Malcolm Smith knows a thing or two about holds and now he is carving his own collection- Stonesmith Holds. If you don't know who Malcolm Smith is, then I suggest clicking this UKC Search Link to get an idea.
We've had a whole bunch of the Stonesmith holds to test out here at UKC, and I have given them a good beasting on my board over the last two months.
There's quite a big selection of shapes and sizes in the Stonesmith range, they have eight different ranges (plus a range of volumes) and each range has between 1 and 6 sets, and each set has between 3-10 holds. Which all added together means lots to choose from!
Example: The 'Full Power Range' can be viewed here: Stonesmith Holds Website
We had a wide range to test, including some of the really quite special Strata range, which are designed to resemble granite (one of my favourite rock types).
The basic shapes include easy to hold pinches, crimps and slopers that are well designed, comfortable and easy to use and train on. The shapes have been well thought through and are great for heavy training sessions.
The more complex shapes (of which there is a good selection) such as the Strata range are most technical and are not so easy to read, adding an extra dimension to the holds. These took a while to get used to on a training board (where I have tested these holds) but would be a fantastic set to use for routes in longer walls, adding technicality and a little bit of 'outside' to the indoor climbing experience.
There seem to be plenty of bigger holds for commercial climbing centres to buy, but I didn't test any huge jugs really, as I was just using the holds on my board.
You can see some of the bigger holds available here: Stonesmith Holds - Jugs
Holds are manufactured by first being carved from modeling foam. This foam is then used to make a rubber mould in to which the plastic or resin holds are poured. It is the texture of the original foam that gives the level of roughness to the finished holds, as this texture is recreated by the mould.
I'm guessing Malcolm has used different foams for some of the different hold ranges, as we found a nice and subtle variation in the texture and grippiness of the holds we had on test.
He's done a great job with the friction, the basic shapes are nicely frictionful but don't rub off all your skin in just a few moves, meaning more training! And the more textured holds on some of the complex shapes can make for really good technical problems.
As we have only tested these holds on a home board they haven't been through hundreds of scrubs or wash cycles. They are in pristine condition after two months of light use, but their longer term durability hasn't been tested.
A fantastic range of holds at a good price carved by one of the UK's best qualified and experienced hard climbers and training fanatics.
Well done Malc!