Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review > Dream Holds > Gritstone


If you haven’t been keeping up to date with the site or just hiding out at the crag the past couple of weeks than you haven’t been introduced to Dream Holds, a new company from overseas who have gone the extra mile and molded their holds out of real rock from Scotland and all over England. First we had the Dumby Basalts, molded from rocks from Dumbarton Rock and they were nasty crimps with options to pinch. The gritstone, although they are much bigger, posed a different kind of nastiness: the texture.

The holds, like all of Dream Holds sets, have a large number of holds in them and make it so they can be set all together, in short routes or long problems, so you can really get that outside feel on an indoor climb. The holds simulate the real rock feel, and with the gritstone, the real rock skin peel along with it. Now these holds are rough. The large shapes are easy to hold onto and there isn’t a high risk of cutting loose from the hold and the extra friction is always welcome when you’re on the wall but as soon as you come off the skin will feel the burn

These holds are much larger than the Basalt holds and we set some low moves on the 30 degree wall. I’ve said before that the texture rips the skin but with shapes like these, small to large slopes and edgy pinches, there are some points where you really need the friction and it gave Eve and Noobie Nick a chance to work out these moves without it being the impossible that we sometimes set.

That being said, you wouldn’t want to work on a problem for any prolonged period, you’ll find that your fingers will hurt and it will be hard to do those menial tasks like zipping your fly or putting the tooth paste on your toothbrush in the morning.

The holds in general are pretty straight forward: what you see is what you get. They have some hidden features, a thumb catch here, and a finger pocket there, but they didn’t come into play on the vertical wall. The holds , with their texture and size, are pretty versatile and can be set on different angles. The real rock feel is a bonus…if your fingers can take it.


With holds this size and with this much friction, you can set these holds on vertical to steep overhanging terrain. We’ve had larger holds on the 45, the ones that come to mind are the Cobbles from Climb It. We spent most of an afternoon throwing ourselves at the large Cobble and trying to stick it. There are no worries about sticking the holds on a 45, its just a matter of how much abuse can your skin can take. A wall that is more shallow may offset the inevitable burning sensation, but this is the price you’ll pay for climbing on these holds. The longer holds are unbalanced, and will spin on you if you don’t put in a set screw, we had them up and everyone, even 90 pound Eve, spun the hold... normally we don't use set screws as it's not needed but the bolt placement being off center on a lot of these holds make using a screw a must

Would we suggest you train on these for long periods of time? No, sorry to say the aggressive just doesn't allow you haul about on these for hours on end... if you want a second opinion you can read this, Dave MacLeod; all round hard man and complete climbing nutter (Have you seen the movie E11?) has his take on the holds. He should know, he's put up enough hard routes over the years... and probably has tough enough skin to put these holds to their full use.

  • Number of holds: 18
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt ons
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 95 GBP / 18 = 5.28 GBP per hold
  • Color: Ours are "wasp", yellow and black striped
  • Bolt placement: Not so good
  • Sanding: Needs work
  • Texture: The most aggressive you have ever felt
  • Set size: Large
  • Versatility: Loads
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes, with inset washer on every hold
Now its down for the nitty gritty. Most of the holds we receive from other companies fall within our guidelines of what we look for when it comes to the quality of the hold: inset washer, even finish and flat backs. Dream Holds is relatively new on the scene and their quality control is not up to par with most other companies we deal with. Don’t get me wrong, the holds are superbly made, the team at Dream Holds must have spend many hours trying to find the right shapes for their holds. The shapes match the details of the rocks they're molded from (we got a sample in with the Dumby Basalts, and they were an exact match) and the shapes themselves have many hidden features for the fingers to discover. An example of this is on the sloper where there is a tiny finger pocket located at back part of the hold.

Now despite the fact that the shapes are great, there are some of the finer details that Dream holds has overlooked. They still mold in resin, and there is not much of an issue when you have smaller holds like the Basalts, but when it comes to larger shapes like the gritstone, the weight takes its toll. Also, they should spend a little more time sanding the back of the holds so they sit flush on the wall. There were some gaps between the hold and the wall, having an uneven back of a hold will create unwanted stresses on the hold and could increase the risk of breaking. On that note, Dream holds have redesigned the bolt hole using two washers and a dampener to prevent the hold from breaking. Noodles thinks that this is also a major weak point in the holds (see our earlier Drop Test) as there is so much space taken up inside of the hold for this device that there's not much material around this area.

