Moonboard Review

© Nick Brown - UKC

In early December, UKClimbing received an invitation to review the latest incarnation of the Moonboard.

For those that aren't familiar, the Moonboard design has been around for a few years and - quite uniquely - isn't something that is sold outright (i.e. it cannot be bought in its entirety: panels, holds, screws etc...). Instead, it is designed so that you can build your own: buy the panels, assemble the board, add the Moon holds, then gain access to the 1200 problems logged, registered and approved on the Moonboard Website. It's an interesting concept and one which allows you to buy into something quite special, particularly when you consider that Ben himself set many of the problems (and it doesn't seem to have done his climbing any harm!!).

The Moonboard  © UKC Gear
Look closely and you can see the red LEDs pointing the way

The Moonboard is designed to be constructed at a 40 degree angle, so before we start it is worth highlighting that it is definitely a setup for those at the performance end of the spectrum - a juggy slab it is not... However, if it is performance you are after then this is definitely a gradient that will test the strength and power of even the most dedicated. 

In terms of cost I will bypass the creation of the board, simply because this expense is a necessary evil for anyone creating a home board. What I am really reviewing here (just to get it clear within my own mind) is the holds and the Moonboard system, as really it's a buy one, get one free deal: when you purchase one, the other comes with it. Every climbing wall needs holds, whether it's a three panel affair in your garage/cellar or the latest and greatest state of the art bouldering centre. But with the Moonboard holds you get both the holds and - perhaps just as importantly - access to the 1200 problems on the Moon website free of charge. To put that into context, it's like having Ben Moon come to visit and resetting your board for you. So back onto my original comment regarding price, the holds come in at between £120-170 per set, with a 15% discount if you buy all three

Original School Holds - £120
© Moon
School Holds Set A - £200
© Moon
School Holds Set B - £200
© Moon

In terms of the holds themselves, between the three sets there is a good selection of crimps, pockets, and pinches of varying sizes; that said, there is nothing I would define as a jug - as such it is definitely worth warming yourself up before getting involved with the Moonboard. The holds themselves are definitely at the grippy end of the spectrum, which is great when you first step on because you feel a certain grab that you don't with many modern holds, but it does mean that after repeated attempts - particularly if you are trying the same problem over and over again - it can wear away at your skin.

The author trying hard on the Moonboard  © UKC Gear
The author trying hard on the Moonboard
© UKC Gear
Ben Moon trying less hard, yet doing significantly better  © UKC Gear
Ben Moon trying less hard, yet doing significantly better
© UKC Gear

The MoonBoard App  © Moon
The MoonBoard App
© Moon
In addition to this there has been a very recent development that will change everything as far as the Moonboard is concerned: the addition of LED lighting. Previously, all problems have been accessed and mapped via the Moon Website, but in 2016 Ben will be releasing all of this information as well as the LED system to go alongside them, thus making the change from problem to problem, or circuit to circuit, as easy as the press of a button via a bluetooth connection. 

The list of features on the App includes:

  • The user can choose the MoonBoard hold set up used on their wall
  • View problems
  • Light up problems (LED MoonBoard required)
  • Easily and quickly add problems
  • Simply sort and filter problems
  • Grade and rate problems
  • Create multiple lists of problems (e.g. warm ups, favorites, projects, training routines
  • Add users for group MoonBoard sessions
  • Works on iOS, Windows and Android

Now rather than go into any further detail, I'll let the video interview with Ben do the rest of the talking:

The Moon Board from TV on Vimeo.


Ben Moon on his own Moonboard, at the School Room in Sheffield  © UKC Gear
Ben Moon on his own Moonboard, at the School Room in Sheffield
© UKC Gear
Cutting loose on the Moonboard  © UKC Gear
Cutting loose on the Moonboard
© UKC Gear


If I was to build a home board it would make perfect sense to stick to using Moon holds, not simply because every wall needs its holds but because every wall needs its problems. Whilst I am all up for making up my own from time to time, it is good not only for your motivation, but also for working your weaknesses, if you try problems set by other people. 

Having used the LED system I can undoubtedly say it makes things a lot easier. Holds on boards are always difficult to keep track of and even when you know a problem well you often find yourself hesitating before making a move. On a 40 degree board such as this that hesitation usually results in failure - hence the LEDs were very well received. That said, it is undoubtedly a luxury and the additional cost may be too much for many individual users. As such, I would envisage that were such a setup to be bought/used it would be amongst a group of friends, as swiftly it would become a more viable proposition. Alternatively, get an LED setup and I'm sure your friends will be over soon enough to see what it's all about - it's certainly got a novel feel about it!


What Moon say:

The Moonboard  © UKC Gear
Building a Moon board is a fairly simple job, however you will need basic carpentry skills, basic tools and a minimum of two people. The information in our downloadable PDF is just a guide to how we built our board, however it may vary a great deal depending on your surroundings and building structure.

It isn't necessary to support your moon board exactly as we have, but it is essential that you use the same measurements for the angle of the board, height, width and T-nut spacing etc. If you have any doubts regarding your board and its structure please seek professional advice. Whilst our information worked for us, we cannot accept responsibility if your board becomes unstable or dangerous.

Happy climbing!

For more information visit Moon - Moonboard Homepage

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4 Apr, 2016
No way!! For my A-level Technology project I created a (to-scale) climbing wall with LED's to show which hold to get next, admittedly it featured a randome problem generator that was obviously not great but more to serve a purpose to pass my coursework. I should have flipping patented my idea! :P
4 Apr, 2016
It's something that's been mulled over by me and a few wall manufactures for a while. It's nothing new idea wise it's just an issue of cost and practicality. The basic idea would be to have a grid of LED's linked to a small computer or tablet which has a record of loads of problems and you can can select one and the right set of holds will light up. Also with an option to record and save new problems for others to try. There are several ways you can go about it. The simplest is having the LED's in the panels but there could be issues if the hold covers over it. This seems to have them in the T-nuts but it's no idea if you have no free T-nuts next to the holds you want to use. The other is to have light up holds with some sort of connector at the back. The issues are cost and difficulty to retro fit to existing walls.
4 Apr, 2016
It was a joke... hence the emoticon!
4 Apr, 2016
If you could manage this trick with the footholds at Malham, I'd be ticking the routes a lot quicker.
4 Apr, 2016
You'd have to have yet another type of ascent, the onlight.
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