If you’re building an in-home rock climbing wall you’ve probably done a considerable amount of research and have a strong understanding of rock climbing — but picking the best climbing holds is the single most important step in building an at-home rig...and the most expensive. Here are a couple of things you’ll definitely need to keep in mind when choosing which holds to buy.
Table of Contents
- Things to Consider When Choosing Rock Climbing Holds
- Best Climbing Holds on the Market Review
- 1. Metolius Mega Hold Pack - Best Variety Pack
- 2. Metolius Super 7 Pack - Best Budget
- 3. Rocky Mountain Climbing Gear Holds Pack
- 4. Metolius Foundation Hold Pack - Best for Beginners
- 5. Grip a Rock 20-Piece Pack - Most Authentic
- 6. Atomik Dripstone Jug Pack
- 7. Metolius Greatest Chips - Most Advanced
Things to Consider When Choosing Rock Climbing Holds
Type of Training
For your first pack of holds, it’s in your best interest — and your budget’s best interest — to buy a rock climbing hold pack with the widest variety you can find. Later on, you’ll be able to purchase additional holds to diversify your at-home route setting capabilities — but in the beginning, you’re going to need a solid variety just to get some basic routes on the wall. It doesn’t make sense to buy just a chip pack, just a jug pack, or just a pinch pack. Have you ever climbed a route — indoor or outdoor — that only had one type of hold? Of course not.
There are plenty of packs that offer a great mix of hold types so you can get those first couple of routes up on the wall relatively inexpensively. Once you’ve established your foundational collection of rock climbing holds, diversify based on what you want to train. If you’re lousy at pinches and are looking to improve, purchase a couple — or a bunch — of pinch holds to mix into your routes and build up that grip strength. Crimps causing you issues? Same idea — buy a pack of crimpy chips to push your finger strength to the limit.
Bolt-On versus Screw-On
Bolt-on holds are arguably more secure — but they also offer less versatility. For obvious reasons, you can only place bolt-on holds where there are bolt holes. This means the holds are bolted in and therefore more secure — but if you want a hold in that negative space between the bolt holes you screwed in you’re — pun intended — screwed. Screw-on holds offer a little more versatility as they can be placed anywhere. That being said, a lot of rock climbing hold packs come with a mix of bolt-on and screw-on holds. This is probably the best option if you’re unsure of which type of security you’re really looking for.
You should also keep in mind how often you plan to switch out your routes. If you plan to set routes that offer a diverse range of training or routes that train areas you’ll always need improvement in — for example, you’ll always need routes to train endurance regardless of your current climbing level — then maybe you won’t need to switch out your routes very often and it makes sense to purchase mostly bolt-on holds. However, if you plan to switch it up pretty regularly, it might be in your best interested to purchase easier-to-remove screw-on holds.
Indoor rock climbing holds come in a wide range of different textures depending on the brand, manufacturing style, and type of hold. Different brands use different processes for manufacturing — this often results in different types of hold textures. Generally, you’re going to find rock climbing holds that fall somewhere on a spectrum from rough, gritty, grippy, and sharp to smooth and slippery. Since no indoor rock climbing hold is ever truly going to be able to mimic real rock (although there are some manufacturers experimenting with producing real-rock climbing holds for), the texture you purchase for your at-home gym really comes down to preference. You’ll notice that rock climbing walls in gyms use a variety of different textures depending on the type of hold — this is a good route to go if you want to mimic the style of route setting you’re going to find in indoor gyms.
Since at-home rock climbing rigs are generally working with a limited amount of space, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the footprint of your rock climbing holds. A general rule guide to follow when planning out your rock climbing wall is at least one hold per square foot of wall surface — but most of the at-home rock climbing rigs you’re going to find squeeze in a hold on every square inch of space possible in order to maximize that one or two sheets of plywood that fit in your garage/attic/backyard. Pay attention to how many big, feature holds you’re going to need — if you really need any at all. Holds like volumes and large jugs are going to take up a significant amount of your footprint, and — in most cases — aren’t going to provide a ton of opportunity to train.