Looking at the walk through you can see Noodles (should we just start using his real name?) get one of the holds and knock the end on the floor, breaking off the end. Now this is because the holds are resin and resin (generally) is quite brittle; it's one of the downsides of the medium that Dream Holds have chosen to use. Although they have really looked for holds to mold and have "kept it real" they should really look at the holds once poured and then smack the ends on the floor to see what breaks off... once done they can then adapt the mold to make sure that any thin / weak points are removed before they're put on sale

They have also included a washer in the screw hold, something we have not seen from any other company that we’ve reviewed. So Dream Holds has paid a lot of attention to detail, they’ve just overlooked a couple of points.


Best we've ever seen. Think of a Russian doll... a couple of well packed boxes with the holds inside a larger box that had packaging in it. The box and holds came through in perfect condition

Love, hate, love, hate... it's like a police siren going off

Love, hate, love, hate...

I love the Basalts, they're smooth enough that you can play on them for a while and not destroy your hands.

I hate (although that is a strong word) the gritstone... because they destroy your hands.

I know that Dream Holds has gone out and made real rock holds, kudos to them, the company is still in it's infancy and they have some kinks to work out (the holds being brittle as hell being the major one) and over time I expect them sorted. The term "Real rock" has some strings attached to it, these holds mimic rock very well and they feel like gritstone holds that you'd find outside... if you've ever climbed on gritstone you'll know it's a matter of time before you get a split finger or skin so sore that you can't pick up a steaming cup of tea; it's one of it's characteristics that you either love or hate! I've climbed enough on gritstone to know what it's like and to be prepared for that inevitable outcome... pain and sore skin. This is what people climbing indoors aren't going to expect and if I were setting with these holds I'd probably affix a note mentioning that these holds are skin rippers.

Hey we all like surprises and I was surprised by the way they felt, aggressive and rough to the touch... like the real thing. So Dream Holds has created something that is as real as the real thing. Kudos!

They've also made holds that will fit into a niche market. Kudos

They have also made two sets of holds that we like shapewise, the Basalts for their slippery goodness and the gritstone for their evil evil textured madness. Good work

I guess it comes down to would I, ME, NOODLES, buy these holds?
Short answer... nope.
Long answer... if I were training for a particular route on gritstone and I wanted to get my tolerance of pain up so I can work a project, well yeah maybe I'd buy them. If I were someone that loved gritstone so much that I had to feel the pain that I'd love so much... well yeah I'd buy them (or so to an S&M club or something). Would I suggest a gym buy them? Sheesh that's a tricky one... they have to know what they're getting into because these holds aren't for everyone in any way shape or form :(

So while Noodles may bite into the “nitty gritty”, I have one thing to say: holds made from real rock…molded straight from real rock , is there anything else I’d like from a climbing hold? I’ve dreamed of climbing on holds like this and we’ve spoken about it, seen it with holds from Climb It and Summit Labs, but nothing like this. Two different kinds of shapes, two different kinds of rock. Ok, so my hands hurt, they spin and you have to be suuuuper careful when you’re putting them in boxes but these are sweet holds. With the Basalts, the texture is very smooth and the Gritstone contrast and show the expanse selection Dream Holds has to offer. The shapes are of various sizes and shapes and leave it open for some fun setting. These kinds of holds are something you don’t come by very often. There are some great shapes out there, but the Dream Holds have encompassed the spirit of climbing. I’ve spend most of my time pulling plastic in the gym and when I first got my feet wet outside I realized that there is a difference between climbing outside versus in. These holds have taken that outside feel and brought it indoor.

So maybe these holds aren’t for every climber. If your focus is on climbing indoors as training for your most resent project at the crag or competing at the local comp, having a wall full of finger ripping holds may not be the best idea. I just like to climb, and in my eyes, the novelty of having a real…I mean REAL…rock feel outweighs the negative qualities of the hold.

Hey guys, Noob here again for your reading pleasure. As you my have guessed my hands hurt but only a lot :P These new holds are wicked in the evil way. Kinda like training on a hang board, you know its good for you but you love and hate the thing with equal passion.

