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Gear

Review: Groove Life rings—affordable wedding bands for dirtbags

Basics

A soft, silicone wedding band. I tested the Edge Deep Stone Grey Ring, which costs $29.95; you can tack on engraved carrying case for another $9.95. Groove Life sells many other rings.


Pros

Pliant (stretches a bit to accommodate swollen climber fingers), easy on-and-off // Reversible, so it can either be a solid grey pattern or the grooved blue interior with graphics; keep the grooves facing in if you want airflow // Lets people know that you're married, which—when you're as "incredibly good looking" as I am—is extremely important // Affordable

Cons

Is pretty visibly not a fancy metal wedding band, but I don't think this will matter to most climbers // Like all wedding bands, is easy to lose at the crag; my solution has been to take it off at the same time as my watch and slide it onto the watchband, then re-close the band, so that both watch and ring stay together in a stash pocket in my pack


Our Thoughts

The Edge Deep Stone Grey Ring is a nice, lightweight, reliable, hard-wearing silicone wedding band that goes well with the climber lifestyle—we're tough on our hands and on our possessions, and we tend to lose things. You can certainly climb in it if you want, though it's easy to slip on and off, even over swollen, post-climbing fingers. At $29.95, this is a good buy—it's cheap and easy to replace should you lose it, unlike a spendy metal/gemstone band.


Size Reviewed

Comes in various sizes

Weight

Varies

Price

$30

Brand

Groove Life


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Put a Ring on It

I’ve always been told I have large fingers, especially by non-climbers. And the size-13 titanium wedding band I wore certainly testified to that fact. It wasn’t a super-fancy ring, maybe $90 or so, picked out from a catalog at a local jeweler’s. But I was attached to it, and it was a treasured symbol of my wife’s and my marriage.

Years ago, I had to take a long break from climbing due to chronic health issues—an endless six-month hiatus from the sport. During that time, the longer I went without climbing, the more my fingers shrank. Soon, my wedding ring barely stayed on, and I was always sliding it back up my finger. One day it slid off into the tall grass at either a raspberry farm or at a local train-yard when I was on an afternoon outing with my toddler son, the ring never to be seen again. Because I’m lazy I never bought a replacement ring, but I also was no longer sure of my ring size or if and when I’d be climbing full-time again.

Groove Is in the Heart

I basically went ringless for many years—fortunately, I’m old enough and ugly enough that this didn’t seem to be an issue. However, it was still nice to test a silicone wedding band: the Edge Deep Stone Grey Ring from Groove Life, one in a large catalog of silicone bands the brand offers.

The basic idea concept behind their rings is to create lightweight, soft silicone bands with grooved patterns along the interior to encourage airflow, so you don’t get sweaty, clammy skin as you might with a metal band. You can certainly turn the ring inside-out, as I’ve often done, liking the bright-blue color and infinity-sign grooving. But, to be honest, the ring was so low-profile—it’s only 2 mm thick and 8 mm across—that I didn’t seem to notice a large difference in sweat accumulation with either orientation, though I live in a pretty cold, dry climate here in Colorado.

Test Results

So far, after a few months of testing, the ring has held up extremely well. The site labels the materials as “medical grade,” and the silicone does seem very tough, though it’s rare that I actually keep the ring on while climbing. This is for the obvious reason that it would interpose a slippery layer between my ring finger and the rock, as well as out of force of habit of always taking my ring off before I climb, which is something pretty much all climbers do to avoid a violent degloving of their finger should the ring catch the rock in a fall. (See Heather Weidner’s hilarious story about what can go wrong with a wedding band stored on a necklace while climbing.) Still, because this ring is made of soft, supple material, you could certainly keep it on without much safety risk, especially on large gym holds or when climbing below your limit, and I’ve worn it for heavy-duty yardwork, yoga, scrambling, and housework without putting a dent in it or having to deal with untoward snag-age.

The biggest plus for me has been the easy on-off, especially after climbing—like those long sessions at the gym or on the MoonBoard that leave my fingers creaky and swollen, probably one ring size larger than when I started. The Groove Life ring still slides on effortlessly, and because it stretches a little doesn’t occlude blood flow on “big-finger days.” I also liked the modest price tag of $29.95, meaning that when you eventually lose the ring—as all climbers do—it’s not a big deal to replace. The one thing I’ll note is that despite the site saying the ring “looks just like a premium, titanium ring,” I’d say it looks more like a silicone ring—but, whatever. Most climbers I know aren’t too hung up on fashion.

With myriad offerings, including floral patterns, Marvel comics, and other designs, these simple but well-built silicone rings are well worth a look for climbers.