Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review > Element Climbing > Intensity


Here we are with this weeks review with a set from Element Climbing Holds. Now if you`re familiar with the company, you`ll see that Element has featured this set on their Periodic Table for the month of August.

If you've checked out Element Climbing`s website, you can subscribe to the Periodic Table where you'll get some of the latest shapes at discounted prices. This week we will look at one of the two sets featured in August, the Intensities.

The best way of describing the holds is a banana. They all have the half moon shape and although banana`s are yellow, we received our banana`s in orange. We got the holds out of the box and during our walk through, we were trying to figure out the best way of describing the features found on the hold. I mean, we could just say the hold has features but that would be too easy for us here at climbingholdreview.com, so we`re calling them intensity lines.

The set is straight forward: three holds in three different sizes with the same banana shape with a slight incut. Although all three holds look very similar, the incuts vary from hold to hold with the smallest having almost a flat edge and the mid size hold having the steepest.

The first thing we noticed with the shapes are the intensity lines. Do they help give you more friction, or just there for show? Your guess is as good as ours but the texture of the holds is pretty aggressive. Do you need the extra friction of the intensity lines? Probably not.

With three holds to play with, we first turned to the 45 degree wall. We played around with them trying to force the heel hook but we always managed to cheat our way through the sequence. These holds are big and the two larger holds of the set give you quite a bit to work with and you can just power your way through a sequence. We finally found a way to get a heel hook sequence. There is obviously plenty of room for your heel and the hold has a great shape for this purpose but the larger hold do dig into your heel. We set another route on the 30 degree wall and ending on he roof. For this problem, the medium size hold was the second hold and we managed to match our hands and get a heel onto the hold to finish the problem.

Some people liked the holds, some people didn't that's the nature of the beast. The roof is an interesting place to put these holds and we had to try by putting the worst one up there... result well out of: Chris, Noodles and Cedric, Chris managed to finish the route and well, let's face it the rest of the other people failed :( But it seemed to be fun failing


With the exception of the small hold, they can be bolted onto any wall. Even set as a compression move on the roof is feasible for us (we climb V3-V5). The only downfall is the size of the set. With three holds, you'd need to have an arsenal of holds before you go looking at this set and begin setting a problem, of course the set isn't meant to be a boulder problem in it's own more something to complement your existing holds. That being said if you're looking to set three maybe four move routes then you're laughing, despite the lines these guys are ok (yeah we said ok) to play on. Despite the holds being friendly in nature the grooves (intensity lines) detract from their purpose :(

[Here we're kind of in a conundrum, Chris doesn't mind the holds or the grooves, Noodles likes the shape but hates the grooves. When we went to publish this review (and therefore passed it past Element Climbing) we received some feedback we quote:

"I'd argue that the "intensity lines" don't detract from the holds' purpose at all. If you want to make the case that they don't add anything, I'd go along with that - but only from a functional point of view. From an aesthetic point of view, I'd argue that the lines add visual appeal. Sure, they may not be needed - as you said - unnecessary icing on the cake. I guess I look at it like this: If I've got two climbers - one could care less about aesthetics and the other won't buy an "ugly" or "plain" hold if they've got other options - then why not do our best to make them both happy? This is the approach we've taken with Intensity"

Now you can see where we're at and where the hold maker is at when it come's to what we call the "Intensity Lines", Element has added them to make the aesthetic of the hold more visually appealing, and we agree that they do do that.. and it's something we've talked about on the site a fair amount from time to time. But in this case you have a climber (Noodles that doesn't like the lines and Chris who doesn't mind them... so it comes down to personal taste]

  • Number of holds: 3
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 49.45 / 3 = $16.65 per hold
  • Color: Neon orange
  • Bolt placement: Off center
  • Sanding: Not bad
  • Hollow backed: Two of them yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Good
  • Set size: Large
  • Versatility: Ok
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: David Filkins
The shape and form of these holds is great, we don't doubt that! It's the lines that are grooved in the shapes that kind of leave us standing staring. Chris likes the holds, Noodles hates them (loves the form but hates the grooves).... it's a fight over here that's for sure!!

