There’s a chance you’ve experienced this too: training indoors throughout the week, only to find your skin wrecked by the time you finally get outdoors for the weekend. But not so fast: comfort and training—an oxymoron by most accounts—might just be the way of the future. And with Tension Climbing’s latest wooden boards, the future might have just arrived.
Machined and finished in Denver, Colorado, Tension’s holds, hangboards, and campus rungs are the product of Will Anglin, Ben Spannuth, and Gabe Adams. Collectively, the co-founders have over 50 years of climbing experience.
Using only the highest quality woods (primarily poplar and cherry), Tension products are biodegradable—manufacturered with non-toxic and chemical-free processes. Further, the company donates $1 from every order toward reforestation in Colorado via the One Tree Program.
Benefits of a wooden hangboard
To maintain skin health and comfort
Above all, wood is comfortable on your skin and after hours of training, your pads will still retain their durability. Plastic, on the other hand, weakens skin at a faster rate and can result in a thinner layer of protection when you head outside.
It offers distinct challenge
Don’t be fooled: the comfort you find with a wooden hangboard does not translate to an easier workout. Wood is slippery, you have to “just grip the crap out of it!”
In The Power Company‘s podcast at the bottom of this post, Will goes on to explain, “And that’s where I find the training benefits. You can take a hold that’s a pad deep, but it’s wood, and you have to grab it so hard to hang on. It could feel like the difficulty of a quarter pad sharp plastic hold but at the end of the day you’re grabbing a bigger hold, it’s less tweaky on your joints, and it’s not tearing into your skin.”
Training expert Kris Hampton supports the benefits of training on wood:
When I go places like Hueco or Wild Iris and I really have to grab the holds … I’m a lot better prepared if I trained on wood.
Tension’s hangboards, campus rungs, balls
Among a swath of hold varieties, Tension Climbing makes a few distinct items that we’re now carrying at Moja Gear, including their ultra compact Flash Board, new Grindstone and Grindstone Pro, Campus Rungs, and their popular Campus Balls.
Portable and ultra lightweight, the Flash Board features edges, crimps, jugs, and slopers. Many climbers find this product to be ideal for warming up at the crag, packing into a suitcase, or when apartment rental restrictions limit you ability to mount a hangboard.
Kris Hampton explains, “[The Flash Board] was especially key for me last fall—I was in the red … things were really hard right off the ground. Several of [the climbs] had tiny little crimps so close to the ground. I would take the board up with me, clip it to the first bolt, and hang on it until I was ready to go.”
Grindstone and Grindstone Pro
For your greatest training gains, seek the Grindstone or Grinstone Pro: Tension’s latest releases. These boards provide jugs over the top and a range of edges, varying from 50mm to a mere 7mm. The main difference between the boards is edge sizes: they’re thinner on the Pro. The Pro also features surprisingly pleasing 45mm monos and a couple 25mm two-finger pockets. Both boards are made of poplar and provide a cell phone slot for timing your intervals.
Why aren’t there slopers on the Grindstones?
According to co-founder, Will, strength on slopers … it’s not really a thing: “Climbing on slopers has so much more to do with body position and how you’re actually moving around the holds. No one’s grabbing really slopey slopers at Horse Pens and gripping to them because they’re grabbing harder. No, they just know how slopers work. Sure, there’s a strength component with your hands, but you’re training that when you’re training on edges. In an effort to give you what you need without all the frilly things, we just got rid of the slopers. It’s the same idea with the pockets—you can just put however many fingers you’re trying to train on the edge and get exactly the same thing out of it.”
Campus Rungs and Balls
As with all products by Tension, these training items are designed to optimize both performance and comfort. Available in three depth varieties, the Campus Rungs offer training opportunities at various levels of intensity. Laser-engravings number the rungs, 1 through 10, and two length variations—16″ or 20″—ensure that you’ll find rungs fitting your hands and available space. Consider supplementing the rungs with the popular Campus Balls, which come in three varieties as well: 4″ diameter knobs, 5″ diameter moderate incuts, and 6″ diameter difficult slopers.
Hear from Tension Climbing’s co-founder on The Power Company Podcast
Select quotes were incorporated from a podcast interview between Kris Hampton and Tension’s co-founders. Listen to the full episode below: