Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review > Black Swan > Warblers / Paw-Kets & Worms


Dalton over at Black Swan wanted to surprise us with some new shapes... but he forgot our address so he had to ask for it :) He was keen to see what we thought of his new shapes that he has put up onto his site the last month or so... we review holds, we like surprises and despite knowing shapes are on the way he didn't tell us what was actually going to arrive.

The postman knocks and we get a box... oh sometimes it's like Christmas when the postman arrives and to be honest this box was something we were really keen to see. Now those of you that read Climbingholdreview will know that we reviewed Black Swans first offerings a while back and they were under par in a bunch of places, that being said what was in this box made people stop and take a second look. From unwrapping to that first special touch, we knew that Black Swan and Dalton had kicked it up a notch!!! What did we get?


Paw-Kets, Warblers and Worms; we didn't get the full sets (except in the cast of the Paw-Kets) so we decided to put them all together and to set some longer routes and see what we could see... and feel :)

Let's kick off with:

We only got three of these shapes and from the start you see the sharp edges and think "oh crap these are going to hurt"... but they don't and we kind of wish we had the full range. You can think of these shapes and cubes that have been twisted a little with a nice sloped edges. They climb really well and have way more grabbing and matching options than you'd expect

We have three of these, the two larger ones and the top middle one. These guys allow you a variety of pinches any way you set them and the grooves allow your fingers to slot in for a little more grip and pull-ability. They have some nice screw holes as well

Pockets, argh, they're either going to be nice or they're going to be crappy and hurt. You can get at least three fingers into all of the holes and they're positive.... AND get this, they're pretty deep so you can be a little silly when you set because you have so much skin on them. It's a nice thing to see... some pockets that don't actually suck

Like we said we wanted to set some longer routes with these guys, so that's what we did, we decided to go from one side of the wall to the other using these holds and the Molecule (there are another set of Black Swan holds in there as well but they're for a later review) Getting across the door and out of the Molecule that was stationed at the bottom of the 45 degree wall was going to be the trickier parts. Despite what the video looks like we did move the holds around on the two routes that we filmed (there were many more that we didn't film) if you watch closely you'll see some of the Paw-Kets change positions and the Worms get turned. What ended up happening is a route that was technical without much of a chance to stop and rest... pretty much what we wanted.

One thing that was apparent from all of the climbing we did, and we spent a good long time on these holds and just climbed on these holds some evenings, is that they're friendly to the skin and to the tendons. They're good training shapes, they may not look amazing but they climb superbly....


If you look at the sets we're reviewing the stand outs are the Paw-kets and the Warblers. The pockets are finger friendly and you can go up to 45 degrees without too much bother, they're deep enough to allow some steep pulling. The Warblers are pretty well the same, on a 45 they're hard but fun to grab on, it's a shame we don't have the full set because we would have set some much longer routes with just those holds

We'd suggest the Warblers and Paw-Kets for a home wall and a bunch of fun. 


  • Number of holds: 
    • Paw-Kets: 3
    • Worms: 5
    • Warblers: 8
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt on
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
    • Paw-Kets: $20/3 = $6.67 per hold
    • Worms:$50/5 = $10 per hold
    • Warblers: $55/5 = $11 per hold
  • Color: Black
  • Bolt placement: Good
  • Sanding: Good
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Fine but grippy
  • Set size:
    • Paw-Kets:Medium
    • Worms: Larger to medium
    • Warblers: Medium
  • Versatility:
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes on the Worms
  • Shaper: Donovan Craig
  • Weight: Various
From the little Black Swan logo on the tops to the fine texture that gives them their grip there isn't much to complain about.... except that we feel that the set screw holes on the Worms are a little tighter than we'd really like, they're also not pre-drilled so you have to drill them out yourself.

The quality of the holds and shaping has gone up 1000%, they're all sanded nice and flat, the texture is fine but it shines through when they're chalked up to all hell, and the shapes allow you to play around with a route and tweak it out more so than some other holds. There aren't any flaws with these holds their mix is good and strong (we dropped a bunch of holds whilst setting) and there wasn't a problem

As the holds are deeper than what we saw originally you don't need to worry about how ape handed you are with a wrench, tighten them up as much as you'd like and don't worry about it.

As usual the holds came in Black, which is something we like as you can see how you're gripping when you first touch the holds you can leave chalk prints on them and figure out how you did it the first time and then you can play with your grip to climb the route in a different style just for fun



I read a bunch, and I've spoken to Donovan Craig the shaper of these sets of holds. When I saw he posted this on there:
Foam blanks of the Worms: Donovan Craig
I was kind of... "Oooo those look like fun", three months later I get some of those holds :) Donovan is an up and coming shaper and I think you'll be seeing more of his shapes from various companies in the future... mark my words. Shapers are rare breeds and they generally don't disappear :P

Off topic as usual... Black Swan have totally got their shit into shape. Our first review was something that was hard (for all of us here) hard to write, but we pride ourselves on being honest so we went ahead and said what needed to be said. This time there is little to complain about, the shapes climb really well, the mix is solid and as usual the holds are black lol. So really no worries. My only concern is the screw holds on the Worms as they look a little and are a little too tight for my liking... but seriously if that's all I can really point a finger at then they're doing a pretty stand up job.

On a different (and more praising note), Dalton who lets face it took a bunch of harsh criticism from us has great big balls to send more holds! Think about it, if you sent something and it got a bad review you'd not do it again. Dalton is a rare creature, like Donovan, he listened to what we said and then he did exactly what needed to be done... that needs some praise and a tip of the hat.

I will and I suggest you should keep an eye on these guys, they're not a big name company and they don't have many sets (YET) but I think that in the future they will produce some shapes that you're going to want to look at. For me the Warblers are sublime, love em... Paw-Kets are pockets that don't hurt (yey!) and the Worms, well they're pinches... a little different from the rest and fun to play with, they're strangely a little Hueco in style

Oh yeah, they look kind of pretty when your camera over flashes:

I've been busy so I've only spent a little time on these holds, I climbed the routes when they were there (and when I had time) and there are a couple of things that stand out. The cubes (Warblers) look like they will hurt but they don't at all and the pockets allow you to crank down and stick a move and then pull through really well. The route that Noodles set had a crux that went from the Molecule to the pockets to a Worm as a finishing move... Mark fell off of the last move HA!, as he was too casual with his hand placements... me, I ripped through it and it was fun.

There were some other holds in there that is another review for Black Swan... but I'd say between the holds I can't really talk about and the Warblers, I'd get the Warblers as they are versatile and have a really clean style to them.

The Black Swans, I climbed on them a whole lot on them, I did really enjoy the route we had set up, mostly cause there was a nice little variety to the sets, Pinches, crimps, even some small juggy edges. As for their texture.......Great! They offer plenty of friction without sanding your skin off. I never felt my fingers hurting on these, and I find that to be important. climbing is supposed to be fun, and in a nut shell that's what Black Swan offers with this sets.

  • Nice and strong
  • Good price
  • The set screw holes on the Worms are a little tight and not drilled

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