 
All of the holds have a countersunk set screw dimple(s), but we really wish they were predrilled.  All of the holds taper out super thin at the edges and are definitely prone to chipping (we chipped a particularly vulnerable spot off the Colossal pretty early on, and a few of the smaller ones as well.  The tendency to chip is entirely due to the hold geometry though, as the plastic passed our break test with flying colors.  We also found that on a few of the smaller holds, the shiny surface detail pebbles protruded enough that they would “stab” your fingertips.  We brought this to their attention, and he said he will depress them completely into the foam on any additions to this line.  

Chipping on Small Crimp
Chipping on Colossal 1
Break Test Pass
Overall, these things are fantastic.  Sure, they aren’t the most comfortable holds, but that’s just part of replicating real rock indoors.  The aesthetic is impeccable, the shapes are versatile, and they are a blast to climb on.  

One more thing…  We are giving the Feature and a 3XL Jug away!  See the video for details!

- Chris

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

TPG Extras 2

A second installment of our TPG Extras Series - just a few problems we decided to film before we stripped the wall for a review.  We've reviewed some of these holds already, but if you want some more info on any of them, just drop us a line!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Atxarte Climbing Mixed Bag Review


Atxarte Holds have been a bit of a mystery…  Until recently they did not have a website, and if you have heard of them at all, it’s probably when you’ve seen them for sale on Amazon.  The shapes looked cool, but we never knew of any gym that used them, so buying any seemed risky.  So needless to say, we were very intrigued at the prospect of doing a review for them.  They sent us ten different sets, and overall we were impressed.  In general, the holds are pretty affordable and well made.  It should also be noted that while they now have a great website, they have retained their Amazon storefront, and yes, they are Prime Eligible.  For Amazon Prime members, this equates to huge savings on shipping costs.  Check them out their whole line at or on their Amazon page.

Perfect Pinches Large - 5 Holds - $65
These holds are very ergonomic, moderately directional, and have some cool surface flair.  We say moderately directional because they could function as system holds if you had 2 sets.  The directionality comes from the variation in positivity on each side.  They vary in width and depth of incut, and all but the widest one would function as a true pinch on steep terrain for all hand sizes.  Nothing special or innovative here, just some solid comfortable pinches.  Expect 5.9ish moves on vertical, V2-V3 on moderate overhangs, and no easier than V4 on steep.  

Stylee Screw-On Large - 10 Holds - $35 

Sandstone Training Screw-Ons - 5 Holds - $25

We admittedly do not have much experience with screw on handholds.  The bar is set pretty high for any future experiences though.  These are great holds.  Given their shallow profile, they are surprisingly incut.  Naturally this results in a very small radius and they feel a little sharp, but that is to be expected.  Obviously the steeper you get with these, the less this matters.  They are all predrilled and are very affordable.  If you’ve never used screw-ons on your home wall, you should.  They are perfect for filling gaps between t-nuts.  The Stylee set is generally more positive than the sandstone set, but both sets are suitable for steep walls.  You could probably eek out a V4 on a 50 degree wall with either set, but could likely break in to double digits as well.

Worms Large - 5 Holds - $65

Worms Enormous - 5 Holds - $285

Out of the box, these were the ones we were most excited about.  Turns out the looks do not deceive – this line is an absolute blast to climb on.  Most of them were very useable on the 50 in the V3-V7 range and some of them are positive enough to realistically be used in a roof.  The Enormous set are all matchable and could be used to force some awesome heel & toe hooks.  The ones they sent were not hollow backed and were VERY heavy.  We brought this up with them and they had already planned to hollow out the heaviest ones, and sent us a few of them.  They are way more bucket friendly and they ought to get a little bit cheaper as well.  Any of these holds would be an excellent addition to any home wall or gym.  Highly recommended!

Spade Crimps Medium - 5 Holds - $40

Sandstone Crimps Medium - 5 Holds - $40

The Spade Crimps are more of a finger bucket set than true crimps, but they are a great set.  Smooth comfortable radius, with some nice thumb catches.  Pretty standard, but well done.  You won’t get much more difficult than V4 with these on a steep wall.  The Sandstone Crimps are true crimps and are quite a bit harder than the Spades.  We could only hang onto a few of them on the 50 degree wall, and while we cannot send V8, we would imagine that’s where you’d land with these.  Expect nothing easier than V3 on any overhang.  Again, nothing groundbreaking here – just some well executed finger buckets and crimps at a fantastic value. 

