Thursday, August 6, 2009

Review > Escape Climbing > Mixed Bag Review

Element Climbing make recycled holds at your request, they sent us a sample pack to have a look at, we're calling this the Mixed Bag Review because that's what it is. Which is stronger, urethane or recycled... wait and see, we're going to snap a lot of holds soon!!

It's a big statement to say you're environmentally friendly in this day and age, some might even say bold; yet this is what Escape Climbing Holds from Wisconsin are saying, and they're not putting it in a little font on their website either... it's right there, slap bang all over their site!
Before I continue my brainwave about the environment and what Escape are saying let me introduce to you their holds, and what we've been playing with; normally we'd split the holds up into different reviews but this time we decided to do them all at the same time but as few people have heard of Escape we wanted you to see the samples that they sent on over, so without further ado..... (drum roll please) I give you Escape Climbing's holds in what we're calling "The Mixed Bag Review":

The Tower SetWaterPierson Set
The Devil Ray

Pictures do speak louder than words and as we're talking specifically about the holds below, here's the walk through for you to check out to see the holds up close and personal:

Like I said Escape offer an environmentally aware option for climbers.. I don't want to paraphrase I'll quote directly from their page:

"Environmentally friendly plastic

It is now possible to think environmentally when you are buying your next set of climbing holds. We take old climbing holds along with waste plastic from the manufacturing process and blend the fibers back into your new set of holds. This gives you a hold that is 33% recycled. The process we have developed has allowed us to keep the same strength and durability you will find in our regular plastic.

On your next order request to have recycled plastic used. Same look... friendlier plastic"

Now some of you have just read that and have gone "Eh?" and are probably scratching your heads, let me explain! Escape have two different mixes, one pure PU and one that uses 33% recycled material, and 33% recycled material in a hold will read for most people that know anything about holds as FILLER; and filler is not a good thing! Think sinking washers, warped holds and just generally crap holds :(

But they also say that their holds that are recycled are the same strength as their full on PU.... thankfully we're just building a rig to test this out (Come back in a few weeks), we were so intrigued by this statement that we're going to play Mr Snappy with everyone's holds, we're just waiting for some of the main players to get some stuff out to us. We have two holds one recycled and one that is PU with no fillers, and the only difference that we can tell is actually the weight... and even then there's not much in it. There's a raging debate over here about which one uses the recycled plastic; money will be won and lost when we get the answer :)

One thing that we should point out that there are many types of urethane, some are better for the environment and others are just bad. The two main types are labelled TDI and MDI, many years ago there was a call to ban TDI because it contains heavy metals (TDI urethane is used in skateboard / roller coaster wheels etc) and it's chock full of mercury... which means when it gets into the water system just kills everything :( MDI doesn't have any heavy metals and is waaay beter for the environment, not totally green, but much greener than TDI urethane by a long shot. Some companys still use TDI urethane... we know of a couple, and they should probably switch at some point (We could be misinformed, anyone with more information on TDI / MDI urethane please drop us a line, we'd like to read up more on the stuff!)

Once these holds hit the wall we started having a blast, some of them aren't that easy to hold onto the Water Flow set in particular, mind you the Pierson holds when we put them onto the 45 degree wall spat Noodles off when he tried to do the move... only once mind you, once he figured out he had to use his thumb to make the move and where to put it on the hold he cruised through without too much trouble.

Normally we'd have a bunch of words here explaining what we did, but we'll let the videos do the talking and we'll talk about the holds specifically in sections below:

We only have one of these holds, the biggest one and it's pretty damn large and it will stand out on any wall. The best way to describe this hold is like a cairn, the piles of stones you see on hills that are used as landmarks / locations; the hold has lots of gripping options that will keep you amused, especially if you make a move like we made on the 45 degree wall and you have to match it and then rotate your body around the hold to move on.

