This article first appeared at climbingbusinessjournal.com in December 2020.
December is upon us and it’s time to decide on those holiday gifts. It goes without saying that 2020 has been different from years past. From the global pandemic to the numerous wildfires, it hasn’t been the easiest year for many of us. If you have the means though, brighten up the year’s end with some thoughtful holiday gifts.
As a result of Covid-19 and the challenges for gyms, climbers have been building more homewalls than ever. Give them something they’ll use this holiday season. Read our gift guide below for a list of 8 holiday gift ideas for homewall owners that your friend or family member will geek out on.
1. Setting Starterpack (or Upgrade to a New Drill)
Every homewall owner will appreciate some useful hardware. Kickstart your friend’s routesetting journey with a reliable drill. Make sure you snag the right one, though. With loads of drill technology available and numerous brands to choose from, it can be hard to decide which is the best option for routesetting―especially if it’s not for you!
The Makita Lithium Sub-Compact drill is a great all-around option. Its lightweight and ergonomic design will meet the demands of any routesetter, seasoned or rookie. If you’re looking for something a bit quieter, spend the extra bucks on the Makita oil impulse driver. This drill uses oil impulse technology to hydraulically drive the impact mechanism for up to 30% less noise. “It’s just quieter than anything else,” said Routesetting Institute professional routesetter Sarah Filler.
The quick shift mode on this drill also provides quick and precise fastening control for a range of applications, which can be extremely useful for setters switching between bolts and screws. Careful with the oil impulse driver, though, as its soft touch can make it easy to mess up your t-nuts with. “You can’t quite “feel” it through as well,” explained Jackie Hueftle, Kilter COO and Routesetting Institute founding member.
So, if the person that you’re buying for is newer to the setting game, a simpler impact driver is the way to go. And don’t forget safety glasses and ear protection, especially if the garage space is small! For more setting must-have gadgets, be sure to check out these 9 Routesetting Essentials.
2. Electricity & Lighting (Get into the Holiday Spirit)
LED lights are a fun, decorative add-on for the perimeter of any climbing wall, garage space, pergola, etc. For just $27 grab some Daybetter 32.8ft 10m Led Strip Lights. They are self-adhesive, cuttable and linkable, which makes them a great option for walls with unconventional angles and materials. They even have a sound control mode that syncs up to the rhythm of your music.
Portable construction lights for night sessions are awesome for outdoor homewalls or garage woodies with no electricity. Brands like Ryobi, DeWalt, Milwaukee, Makita, Husky, and HDX all make durable, multi-purpose work lights, so consider the space and person you’re buying for. Two possibilities are the 1000-Lumen Portable LED Work Light and this 300-Watt 10-1/2 in. Brooder Clamp Work Light, both by HDX. They are cheap, portable and powerful lighting options. If the wall you’re buying for is outside, you may need an extension cord.
3. Flooring (Replace the Mattresses)
In the beginning, homewalls had no other option than loading up on old mattresses, and it’s still common today. However, these days many homewall owners decide to invest in padding systems, from DIY to custom flooring from companies like Strati and Asana. Gym-caliber solutions like these offer consistent landing surfaces with well-tested foam layers of various thicknesses and densities. It’s the real deal and increases safety for all climbers and the whole family.
And if you or your friends want some extra cushion, there’s no shortage of mondo pads available from leading brands. Asana for instance makes a popular drag mat that comes in multiple sizes, so you can leave the mattresses for the bedrooms. Speaking of room, Atomik’s bargain bolt-on mat holder is a great way to create some when your sesh is ended and “to keep your munchkins off your climbing wall when not in use,” according to the website. Another mid-priced option to hang on them is Eldorado’s flip-up pad for $300, ideal for homewallers tight on space but still looking looking to cover some ground. And Flashed has numerous versatile options for any occasion, with prices as low as $115.
4. Holds & Volumes (You Can’t Have Enough)
Regardless of the brand, line or type, holds will be appreciated this holiday season. This might seem like an obvious gift for homewall owners, but it’s one that won’t go to waste. There are a few routes you can go when buying holds, but CBJ’s Grip List voted by routesetters and CBJ monthly reports are great places to start. Atomik’s bulk packs are a complete gift to deck out your new wall or upgrade your spread. And adding some memorable novelty bolt-ons this time of year like a snowman or even pumpkin will keep the children smiling.
Homewall kits have been all the rage this year, with companies helping owners by doing the selections for them. Hold sets are also a great way to focus on weaknesses, and move away from picking holds that cater to one’s strengths. Check out Grip List grand prize winner Kilter’s recommended homewall sets, for instance, to dial in the perfect group of holds for your friend or family member. Maybe even poke a little fun by buying them their “least favorite” hold type to work on. They don’t like dual-tex? Get them a pack of Roda dual-tex jibs from the newest shaper in the Kilter family, artist Aroldo Silva.
