Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gear

Field Tested: Climbro Hangboard

Basics

The Climbro is a wooden hangboard with eight different grips and force sensors that integrate with an app to create a user strength profile and custom training plans. The package includes the hangboard, lifetime subscription to the app, a phone or table holder, mounting materials, and 3 AA batteries.


Pros

Scientifically proven tests and exercises that produce trusted, individualized hangboard programs // Real-time feedback while hangboarding to adjust the intensity and length of hangs // Quick email responses from Climbro // Graphing results // Skin-friendly wood and force sensors

Cons

Lacks tests that include contact strength (RFD) as a test measure // No way to measure upper-arm and shoulder-girdle strength and power (force-velocity profile) // No coaching/team platform on the app // Would be great if there were two separate force sensors to test pulling asymmetry // App didn’t synch between iPhone and iPad


Our Thoughts

The cost of the Climbro is steep: €679 (about $826). Based on the cost, I think teams and coaches would see a good return on their investment. If you’re an individual with flexible financial resources and you’ve prioritized climbing as one of the primary activities in your life, then this smart hangboard is a trustworthy tool to help you improve a critical physical capacity in your climbing-training program.


Size Reviewed

n/a

Weight

n/a

Price

$0

Brand

Climbro (climbro.com)


Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

This article is free, but sign up with an Outside+ membership and you get unlimited access to thousands of stories and articles on climbing.com and rockandice.com, plus you’ll enjoy a print subscription to Climbing and receive our annual coffee-table edition of Ascent. Published since 1967, Ascent is climbing’s premier edition, with the finest writing, illustrations and photography the sport has to offer. Outside+ members also receive other valuable benefits including a subscription to Outside magazine, an ad-free online experience, a Gaia GPS Premium membership, and more. Please support us by joining today. 

The Climbro is a “smart,” app-integrated, force-sensing hangboard that delivers custom training plans. It represents an exciting new direction in training. But at $800-plus, is it worth the money? Top climbing coach Dave Wahl dives in, fingers-first.

Testing the Climbro
Putting the Climbro to the test—finger training, using the board’s force sensors to measure and track progress. Photo: Dave Wahl

My name is Dave Wahl and I’ve been a climbing coach/trainer since 2003. I’ve worked with professional outdoor climbers like Daniel Woods, Sasha DiGiulian, Rannveig Aamodt, and Matt Segal; competition climbers like US Team member Joe Goodacre; Youth Team members Derek New and Kylie Szilagyi; and many recreational climbers. Testing and assessing are important aspects of what a coach does, and grip strength for climbers is paramount: Your grip strength and endurance affect how (and how hard) you can pull—a strong grip gives you time, on the wall, to reassess your climbing tactics and technique and make those key, split-second decisions. Grip strength is the most important physical characteristic of a climber. 

In the mid-1990s, when researchers first became interested in climbers and the limits of our strength and endurance, their focus was almost solely on elite climbers. Thus if you weren’t elite—which is the vast majority of us—you were mainly left to rely on anecdotal experience or guesswork when looking to improve your finger strength using a hangboard. This led to some climbers improving, for a time, and some climbers getting injured.

A list of other “smart” hangboards on the market. Photo: Dave Wahl

In the last 15 years, a greater volume of research into grip strength and endurance across a wider spectrum of climbers has produced a more reliable set of hangboard protocols. And while there is no perfect program that can produce equal improvement amongst all climbers due to myriad factors—e.g., training age, genetics, pain tolerance, etc.—we now have reliable sources of research data. With this volume of data, we can test our own hangboard results against a population of climbers of dierent abilities to see where our results lie. Based on these results, we can build a program around our goals. 

I have followed the work of Michail Michailov, PhD, and Jiri Balas, PhD, for the better part of a decade. Both researchers have produced some of the best research in climbing physiology and performance around. A few of the better papers they’ve authored indicating the strong relationship between finger strength and endurance testing and climbing ability include “The Relationship between Climbing Ability and Physiological Responses to Rock Climbing,” “Forearm muscle oxygenation during sustained isometric contractions in rock climbers,” “Hand–arm strength and endurance as predictors of climbing performance,” and “Isolated finger flexor vs. exhaustive whole‐body climbing tests? How to assess endurance in sport climbers?”  

Now they’ve teamed up to produce a “smart” hangboard—one with built-in force sensors to measure finger-strength performance, and which pairs with an app that stores your test results and training sessions. The Climbro assesses your finger strength and endurance as one important measure of climbing capacity. Based on your goals and testing results, it then gives you a personalized training plan, guided hangboard exercises, and real-time feedback while you’re training. Your results are measured against scientifically validated results from years of climbing research from Drs. Balas and Michailov.  

The Climbro is constructed of plywood, a movable board with force sensors, electronics, two rungs, and two magnetic, removable rung reducers so you can change hold size (there are eight sizes, from 5 cm down to 1.3 cm). When the climber loads the board, force-sensor data is processed by a micro-controller and then transmitted via the Bluetooth 4.0 module to the mobile app. The rounded rung edges have proven comfortable during testing and training. 

As we delved into testing, we learned that the Climbro provides training plans consisting of 16 to 24 sessions to be completed in two to three months. After this period, the climber would re-test, provide goals, and build on the previous plan. When we did the Climbro test ourselves, we needed a trial run to get used to the timing of the testing intervals as well as how to use the app. My testers did not complete the proposed Climbro plans, as they were closing in on competitive championships and I have plans that didn’t include hangboarding during those weeks—I will re-test after the last championship event and program the Climbro training app to see how that gap in hangboard training might have affected their finger strength.

A screengrab of the Climbro app, showing how it measures finger strength during the assessment test.

While the science behind the Climbro hangboard is sound, I found it frustrating, as a coach, not to be able to test and categorize several athletes at once. It seems like the app could easily upscale for a team. In addition, the first day I tested, I used my iPhone to test and then wanted to switch over to my iPad to see results, but the app platform didn’t synchronize—that functionality doesn’t exist yet.

While finger strength is paramount, arm strength—pull-up force, lockostrength, pulling power, and endurance—are important factors in performance, too, though the Climbro is not currently set up to measure these. (However, Nino Pelov, the head of Climbro, has indicated that the next version of the app will accommodate these.)  As someone who has experienced several shoulder injuries, the ability to test pulling asymmetry would also be helpful to predict a potential injury or to improve performance. This would require a modification to the construction of the board. Given that there’s little to no research on pulling asymmetry in the climbing community, it represents a huge opportunity to collect data and improve our approach to muscular imbalance.