It might be helpful to pick rock climbing holds that can serve different purposes. In general, you want 60% of the holds you buy to be medium holds, 10% to be small/crimp holds, 10% to be large/jug holds, and 20% to be footholds. But if you can find types of holds that can serve dual purposes — a crimp you could also get a toe on later in the route, a jug that could serve as a toe-hook or bat hang hold, an irregular hold with multiple surfaces that can be used for different routes from different angles — you’re increasing the versatility of your rock climbing holds and therefore making it easier to set diverse, effective training routes in your at-home gym.
Best Climbing Holds on the Market Review
1. Metolius Mega Hold Pack - Best Variety Pack
A lot of the hold packs on the list are going to be Metolius brand rock climbing holds — because they’ve been in the game for 20 years and they’re good at it. Most of their rock climbing holds come with a rough texture that relatively closely mimics the texture you would find on real rock making your training that much more effective for your trips to the crag. They also come in just about the widest variety you’ll find in a rock climbing hold pack. You can just a pack with 30, 40, 50, or 60 holds in a whole variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. Not sure if you need bolt-on or screw-on style holds? This pack comes with a mix. But don’t get overwhelmed — this pack also comes with all the hardware you need and a How to Build a Home Bouldering Wall booklet.
And when they say variety — they mean variety. These packs include footholds, rails, modulars, micros, mini jugs, roof jugs, big, medium, small, and everything in between. As mentioned above, it’s in your best interest to choose a pack with a wide variety when you’re first setting up your at-home rock climbing wall. This is the perfect pack for that. Metolius holds aren’t cheap, but you’re paying for the high-quality polyurethane resin production that you get. And, again, it comes with all the hardware. No additional costs on tools and hardware to worry about. The only downside to these is they’ve been known to crack if over-torqued. Read the manual first.
2. Metolius Super 7 Pack - Best Budget
Again, Metolius is really the leader of the pack when it comes to rock climbing holds. This smaller, more budget-friendly pack still has the quality, hardware, and variety you can expect from Metolius’s bigger rock climbing hold packs. Each of the Metolius Super 7 packs come with 4 modular and 3 micro holds of varying sizes, colors, and styles. Metolius is great at designing holds that can be used for different purposes depending on which orientation you secure them in. The micro holds offer surfaces for crimps, toe hooks, toe holds, side pulls — you name it. These holds are bolt-on so they’re not quite as versatile as screw-on holds would be — but they’re sure not going to budge once you get them into the wall.
Again, these holds come with all the hardware you’ll need to get them onto your at-home rock climbing wall. You can’t exactly build a foundation off of these little buds since there are only seven of them — but they’re perfect for expanding your collection little by little as your budget allows once you’ve gotten the foundations set. These also can up the technicality of your rock climbing wall. Some of the micro holds make great crimps to start training finger strength once you hit that level. They also make great, tiny footholds for footwork.
3. Rocky Mountain Climbing Gear Holds Pack
Introducing the first rock climbing pack on this list that wasn’t produced by Metolius, the Rocky Mountain Climbing Gear Holds pack is a great, basic, inexpensive pack of holds to add to your at-home rock climbing wall. These Rocky Mountain holds are quirky and unique because of their 100% recycled material. These are made of a combination of polyurethane, vinyl ester, polyester, plastics, epoxy, vegetable oil, and other organic materials. If environmental impact is particularly important to you, keep these holds in mind.
The Rocky Mountain climbing gear holds pack is tantalizingly cheap — 25 holds for just about $35. But there’s a reason for this. While Rocky Mountain holds are great for supplementing your wall with some boxy, juggy holds, these aren’t, by any stretch of the imagination, technical holds. While there is some variety, these holds are more or less all the same type of hold. This makes them great for kids, beginners, and endurance training — but you won’t get a lot of technical training out of them. Don’t write them off for this reason, however. Every rock climbing wall needs a wide variety of types of holds. And the real rock texture of these holds is great for training for trips to the crag.