These holds are supposed to simulate grit (I think) rock and while I've never climbed on any the guys over here and CHR assure me the feel is pretty accurate... which makes me think climbing gritstone is the closest thing to sadomasochism a climber can do.... unless of course you were try try an assent neked :S Anyway, I enjoyed them though they hurt me so. I was lucky enough to set the route and (miracles happen every day) I managed to get through it too!! Lots of different types of holds in this set. There's some really nice long slopes (but I will mention one of them is made in such a way that you'd swear it'll break... you're probably gonna see something about that in the walk through), some interesting little pinches and a great, honking big juggy type thing as well as a we others. So its a large set and a good one I'd think if you're starting your first wall. I say this because while the holds do to your hands what a sanding belt does to a 2 by 4 there's enough in the set to set some really interesting routes for beginners and up not to mention that if you take it easy and work your way up to harder problems you'll develop the all-important callouses you'll need later on.

So I like them, they hurt like crazy and I don't have fingerprints anymore but maybe that's part of their appeal. I mean if you wanna have fun and then rob a bank after these holds are for you.... not that I condone breaking the law or anything, just saying ;)

I really only have one word for these: OUCH! I mean have you seen my face on that video.... that wasn't fake and you can argue I have girly hands all you want.... Ouch! Point is the shape is great ( Duh! Gaya had a say, therefore they are perfect!) but that texture is murder. If you are training before an outdoor trip then the Gritstone's are what you want to prep your skin on cause rare are the crags that are as rough or worst.

On the other hand, if you are training for indoor bouldering or intend to do a hand modeling gig... Keep away from these holds, you'll just damage yourself. On a brighter note, as long as you don't plan to climb the next day, Gritstones are FUUUUUUUUUN!!! and I can't stress it enough. That kind of texture can help you stick to impossible walls through impossible moves... Just try not to slip off or you'll get a flapper.

  • Real rock holds like no other, shapes and hand positions
  • Good for training for a grit route
  • Color makes these holds stand out
  • Lots of hold variety
  • Texture may put people off
  • Holds are brittle
  • Might be expensive (depending upon where you're based)
  • Needs some work on sanding / bolt placement
95 GBP gets you 19 holds for set one and two


Louie Anderson said...

I'm pretty sure that we will continue to see companies molding directly from real rock pieces. Because of that, I'm curious to see what companies like this release next.

One comment I have is in regards to the washer in the set screw hole. You (and they) seem to think this is a plus. If you're using a pan-head screw it might be as it will spread the load of the screw out over a greater area. Most people though use regular wood or drywall screws as set screws. When doing that you actually limit the holding power of the screw because it's only in contact with the hold (via the washer) at the thin ring of contact between the screw's bugle head and the edge of the washer hole. Without a washer, you would have constant contact along the entire sloped surface of the bugle from the screw's head to the beginning of the screw's shaft. This increased surface area is the main reason these screws are used in woodworking and drywall applications.

This is also the reason that "flat head," "martini," "cone head," or whatever else you want to call them bolts are often used on thin holds - because they spread the force of the tightened bolt over a greater area of the hold and that connection is less likely to snap a thin hold. Again, holds that are intended to be mounted using those bolts should not have a washer for the same reason.

Anyhow, while these holds might be too rough for everyday use, if their intent was to simulate the Grit experience then they may have hit their mark.

- Louie

p.s. Thanks for going back to the old format - much better as a way of displaying the individual shapes.

al said...

Hi Louie,

Thanks for your comments.

We plan to expand the ranges shortly and are already increasing the size of the Dumby Basalt range which has proved so popular this side of the water (seen the DVD E11?). We are learning lots of lessons as we go, but we feel the main point of our holds, realism, has been achieved. This provokes further deeper questions such as "do we want realism in indoor walls?" and the reaction is mixed. Some love them, others hate them. Some love one rock type, and hate the other.. again, realism. (I can't stand limestone pockets so you won't be seeing them from us soon for instance). We just hope to provide an alternative experience that puts a smile on some climbers faces and it seems in that we have succeeded (and no we don't have shares in Climb On bar!).

Screw-wise (!), the system is designed to take a splitting force exerted by a tightening countersunk screw, which acts mechanically as a wedge, and redirect it through the washer as a column of force straight into the climbing surface. The same applies to the main fixing point and the use of countersink bolts. We have found this much stronger through independent testing when being tightened, although i accept that this may slightly detriment overall hold strength against impact e.g. being dropped off a ladder :P We're still learning as always.

If you wanna chat more on this you can get me direct at

Thanks again for the comments