Monday, February 21, 2011

Review > So Ill / Crytochild > Iron Palm Hangboard

Soill Holds

Right, it looks like Spring is kind of coming, it's thinking about it... it really is (fingers crossed) and it's time to get strong. We use hang boards year round as part of our training regieme, this time we're looking at the Iron Palm board from So Ill and Cryptochild. This is the third board (actually fourth board) that we've reviewed, you can read part one here and part two here

Iron Palm Hangboard
We've covered three boards already, the Metolius Simulator 3D / Project boards and the Delire Redpoint station with the Metolius Simulator 3D coming out slightly in front compared to the Delire, this time Jason Kehls offering, the Iron Palm and from the get go you've got at admit it does look pretty unique. 

If you put this guy up against the Delire and the Metolius 3D it is by a small ammount the biggest board of the three, it's also the most striking and unlike most other boards there don't seem to be pockets and edges everywhere. So it's a clean looking board, with what look like a dolly split in half and then stretched apart to make the features.... it sure is strange

  • 27 in x 11.5 in x 4 in
  • Price: $99 (USD)
  • Varied grip positions
  • Included mounting hardware
If you're looking for a board then here's a handy list of what's out there (It's not a full list):
  • Revolution's Grillito: here
  • Entre Prise's Hangtime: here
  • Asana's Talon: here
  • Uprisings Revolution Board: here
  • Rise Hold's Fingerboard: here
  • Holdz Fingerboards: here
  • Osm'ose boards: here
  • Moon Climbing's Fingerboard: here
  • Nicros Hangboards: here
  • Bendcrete's Classic: here
  • Metolius Boards: here
  • DRCC's 5.12 and V3 boards: here
In our case we have lots of space and as the board came attached to a board all we did was mount our new board onto our existing wall; actually what we really did was extend the wall because we wanted more than one board up at a time :P Adding the extra part of the wall took a few hours, but it only took about 5 minutes to get the board on the wall and for us to start training... all we had to do is put in 7 screws through the pre-drilled holes in the mounting board.  It's not so heavy, and as only Noodles was around when the board went up he clamped the board and made sure it was level, other than that set up was nice and simple.

There wasn't any training material with the board, so we suggest you modify the Metolius regime from: here You can also read some good training tips from Eric Horsts training books or his page: here

Again we based our routine on Metolius' 10 minute plans and tailored it to what we wanted, we did go into specifics of three fingers hangs etc later on once we'd used the board for a while to see what it was like to train pockets on a board with no pockets... but the video isn't of that routine, it's of our super simple/easy routine that we like to use after a session.

Noodles and Training
Sometimes you just luck out.... or not in my case... but first the pre-amble. As I've said in previous reviews... hangboards if you want to get stronger kind of become a necessary evil. You can really work on your contact strength and if you're limited on space / can't get to a wall etc then these are the simplest solutions for home training. As per usual I'm going to point out that none of us here at CHR are trained in training for climbing, all of our knowledge has come from trial and error (what works for us) and years of climbing....

I said I lucked out didn't I?

Not really :( This review has been a long time coming, we've used the board on and off for months and months. I kind of slacked on my hangboard workouts over Xmas and when I got my new tattoo, which meant no climbing, I hit the boards again for my fix! Now when I want to work my weakness I kind of cheat, as we get to look at different boards I simply switch boards and as I generally write the drafts of the 10 minute sequences we use (with some tweaks after a few sessions) I get to do what I like and therefore work what I like :D

The Iron Palm is a weird one for me, I'll start with the negatives: I don't like the texture as I think it's too grippy and a little spiky in places and I sure as hell hate the dragons on the top rail (I find that my thumb rests on them sometimes), that's it for the bad with the board... well kind of. The top rail flexes when you hang on it with your hands close together and it could use another screw hole... that's it... oh and it's massive... that's really it.

What Jason Kehl has done with this board is nothing short of art. I love the way it looks like Dunnys from Kid Robot on the sides and maaaan I love hanging off of those huge ol' slopers. Way back I asked Jason in an interview we did with him why he didn't use pockets and his reply was short and sweet; "if you want to train three fingers hang off of three fingers"... a good point from someone that isn't particularly known for his words :)

It's a well formed and well rounded board with something the Metolius boards don't have but the Delire board does, yup PINCHES! But these aren't just any ol pinches, no sir these guys are scooped (thicker) towards the bottom which allows you to really hang and pull up on them... hell Bobby hung off of them for a minute, they're that big and that comfortable; in fact the board itself is big and all of the radii of the rungs are ergonomic and friendly.

Hangboards are a personal thing, I've said in the past I like the Metolius Simulator 3D... because it's curved, the texture is right for me. I can train on it a lot because of the curve and the angle (It leans slightly forward) without my elbows paining me the next day... it's by far my favorite board... well it was. I'm now (as of this review and after getting up close and very personal with the Iron Palm) completely split. What the 3D lacks the Iron Palm has, I'm going to have to make a list here I think:
  • I prefer the pinches (the 3D doesn't have any) on the IP
  • I also prefer the top rail jug on the IP to the Metolius' monsters that they have... 
  • I like the edges on the 3D more than the IP's mainly because the Metolius has more choice and I can on the fly change my work out as needed... 
  • but the slopers argh, the slopers, both boards have superb slopers... the 3D has two options (Hell the Project and the 3D have two options) but the IP has those big round balls, and the sloping rails... two of them.
I guess what I'm saying is I like the Iron Palm as much as I like the Metolius Simulator 3D, I'm lucky as I can have both boards set up next to each other and I can move between them to workout the way I want to. If I'd have to make a decision on what I'd have over my doorway the answer is pure and simple, which one of them will fit because they're both pretty big; that's how! There are so many +/-'s with both the boards I couldn't tell you, and that my friends is a first

Chris and Training

I've noticed something about hangboards lately. Like holds, some hangboards are geared towards the climbing nut, while others, like the Iron Palm, are geared towards a beginner.

