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Three Affordable Climbing Wall Alternatives

Winter is here, and most of us are having a hard time getting out climbing. And depending on where you live, you may also be dealing with COVID lockdowns, travel restrictions and closed climbing gyms. So what’s an aspiring crusher going to do to maintain the hard-earned strength and fitness gains eked out from earlier this year?

In an ideal world, everyone would build a private heated and air-conditioned training space with multiple climbing walls peppered with thousands of holds. Unfortunately, the cost of building such a structure and procuring the necessary holds is beyond most climbers.

Rather than succumbing to the muscular atrophy that inevitably occurs when you stop training, consider these three affordable alternatives.
  •  Metolius Prime Rib

    Metolius Prime Rib

Metolius Prime Rib

Metolius was the first North American company to offer a training board back in the 80s, and today they have one of the largest training board selections on the market. Earlier this year, they introduced the whimsically named Prime Rib (hopefully vegan climbers get the joke). This minimalist wooden training board offers three edge-sizes (38 mm, 23 mm and 15 mm) that should serve the training needs of most climbers. The Prime Rib utilizes wood construction with a skin-friendly texture making it ideal for extended workouts. The wood also reduces the board’s weight when compared to similarly-sized plastic boards. This last point is worth considering when purchasing a training board online as the decreased weight minimizes shipping costs. The Prime Rib also boasts a very small footprint (50.8 cm x 10.66 cm x 3.8 cm), allowing for installation in spots that may not accommodate larger boards. Throw in a very approachable price point (about $65 CAN and just less than $50 US), and there are very few excuses left for not staying fit this winter. www.metoliusclimbing.com
  •  Metolius Wood Rock Rings

    Metolius Wood Rock Rings

Metolius Wood Rock Rings

The Wood Rock Rings offer a new take on the classic plastic Rock Rings Metolius has been selling for decades. Unlike traditional training boards, the Wood Rock Rings’ free-hanging design allows for joint rotation that can help reduce injury while at the same time encouraging the recruitment of smaller stabilizing muscle groups. The suspended design also opens up mounting options (a couple of eye-bolts under a door frame?) for climbers living in small or unconventional spaces. Like the Prime Rib (see above), the Wood Rock Rings provide three edge-sizes (38 mm, 23 mm and 15 mm), and because they use similar wood-construction, they are easy-on-the-skin and inexpensive to ship. The Wood Rock Rings' combination of small size and suspended design also allows climbers to take them to the crag and use them to warm up before attempting their project (find a suitable suspension point – a tree branch or low bolt, for example). At about $45 CAN and just less than $35 US, these things are a steal. www.metoliusclimbing.com
  •  Duonamic Powrholds

    Duonamic Powrholds

Duonamic Powrholds

Designed in Canada, Powrholds are one of the more versatile and feature-rich training tools on the market today. Using a free-hanging design, Powrholds can be mounted in unconventional locations (see Wood Rock Rings above). They can also be paired with the Duonamic Eliviia, allowing for hardware-free attachment to door frames. While these are compelling features, what really sets Powrholds apart from other similar training grips are the multiple slots on the outside edges of the holds. These slots allow climbers to increase or decrease the security of the holds incrementally. While other training grips offer similar adjustments, they lack the granularity provided by Powrholds. Duonamic also includes a magnetically attached insert that decreases the depth of the edge grip. Finally, Powrholds have a broad outside surface that provides an ideal shape (depending on how the holds are positioned) for pull-ups, pinch grip and sloper training. This is an excellent training tool starting at $79 US. www.duonamic.com
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.