Monday, March 16, 2009

Review > Contact Climbings > Handroids

Contact Climbing
We expected the Contact Handroids to be at our doorstep a couple of weeks ago and we've been eagerly waiting for them since Contact told us that they we're sending us a set. Noodles pointed out that they are like an extension of the War of the Worlds set. If anyone has had the chance to climb on that set you know that there are ridges all over the holds and the same goes for the Handroid pinches, but the difference with these is the pinches are what you're going to be grabbing where on the WOTW2 they're more decoration on the outside of the hold!

So this set has a pinch for everybody. If you have monster hands you'll be strugling for friction on the small holds, if you've got baby hand then you'll be having a hard time wraping your hands around the big pinches. The ridge on the holds helps in sticking the hold although it will leave your skin burning. Normally we would make big deal about this but we realize that the added dimension of holds is well kinda worth the loss of skin. With these holds its about the attention to detail, and its the detail that you need to pay attention to. When we were working on the long move to the box I caught one of the edges with the tips of my fingers and it kept me from swinging off. The intention of these holds for pinches we set the holds with their intended purpose in mind but at the time (and the route we were climbing) the detail on the hold served better for crimps than for the added friction as a pinch.

So with 7 holds, its a large set and we weren't in any way worried about setting with them. We pushed the limits of the holds right off the bat by setting them on the 45 it is much easier to get up than some other pinches we've had on the wall (See the Sequence review here). On our last review we had pinches on the 45 and I spent 3 sessions trying to get up the problem with no luck. We set the exact same problem with the Handroids and it took myself and Noodles a couple of tries to get the feel of the holds before we sent the problem, but bear in mind this route was the second one on the 45, we had a different route that was just undoable. Even on our second set there was a fairly long move that I thought would be a challenge for us but it turned out to be a walk in the park.

Some people will like the ridged nature of the holds, some people won't. The holds will stand out on the wall as they're different, they're not the hardest pinches on the planet, but they're not the easiest either.

Pinches are hard to gauge and it really depends on you pinch strength and where you set the holds. Ideally you'd want them on a vertical to 15 degree overhang but climbers are crazy little monkeys we like to see how small/steep we can go. Droids on the 45? Why not. Droids on the roof? Not unless you like concussions from hitting the ground too hard. What this set has going is that they it caters to all level of climbers. They are very forgiving for pinches because you can hold onto the ridges instead of trying to clamp down on the hold. I find that sometimes I'll be cranking so hard on my hand that I'm unable to get myself into position for the next move. With these holds if I found that I couldn't pinch the hold I would switch to a crimp to make it through the sequence. The wider pinches are easier to hold onto on the 45 while the smaller ones are incut and could be used on steep terrain as well, the smallest hold from the set is also the thinnest and this is the hold that stopped us on the first 45 route!

