Thursday, December 17, 2009

Testing > Contact Climbings > Reactors

Contact Climbing

When it comes to companies that have left their mark on the climbing hold industry companies like Metolius, Climb It or Nicros are some of those who ring a bell in the climbing community. One company that is up and coming is Contact. They have a wide selection of cool, colourful, well thought out shapes and we’ve done many reviews on their holds in the past. In this review, we’ll be climbing on the Reactors. Think of the Simpsons opening credits, before Dolph cuts off the head of Jedidiah and before Bart writes on the board, what do we see? The cooling towers for the nuclear reactor, visible by all of Springfield's residents and are exactly what you’ll see when you get your hands onto these holds :) You can find this six hold set in the “large sets” section of their homepage

So you can tell from our walk through that these holds have a dual personality. On the one side, you have a nice positive edge that when set horizontally is bomber edge to hold, but flip them around, you'll find the slopier edge that will pose a greater challenge when needed. When you have the hold bolted vertically, the pinch becomes useful and the positive edge comes in handy for the thumb catch. Not all these holds are pinch friendly. The larger holds of the set are really wide and its hard to get a hand around the hold and it will make for some barn door moves.

So we set the Reactors up on the 45 with the rail as the starting hold. The first couple of holds were set with the slopey edge up and it made for a hard start. With the exception of Jeff, we needed to work on the start move and on getting out of the 45 degree wall, and Jeff's height helped him get the sequence first time around. Now the funny thing is while Noodles and I started working on sequencing the moves, Jeff decided to jump back onto the problem again and had trouble with the same section we were working on: the start and out of the 45. Looks like he had some beginners luck;) The problems that we were having revolved around getting enough power to pinch the starting hold to get our buts of the ground and the distinct lack of footholds to get us out of the 45. The starting hold had the positive edge facing down so we could at least get a thumb around the bottom to get a good grip.

On our second set, we made the problem slightly easier, starting on the edge of the 45 and traversing across the 30 degree wall. The holds are quite big so we set long moves into side pulls and it was a problem that we all could play around on. The long moves caused a bit of trouble for some of us who have a shorter reach, but the holds are big and positive enough that we could commit to the moves without worrying about cutting loose.


Vertical, overhanging the options are limitless. This set has an incut edge and makes for some easy climbing on a vertical wall and allows you to stick moves on overhanging terrain, but spin that hold around and you have use of a slopey edge. The set is made up of holds that can be set into a system training routine. The holds have a nice radius and the texture is nice on the skin so long sessions training or goofing around with the wrench will go without to much bother on the hands. If some of the holds were the smaller (not so wide) then these holds would be, and we'll say it again, on system boards all over the place. The only terrain these holds don't lend themselves to is a roof, they can be used up on the roof as bumps but hanging them is out of the question they're incut but not that incut.
  • Number of holds: 6
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 59/6 = $9.83 per hold
  • Color: Ours are black and white
  • Bolt placement: Middle
  • Sanding: Flat and smooth
  • Texture: Grippy
  • Set size: Large
  • Versatility: Side pulls, edges, slopes... rotate away
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
The texture of Contact polyurethane mix is nice on the skin, the texture is even and the holds are very comfortable to grip even though the holds feel like resin. They've done a lot of detailing on the shape, with ridges on the hold to make it resemble more like a cooling tower than a climbing hold. The added detail doesn't effect the grip of the hold, its better off trying to get a thumb around the hold than to use the features of the hold for added friction. It's a running trait with Contact's holds, there's always a little detail here and there that makes a simple shape into something a little more.

During the drop test the Contact holds fared pretty well, we used an old hold; which was a little unfair on our part, but the fact that we took their old mix and cranked it well up over what you'd normally tighten it up to on any wall and it stayed nice and solid throughout, even on the drop test the holds came out pretty well, their current mix is stronger that's for sure!

Ergonomically the holds have nice rounded edges where you're going to be hitting and this means you don't get tweaked fingers as your fingers lay nice and flat, even when you see Chris cranking down on these with his thumb up over the top he says they're comfy to hold


Bomber, nothing was breaking these holds

Ah crap, Chris is off on a novelty rant again :P After the Warheads which people seemed very happy with come the Reactors... and I quite like them, the shapes are simple and make a nice change... easy edges, slopey edges... rotate away and have some side pulls or if you're of a certain kind of persuasion use the middle and ignore the edges and you've got some slopers. These for me are a threefer (one up from a twofer)... edge, side pulls or slopes; not counting the numerous variations in between here of course.

If people can pull themselves off of the floor on the 45 on these holds and by people I'm talking about beginners and people that hate the 45 degree wall... make the route and walk away with an accomplished smile on their face then my setting and the holds have done their job! The holds aren't in any way shape or form what you'd call hard, they're nice simple shapes that don't tax your fingers and leave your skin where is should be.

As soon as I put these on the 45 and pulled off of the ground I knew that I liked them... pulling, hitting and sticking a fairly hard move is sometimes an unpleasant experience, that's what I thought these would be like.. but they're easier on the 45 than their looks dictate and very nice to pull on. I disagree with what the Contact website says when you go and find these holds "Put these holds on your wall and have a meltdown"... nah, "put these holds on your wall and have a hoedown" cos they're fun

Many of Contact's sets have themes and are on the fine line between a regular hold and what we've come to call "novelty holds". I say the fine line because the novelty texture on the holds are there for aesthetic purposes only and doesn't effect the grip on the hold. There are other "novelty " holds where the grips, being oranges or light bulbs, serve as both the part you hold on and the novelty of the hold. I personally am not a fan of the novelty holds but Contact has made their holds so that they still serve their purpose and not just some eye candy on the wall.

We have a wide range of climbers that come over and play on our wall and sometimes we come up with problems that only some of us can work on, but these holds cater to a wide range of climbers. We put them up on the 45, we had some problems with the start move (we set the hold up with the slopey side up. We had no choice but to pinch down and go) but it was a problem that everyone could work on. I like the holds. They're simple shapes that are easy to set, with big grips that don't bother the skin. Bottom line: fun, fun holds!

  • Good texture, grippy enough for steep walls
  • Nice and strong
  • Easy to set with, very beginner friendly
  • Almost system wall worthy, they're a little too wide in some cases
$59 gets you six holds

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