Screw on holds verses bolt on holds

So you have a spare bit of wall and are wondering what fixings to use and what holds to put up!

There are two types of holds available on the market today being screw on and bold on holds. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on cost, variation of holds available, what you are fixing the holds to and the type of routes you want to set!

One of the first considerations when building your wall is what materials are available and what budget you have to build it. If you want to use bolt on holds there are design factors you need to bear in mind which include providing enough space behind your fixing boards to allow the bolts to be fully tightened without damaging the board or compromising the structural strength of your fixings as well as the materials and thickness of the board you are looking to use.

Generally for fixing either bolt on or screw on holds you will be looking to use a variation of wooden boarding of at least 12mm and preferably 18mm if you can afford it!

Screw on holds:

Screw on holds are a great choice if you are looking for a simple and quick solution to creating a cost affective climbing wall and have the advantage of being able to be fixed anywhere on your wall. Generally most screw on holds available on market are smaller than the bolt on alternatives and are popular as foot holds and smaller pinch hand holds.

How ever there are still some suppliers which have created ranges which include larger more positive holds including climbholdfast.

The only real disadvantage of screw on holds is the variety of holds available compared to bolt on holds and the time it takes to fix and move the holds. (Tip: When fixing screw on holds make sure you finish tightening the screws by hand. This saves damaging the holds).

Bolt on holds:

If your looking to create a climbing wall with a real variation of climbing routes and features then bolt on holds really come into their own. There is much more preparation required in construction compared to screw on holds as the board needs to be drilled and t-nuts fixed to the back of each hole to screw in the bolts, but once the boards are finished and fixed, adding holds is quick and easy to change. (Tip: after drilling the holes and fixing the t-nuts, use a countersunk bolt to tighten the nuts in-place which aligns the bolt and nut for easy hold fixing).

Due to the fact all indoor climbing walls use bolt on holds the variety available and manufactures producing them out weighs screw on holds by far.

So if bolt on holds becomes your choice of hold then some of the best and imaginative suppliers I've found include soillholds, holdz, nicros and extreme-dream to list a few..

Both types of holds can really compliment your wall and the best option is to use both varieties if you can, but which ever you decide enjoy your wall and keep on building..

Climbing walls.. What can i build?

When thinking about what type of wall to build, the first consideration is normally available space. Home climbing walls have been built just about anywhere including garages, house walls, spare bedrooms, lofts and the best I've seen under a set of outdoor stairs, so with a bit of imagination your wall can be fixed to just about anything solid enough.

If limited space is an issue then your first training aid could well be a finger board. If used properly and safely, finger boards are a good way to improve your core and finger strength and don't take up much space (Generally fitted above a door frame).

There is a good choice of manufactured finger boards on the market from simple wooden designs to resin finishes and varying in cost. But if you want a cheaper option then building your own is a great alternative and allows you the choice of what finger positions you want to include.

The next climbing aid in limited space can be a campus board . A campus board is a training tool that has been widely adopted to improve rock climbing performance. Campus boards can take a variety of different forms and may incorporate a variety of materials. As one example, a campus board may comprise horizontal thin slats or rails of wood attached to an inclined board in a ladder like configuration. However, some implementations may utilize bolt on climbing holds or sections of pipe. A campus board is generally set at overhanging angle of inclination that is between vertical and 20 degrees.

If you have the space, bouldering walls are a great way to improve climbing technique and core strength. Generally bouldering walls do not exceed around 3 meters due to the style of not using any ropes or protection. As most of the climbing routes (Problems) start from a sit position, bouldering walls are a good option if available height is an issue.

If you're lucky enough to be able to include a ceiling on your bouldering wall then the name given to the design is a cave and can add a new dimension to your wall.

Traversing walls are a great option if height is an issue but the length of wall is not. A good example would be attached to the back of a garage or garden wall. Routes are set to run horizontally and work well for endurance training and arm strength when the route can be repeated in both directions.

If you can find the space then get building, as you'll never regret having a close climbing spot for when the weather or time prevents a trip out to your local climbing haunt.

Climb at home?

So why make a blog about creating make shift climbing walls when there are plenty of good indoor facilities and hundreds of outdoor climbing locations in the UK?

If like me you have a passion for climbing, then having some where to train close by can make the difference between being able to climb regularly or waiting for the next opportunity to get to your closest climbing venue.

Photo: Alex in the bouldering room

In this blog, i hope to show, you can make a climbing wall from just about anything that is solid enough, from a simple finger board above your bedroom door, to traversing and bouldering walls in your back garden.

Some of the subjects that will be covered will be: "Designing your wall, where to start? Fixing and construction. Making your own holds? Easy or Not? Creating your own features. Setting your first route! Training techniques and exercises".

I hope you like the blogs. Please let us know your comments or suggestions as the more ideas the better the walls.