Hangboards are now a must have part of every climber’s training routine. Our best hangboard guide covers everything about climbing hangboards, training routines, apps, plus our picks for the best hangboards of 2020.
Hangboards have been sold out pretty much everywhere for the past couple of months. Without access to the gym it’s going to be hard to keep that finger strength up, so if you can we recommend getting one ASAP. We’ve laid out our favorite hangboards for a few different budgets and goals.
Up first we feature some great hangboards – both classics you’ll see in many gyms plus some brand new entries. After the suggestions we’ve got a guide to using a hangboard correctly, how to mount a hangboard, how often to use a fingerboard, and way more easy answers to common questions.
No Time To Hang Around?
Our pick of the best hangboards at the cheapest places to buy online
– Best Hangboard 2020 – Trango Rock Prodigy
– Best Hangboard For Beginners – Metolius Simulator 3D
– Best Wooden Hangboard – Metolius Wood Grips Deluxe II
– Best Hanging Climbing Rings – Metolius Rock Rings
Best Hangboard For Beginners – Metolius Simulator 3D
The Metolius Simulator 3D is the best beginner hangboard available right now. It offers a plastic grip similar to gym holds that most beginners use, it has a range of different holds with clear progression to smaller sizes, and is competitively priced.
Grip Range: Two big jugs, one middle medium jug, 4 sets of four finger edges/pockets (1.5″, 1″, 3/4″, 1/2″), 4 sets of 3 finger pockets, two sets of two finger pockets. Additional line of pockets in the middle – 3 three finger, 1 two finger
The Simulator 3D is ergonomically design with a curve to encourage good elbow and shoulder position. Comparing it to daily workouts on flatter designs there is definitely a difference. The texture of the polyester resin is great for helping grip without going over the top. It’s really similar to gym holds so could fill the gym climbing hole in your life.
The stand out thing here is the range. You can mix up your workout so much by using those middle holds, using one small hold for one hang and a larger for the other, and even create mini routes. Combining this hangboard with a good hangboard workout app is a great way to measure and see progress over time.
For the range of holds, depths, and versatility this is the best hangboard for your money. It might be a little big for some at 28″ by 8.75″, plus the look is an acquired taste. That being said if you have space and want to progress – this is a great hangboard that will last you a career’s worth of climbing.
Best Wooden Hangboard – Metolius Wood Grips Deluxe II
Our favorite for the top wooden hangboard has a brilliant range of holds – all while looking smart and saving skin. Excellent if you want something with the range of holds on the Simulator 3D, but a little nicer looking and without the help of grip.
Grip Range: Top jugs, two slopers. Three sets of – outer edges, three finger pockets, two finger pockets. Three middle four finger pockets.
The big range of holds plus the middle four finger pockets makes progression measurable. Even without a fixed plan you can just aim to get to the small holds eventually. Slopers on wooden boards are excellent at teaching good technique. Having a smooth surface is great at forcing you to think about balance and core involvement.
It’s a chunky boy at 24” by 8.5″ and costs a little more than the Simulator but still excellent value for such variety. Also comes in a Compact version without a middle row.
Why Wooden Hangboards?
There are a few key wins for wooden hangboards being better than urethane or similar materials. Firstly you’re meant to be training grip strength. Friction from a textured hold helps you stay on without needing better technique, so it can be argued that texture is bad for that reason.
Wooden hangboards are also better for your skin. At a certain level, a big limiting factor in how much you can climb is how much skin you have left. Wood tends to be friendlier on the skin and personally we think it’s best climbing fingerboard material.
Personally we also think Wooden Hangboards look so much better mounted at home. Convincing your significant other might be easier when the hangboard looks more like something out of Modern Home instead of Men’s Health.
Best Wood For Hangboards
Wooden hangboards tend to be made of fairly soft woods. Too hard a wood or too fine a grain with varnish wouldn’t simulate rock at all and be too slippy. Too soft would splinter too easily.
Beastmaker uses North American Tulip Wood, and the BuddyBoard uses Pacific Coast Alder. The Metolius wooden boards use a type of softwood, though we’re not sure which.
Other Great Wooden Hangboards
There are more excellent wooden hangboards available and we think it’d be a crime not to mention them. If you like the Deluxe but don’t have the space then take a look at the Metolius Wood Grips Compact version. It skips the middle row and fits better above doorways with low ceilings.
Danger Buddies BuddyBoard
This is new hangboard that was made in collaboration with Adventure Rock in Wisconsin. A really well thought out design with a range of edges and pockets, as well as top slopers and jugs. Where the design shines is by having a phone holder at the top for using hangboard workout apps plus embedded hangers.
The hangers let you remove weight from yourself using some cord and weights. You attach one side to your harness and can practice on much smaller holds than you might normally. They can also be used to practice clipping, cleaning sports routes, and making anchors.
Beastmaker 1000 & 2000
Any UK climbing gym worth it’s salt has a couple of these. Brilliantly crafted and wonderful to look at, as well as living up to the the title. The 1000 features a couple of lovely jugs and two different slopers, then a good mix of edges and pockets suited for low to mid level climbers. Possibly the best climbing fingerboard for beginner to mid range made from wood – if you can find it.
