Home-Wall Hold Kits

By Matt Stanley ,

Atomik Climbing, $99, 40 holds

Overall grade: B+

Atomik is a relative newcomer to the hold-making scene, but it betrays no inexperience. Their kit features a variety of resin holds from mid-size jugs to small sandstone-like edges and knobs. Particular standouts in the set were the granite-style holds, which have a variable texture: regular surface around most of the hold and then a chunkier, but still skin-friendly, gripping area that afforded many pulling options depending on orientation. Atomik’s available hold colors vary, but we liked the black-and-gray holds we received for setting subtle, hard-to-read sequences. Creativity and variety of the kit were average. The kit included abundant bolts, T-nuts, and a wrench. For those of a screw-on bent, Atomik also offers a screw-on-only 50-hold polyurethane kit.


Climbing Holds

: (801) 404-0280, www.atomikclimbingholds.com

Cheap Holds, $95, 40 holds

Overall grade: B+

Don’t mistake Cheap Holds’ name as a statement of quality. While these grips are inexpensive, they’re good. The set includes a selection of Cheap Holds’ overall line from mid-size jugs to screw-ons. Of special note were the included dual-texture holds, primarily pockety in nature, which offered an intriguing challenge, especially when set on accuracy-dependent, reachy deadpoints. Brilliant colors abound in this set, perfect for playing add-on and encouraging remarks such as, “Dude, slap for the hot-pink dish.” The set included bolts, screws, T-nuts, and two wrenches.

Cheap Holds: (989) 779-1792, www.cheapholds.com

e-Grips, $230, 42 holds

Overall grade: B+

The polyurethane, flowstone-like e-Grips were among the most beautifully sculpted holds in the review. The level of detail carved into each grip was amazing; small dimples, ripples, and micro-features abounded, which made for many creative setting opportunities. The kit includes equal parts of three basic styles: edges, pockets, and swirling knobs. We were somewhat disappointed in the pockets. Some were very useful, but others were too abstract; splayed-out tri-mono-pockets just don’t cry out to be trained on. The set includes bolts, T-nuts, and wrenches.

e-Grips: (800) 860-3653, www.e-grips.com

EntrePrises, $147, 41 holds

Overall grade: B+

EntrePrises created the artificial-grip market and they’re still one of the dominant players. Their all-resin kit draws a wide variety of shapes from their extensive line, providing a plethora of bolt-on and screw-on pockets, edges, slopers, and pinches. We really liked this colorful set for its challenging slopers and subtly sculpted, sandstone-like features. What we didn’t care for were the smaller, first-knuckle pockets and edges, which often pressed right into our already overstressed tendons. The shapes were challenging and highly useful, to be sure, but pain often led us to ignore some of the shapes when it came time to set new problems. The kit includes bolts, T-nuts, and a wrench.

EntrePrises: (800) 580-5463, www.epusa.com

ETCH, $99, 37 holds

Overall grade: B+

What better place to conduct market research than your own gym? ETCH’s resin holds were developed in parent company Earth Trek’s Maryland gyms. The results are holds that are relatively simple in design yet offer a multitude of route-setting options. ETCH’s home starter kit draws from their lines of angular, multi-edged grips, bubbly Fontainebleau-esque slopers and jugs, and smoothly curved, gym-standard scoops. The holds were great for quickly setting problems, as the shapes are easy to figure out, but sometimes we found ourselves wishing that the holds offered more creative gripping options. The kit includes bolts, but no T-nuts.

ETCH: (800) 254-6287, www.earthtreksclimbing.com

Globe Climbing, $215, 40 holds

Overall grade: B

Globe spreads out their hold assortment well, from a few carefully chosen jugs to the plethora of mid-size models, rounded out by a progressively downsizing set of small chips. We were a bit disappointed in holds’ creativity and versatility; they felt just a bit behind the times. More dual- and variable-texture holds would be a welcome addition. Color is a highlight of this set. The bright tones make for easy-to-discern targets for long deadpoints and dynos. Bolt-on footholds offered by many companies tend to be pretty mundane. Globe’s, however, offered challenging footwork options and were a nice addition to our usual jibs. Bolts, T-nuts, and wrench included.

Globe Climbing: (888) 354-2513, www.globeclimbing.com

Groperz, $130, 40 holds

Overall grade: B+

Groperz’s polyurethane kit included a wide variety of shapes, including knobs, edges, pockets, and slopers. Overall, we found the shapes very useful for setting long endurance problems that displayed a smooth hold-to-hold flow. Still, we would have like to have had more holds that simulate different rock types than the mostly bulb-like shapes we had. Groperz’s oblong, obliquely textured combination sloper/pinches due deserve special attention. Friendly to grip, but difficult to hold onto, these holds were a favorite for setting burn-your-buddy-off-on-the-last-move problems. The kit included T-nuts, bolts, and a wrench.

