GripMonkeys are the new kid on the block, offering feature packed wooden fingerboards at a fraction of the cost of their competitors – we like this USP and have been testing their latest fingerboard to see how it measures up against the competition.
With a RRP of £40 (at the time of writing), we were first struck by the quality of this fingerboard (especially considering it’s price). Although maybe not as fancy as an expensive brand – the build quality and finish of the board is very good and certainly does the job, all lines have been machined with accuracy and crucially there aren’t any nasty edges to tweak your fingers on.
With dimensions of 620mm x 150mm, and a dept of 60mm , the GripMonkeys fingerboard features a very useable selection of holds (even for beginners) including:
- 2 x Large Jugs
- 2 x 30 Degree Slopers
- 2 x 20 Degree Slopers
- 1 x Center Jug
- 5 x 4 Finger Pockets (deep)
- 4 x 3 Finger Pockets (deep)
- 3 x 2 Finger Pockets (deep)
- 3 x 4 Finger Crimps
- 2 x 3 Finger Crimps
- 2 x 2 Finger Crimps
There are so many mounting options for fingerboards (it’s worth a separate article on it’s own). Common options include: Modifying pull-up bars (example), custom door ‘clamps’ (example) and mounting directly to the wall. With good old-fashioned brickwork above our doors, we chose the simplest option and decided to bolt the fingerboard just above the architrave in a doorway.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m utterly useless when it comes to DIY – so I can confirm, that an idiot can install this fingerboard (me). I did predictably make a few mistakes, so for anyone that’s as useless as I am I have a few tips for when installing directly to a wall:
- Check what’s above the door (electrics, suitable brickwork etc.).
- Measure everything twice & leave a small gap above the architrave to stop it getting ripped off.
- Use the inside of a biro passed through the board to mark the wall.
- If drilling into masonry, use a masonry drill bit.
- Use some electrical tape on the drill bit to mark the required depth.
- Use washers to stop the screws damaging the fingerboard (probably best not to use countersunk screws).
- Get someone-else to test the board so it’s their fault when it rips out.
So once in place (and after a bit of research on training routines) I started to have a play around. This model is very forgiving and reminiscent of the Beastmaker 1000 series, the deep pockets and large jugs offer a beginner/intermediate climber a wide scope of options whilst the smaller crimps and 30 degree slopers offer a greater challenge for more advanced users.
Along with a variety of deadhangs, I found adding a chair for my feet at around 1.5m into the opposite room gave a good climbing simulation (as if you were climbing on a gentle overhang), walking gently around the different holds begins to give a very familiar pump after around 5 to 10 minutes of continuos ‘climbing’. You do need some imagination to come up with real world simulations, obviously this isn’t anywhere nearly as engaging as climbing at the gym but fun challenges can be created (follow us on Facebook or Twitter as we will be publishing a series of training plans very soon).
The only very minor issue we found was that the edges of the holds are slightly sharper (smaller in angle) then some other boards we’ve used, this makes the board a little less challenging (as the holds are more positive) but crucially a bit more painful too, this is fine on the crimps but it might be a nice addition to have one row of pockets with a softer edge.
So, Does It Work?
Well, I’ve been using this fingerboard for around 4 weeks (so it’s early days) and I can honestly say I do feel like my ability to grip (both in power and in endurance) feels to have slightly improved. I will be conducting a much more scientific programme over 6 months to get some figures into this review (deadhang times etc.) but until then it’s probably too early to tell.
Personally, my biggest improvements for power and endurance in my climbing have come from regular training at the local wall (3 to 4 times a week), the problem here is for much of the time this just isn’t practical and I end up training just 1 or 2 times a week – this just seems to maintain my performance and doesn’t really improve it.
Having a fingerboard at home is now allowing me to wreck my arms 4 to 5 times a week regardless of my schedule or ability to get down to the gym. Of course the best way to improve your climbing is to climb (especially as grip strength is only a part of overall climbing performance), but this is an area where many people struggle (myself included), ‘if only I could hang on for longer’ seems commonplace and here is a very affordable solution to start improving your grade.
As for GripMonkeys – we love this fingerboard, yes there are slightly better models on the market but why would you pay almost double the price for such a marginal difference?