If there were just as many rock climbers as there are automobile drivers, the city of Detroit would be back on the map thanks to DRCC (Detroit Rock Climbing Company). On the other hand, that many rock climbers would surely create an access issue nightmare, so it’s probably just as well that climbers stay in the minority…I had actually never heard of this company until just recently, when my hubby and I decided that we needed a hangboard in our rec room. After lots of comparison research with boards we had already used, boards friends had used, and the good ole internet, I contacted the DRCC – who so graciously agreed to send us their V5.12 hangboard to try!
For those of you that aren’t familiar with this training concept, a hangboard (or fingerboard) is a piece of gear used to train a climbers “weakest link” – grip strength. Most hangboards are compact enough to fit above a doorway, making it an ideal piece of equipment for those that can’t get to a climbing gym that often. Each board is composed of holds of varying sizes and angles – any good board should contain jugs, slopers, pinches, and edges of all sizes. The concept is quite simple, really. All you have to do is hang from the holds. In practice, however, it can get as complicated as you want to make it, and most workouts involve a stopwatch, weight belt/vest, and a detailed log to track progress. I’m not going to go into specific workout protocols here, but a quick google search on “hangboard workouts” should provide you with more than enough information to wade through.
My very first impression of the board is that it was beautiful – rather artistic, even. Perched above our doorway so elegantly, you could easily convince non-climbing visitors that our board was a piece of modern art (until closer inspection when they saw all the chalkdust…). DRCC boards are available in a myriad of colors and patterns – so you can make as loud or as subtle a statement as you want. Installing the board was pretty self-explanatory, and we had no trouble getting it mounted exactly where we wanted it.
Here are the most notable features of the board (along with my unbiased thoughts…)
DUAL TEXTURE – For anyone that spends a decent amount of time on a hangboard, this feature alone is enough to warrant a purchase. Unlike most hangboards that have the same texture throughout the entire board, these boards are only gritty where you need them to be – the rest of the board is as smooth and shiny as glass. Aside from a sleek and sexy appearance, this dual texture serves two very important purposes. First of all, it’s MUCH friendlier on the skin. Other hangboard workouts have left my fingers feeling completely trashed from skin/callous folding at the joints. The dual texture completely eliminates this problem, and also brings up the second purpose – NO CHEATING ALLOWED!!! Because there is no folding of the skin, the only thing keeping you on the board is your contact strength.
HOLDS – There are essentially 3 rows of holds on this board, each with 3 different types of edges – incut, flat, and sloping. The top row contains the largest holds, and the bottom row contains the smallest ones. I was actually quite surprised at how small the bottom edges are, considering that the V5.12 board is marketed at climbers “pushing the grades up into the V5 and 5.12 range.” If you can hang on those itty bitties with a substantial amount of weight added, I guarantee you’ll be pulling WAY harder than V5! There are also a set of pinches on the outside of the board, which I rather like. You can vary the size (and difficulty) of the pinch depending on what part of the hold you use, which is helpful in accommodating a wider range of hand sizes. My only real dislike about the holds is that the slopers feel too close together. I can still easily fit both of my hands on them, but my thumbs are almost touching, which makes pull-ups feel really awkward (and probably not the best on the shoulders…)
REVERSIBLE – Another cool feature of this board is that it is reversible – ie you can hang it upside down. This makes all of the holds substantially easier…but throw it on an overhanging wall in your home gym and my guess is it won’t feel so easy anymore!
BOTTOM LINE: The v5.12 board seems like a fantastic option for climbers of all skill levels looking to improve. Though it is aimed designed specifically for those wishing to break into the V5/5.12 zones, I believe this board is useful for folks that climb grades both significantly higher and lower than that. 5.10-5.11 climbers can get plenty of work in on the upper 2 rows, while climbers that have outgrown the board can easily add a thin piece of cardboard/popsicle stick/piece of wood at the back of the holds in order to decrease the usable surface to the desired size.
So if you’ve been thinking about adding some sport specific training to your climbing workouts, or have been in the market for a new hangboard, now is a great time to check out the v5.12 from DRCC. For a limited time only, DRCC is graciously offering a 15% off discount code on all v5.12 hangboards for Cragmama readers! Woo-hoo! All you have to do is go to their website and enter CRAGMAMAV512. Then when it comes in be sure to let me know how much you love it! The discount is valid through June 15th, so if you need time for your tax refund to come in, you’ve got it 😉
And to the other hangboarders out there…What boards do you love/hate?