The 2000 does away with the jugs and adds a cruel sloper. The rest of the holds get shallower and three finger pockets disappear to two fingers plus monos. Probably the best hangboard for those who climb hard. You can buy direct from Beastmaker, and they ship worldwide. One hangboard plus 5 days shipping to the US is £90, or around $110.
One Weird Trick – Finger Doctors Hate Him
Do you find the deep pockets on Beastmakers too deep, and the shallow ones too shallow? Use cut out cardboard spacers at the back of the pockets to reduce the depth. Or use this awesome, free design to 3D print spacers for the Beastmaker 2000.
Overall Best Hangboard – Trango Rock Prodigy
The Trango Rock Prodigy is our top pick for best climbing hangboard because of it’s huge range of hold options. A lot of thought has been put in to it’s design and ergonomics. It’s split into two parts which means you can hang it at a distance which is most comfortable for you.
Grip Range: Top jugs, two different slopers, ergonomic pinches, two long edges that taper in depth, smaller 1/4″ edge, five sets of pockets for three finger, two finger, and mono with variations.
With such a massive range and endless possibilities, we think this really is the top hangboard for climbing training overall. It’s cleverly designed with guiding bumps at the back of the top edge rails for depth. The pockets allow for a lot of variation in splitting grips to train specific holds for your project. The pinches are designed to recruit your thumb more than your fingers – which is the ideal way to round out your hand strength.
You could also mount these rotated for the best/worst grip or again for specific training. The textured polyurethane material is the same as most climbing holds so you’ll also get that gym feel you might have been missing. Measures 9.1″ by 12.1″ each and comes as a pair.
This board can also be bought as a package with the incredible Rock Climber’s Training Manual that has a full guide to training for climbing, and how best to utilize this board. Trango have a mounting guide and suggested workout available for free too..
Best Cheap Hangboard – Metolius Project Training Board
This Metolius hangboard is excellent value for the variety of holds it offers. It’s compact at only 24.5″ by 6″ so can easily be mounted above a door frame. While it’s not for experts pushing the grade, it fits the market perfectly for someone who wants a decent fingerboard on a budget.
Grip Range: Top jugs, two sets of slopers, two edge rails (3/4″ and 1/2″), one set of 4 finger 1.25″ pockets, two sets of 3 finger pockets, two sets of 2 finger pockets
The Project is our top pick for best budget hangboard and comes with the mounting screws, short training guide, and mounting guide. Could be very suitable for ninja warrior/parkour supplemental training. One of the best hangboards for pull ups and upper body focused exercise – not just finger strength.
Best Portable Hangboard – *New* Friction Labs Hangboard
The brand new Friction Labs hangboard comes from the people that also create the highly praised climbing chalk range. It’s a simple design that’s just 18″ by 5″ and comes with durable cord for hanging up at the crag.
Grip Range: Jugs at top outer edges, 15 degree sloper on top, long 20mm edge, long 15mm edge.
The great thing about this board is that it also has drill holes and included screws so it can be easily mounted at home. Maybe the best hangboard for apartments where you can’t drill.
You might find it odd to take a board to the crag if you can just climb there. Unfortunately there are plenty of areas without good warmup routes or with too much traffic to get on them. It’s also really helpful to jump onto routes with your fingers pre-warmed for specific hard-on-the-tendons moves to avoid injury.
Alternative portable hangboards include the Metolius Light Rail or Lyon’s Edge Base Camp. To save space in your crag pack take just one of the Metolius Rock Rings or Wooden Rock Rings.
Best Hanging Climbing Rings – Metolius Rock Rings
The classic Rock Rings from Metolius make great training aids on their own. On top of that they are great where you can’t mount a board, for traveling, or for using as a warmup at the crag. They come as a pair with the cord for easy hanging.
Grip Range: Jugs on top, 4 finger edge, 3 finger pocket, 2 finger pocket.
These come in a few different colors and are the same polyurethane material as the Project. Metolius have a rock ring training guide available online.
Metolius have also recently released a set of Wooden Rock Rings. Both of these sets are brilliant to take just one side to the crag, hang from a tree and warm up on.
Best Hangboard For Pinches And Slopers – So iLL Iron Palm
This is probably the best hangboard for boulderers because of it’s hold choice. A lot of the other board pockets on edges and pockets which are common on longer outdoors routes. In modern bouldering gyms and on hard overhung boulders – things tend to be different.
Designed by CryptoChild, akak Jason Kehl, the Iron Palm focuses on having really good slopers, pinches, and crimping edges. It’s the biggest and widest board featured at 27″ by 11.5″ so check you can mount it. Definitely worth a look if you primarily boulder indoors and out.
Grip Range: Massive rounded slopers, 2 side pinches, top inward sloping 1.5″ edge (almost a jug), three more edges
The big outer jugs are great for practicing either a fingers spread whole hand grab, a classic fingers together slappy sloper, or fingers one side and thumb the other. The two pinches can be used as either the one slim outer pinch, the lower more rounded, or combining the two for an open hand grip.
