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Tax Rebate Gear: Build a Better Backpacker

This year, spend that extra dough on at-home workout gear that will make it easier to get out and log miles. Basically, you're investing in you.

So iLL Holds Iron Palm
Get hands that can crush coal into diamonds

Even though we all know that when rock climbing we should climb with our legs and only use our hands for balance, the truth is that a big key to being a good climber is to have Superman grip. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I couldn’t make it up that last pitch, my legs were too tired!” Never. To improve your climbing skills there’s no substitute for actual climbing, but unless you can go to the gym or crag every day, the best way to get better is through using a training board. The Iron Palm from So iLL Holds has four edges of varying depth to challenge you, from the 1/4 inch edge (which barely fits a single finger joint), all the way up to the 2 inch bucket up top. On the sides there are two pinches, and then large ball-shaped slopers to really test your focus and strength.

I can only make it to the climbing gym a few times per month, and it seemed like I had hit a plateau. After a few bouldering problems and routes up the 40-foot wall, my forearms would be exhausted. After having the Iron Palm mounted in my garage for a month I’m not exactly Spiderman on the wall just yet, but I went from struggling to top out at 5.8 to seeing the top of a 5.9. I won’t win any competitions, but I’m happy to see the improvement.

I would generally try to workout for 10 minutes every other day, normally when I got back from a run or bike ride. By combining pull-ups on the larger holds with timed hanging on the smaller edges and slopers, I have noticed a marked increase in my strength. My fingers are getting much more powerful, and best of all my grip endurance has gone way up. The number of routes I can complete has gone up by around 30%, which lets me focus more on my technique and get more benefit from every session on the rocks at Great Falls, VA or when I’m at the climbing gym. Being able to practice for climbing often and realistically at home will definitely pay off when you can get to a real wall and tie into a rope.

The Specs:
$99 27 in x 11.5 in x 4in

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