Like Noodles pointed out, hangboards are a personal thing, and although the Iron Palm may serve a purpose for some, I find that you can best invest your money somewhere else. I'll be honest with you and say that I was impressed by the Iron Palm and especially with the pinches (up to then I had only ever trained on the Metolius boards which are pinch free) but soon realized that this is nothing but a glorified chin up bar. I've been climbing for years and I've never found any use for over developed biceps that may impress a girl at the bar but does very little for improving your climbing ability.

I'm no expert, but I feel that the best way to improve is to climb more and that specific climbing training is used once one has attained a certain level of climbing (5.12/V6). Its like hitting the weights before learning how to skate. When it comes to the Iron Palm, if you can't hang on the board, then no amount of time spent training will improve your ability to climb. Time to hit the wall and reassess your weakness. Now this is just a personal view on training, and there is nothing to say that hangboard training (if properly executed) improves you climbing skills, I just haven't found the use of specific training until lately.

I wish I had more good things to say about the Iron Palm. I really like the pinches, but one good thing can't remove the fact that this HANGboard (emphasis on the HANG) serves better at showing of your biceps at a chin up contest than a climbing training device.
Mark and Training
Ahh, Hangboards..  I`d just like to empathize the fact that it is a hangboard.  So few people use these killer finger workouts properly and start wasting time doing chin ups on them.

I have to give it to the Iron Palm, it catches the eye and you just want to stick on to those two big slopers.  The problem for me is I like seeing how low I can grab them and still hold on yet I always go too low and fall off.

This board is pretty neat style wise and has some good features mixed in with some things that some would like less.  First off, I love the slopers, you can finally work your sloper strength on a board and just play with the angles that you try to stick on to it.  I also really like how you can work your compression strength by squeezing in on the sides of those slopers, a rare thing to find on hangboards.  The pinches hanging just under those slopers are also wicked sticky, almost to the point where I`d say they`re too easy.  I also like the variability in hand positions offered on the crimp rails, left right, center, anywhere; there are no constraining pockets to force you to do any hang in one specific position.

On the downsides for those of us who are picky, the board feels a bit coarse and isn`t overly pleasant on my hands, I`d compare that to brand new holds.  I also find the crimp rails to be problematic to hold onto with less than all your fingers, I guess you  could say it`s awkward.  The top does seem to have some flex in it when fully weighted and the dragons are artistic but get in the way of my thumbs. 

Keep in mind I like my workout tools simple and except for the fact theres a couple of dragons on it this is a nice simple board.  Overall I can`t complain too much, just make sure it fits over you door frame before you go out and get one.

If you're broad shouldered then you're in for a treat as this is the widest board out there right now, so all you big wide guys rejoice!! Below is the overall features on the board:

The texture for us is too much and the dragons that do add some flair to the board can get in the way, the other thing to note is the top rail does seem to have some flex in it as well, nothing that a screw cannot fix, but we're not sure how wise it would be to put one in here, we'd like to see So Ill add an extra hole here for the consumers.

If you want slopers, hell if you love slopers then this is the board for you, same for the pinches which are the best we've come across so far. The board is very well made other than that, there aren't any flaws in the build quality that we're noticed. It's actually worthy to note that if this board is too wide for your door frame then So Ill and Cryptochild do have four (yes four) other boards that you can look at: here 




The board is well situated price wise, it's the biggest board we've got so a one person mounting job is out of the question if you want to make sure you're setting it up level. The major downside to the board is the texture that is a little bit too aggressive for our tastes; it's an interesting plus and minus, some people don't mind the texture as they feel that it allows them to be able to hang on for longer and the other people just like their skin and when they've finished a long session on the wall and then they hit the board sometimes they complain.

It's a well designed board, some people might say that the beauty of the board is it's simplicity, but you do need to have some self control when training and you have to make sure that you train your finger sets on the rails. For some people having pockets on a board makes their life a little easier, for others well they have self discipline :P 

So... when it comes to working your contact strength you need a simple tool, the Ironpalm is that tool, it's a sleek efficient design that will fit in with your Feng shui (if that's your kind of thing) and will look great above a door frame. How useful it is depends upon what you want to get out of it and what you use it for. We've noticed that using it has helped (some of us) with out sloper and pinch strength, but we do use it in a very simple way, and that is, we use it to work our weakness' when we can't get to the gym to get onto a rope.

  • Great slopers
  • Simple design
  • You'll need some discipline to train finger sets
  • Texture might be a little too much for some people
  • Might be a little too wide for some doorways


climbrocks said...

does the iron palm come with a back board? thanks
i enjoy reading your guys reviews keep up the good work

ntmb said...

no, you need one

Anonymous said...

i think that during the test you just forgot one thing, this is the best training device ever. If you look at the over all view THREE holds were forgoten during the overall view. Under the (1) big ball sloper there is a flat surface ( try to pinch with the thumb over there ( hardcore sloopey pinch)i founded two other holds the number 7 and number 2 with out the thumb. If u use this board wisely i'm sure this thing is a killer.