Monday, October 17, 2011

Review > Kando Holds > Smoothies

Planet Holds

As the name of the review suggests these guys are smoooth... or are they? That's really the question... this week we're looking at Kando Holds Smoothie set. We've had them a good long time and it's time to put them through the Climbing Hold Review wringer :)

What you're going to get when you order these holds are these:

They look pretty inconspicuous right? And you'd be right, they are! These guys are some nicely shaped smooth radius holds that either double as slopey edges or as pinches... you're getting a double whammy with these guys... hell some of these holds are so positive that you can use them as some tenuous mini jugs... but that last sentence does come with an interesting mini warning. You know when you're leaning back, reaching for a hold... really reaching and your body hits that angle where the hold doesn't end up being that good? Well that's what these guys do, check the video with Jeremy reaching out, his feet rip off of the wall because that happened, somehow he hung on and finished up the rest of the route but we were kind of worried about the head smashing fall he could have taken, ah, just another day at CHR :P

So these holds are a mix of edges, sort of mini jugs and positive as all hell pinches... they have a lot going for them but there (as always) is a but. Let us explain:
When you look at the holds we first reviewed from Kando Holds (The Erosion) we never complained about the texture too much, because the shaping kind of worked around the smooth texture... we did complain about the brittle sounding holds but overall it was a good first review... here we have a weird flip side of the coin. These holds are solid, they don't sound brittle at all despite being made from polyester resin... infact they sound and feel really solid. So that probably comes down to the holds not being pockets, but what's weird is that there were some similar sized holds in the Erosion set that sounded brittle but the Smoothies don't. Maybe it's down to the mix, who knows, but there is a totally different feel to these guys than the others.

Next, lets look at the texture, the Erosions were pretty smooth on the texture front... there's nothing bad with that but the Smoothies are like sandpaper and you'll notice that after some really hard moves and a couple of good trys on whatever you've set that your skin is a little flayed. These holds are kind of emery boards, you can climb and sand your skin at the same time. Now, the Grit Stone from Dream Holds was way way worse, but those holds were made to imitate real rock so we kind of expected that, with these guys it's just a side effect from the texture. It's almost like these holds want the Erosion texture and the Erosions want the Smoothie texture :) Then, apart from the smooth radii of the holds, then they'd properly live up to their name.

Ah complain, is that all we do? We have had these holds on and off of the wall for over six months. We've set easy routes, hard routes and just bloody stupid routes with them. We've thrown them in buckets, dropped them and just abused them. Now something we'd not have done with the Erosions is drop them because they'd break, these guys... nah, these guys are solid and despite our (purposeful) chucking them into buckets and throwing holds on top of them all of the edges are fine... so we know that the holds are solid, maybe a little too solid because they are slightly heavy but nothing you'd really complain about. The texture is a little rougher than needed but these holds to inspire "I can do that" out of a climber because of their level of grip, sure people with new skin won't be able to climb on them for hours at a time, but anyone that's got good skin will notice a little wear, will shrug it off and then just continue without worrying too much

So a good bunch of pinches and edges that are a little heavy; nothing to really complain about


If you use these holds in pinch mode then you can put them onto a roof, they're not bomber in anyway shape of form but you can use them. If you're playing in edge / jug mode then you can get a lock on them but it's hard as all hell.

Where these shapes really shine is steep angles up to 60 degrees, you can really clamp down and haul ass on them. On anything below 60 they do seem pretty easy... so you know us we set low and hard on flat and slightly angled walls and you can match all of the holds no matter which way they're placed. These holds are a strange mix of a "Lot of pinch" and "A little less jug and edge", it comes down to how you set and how you want to climb to see how far you can go and how much potential you can milk from these guys. At first we were totally meh on these holds, but after a few times setting with them you can really start to see what you can do with them... just beware of the slightly sand papery texture


  • Number of holds: 10
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 35 Euros / 10 = 3.5 Eur0s per hold
  • Color: Ours are dark green
  • Bolt placement: Centred and good
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: A little sandpapery
  • Set size: Medium
  • Versatility: Great
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: Kando Holds
  • Weight: 2.5kg
  • Distribution:
Lets get the nagging things out of the way right from the start, these holds are a little heavy for their size because they're polyester resin. Ah resin you say, then they'll chip! Not these holds they're super strong which when you read our other review is a little strange as the other set of holds feel like if you look at them wrongly they'll break as well... NOTE: the other set has chipped up a little.  That's it for nagging issues

Sanding on these holds is great and you can see that all of the holds have seen the angry side of a sheet of sand paper, the bolt holes and washers are all flush and nicely placed, all of the holds have an engraved "K" for Kando Holds so you can find them when they're mixed in with other holds

All of the shapes are really well shaped and are tendon friendly, the texture is the only thing that might give your skin a little grief, they are a little grippier than you may want for a home wall, gyms will find that it beds in well after a period of time. We've had these holds on the wall for six months and we're yet to brush one of them, that's a good and bad thing, the more chalk they get onto them the better they will feel! They make great pinches and if you use them horizontally then there are two edge options so you can get a lot out of them without too much trouble,

None of these holds have pre-drilled screw holes, which they need as you can spin them when they're weighted on one side.

