Tech Tips - Trad - Rubber up

By Rob Hales ,

Figure 1. A rubber crack glove can provide serious protection in cheese-grater slots.

Rubber up — make your own crack gloves

I had walked past Cock Crack for five years, each time imagining myself jamming up this overhanging corner at Frog Buttress, Australia. Although not extremely difficult at 5.10c, it was at my limit and it was my nemesis. This day, however, was the day I would climb it: I’d recently developed a rubber crack-climbing glove that worked extremely well on the many other splitters at Frog Buttress. Success! — I sent the crack, my gloves giving me the added measure of confidence and jamming power I needed. I’ve since used the gloves for over 100 days of jamming, and they’re still going strong. Totally tubular. You’ll need to buy (or recycle) an extra-wide (2.4-2.75 inch) mountain-bike tube if your hand is large; a standard 1.85-inch inner tube should do the job if your hand is medium to small. Now, measure and cut the length you require. A strip extending from just over your first knuckle to about 1.5 inches past your wrist works best.

Figure 2. Size the rubber to run from 1.5 inches past your wrist to just beyond your knuckles.

Nip and tuck.Trim the corners and make sure there are no nicks in the rubber, as they may cause tears. Taper the piece so that the index-finger side is slightly longer than your pinky-finger side. Now, cut two finger holes, one for your index finger and one for your pinky finger, by folding the rubber over and cutting small semi-circles. Use small, sharp scissors, and trim the holes into perfect circles — any small cut or irregularity in the circle will eventually rip. You can make the gloves reversible by cutting two extra holes in the opposite side (the side toward your wrist) for use when the original holes blow out. Cinch down. Tape the rubber strips to the back of your hands (having someone help improves the fit) by placing your fingers in the holes and wrapping the tape around the rubber on your wrist. Don’t restrict the blood flow to your hands. Too-tight gloves also make it hard to grab face holds and can force your fingers to uncurl off even the biggest of jugs. The key to a good fit is not to let the rubber get too loose near your pinky. Combat this by tilting the back of your hand slightly upwards while applying your tape — after taping, the rubber should stretch tightly over the back of your hand. Let it breathe. For maximum comfort, you can remove the gloves at belay stations or between climbs without undoing them from your wrists. Simply curl your fingers and stretch the glove so that the holes pull over your fingers. Because rubber neither breathes nor absorbs sweat, the gloves may feel slippery in extreme heat. Remedy this by lining the inside of the glove with thin strips of sport tape on the surface touching the back of your hand (the “business” area for hand-jamming). You can also stay dry by applying a bit of chalk on both sides of your hands before donning the gloves.

Figure 3. Secure the rubber with a few turns of tape around your wrist.

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