Buying Rock Climbing Holds
There is a growing market and choice of holds, however there can be many traps for the unaware. Below I will give you some tips and warnings about buying rock climbing holds.
I will start with some quick definitions.
T-nut – pronged nut that in-beds its self in a pre-drilled hole in for example ply wood.
Jug – Large easy to grip climbing hold
Crimp – Usually small & difficult but rewarding hold.
Bolt – Used to attach a hold via a t-nut
Screw on hold – just uses screws instead of a bolt and does not need a t-nut.
First you must decide on what to purchase for you first holds. (I will cover building your climbing wall in another guide soon.) A great way to get started is to buy a starter set or kit. These sets usually have a good range of holds from jugs to small foot holds, bolts, t-nuts and maybe a bolt wrench. They come in a variety of sizes and because you are buying a few holds the sets will often be a better value way to buy a lot of holds.
Once you have a starter set it is time to get some more holds to fill in the blank spots, for example you might need some roof jugs, or you might like to try some pocketed holds. Try and pick a good variety so you don’t get bored on your climbing wall.
Screw on holds can be a great way of filling up blank walls, and are good for placing where a t-nut can’t be put, eg, behind a stud. Look for decent sized screw on holds as there are a lot of tiny ones on the market.
If buying for a playground, try and buy a set of jugs, which will be easy to grip for small hands.
Now for some of the pitfalls for the new comer.
There are some very good quality holds out there and also a lot of rubbish. Watch out for bargains; check that the holds are good before buying.
If buying online beware of photographs, make sure there is a size reference in the picture (a carabineer is often used.) Bad sellers will take a very low close-up photo to make a box of footholds look like a bargain of jugs. Another trap for the online shopper is postage, make sure you know the full purchase price including postage. Holds are generally heavy and bulky making shipping from overseas very expensive, you will also be charged customs duty and GST on imported holds.
Texture is very important, a good quality hold will have an even, rock like texture, this can often be seen by looking at the holds, poor quality holds will have a rougher texture and irregularities over the surface.
Bolts and t-nuts are a very important consideration. The standard t-nut and bolt size is 3/8” in Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and many other non-European countries. Most, if not all hold retailers in these countries deal in the 3/8” size. Beware of holds with M10 bolts. A mismatch will cause much misery and if you have M10 t-nuts it will make it hard for you to buy holds in the future. Also make sure that bolts are included in you purchase as many manufactures charge extra for bolts.
Most bolt on holds should have a washer embedded in the bolt hole. This helps seat the hold and prevent damage to the hold. Cheap and nasty holds will not have this washer and could possibly crack. Washers are usually not needed when the holds are designed for counter sunk bolts.
If you are careful you will be able to buy great holds that will satisfy your urge to climb, shop around and ask lots of questions, there is a lot of competition in the market and good quality holds can be found cheaply if you look around.