Polyester Resin


Did we say this last time? When you go to Kandos site they have music, when you click on a set and then browse you're all good and then, and then you click on catalog and the music restarts... it's almost as annoying as having to install all the bloody Apple updates. If you're wise you'll turn the music off, oh but wait browse a set of holds and then click on catalog... and fuck me the music starts again... argh!! Imagine how annoying that is when you're looking for holds, trust me it's enough to drive you mad

Right, rant over!

Kando, they're in a funny place for me. I've seen a lot of holds, I own a lot of holds and sometimes there are companies that kind of make me sit back and wonder. The difference in the feel and weight between the two sets of holds we've reviewed has me wondering if they really have their mix dialed in, they sound when you tap them on a wall so different. Take two holds from any other company and knock them on a wall, they'll sound the same, take two of Kandos holds and do the same and you have something that sounds brittle and something you could use as a weapon.

 I prefer the weapon sound, the brittle sound kind of unnerves me a little.

Then look at the texture, these guys are called the Smoothies. The shapes back that name up but the texture doesn't. But the texture on the Erosions is smooth(er), it's like they're the wrong way around.


Both sets climbed really well, the Smoothies being the better of the two sets that's for sure, but I feel that we'd need to see more shapes to really get a feel for Kando. Does that make sense? Let me explain.
Lets take Teknik, when I order Teknik holds I know what I'm getting and I know what to expect, I know the quality and I know EXACTLY what I'm getting into, same with Climb It, E-Grips and a whole bunch of other companies. With Kando I think I can be surprised by what I'd receive, I'd not be sure if I'm getting great but brittle sounding holds or super awesome holds that sound bomber. I'd like to suggest that whatever the mix the Erosions was made of be totally thrown away and to use the Erosion mix and stick with that, it's got a better weight and those holds feel like quality.

People send us holds for review and for our unbiased opinion, and I know that writing the above I'm going to get into a little trouble, but do I rail it back... HA, god no! We blind order peoples holds, they get the same treatment, I am the Canadian rep for a bunch of companies and I give them both barrels on here sometimes... know what they do? They go and fix the problems and then continue on making holds that are a better quality. Kando, hopefully will do the same.

Would I buy and / or suggest to you, dear reader, that you buy the Smoothies? I'm totally torn. They have a lot to offer but you have to really play with them to find it, they're not just "plug and play" (or in this case "bolt and climb") they do need a little thought when you're setting because there are options: default being pinching them; but if you do sit and fondle the holds a little, if you do sit and think about what you want to set and what you want to get out of your route then sure go and grab a set, the price is alright and shipping won't cause you to have to take our a second mortgage on your house... BUT if you want something to just chuck up onto the wall then sure buy them, BUT you're wasting a set of holds that could be used for so much more.

I agree with what Noodles says, except I prefer to climb on the Erosions more than these guys. Why, because I like the smooth texture, sure they're not as versatile as these guys but I don't know (brittle sound aside) I just like them

There have been so many routes that we've set on these holds it all becomes a blur of movement for me. The one thing that does stick into my mind is that out of the box these holds hurt your skin and that's coming from someone that climbs a lot, I dumped these holds into chalk and just chalked and chalked and chalked to try to lessen the texture so they were comfortable for sessions and only now after 6 months has the texture got to a point where I'll hit a route set with them more than just a couple of times. If someone goes near to the holds with a brush then I tell them to stop because the texture is there no matter what!!

Gyms will love these holds, because they are a weird mix of shapes that can be used in a variety of ways and because they will last a long time because of their texture. Home wall owners will find the same problems we had and might end up sanding or etching down the texture down a degree or two. I don't mind these holds, they could do with screw holes because we've spun them a bunch of times but other than that I have no problems

  • Versatile
  • You don't need to brush them because the texture is always there
  • Super strong material
  • Texture takes a long time to bed in
  • They're a little heavy
  • No set screw holes

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