Metolius has long been one of the most innovative companies in the climbing world in terms of both gear and training equipment. The Metolius Simulator (now in its 3rd incarnation) was the first American-made hangboard, and Metolius has used their years of experience to continue the evolution of hangboard training through better boards and a larger database of free information to help you get the most out of whichever board you choose. Metolius’ newest entrant to the market, the Contact, is a worthy solution for intermediate and advanced climbers looking to improve their contact strength and power from the comfort of their own home.
The Metolius Contact is a nice big hangboard. It is built on a similar principle to some European training boards; there are similar edges of various depths, so you can tailor your training by hold size and see marked progress as you are able to use the smaller and smaller grips. The board is completely symmetrical and features nice long rungs in the center so if you are training offsets you can adjust how far away your other hand is. Moving out from the rungs there are two-finger, three-finger, and four-finger edges, though near the outside the order is moved around a bit to allow for the board to curve in with the pinches. All the center edges and rungs are completely flat. The outside of the board features two long pinches that you can grab in a few places for a wider or narrower pinch, with or without thumb catches in the nearest slots. The top edge of the board has a couple of jugs for warming up and two types of slopers in the middle.
I picked up the board and did an initial inspection, then I hung it up at the hangboard station at The Spot Bouldering Gym to see what kind of use it would get. As you can see from these photos it got very chalked up in just a couple of weeks.
Texture – the board is textured like Metolius’ holds, that is, fairly fine. The feel is pleasant, and the fine texture is good for training as you want to make sure you are using strength, not just texture, to hold onto the holds. In addition, an aggressively textured board can tear up your skin.
Material – The board is made of resin, which is nice because it doesn’t conduct heat well so the board shouldn’t feel too different after you’ve been using it and should work well no matter if you live in Florida or Antarctica.
Mounting – there are eight mounting screw holes and the board felt very solid when it was screwed in. Metolius provides hardware with the board and offers instructions and additional products like mounting boards (which are only sometimes necessary, depending on your situation) to help you hang the board in your house.
Training – the Contact comes with an instructional booklet and Metolius offers more training information and videos online. I am fairly new to hangboard training, and have only been using hangboards for finger strength specific exercises for a couple of years, but this board has everything I need to do any finger strength exercises I, or most of the World Cup climbers I have trained with, want to do.
Cons – the resin does make it quite heavy, but you should only have to hang it once so this isn’t a big deal. Because all the edges are in pods, it is possible to cheat some hand positions by hanging on the edge of the edges and using the upward curve of each pod to hold some weight; however, this is a problem with most hangboards, and it is up to the user to get the most out of their workout by not taking this advantage. The middle sloper on the top is not as wide as the other holds on top as there is a rung-edge sticking out under it that could interfere with the grip for some users. Finally, I could only find one position I was truly comfortable in on the pinches, though Jake was able to use them lower with a narrower grip, so I think it is a strength thing. Good thing I have the Contact to work with–maybe someday I’ll be able to use the lower pinches too.
Conclusion – The Contact is a very simple, very comfortable, very usable board made for improving finger and contact strength, and it is appropriate for climbers of a high intermediate level and up. Get yours at Mountain Gear today.