The mold that they use makes the holds rough on the skin and we suspect that the foam that is used for shaping the holds is more pourous which results in a rougher texture.
Urethane, it's a little porous so the holds do have a good ammount of texture to them
I was actually surprised when Bobby and Jack couldn't get their asses off the floor (Jack should have been able to climb it since he made it to the same spot as the infamous Sequence pinch route) SEB
Funny enough, this "review" feels like a continuation of the previous one (here) But before going into it I'd like to spend a couple of words on my thoughts of the week or in this case; why did I put the word review between speech marks.
I’ve been climbing in gyms and outside for a couple of years now. 5… 6… can’t remember. Reaching the top of cliff using small rock pinches and thinking when sending a route in one go that I could have done it without a rope (just the idea as I’m not into soloing stuff) was always what turned me on about climbing. So for me the purpose of a climbing hold was to mimic this feeling while ultimately adding to the potential difficulty of a climb. Then I discovered bouldering and home climbing walls. “Calis de Tabarnac” (swearing in French) was I thinking every time that I was falling on my ass unable to do what all the others were considering “warm up” stuff. This is when I discovered how technical the sport could be and basically how wide the climbing universe is. You could now be asking yourself: “where is he going with this introspective autobiography of a nameless climber… get the point dammit!” I am, hold on. This was actually an introduction to my “review” thoughts as I feel the need to justify where I come from in order for you reader to understand why and how I comment climbing holds. So, where was I… ok, I‘m a slightly above average climber who leads once in a while and who as no intent of becoming professional. I’ll swear at a 5.11 that is too hard for me but I’ll stupidly keep on trying its crux until I can do it or… fail miserably… but still laugh (and swear) at my memorable fail. I do not own a gym and do not participate or set for competition. I like training at the gym, prefer going outside but also go to Noodles place to have some fun getting my ass kicked by routes set by climbers that are way better than me but still are kind enough to teach me the technical part of the sport. I also act like I’m setting small routes with the holds that I comment and consider learning on a regular basic about every aspect of the sport.
I therefore do not pretend to be an expert reviewer but rather a constantly evolving climber who comment and share his experiences.Finally I do not intend to harm any animal or human being during any form of practice related to this sport :P

I felt the need to do this as I think that “reviewing” climbing holds is a complex matter that is often (but not only) based on who you are, what you like climbing, how you climb it and for what purpose you climb. Now you know… and thank you for this active listening session, I feel better now :)

So let’s get it on with the Handroids. The short version:
  1. LOOK: I’ll be honest; I don’t like the concept of sci-fi holds. I’m old fashion on that matter and prefer rock like shapes but kudos for the name as it is one of the coolest I’ve heard.
  2. TEXTURE: A little rough for the skin but highly efficient
  3. VERSATILITY: Average and a little bit above
  4. ARE THEY FUN: Absolutely no doubts about that
  5. PRICE: Cheap!

Overall the Handroids are an interesting addition for somebody who already owns a bunch of holds. They are not that versatile but can surely add to the fun factor of a route… as I recall Noodles and Chris falling repeatedly on a specific move in video two. Cheers to Chris who managed to do it… as for me, I couldn’t do my own move. I know, shame on me. The design itself offers a good grip on both type of shapes (some concave while the others are a little bit meaner and convex) while maintaining a general average difficulty level. Let’s say that they are not mean but can still be surprised.. Especially on low routes when you are tall… damn you short people who set routes. As for the texture, the guys from Contact Holds managed to reach that thin line where pain meets efficiency but without losing too much skin. You get that extra confidence even in sloppier situations which is a feeling that I really like. That being said they feel rough not only from a texture but design/polishing/final touch point of view compared to other holds that I’ve recently tried. But those holds were also more expensive so maybe that explains it.

Which brings us to the final question: would I buy them? The more I think about it the more I appreciate the package as it covers a nice range of “pinchytude” and is really cheap. It would therefore be an absolute yes if it wasn’t from the sci-fi theme.

  • Nice price
  • Wide variety of hold sizes
  • These holds don't hog space on a home wall
  • Alien design's ridges might catch your fingers
  • Texture is a little rough, it does smooth out over time with lots of chalk
$46 gets you 7 holds of various sizes


adamcrisman said...

Contact is just what we need right now. The economy is falling faster then Seb on his own route yet we still yearn to see those packages come to the front door filled with pleasantly designed faux rocks. A little rough around the edges? Blemishes? Bubbles? Divits? I say for 7 holds at $46.. keep them coming! This isn't to say that Contact should not strive for excellence or that CHR should not look for excellence. I just know that with my personal limited budget Contact holds is one of the first places I'm going to look when I've got a few bucks to throw toward some new holds. Not to mention they run Awesome promotions. Just my Two Cents.

ntmb said...

and you're more than welcome to your opinion! It's what we like to hear, we love Contact, nowt wrong with them... the Hex and Rex the WOTW2 are amazing holds, these were not what we expected that's for sure