Sandstone Crimp
Sandstone Crimp

Multiverse Small - 5 Holds - $30

Multiverse Enormous - 5 Holds - $285

Multiverse Small
Multiverse Enormous
This series features screw-ons molded into the actual hold.  So technically they aren’t screw ons because they cannot be removed - but they actually have screws.  Very interesting…  In the Small set, this concept worked pretty well.  The screw ons made for sweet thumb catches and small pinches – more of a visual flare to a standard crimp line.  They are tough and did not even go near the 50 degree wall.  Expect no easier than V3 on moderate overhangs, and double digits on steep terrain.  Cool holds and a fantastic value.  
The larger sizes were another story.  There are pinches and slopers in Enormous set.  The base shapes for the pinches are so cool that you wish the screw-ons were not even there.  In the slopers, they seemed more appropriate, except that there were too many of them – there was really no way to set them as true slopers, because you could always just grab the screw-ons, no matter how the hold was oriented.  The addition of the screw-ons on the biggest pinch not only ruined one of the coolest pinches we’ve ever seen, but also made it wide enough that most people couldn’t even pinch it!  The screw-ons mold idea is interesting and may be worth exploring further, but we suggest fewer of them and a bit more attention to how they will affect the use of the hold – especially on the pinches.  We cannot recommend the Enormous set.

Limestone Enormous - 5 Holds - $285

These also generated some excitement right out of the box.  They all feature a shallow pocketed texture and look great.  They are all hollow backed so they are super light for their size, but they lack a center column.  We have found holds without them are far more prone to cross threading - the column helps keep the bolt perpendicular to the wall.  The added weight of a center column wouldn't amount to much, and could reduce potential frustration. They appear to be a sloper set at first glance (with the exception of the one amazingly versatile jug, but they all have small incuts either at the wall interface or in the form of a deeper pocket in the texture.  Unfortunately, most of them have such an incut on both sides of the hold, which takes away the option of a true sloper when setting.  If they were to get rid of one of the incuts, it’d make these holds more versatile and allow them to be used on more difficult routes.  That said, these were a blast to set with and climb on.  They would yield VB-0 on vert, V2-3 on a moderate overhang, and V5+ on steep.  If you have a smaller homewall, these might not be the best choice due to their size, but these would be amongst the favorites in any gym.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Groperz Stumpies Line

Last October, we reviewed holds from Groperz after they re-released some old shapes and rolled out some new ones – all featuring a grittier texture than their previous plastic.  If you have not seen that review, check it out here. For the most part, we liked the shapes, but the plastic and quality control were sub-par at best.  Groperz contacted us again this summer with claims of improved plastic and some new shapes – The Stumpies.  They still cling to their cryptic names for the holds – categorizing them by size with their own nomenclature, and assigning each set a number.  This makes communicating about specific sets nearly impossible.  Which is more memorable – “XL Volcano Stumpy” or “Megalithic 10A-2”?

The claims of improved plastic are legit.  This stuff can actually hold it’s own in the current hold market.  None of the previous flaws were observed, except when drop tested. Normal (could be considered acceptable) amounts of chipping occurred when dropped onto a concrete floor.  The texture feels great at first, but it gobbles up chalk and rubber very readily. 

Megalithics 11A

Megalithics 10A

Jumbos 32A

Keystones 42A

Keystones 42B

Poprocks 22A

Poprocks 22B


We enjoyed setting with these holds.  Their conical and cylindrical nature looks great and would attract people to routes set with them.  However, there is little variability across the line.  On the 20 degree wall they ended up being used mostly as pinches and meathooks – very positive overall.  Expect V0-V3 on anything under 30 degrees.  When they were moved over to the 50 degree wall things changed dramatically. One would think the shapes of these holds would lend to great sloper problems, but the abrupt cut offs of the cylinders do not allow the climber to engage the palm as you would on a typical sloper.  These holds really shine on volumes on a steep wall.  Problems got more gymnastic, thuggy – checking in in the V4-V6 range.  These will yield some really popular routes in the gym.            

The larger holds a predrilled set screw hole with an embedded washer: something we love to see.  The near perpendicular contact with the wall leaves little material to work with though, leaving the washer too near the hold surface for the screw to sink past the surface of the hold.  This is obviously a huge safety issue.  The quality control problems we noted in the last review were still there.  Once again, these holds were poorly sanded, and a handful of them would rock back and forth on a flat surface.  The invoice with the shipment even stated that these holds were heading out for review!  No matter how inexpensive they are, this is unacceptable and needs to be addressed.  Without a flat surface on the back of the hold, you will have spinners. 

We obviously understand the need for logos on holds, but in several cases, the gripping surface was ruined with a large logo. In some instances, a climber could possibly crimp on the logo.  Some of these holds are huge and protrude off the wall, but Groperz did not include a long bolt for any of the holds.  One needed a 9” bolt. Good luck finding that at your local hardware store. We have a great industrial supply shop in town, and they had some bolts that were adequate, except for the largest hold.  Luckily the center post on the hollow back didn’t extend to the base of the hold, creating enough space to allow us to use a shorter bolt coupled to a threaded rod.

Groperz has made an effort to improve their product to be competitive in the current market, but there are still a lot of issues to address.  They are relatively inexpensive – so there is the tradeoff we always mention.  If the quality control issues are addressed, these holds will provide folks on a budget (and lots of volumes) some potential for some fun gymnastic climbing on steep walls.