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Rock Climbing Holds: What types, how to use grips such as a jug, make my own or buy?

Updated on February 7, 2012

Indoor Rock climbing Holds

If you have ever been to an indoor climbing wall then you would have used rock climbing holds. They come in a huge variety. You have foot holds and hand holds, they are often interchangeable and used as both.

In this article we will discuss the different types of holds, from jugs to crimps, slopers to pockets, each have there own unique characteristics which make them fun and often challenging to use. We then move on to talk about where to buy holds and how to make your own holds, which is fun and no more expensive.

If you are already a climber, comfortable with all the hold types and you are thinking about setting up your own small training wall then you can probably skip the next section and go straight to the analysis of whether to buy or make rock climbing holds and a short section on how to make rock climbing holds.

Types of Rock Climbing Holds

A jug
A jug
Crimp used outdoors
Crimp used outdoors
Sloper
Sloper
Climbing on pockets
Climbing on pockets | Source
Using the arête as a side pull
Using the arête as a side pull

Types of indoor rock climbing wall holds

Jugs

These are the easiest type of hold to use, they are sometimes referred to as a 'thank god hold'. This is because on a hard route if one of these appears at the right moment then you really do thank god. These are the type of rock climbing hand hold which is easiest for beginners. They have deep incuts which you can usually get at least two knuckles deep, these are also very useful for when learning to climb overhangs, believe me you'll want jugs.

Incuts

These are very similar to jugs but they have smaller incuts normally you can't get your fingers more than a knuckle deep, these are a natural progression from jugs and as you climb more you'll be able to use these without issue.

Crimps

Crimps are a type of rock climbing hold which which are medium to small in size, they are only big enough to get your fingers on no deeper than an inch. They are usually grabbed with the tips of the fingertips. Crimps can be flat or have a small incut. As a beginner you will become more comfortable with these and they are probably the most common type of hold. As they get smaller more and more finger strength is required.

Sloper

A sloper is the type of hand hold that has no discernible edge with which to grip, they are often large and sloping downwards, they require a large surface area of skin to be in contact with the hold as this is what keeps you on the wall. You also need to think about your body being under the sloper so as not to pull your hand off.

Beginners often really struggle with these holds as they are completely different to the holds they are used to.

Pincher

This hold is often thin and are designed to be as the title says pinched. Normally 2 or 3 fingers on one side and the opposing thumb on the other. This hold is hard for beginners until they have built up substantial finger strength.

Pockets

These are rock climbing holds which require the most finger strength they are normally big enough for 1 or 2 fingers, if it's one they are sometimes called mono's. These are advanced holds and you can injure the tendons in your fingers if these are overused, so beginners be careful.

Under cling

This is where you hold the climbing hold from the bottom using an upward pull, this technique is achieved by opposing the pressure using the legs or other arm, they can be quite energy sapping but are found on a lot of climbs

Sidepull

These are similar to the undercut, but, shockingly, you pull sideways again you oppose the pressure with the opposite leg or arm, again these can be quite draining on your energy

Jib

This is a foothold which is often very small, but coated in a non slip texture, they are great for foot placements and occasionally used as a very small hand hold.

Professional making rock climbing holds.

Epoxy resin in the mould

Just leave it to set
Just leave it to set

Casting the Holds with resin

Making your own rock climbing holds

This is how to make your own rock climbing holds, is is very easy to create good foot and hand holds. They can be made out of rock or wood or anything that can be easily shaped, however the best climbing holds are made from epoxy, fibreglass and sand.

Here is a method for making your own hold:

  1. Make a prototype hold (You can use anything that is easily shaped, be it wood, foam, clay. Create the desired shape by cutting the material.)

  2. Put shape into a cardboard box of a similar size

  3. Seal any cracks in the box with glue

  4. Prepare a silicone mixture (there are many silicone rubber products available for cheap. The best are Silicone, Polysulfide, and Polyurethane)

  5. Pour it into the box into the mould box completely covering the prototype

  6. Leave for approximately 1 day until completely dry.

  7. Remove rubber from box, remove prototype from the rubber

  8. The cavity left is the shape of the climbing hold.

  9. Mix the epoxy, fibreglass and sand according to manufactures instructions

  10. Pour epoxy resin into the cavity

  11. Leave to completely set

  12. Remove from mould.

You can really experiment with this process and make some exciting and unusual holds for your climbing wall.

Climbing holds for sale

Climbing holds can be brought from a number of suppliers so just google climbing holds for sale and you'll got loads of links. E-bay can have some good offers as you'll see to the right.

Which is cheaper, to make them or to buy them?

Well I did quite a lot of research on this and came up with a figure of they are about 25% cheaper to make than they are to buy, this is buying the foam to make the shapes, and buying the best quality epoxy resin and silicones. So you can probably save even more. The one disadvantage is the time it

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