Types of Climbing Holds & How to Use Them

Posted by Anthony Richard on

Rock and wall climbing are highly popular extreme sports activities. In 2021, an estimated 6 million people in the US participated in indoor climbing activities. In addition, since 2000, the number of climbing gyms in the US has increased to four times as many. 

Whether you’re an avid climber or a beginner in this sport, you must first master climbing indoors to ensure your safety while doing this extreme sport. Climbing holds enable you to develop skills you can transfer when you explore more extreme climbing conditions. 

What Are Various Types of Climbing Holds?

Discover the different types of indoor climbing holds so you can practice various grips. In addition, you will be able to determine how to use certain types of holds based on their appearance. 

1. Jugs

These are the most accessible holds since they are bigger and easier to grip. In addition, you can use your entire hand, or even both to hold on to them. Therefore, you will expel less energy when grabbing onto this hold. They are common in beginner climbing walls as they don't require special techniques.

Jugs are common in beginner climbing walls.

2. Incuts and Mini Jugs

These types of climbing holds are smaller in size. Therefore, gripping them is relatively easy. However, since they are smaller, they offer more of a challenge to your grip and hold than jugs. 

3. Slopers

This type of climbing hold offers more challenges for new climbers. These are common in advanced routes because they don't have a lip or edge. As a result, it would be difficult to obtain a direct grip even if they have a featured surface. So instead, their roundness is compensated with a rough surface. 

The best way to handle slopers is to hold as much surface area with your hand as possible. If you do, the contact will keep you from falling off. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of practice to master handling slopers and be comfortable with them on the climbing route.

Slopers climbing hold offers more challenges for new climbers.

4. Pockets

They are essentially what their name implies – small round holes that allow you to hook one or more fingers. The depth of these pockets varies in terms of depth and texture. 

It takes a while to determine which (or how many) fingers can fit into the pocket. But if only one finger can do, use your strongest finger for maximum support and grip.

5. Pinches

These are vertical climbing holds. They are often confused with slopers, but you can fit your hand around them. You will need to place your thumb on the opposite side to generate a strong, squeezing force with the rest of your fingers pinching on the other side (thus, the name). 

6. Crimps and Chips

These are thin and small holds. They can also be used as footholds in advanced climbing routes. However, they require advanced technique and solid strength to navigate around.

7. Edges

This type of hold is distinguished by its defined edge and flat top surface. It is wide enough to allow up to four fingers to fit into them. 

Why Choose Polyurethane Climbing Holds?

There are various hold materials available on the market. But for the best performance and quality, polyurethane materials are your best option. Hence, more rock and indoor climbing facilities use polyurethane holds. Why is this the case? Find out here:

  • Polyurethane is stronger and more flexible. This material can last longer because it is water-resistant and less prone to tearing. Therefore, you will have to replace this material less often.
  • Polyurethane offers better performance. Silicone molds absorb moisture that results in bubbling. However, polyurethane does not create the same problem. Therefore, it is a reliable choice when used as a climbing hold. It also delivers impact resistance. 
  • Polyurethane can withstand extreme temperatures. Its resilience to all temperatures reduces the abrasion effects from regular contact with climbers. 

Safety Tips When Using Climbing Holds

Rock and wall climbing holds provide enough challenge to help you develop the skills you need for this sport. However, while your goal is to challenge yourself, it's essential to know the basic safety tips to avoid falling or any unnecessary injuries when climbing.

There are two specific techniques you must master to achieve the correct hold. First, you must squeeze hard only when you want to stay on a particular hold. Don't squeeze hard throughout the entire climb. If you do that, your forearms could get exhausted quickly, even before you reach the summit. Avoid being too tense on your grip, and relax your muscles when you don't have to stay on a hold.

Another technique for improving your climbing hold is to focus on the direction you want to go. Aim for a perpendicular hold so your grip is firmer without overworking your forearms. This position allows your weight to be aligned with the direction of the pull so you can transition into that next position seamlessly. 

These are simple strategies you should practice and master over time to improve your wall and indoor climbing success. Of course, like any sport, your skills will improve the more you practice.