The full kit options are endless, and there are tons of top brands to choose from. An all-time favorite Teknik offers a Zip Grip starter pack with a range of jugs, slopers, pinches and edges under $200. e-Grips has classic, complete home gym kits that will keep your family thanking you long-after the holiday season, and so will the super sets from Element, the 50/100/150 homewall packs from Groperz and the 50 pack from the new Robinhood Climbing Co. Want to mix things up? The sleek Pies from Kumiki will give your kids endless combinations to play with. Or get their feet moving with some Gobstoppers from EP or some 5-packs of footholds from Binary.
And don’t forget, volumes aren’t just for the gym. There are affordable options out there for homewall owners wanting to add some wood on a small surface. StoKed, voted the favorite homewall volumes in the Grip List, offers affordable volumes of all shapes for your home gym. At the other end of the spectrum, Entre-Prises supplied volumes for the Olympics and you can have them too.
5. Hangboard (Shift into Beast Mode)
If you’re buying for someone with a solid climbing base and they don’t already have one, buy them a hangboard for their home setup. Finger strength training is a great addition to any climbing regimen, and pushing your limits on a homewall certainly requires some beastly fingers.
Beastmaker’s 1000 and 2000 series will help get your fingers there. A classic hangboard is always a great addition to any home gym, and these ones were voted the hands-down favorite in this year’s Grip List. Tension’s mounted hangboards made from poplar wood were another fan favorite. Trango hangboards were also praised by setters this year, and the Prodigy board (sold out at the time of this writing) is worth waiting for. It’s symmetrical, 2-piece design allows you to adjust your position and curate your training regimens, for advanced climbers and prodigies looking to maximize their training.
Finally, the Yaniro board sold by Atomik is about as classic as it gets. Tony Yaniro hand-shaped this board over 20 years ago and it’s still in demand today. The shape and texture of the grips are uber comfortable, making it ideal for longer training sessions.
6. App-based Training Board (Make Their Year)
It goes without saying that the ultimate gift for any climber is an app-based training board. Kilter, Grasshopper, Moon and Tension all make beloved, adjustable training boards that function off of the touch of a button. See how these four compare. Many gyms nowadays host one or multiple of these boards, so all climbers have to do is download the app and start climbing on one of the tens of thousands of boulder problems pre-set in the system. Obviously, COVID-19 is making gym accessibility a bit harder, so if you can pool the resources together, gift an app-based training board and have it installed in your friend or family member’s home. It will make their year and likely change their entire climbing game.
7. Set Boulder Problems (Gift an Experience)
Don’t have a budget for the entire board? Understandable. Download the Stokt Climbing app or OpenClimb (install the Play Store app on your device beforehand) and load up your friend with +20 new boulder problems for them to enjoy. This is a great way to gift an “experience” rather than more physical “things” this holiday season.
Or, set your friend up with a private homewall setting consult through Routesetting Institute so they can set their own top-notch problems. A consultation includes a Zoom meeting with one of RI’s professional routesetters to get custom recommendations for their homewall. One of RI’s experts will evaluate the wall, suggest ratios for each hold type (based on the wall and your friend’s climbing needs), and an ideal hold selection for their budget. Or, reach out to your local gym to see if their setters are providing consults. Now is the era of virtual routesetting!
8. Cleanliness this Holiday Season
In light of new hygiene and distancing norms, what better time to focus on a cleaner home gym in general? Dust from one’s homewall is bound to find its way into the crevices of surrounding furniture. Help clean up the mess by gifting them this wet/dry DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Vacuum Kit. Though pricier than your average Black n Decker, this heavy-duty rig is a lot more reliable in the long run.
Once the basic cleaning is done, consider running a true HEPA air purifier (if your wall is in an indoor space) to filter those more stubborn particles. From removing allergens to long-term health, the benefits of air filtration extends beyond gym environments. Levoit’s latest CORE 300 model should do the trick for small rooms for $100.
Ultimately, homewall owners will probably appreciate a gift like hygienic liquid chalk more than holiday-themed socks or another ugly sweater. Get something meaningful for your homewall-owning friend or family member this year and add to their climbing experience!
Zoe Leibovitch has been a climbing competitor on the national and international level since 2006. She has traveled the world competing in IFSC events, has been on the Evolv athlete team since 2014, and continues to spread her passion for climbing as a guest setter and coach. She has written for Climbing Magazine and works at The Spot Bouldering Gym coordinating their events and marketing. In addition to climbing, Zoe enjoys snowboarding, surfing, and all things adrenaline-pumping.