How to choose holds, determine wall angles, and start setting.
When it comes to creating the “perfect” home wall, it’s easy to wax poetic about all the nuances of sizes and angles, hold types and densities, and ways to set. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to lay out some easy-to-follow concepts that will help get you going with determining what and how many holds you need, and how to go about setting.
The good, the bad, and the sloper
First off, no matter how hard you climb or how steep your wall will be, you’ll want to have “good” holds and “bad” holds. How good or bad a given hold is relates to your ability and the steepness of your wall. The ratio of good to bad holds is roughly based around what you’d like to get out of your wall. In general, really good holds will be anything from large jugs on a steep wall (Jax Jugs), to mini-jugs on a vert wall (Drop Art Mini Jugs). Bad holds on a steep wall can include incut crimps, pinches and pockets. On a less steep wall, bad holds can be a variety of crimps, edges, and slopers. To start out, it’s best to go with a ⅓ - ⅔ split. A third of your holds will be good and positive, while the remaining two thirds should go from not as good to bad.
Adding volumes to your wall, while potentially costly, will take a flat, one-dimensional plane and open up opportunities for dimensional climbing and movements. Many volumes come with pre-installed t-nuts, enabling you to add your own holds onto the volume itself. A volume or two placed in the middle or sides/corners of your wall will help you to create a variety of moves that wouldn't be possible otherwise, including shoulder-y moves, compression opportunities and lateral tension.
Determining the budget for your initial hold buy can be confusing, but we have some figures to help make the calculation easier. For reference, a commercial set at a gym will have approximately 1 hold per square foot of wall space. Many home walls will start with a similar ratio, but densely covered “spray walls” can contain up to 4 holds per square foot. Most holds for a home wall will be size 4 and under (see next section for sizing information), which have an average cost of about $8 per hold.
So, let’s do that math: say your garage wall is 10’ x 10’, or 100 square feet. To achieve a starting ratio of 1 hold:1 square foot of space, you will need 100 holds. At $8 per hold, this gives you an initial hold budget of $800. After you have your initial hold collection, you can purchase more holds à la carte to gradually fill in the gaps.
As the sport develops, climbing hold standards are constantly changing, and hold brands have responded by evolving their size standards over the years, eGrips included. What was once considered a “large” hold is now generally a “small” hold. To create consistent sizing standards across the industry, we introduced the Universal Size Chart. Simply put, a hold’s size ring is determined by the smallest ring that a hold can fit completely within. Footholds are often Size 1 to 3, a typical hand hold is from size 4 to 5, and large features are size 6 and up. This sizing chart is designed to work with any brand, so you can use the universal standard to categorize your entire collection.
Spray Wall Vs. Circuit Wall
Do you want to train for hard boulder problems or long routes? What about both? When it comes to setting, you can either set hard for hard climbing (again, this is relative to you) or more moderate for volume or circuitous climbing.
However, more and more “endurance” climbers are focusing on strength training and building power rather than flogging laps on a circuit wall. If that’s your thing, your wall will be relatively straightforward and likely not too steep, allowing for continuous movement and resting opportunities through the use of more large holds with small and less positive holds mixed in.
Given the hold budget calculations above, give yourself a solid variety of hold types. Here at eGrips we have multiple curated hold packages that will give you an initial collection at an affordable price.
Consider starting with our Home Gym Kit, packaging 110 holds with varying size and difficulty levels (together with matching bolts), or our Home Gym 100, with a selection of smaller shapes in varying degrees of incut, perfect for more experienced climbers. Either of these kits will start you well on your way to putting together the raddest training wall on the block. From there, you can fill in with collections of eGrips signature styles, such as the Myorcan Starter Kit or the Bubble Wrap Starter Kit, or begin exploring the larger collection of holds to find that perfect volume to bring everything together.
Learn more about Homewalls in our next post, Homewall Series 02.
Article By: Alton Richardson
Photo Credit: Alton Richardson, Bree Robles