Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review > Atomik > XL Font Pinches

This review we've got some more holds from Atomik and get this a guest climber; Ol' John Bowles was hanging out at Wallnuts Climbing Center, here in St Johns, NL. He joined in for the review when we were filming so that's kind of a win win!!

The good thing about having John around is he certainly gave me some beta to get my ass up the climb; what's embarrassing is I set the problem and I needed the help :) Those of you that's not from Canada may not recognize John, he won the Tour De Bloc a few years back and he's one of the nicest people you'll ever meet!! He just happened to be in town so we took him out to some of Newfoundlands untapped rock potential!!

Atomik is no stranger to Climbing Hold Review; Noodles and Chris have reviewed tons of their stuff over the years and our new partner Chris Simmons just did a review in conjunction with us. In fact Atomik is probably the most reviewed company on the page as they're always happy to send out their new holds for review.

These holds are actually something that I brought and paid for myself... I ordered them back in October 2014 when I was ordering some other holds for review. I have a pretty large home wall in my back yard (see the walk through video for that) and Noodles pointed me towards these holds, I wanted some slopey pinches, he trawled through his memory (seriously the guy can name most holds and companies from a picture) and he suggested these:

These holds may look innocuous but they're a little bit special... anyways where was I??

This being my second order from Atomik I'll say that they're batting 2 for 2 on shipping; both times I've ordered holds from them I've received an email the same day saying that my holds had shipped!! The emails always had a tracking number and a rough date for delivery. Atomik is seems keeps a large stock of holds so when someone just orders a single set if it's in stock they just send it out the door, of course if they don't have the color you want then they'll have to pour it but from what I've heard from the boys this is no more than 48hrs!! What more could you want really?? I order holds, they're in stock and then they ship, worst case it's 48hrs before my order ships (And Atomik ships and pours a boat load of holds daily)

48hrs; yeah! That is customer service for sure

I received the holds a couple of weeks after ordering as it is international shipping from Utah, from the US to us as far east in Canada as you can go means that shipping takes time! My friend and route setter came out as soon as the holds arrived this was a pretty good sign, as soon as he saw these holds the wrenches were out and we were away. He set a problem on a 15 degree angle that kept spitting us off for a few sessions.

Seeing as it was November when we got the holds and my home wall is outside, we only set once with these holds before Winter had gone down south to bother some other people. We headed indoors to escape the cold but the holds remained outside for the season; considering the temperature changes that we receive I was wondering how the holds would fare through the winter; winter here come with alot of precipitation varying from rain to snow to rain. When I did check in the Spring, the holds looked almost exactly the same as I'd left them, there was even some chalk left on them. I do have a tarp hanging over the front of the wall which means that the holds are spared from the full force of the elements... but the temperature issue is still there, I'm amazed that they didn't crack! Let me tell you the Winter was one of the wettest I've seen in a long, long time.

We did eventually bring the holds inside to our local gym, Wallnuts Climbing Center, we set with them on every angle possible, These holds make some nice lay-back heel hooking routes on lower angles and the holds holds are placed in a horizontal position. Very early on we discovered that you need to decide when setting how you want the holds to be used, whether it be as a sloper, pinch or as a crimp; it's really up to the setter and what they want to set. As we all know (or should) Font is a texture that's similar to a tortoise shell, or elephant skin (depending upon the region of Font you're climbing in so Noodles says); depending upon the angle of how the holds is set you end up crimping on the creases. Using them as pinches is generally you're best bet, what makes these holds a little tricky is when you hitting them is getting your fingers into the optimal position in the Font pattern.

Just like in the infomercials... there's more! If the slightly tech gripping positions wasn't enough for you, did I mention that these buggers are savage to hold onto? Let's put it this way; when I took these into the gym one of the setters said the review should be like this "these are do good because they're so bad to hold onto" and this guy climbs 5.13; so yeah they're pretty challenging!!


These holds aren't easy; if you're an intermediate to experienced climber then you're going to want these on any wall to set anything from V2-V10+ with them; as usual it's all about the feet :) The real beauty of these holds is the value, if you're a lower grades climber with a wall then you're going to be challenged by these holds for a long time without getting bored with them. The steeper you go the harder the grade (which is generally the case) and it's easy to set double digit problems with these guys on a 60 degree overhang. If you want something easier then Atomik sells different versions of these holds in sets ranging from #1 (incut) to #5 (slopey) Set #5 or #4 (neutral) are going to let you set with more finesse in your harder problems and they still come with a hold that's possible to make a dyno to; if you want sets to purely chuck to then look at #1 & 2.

  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $15.23 per hold
  • Color: Mixed bright tones for us
  • Bolt placement: Center 
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: Yes
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Lightly textured sandstone; needs a brush from time to time
  • Set size: XL
  • Versatility: Good from 10-60 degrees
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: TBC
  • Weight: TBC
  • Where can you get them:  here
  • Distributors: Japan; Israel (Hard Rock Climbing Walls)
These holds are very well shaped, the design despite them just being pinches is tricky which is a nice benefit for spitting your friends off of a problem that looks easy. As usual the hollow back is taken pretty much to the max so these holds are light; there's always that compromise between strength and being light and Atomik has always walked this line very well

The color on these holds (and others that I own from Atomik) is solid with no fade away towards the edges.

Missing a set screw hole is something that should be on any hold and would have made this set perfect; when climbing and setting with them I managed to spin them a few times... we've always said (or Noodles has) that set screw holes are a must on anything like this. For now you're going to have to drill your own.

You should probably buy these holds, unless you don't like fun and then you should probably stop climbing :)


Great not even a mark on the box

I love these holds, heck for me these are going to be a staple on my wall... from the start of your climbing career to the end these holds are going to create great problems.... these may even be my favorite set from Atomik! Well ok, Atomik has a lot of holds to choose from, but between these the Yarino sets and the simple slopers (review: here) or the set that our new partner in crime Chris Simmons just reviewed (review: here) I really think that I'd choose these guys. They are just so delicate to hold onto it's what makes them special in my mind; they stand their ground against other hold companies pinches that's for sure.

Sure other companies make Font pinches but these are different; most of the others are more rounded, these holds have that hexagonal pattern that's a little flatter and these holds are WIDE!!

For me it's about the hard burly problems, throw in some finesse and a touch of funk and I'm happy. You want these holds for your wall, gyms should look at multiples of the whole range because the variety of what can be set for the price that they're at (considering the size) you can't really find much better IMHO

  • Technical meets burly
  • Easy to set a wide range of grades
  • Great price
  • Choose your color
  • No pre-drilled set screw holes :(

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