4. Metolius Foundation Hold Pack - Best for Beginners
And right back to Metolius. The Mega Hold Pack is the best for variety, but the Foundations Pack is certainly a close second. This pack comes with the same helpful How to Build a Home Bouldering Wall booklet and all of the hardware you’ll need to put these guys up on your at-home rock climbing wall. It also comes in not just a 35, not just a 65, but also a 105 piece pack. That’s more than enough holds to build the beginnings of your at-home rock climbing wall.
As a foundational pack, this pack has a huge range of styles, types, and sizes of holds. And — like Metolius’s other packs — each of the holds can be oriented in different directions to serve different purposes as crimps, side pulls, jugs, footholds, or whatever else your at-home rig needs. Some climbers have managed to crack the pieces rather easily so read the how-to guide beforehand and make sure you’re not over-torquing the holds as you secure them into the wall. However, the variety extends to the style of the holds — these come in both bolt-on and screw-on so you can move them around to your heart’s content or keep them secure and solid in one spot for eternity.
5. Grip a Rock 20-Piece Pack - Most Authentic
The Grip a Rock 20-piece rock climbing hold pack is by far the most authentic rock climbing holds you’re going to find on the market — because they’re real rock. Grip a Rock produces their holds from real, rainbow sandstone rock that have been styled with a screw-on securing system. A set of 20 of these rocks will set you back about $46.99 — so they’re not as expensive as Metolius holds, but they are pricier than some of the other less technical packs on this list. And they are certainly that — less technical. Similar to the Rocky Mountain Climbing Holds, the aesthetics of these holds come at the price of technicality. As authentic as they are, they’re not the training crimps, pinches, and jugs you’ll find in Metolius’s packs or on the wall at your local indoor rock climbing gym.
That being said, they’re certainly aesthetically pleasing and they still make a great supplemental set for your at-home rock climbing rig. These don’t come with included hardware so keep that in mind when you’re budgeting and planning. The screw-on secure style is relatively easy to manage and easy to remove and rearrange.
6. Atomik Dripstone Jug Pack
Who doesn’t love a good set of jugs? Atomik is another prominent brand of rock climbing holds, and they make a great pack of jugs to supplement your at-home rock climbing wall. These are rather pricey buggers — a set of five holds will set you back about $38.65 — but this is because of the size of these holds. The more material, the more expensive, and these are some of the larger holds on this list as they are jug holds.
Similar to Metolius, Atomik rock climbing holds are produced with a polyurethane plastic that mimics real rock with a relatively rough, gritty texture. These are bolt-on holds so they’re not going to budge much which is exactly what you’re looking for in a jug that you might dyno, throw, or rest on. These holds don’t include hardware so keep this in mind when you’re planning and budgeting. There are also only five holds so keep this in mind as a supplemental purchase to a foundational pack rather than a method to build your entire collection out of.
7. Metolius Greatest Chips - Most Advanced
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the rock climbing hold pack for more advanced climbers. Once again, Metolius proves to offer the best option for more advanced rock climbers with its Greatest Chips rock climbing hold pack. These crimpy buggers are made of the same rough, grippy material as Metolius’s other holds. A set of 40 will only set you back about $40 — just like bigger holds that use more material will cost more, smaller holds that use less material will cost less per hold.
This screw-on set includes all the hardware you need for securing these holds to your at-home rock climbing rig as well as smears and slabs for some tricky footholds — everything you need to set some tricky routes. These holds aren’t meant to be a foundational set or even a set for beginner climbers — these are for the big kids that want some serious finger strength training. Which means, of course, that they are actually for big kids — if you’re looking for a set of rock climbing holds to set up a route for your kids, this isn’t the one. But it is a must-have for any rock climber serious about developing the finger strength it takes to overcome the rock.
If you’re serious about rock climbing, there’s a chance you’ll be building an at-home rig at some point in your life. The trickiest, most expensive part of that process is selecting your rock climbing holds. Regardless of if you’re looking for a foundational set, some holds to set fun routes for your kids, or crimpy buggers to push your finger strength to the edge, this list has the best rock climbing holds for you.