Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review > Etch Climbing Holds > Big Stuff

Etch is one of the companies we're been trying to review since we began this little roller coaster ride that is CHR!; they began in 2004 so they've been around for a while... there have been some ups and downs and at one point we thought that they'd actually gone away for good... our worries were unfounded and they're pouring some of their classic shapes for all to enjoy again

If you don't know Etch or have never climbed on their shapes you may actually recognize one of their ads:
 "Only mother nature makes better shapes" is their tag line so lets dive in and see what we're playing with this time:

The Big Wurm (6XL Feature)
 Hueco Flake (3XL)
The Egg (5XL)
Erosion (4XL)

Yup; we're playing with the big guys; we'll look at the smaller sets at a later date! Like Noodles said in the walk through it's like playing with the Dirty 1/3 Dozen; whatever we're going to set is going to be very spicy to say the least.

 Out the packaging all of the holds are pretty well as you see on the website; the colors are bold and nice and solid and the holds all have a heft to them that will work out your arms when you're hauling them up a ladder. All of the shapes are bagged up and they have tags and a bar code so if you're not setting right away you can check you've actually have what you ordered. We didn't go ripping into the bags right away, no sir, we kept a couple of them still in their wrappers (we did feel them through their plastic wombs for sure) so when Noodles actually sat down and recorded the walk through you'd be able to see his reaction as he took them out.

Sometimes its like Christmas with us a holds :)

As per usual we decided to take the holds to our little test center and to put them on the wall for the monthly comp... hmm four large holds, two are slopers and the others are massive jugs; then add the fact that the wall is overhung and you end up having what we set... we had to add in a few other holds to make the moves actually do-able because if they weren't there no one was ever going to be able to climb... so under cling to under cling to slopers to sloper match and finish on the Teknik Talon.

Two things because immediately apparent. The Egg (that the boss remembers from way back when) we knew was going to be hard... we liked it so much that we actually used it on two comp routes that day the intermediate and the advanced routes to be exact and it spat off 99% of the climbers that touched it... the surprise was the Erosion! It has a dimple that a sloper jug on it's underside and we thought that once people hit it then the route was just going to be over... hahaha nope. The Erosion is much harder than expected; we totally underestimated how hard it was to grab and match that guy (our bad)

Both routes were completed that evening, the intermediate route saw a handful of assents; the advanced route only saw two people get to the top. If we were setting a comp then that is near perfect setting as we'd have split the field in qualifiers!!! Since the routes have seen a lot of traffic and the holds are holding up very very well

SUGGESTED USES The Big Wurm (6XL Feature):

This is a hold that you can just chuck to all day long, make massive side pull routes and basically have fun with; there aren't any angle problems with this guy because it's so incut that anyone can hang onto it for days! The steeper the better as far as we're concerned with this hold


If anything this hold is more of a jug than anything else, set it as a sidepull and yeah it's a nice Hueco flake for sure! Dynos to this guy are a little tricky as it could do with a slightly more rounded lip to it's gripping area... again no angle constraints because you can loose two hands in this hold easily


Evil has a name and it's egg shaped; this is probably one of the hardest slopers you'll come across on even a shallow angle. If your hands are like bear paws then on the steep routes you'll be able to wrap and just pinch this hold... this is a classic Etch hold and man it'll make you work wherever it's placed


This was a shape that surprised us; it looks easier than it actually is! The subtle sloper jug allows it to be used on steeper walls but if you're setting a match then be careful with the moves you're pulling at it will go above the grade of what you're setting quickly.

  • Number of holds: 4
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons):
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
    • Egg: $80
    • The Wurm: $90
    • Erosion: $70
    • Hueco Flake: $60
  • Color:
    • Egg: Orange
    • The Wurm: Yellow
    • Erosion: Dark Green
    • Hueco Flake: Yellow
  • Bolt placement: All holds have a well placed bolt hole
  • Sanding:
    • Egg: good but it seems like it jumped the sanding belt and was nicked
    • The Wurm: Very good for a shape this size
    • Erosion: A little off
    • Hueco Flake: Awesome
  • Hollow backed: Yes all four
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: All the holds have very good grip but not too much to kill your skin
  • Set size: From 3XL to 6XL 
  • Versatility:
    • Egg: Fair, its an evil sloper
    • The Wurm: Awesome, put it wherever you want
    • Erosion: Great, Trickier than you think
    • Hueco Flake: Awesome, roooooooof jug!!
  • Pre-drilled screw holes:
    • Egg: No
    • The Wurm: Yes two
    • Erosion: Yes
    • Hueco Flake: No!
  • Shaper: TBC
  • Weight:
    • Egg: 9.9lbs
    • The Wurm: 9.3lbs
    • Erosion: 7.42lbs
    • Hueco Flake: 4.22lbs
  • Where can you get them:
This is always the hardest part to write! Noodles is a bloody fan boy and well everyone likes these holds... so we'll do what we do and we'll break it down for you!

There is an inconsistency with set screw holes in what we have; some holds have them and others don't, it's kind of the done thing for anything from medium up to have at least one set screw hole (some gyms won't buy holds without a hole!) and the fact that the hold that will spin the most (the Hueco Flake) doesn't have set screw holes is a little strange. Maybe they're still pouring from the original molds where set screws weren't as common, who knows.