In certain areas of the hold and when you're doing a specific move on the hold you'll find your hand in a position that will mean your fingers will get a little caught in the grooves the separate the main blocks of the hold, the main culprit of the the finger lock it the small block on the top of the hold thats angled, you want to grab over the top of it and this means your fingers get a little nipped when you bear down on it, not bad nipped... but you'll know you've climbed :P

Versatility: Lots, there are loads of options
Screw Holes: No
The overall build of this hold is a little up and down, the bolt hole wasn't drilled out enough but it was straight; we had to knock the bolt through the hold so we could use it and getting it out when we took the hold off of the wall was a chore. Texture wise as the hold is bunch of blocks one on top of another is really quite nice, a little smooth but considering this shape it's a good thing anything more would be over kill

We received one hold from this set, twice! One made from pure urethane and the other made from 33% recycled material. Let the break test begin:) Escape sent us the long pinch from the set and its the perfect. Slighly incut on one side it wasn't too hard for strong and intermediate climbers alike to stick on the 45. The rest of the set look like they could be a lot of fun for climbers, lots of thumb catches to be had and probably a bunch of matches to boot as well.

Versatility: Pinches or edges
Screw Holes: No
We have two of these holds, one is 33% recycled material, the other is pure urethane. They both feel the same... there are some very slight texture differences but this could be from the molding. One hold is heavier than the other... so recycled we're guessing is slightly heavier. When we do our strength tests in a few weeks we'll know for sure. The texture is a little rougher than the Tower hold we have but not by much, the holds give you enough grip when they're chalked up to allow you to make the move.

We got the best overview of this set, receiving 5 out of the 10 holds in the set. The comprised of crimps and pinches and are for the most part pretty shallow and should be used sparingly if it is decided to set them on a 45 degree wall. We had one up on our 45, set up as a bump to a larger hold, but since these holds are very sharp, it's going to be like climbing on real rock along with the reality that you could get a flapper if your hand rips off the hold. They fared well on our vertical and 30 degree wall, no one complained too much about their finger tips being ripped off, but be aware these holds with their little ridges are very very aggresive, they do hurt!

Versatility: Pinches or crimps
Screw Holes: No
These holds are small and thin, but that didn't stop us from putting a few on the 45 degree wall either as bump moves or as a couple of sequencial hand movements... and painful is the word of the day for these... they hurt when you really put your weight onto them! The bolt holes were tight but this is going to be fixed by Escape in the next week or so; but other than that glaring fact these holds would make wicked footholds... only the strong of skin would really want to train on these. They do resemble rock in more ways than one, and that's a good and bad thing! Colorwise all of the shapes from Escape are nice, even the grey holds are good to look at, the Escape logo is well indented into each hold even with these little ones, so sorting them out into the correct box will be easy.

Ah the Devil Ray, fabled creature of the sea. When I first saw the hold I thought that it was chipped, but that was wrong there is a little indent in the bottom of the hold that we used to put in a set screw to stop it from spinning.

The hold is a big incut sloper that's useable on the 45 degree wall, but it's going to be hard to hold... not super hard, but hard enough that you're going to have to work to stick it. We had the hold on the roof a few times as well and you can get onto it, matching is super hard when you're horizontal but you can do it, just have a spotter ready to catch you incase you take a flyer! Having the notch in the bottom is super handy for a set screw because if this thing spins and you're matching on it on a roof is going to cause a bunch of injurys when you hit the floor at speed.

Versatility: Sloper / Semi jug
Screw Holes: No, but the notch in the bottom allows you to place one
This hold is a whole bunch of fun, matchable, slopey and good on most terrain; the steeper the better if you ask us :) The texture is the same as the other holds, no worrys there but the nature of the shape means it feels a little smoother than some of the other shapes we have and therefore you may feel a little weary when you get onto it; but worries aside this hold is superb fun to climb on. The construction is solid; we tightened it up as much as we wanted without any problems... a counter sunk screw hole would be nice as the shape is prone to spinning

With shapes like the Piersons, that mimic the pains and gains of outdoor climbing or the Tower Se that is just plain unique, Escape Climbing has a lot going for them. My only concern is in the level of their QC. Now we first noticed that there was a problem with the bolt hole when we tried bolt the Tower to the wall and the bolt WOULDN"T FIT THE HOLD! We ended up taking a hammer to the bolt to get it through the hole and then painstakenly turned the wrench trying to overcome the friction we created by sticking a bolti nto a hole that was larger than it could handle. Now we thought that this was a fluke, but to our surprise, we found that we had problems with the bolt holes on the majority of the holds. What are they using, the metric system? I though we only used that up here in the great white north :P

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