Groperz: (800) 476-7366, www.traversewall.com

Metolius, $99, 40 holds

Overall grade: A

Metolius has been in the hold-making game since its infancy in the U.S., and its maturity shows. Take quick a look at their catalog and you’ll see page after page of myriad holds. Fortunately, Metolius has distilled their abundant collection into an outstanding starter kit, which delivers a highly diverse and useful set of grips. You get several of their most standard shapes, but also several creative screw-on holds, including a rail and one of Metolius’s patent-pending 90-degree corners, perfect for placing on an arête or panel top. Many rock types are simulated in the set, from flowstone to granite. This package, which included an abundance of bolts, T-nuts, screws, and a wrench, was one of the most favored in the review.

Metolius: (541) 382-7585, www.metoliusclimbing.com

Nicros, $210, 42 holds

Overall grade: A

Nicros’ resin kit was top of the heap for us, despite its exclusion of T-nuts. With a broad selection of shapes and sizes ranging from bolt-on rippled slopers and spiny pinches to small, screw-on edges and knobs, this set has something to satisfy even the most jaded, pale-skinned woody rat. The holds, some of which sport textures that appear to be very aggressive, were extremely friendly and pain-free to grip no matter the size or orientation. At the same time, they offered a plethora of challenging options. Nicros has obviously given a lot of consideration to the subtleties of hold rotation. Turn some of the Nicros holds even just a bit, and you’ll find yourself with a new gripping position that you hadn’t before seen. The kit includes bolts, screws, and wrenches, but no T-nuts.

Nicros: (800) 699-1975, www.nicros.com

So Ill, $55, 38 holds

Overall grade: A-

Our first kit from the SoIll lads initially had us scratching our heads. Emphasizing funky geometric, dual-texture polyurethane shapes with weird, PVC hose-like protuberances jutting out here and there, they were easily the most esoteric holds any of us had ever seen. Once we got them on the wall, however, we were psyched on the creative routesetting and climbing they required. In the latter part of our test, SoIll sent us a their new re-tooled starter kit, which included 13 loopy, railing edges and 24 jibs. We liked these as well, as they provided a marked contrast to the previous blocky shapes. If you’re into SoIll, our suggestion would be to get their new starter kit and augment it with their geometric Laxative series. Also, SoIll hands down has the best jibs in the biz.

So Ill: (628) 867-3446, www.soillholds.com

Synrock, $149, 40 holds

Overall grade: B

Synrock uses a proprietary ceramic mix for its holds. Simply put, this is one of the most skin-friendly materials on the market. If you complain about the texture on these grips, go see your dermatologist, because you have a problem. Synrock puts its kit together from a collection of small jugs, bulbs, pinches, and rounded scoops. These were great for setting long, endurance-oriented problems, but not so hot for setting hand-position-dependent cruxes. Shapes mimicking different types of rock would also a welcome addition. Unique among the holds we tested, the Synrocks can be given a rougher surface using muriatic acid, if you so desire. T-nuts and bolts included.

Synrock: (814) 360-4130, www.synrockholds.com

Teknik, $140, 50 holds

Overall grade: A-

At first glance, Teknik’s resin holds seem overly simple. But while they may lag behind other manufacturers in simulating real rock surfaces, Teknik’s shapes are in fact subtly sophisticated, pushing you in both your route setting and your climbing. Testers loved these holds for setting “Ah, that looks simple ... Argh!” problems. The Teknik kit includes a wide variety, from pinches and slopers to pockets and edges. Even their jugs aren’t simple grab-and-go affairs. Latching one at the end of a long dyno can be a challenging, keep-your-wits-about-you task. A great addition to this kit would be dual textures, further enhancing the set’s thought-provoking nature. Bolts, T-nuts, and a wrench included.

Teknik: (888) 483-5645, www.teknikhandholds.com

VooDoo, $180, 44 holds

Overall grade: A-

There’s good voodoo and there’s bad voodoo. The polyurethane kit we received from this small Flagstaff, Arizona, company was abundant in good voodoo, with a wide variety of smooth, flowing shapes, emphasizing frustrating-yet-inspiring slopers and swooping edges. The holds are relatively simple shapes, which lend themselves to setting very precise moves, but more subtly featured holds would be a welcome addition. VooDoo pioneered the concept of dual-texture holds, and thankfully their kit includes some of these challenging crux-makers. The kit skews toward bolt-ons, but also includes some screw-on shapes. Bolts, t-nuts, screws, and two wrenches are included.

VooDoo: (800) 883-6433, www.voodooholds.com

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