The sanding overall was pretty good, a few little ahem moments here and there but nothing so bad. It is apparent that the Egg when being sanded got nicked a little on the inside (nothing that would compromise its strength) but enough that Noodles points it out and then talks to himself about what it could have been; its a shame as it's one of those small details that we're going to notice

All of the holds have a good weight to them; maybe in some cases compared to other new people out there they'll be seem as too heavy; honestly they're built strong and to last!

Color-wise; the only one we didn't like was the Erosion, the green is very dark and it'd be hard to match between other holds that you may have at your gym and we suggest they look at the pantones that have become some what of an industry standard and then tweak it from there. But the color goes all the way through and doesn't bleed out towards the edges.

On the texture front these holds don't need that much brushing over time the texture is there and doesn't rip your hands to shreds after repeated hours of climbing. The Egg and the Wurm have dual texture which is a nice embellishment upon them; with the Egg it's a nice touch and does allow some shallow matches where the texture and dual texture meets, with the Wurm is makes people think twice about using it as a huge foothold... problem is you can as the texture is dimpled and it doesn't really stop you (it really depends upon how you're setting). With that said the Wurm does have a nice break just below the jugged area where you can catch a crimp and then bump your hand which is a very nice touch

As usual it sounds like we're going a little overboard with the negatives... we're not; we're just saying what we're seeing when we review holds. Now... what is good about these holds is they were on the 2014 Grip List of holds to buy; yup. Etch maybe an older company but they're still putting out products that people want to climb on! Remember this list of from climbing peers so to even get on there is an amazing feat!!! All of holds carry a 30 day no BS return warranty which is a nice thing to have when you're buying holds that you may not know 

Pricing; well when we look at it... The Wurm for $90 really? That's cheap considering the size of it! The Hueco Flake maybe a little over priced but overall they're bang on the money if a little cheaper than you'd expect

All of the holds climb really well, the Hueco if you're launching at it maybe a little sharper than we'd like but the rest are great!! They all feel like old friends... but they're new holds fresh from the factory 


Awesome all holds bagged and tagged

Fk yeah!

I honestly thought that Etch had gone the way of the Do-Do; and they did disappear for a long time and that made me sad... and then I get a message on Facebook about reviewing their holds, was I ever going to turn down that offer? Nope, no sir I've wanted to get my grubby mitts on some of these holds and give them a good going over for a long long time!


Because Etch is one of the long(er) running companies out there and they have some what we call Classic shapes. You see the Egg on a route or the UFO aka the Orbship on a route then you KNOW EXACTLY what you're in for... and that is probably a hard time. I used to compete in the UK in the Southern Bouldering League and when I saw these holds I always wanted to get onto the route to test my mettle so to speak and tested I was. Way back when when I started this site I talked to Etch about getting holds but it never really panned out... then like I said I get a message out of the blue

What better reason when coming back from a 2yr (still ongoing) injury to get out train and get ready for the challenge of some Etch holds?

Setting with the big guys (and we do have smaller guys as well) was a challenge that we set outselves; we wanted to come back with a bang and we wanted to really see what a comp setting would do for these holds. It wasn't a disappointment, I  was there filming and everyone that tried the routes walked away worked but happy, when the comp ended you could see people getting back on the wall and going back for more, there were discussions about the Egg especially. You could hear people talking about how to grab it, where to grab it, what to do with the move and I was happy to see and hear this; I spoke to a bunch of people and despite them not knowing the brand they all liked the holds... so that's bloody good news from a reviewers POV and for Etch themselves because they made a mark very quickly

As always it comes down to would I buy these holds?

If I take my fan boy hat off then yes, there are many Etch holds i'd buy! With the big big stuff being so cheap I'd grab a bunch of it (probably 4XL and above) it's the price of the smaller (not small / medium etc) XL's that put me off a little... I can get teh BIG stuff for an extra $10 / $20 then i'd go that direction first and the 2XL / 3XL stuff later if I needed it.

I'm happy Etch is back pouring holds again and you should be too! They're shapes that most people should look at and purchase

ETCH.... hmm. I remember that company from the adverts with the lady in them. That's how I know them. I'd never seen or held their shapes, I'd never had the chance... mind you i'm almost the same age and Jeremy maybe I didn't travel enough :)

The first thing I noticed with these holds is the weight, they are heavy... but we're a little spoiled where we see a lot of products from a lot of companies so we do see super light stuff. These holds if you don't drop them from high up will stand the test of time, we're talking the weight of the Boss (nah) but with better material for sure!! These things are bomb proof!

Climbing on the routes as we set I was happy to find that the holds climb extremely well, better than I expected for sure; I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of them. It's a hard thing to explain feel but these holds just feel good, they're comfy and the texture reminded me of grippy velvet lol

Now would I buy these holds?

Yes; but someone else is hauling the big stuff up the ladder. I'm looking forward to out next Etch review with the smaller shapes we have because they look amazing, Noodles won't let me even take them out of the bags yet. I'm excited by Etch


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