Sanding is OK, there is one hold out of three that could have done with some more love on the sander, that being said it's really not that bad. The texture seems to be a little more aggressive than we've seen from Element before and we're not really sure we like it more than what we've seen before.

All of the holds have set screw holes which you're going to need whatever you do with the holds because of their nature and the off center bolt holes... normally we've not had too many spinners with bolt holes that have been placed off centre but with these holds we found because of there being an area where you grab that is away from the bolt hole that they spin more often than not... so we used the set screw placement, nothing unusal in this, it's just the nature of the beast with holds this size. The bolt holes are all nice and straight and nicely drilled :P

The color is something that we're not happy with, if you hold the holds up to the light you can see through them pretty well. Now this isn't something new, but when you look at the shapes you can see the color is a little washed out. We thought that this was strange but it's because the holds are hollow backed and when we looked at some other companies holds the same thing occurs, the holds aren't thin in any way shape or form, they're strong as hell and can take a real beating. Element uses a high quality urethane and because of the floro pigmentation that is lighter than other flat colors sometimes this effect can occur

Each hold has a nice inset washer and the Element Logo is easy to see for the ease of sorting out your holds


Very good

These are the first holds from Element Climbing that I don't like.

Phew hit that one out of the park :)

Why don't I like them? Well it's pretty simple and it's a matter of taste in this case.. the shapes would have been perfect (or better depending upon which way you look at it) if they hadn't have had what we've been calling "Intensity Lines"; these lines are right on the lip of what you grab and even though in the walk through I said they're deep but they probably won't grab your skin I was wrong... yes yes it does happen sometimes. If these grooves had been shallower or even rounder than they currently are then the shapes would have come out better. They pretty well aren't needed and are just icing on a cake that wasn't needed.. the cake was fine as it was!
The hold market is saturated with holds and companies these days and people feel the need to have their product stand out, at climbingholdreview this is something we deeply understand, it's a reason why people send us holds for our opinions... because we help their product stand out, its' what we do and it's something we love doing. Our opinions are unbiased and people understand (at least we hope so) that is is our opinion and sometimes when they get a bad review or some bad comments they just roll with the punches and continue, take them on board and then go and improve their designs.

I like simple shapes, I also like super intricate shapes as well... but when you take what was a simple shape and take it too far that product does begin to stand out, unfortunately in this case it's the wrong kind of stand out as I didn't enjoy hauling on them.

Intensity lines....we`re getting creative...not! Although setting with three holds can be quick, the problems were very limited by the amount of holds in the set but this kind of shape will most likely find some permanent residency on our wall. The shape is simple and caters to everyone. We could use these to make a traverse with emphasis on the heel hook or have them in a warm up route.

I made the problem on the 45 and I thought that my problem would force us to heel hook the starting hold. I figured that the holds would be pretty hard on the 45 degree wall but it ended up being much easier than expected. So after turning some holds around and placing one a little further, we made a heel hook sequence up the 45.

In the past couple of years I've been focused on boulder and competition climbing and some of the first exercises I did at the local gym was to improve the use of the heel hook. I would practice going back and forth on the boulder wall using only my heel and I would have loved to see these holds on the wall for me to play on. The shape is ideal for hand heel matches and its a really fun move when you have bomber holds like these. The only one that was an issue was the medium size hold (The middles sized hold of the set)

Now granted I did have a lot of weight on my heel for that move into the roof but the size of the hold made it so the edge of the incut was just bellow my Achilles tendon and it hurt. Nothing I can't handle, but painful just the same.

The one thing that was an issue was the texture. On a normal day, Element will send us these nice, simple shapes with a smooth but grippy texture. We noticed right away that the texture differs from what we've received in the past. After having them on wall and playing around on them, my callouses grew a bit. Despite the fact that the holds can second as a sanding block, I really like the shape and utility of the set.

  • Good hollow back
  • Simple shape, good for a roofs if you use the big ones
  • Slightly washed out color
  • The "Intensity lines" are uncomfortable
  • Will spin if you don't use a set screw.. and we mean WILL spin

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