The four rails are varied in design. The top is almost a jug as it slops down towards the back. The lower three have different round-off profile. Very different to other designs and best used with the open hand grip for more friction.
Comes with the screws to mount and available in three different colors – edgy black, bright pink, and palewave seafoam. Made from “Ultra Bomber” urethane. You can also get made to order colors directly from So iLL with a higher lead time.
More Hangboard & Training Articles
– Best Hangboard Training Apps
– The best Climbing Training Equipment
– Complete guide to Climbing In A Face Mask
– What To Wear Indoor Rock Climbing
– Is Rock Climbing Better Than The Gym?
How To Hangboard Properly
- Listen to your body and be aware of your own limits – this is only guidance
- If it hurts – stop immediately
- Warm up before hangboarding
Can Beginners Hangboard?
Yes, if done safely. However, we normally suggest you don’t use a hangboard for the first six months of climbing. Your tendons take a long time to grow as compared to muscle. Damage can happen without warning and be very bad long term.
Proper Hangboard Technique – Scapula, Positioning
Engage the muscles in your shoulders so your scapula is pulled down and back. This feels like your head is higher than your shoulders. Also slightly bend your elbows to engage your forearms.
This is done to avoid hanging solely from the connective tissue between bones. It does make you work your muscles harder. Evidence from Lattice Training suggests a slight engagement is more common in harder climbers – though don’t over do it.
Keep your back straight even with added weight. Overloading your lower back can be painful and very unhelpful long term.
Right Grip For Hangboards
When you start, try to stick only to the four finger open hand (or open crimp) position when using a hangboard, though a half crimp position is OK. Holding with an open hand leaves your tendons in a more natural curve as opposed to a z shape of a full crimp.
More importantly, the best hangboard for climbing should be the one that suits your level. Training on grips that are too small for you might cause injury – which you should avoid at all costs.
The open hand increases tendon strength just as much as the others – though the technique is different and you may want to do limited work on the full crimp at reduced weight. If you climbing at a higher level then start to incorporate front three, back three and other positions. Apps are great for this.
Avoid sudden movements like slipping from a half crimp to a three finger drag position. Tendon and ligament damage from climbing has had some study but not a huge amount. It seems like overuse is a big cause – but sudden increases in load are thought to be a major factor i.e. your feet slip and all weight shifts onto just two fingers.
How Often Should I Hangboard?
How many times a week you hangboard really depends on you. However a maximum of three times a week is recommended. During lockdown it might be tempting to hangboard every day but overuse injuries are very common. Finger injuries are happening right now and locking people out of any progression – don’t be tempted.
If you are climbing as well then even less is needed. A supplemental session once or twice a week is brilliant. Really focus on quality over quantity as that’s consistently shown to be safer and more effective at getting results.
Best Hangboard Training Plans
We really recommend getting a good hangboard app. There are great free options as well as some excellent ones for just a couple of dollars. Measuring progress over time is really helpful. Stick with either max hangs or the classic repeaters.
If you’re looking for a book the Rock Climber’s Training Manual does a great job on training, using a hangboard correctly, plus making a plan. It comes with the Trango Rock Prodigy too.
What the best fingerboard for climbing is doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plan you stick to. Consistency is more important that having a pro plan. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good.
Can You Hangboard Every Day?
Please don’t. Overuse injuries are really common and tendon damage can cause issues in normal life outside of climbing. Stick to 2-3 days a week and really see those rest days as important.
Hangboarding Before Or After Climbing?
The great debate. We hink angboarding before climbing should really just be a very short session as a warmup if needed. Warming up on the wall is often more appropriate.
A hangboarding session and a climbing session on the same day can quickly lead to overtraining. Either commit to a max effort hangboarding session or max effort climbing session.
It’s definitely possible to do both but think about what you are aiming for. If you are training for power with climbing first, you won’t be able to training power effectively with a hangboard session after. If you add on the hangboard session to train endurance – you’re just mixing up goals.
How To Mount A Hangboard
Assuming you’re going to be putting your hangboard up over a doorway – we think using a backboard is the best way. Firstly, it adds a little extra depth away from the wall meaning your wrists are too close to the doorframe. Secondly, the screw holes on the hangboard don’t have to match up with the studs behind your wall.
The video below is a perfect example. We really recommend borrowing a stud finder to find where the wooden joists are behind the wall. You have to drill into those for support, if you just mount your hangboard on the plaster or plasterboard of your wall, it will fall off immediately a take a chunk of wall with it.
Check the level and angle with a spirit level tool before mounting!
If you are just mounting onto an exposed wooden beam you can make very small pilot holes and drill wooden screws straight in. If you’re drilling into solid concrete or breezeblock then use a heavy enough hammer drill for pilot holes and the appropriate masonry screws and plugs.
How To Mount A Hangboard Without Damaging Walls
You can use a pull up bar, a backing board, and some spare rope to mount a hangboard temporarily! This video shows an awesome way of setting up a hangboard without drilling. You can put up the hangboard when you need and take it down whenever you like without altering a rented house or dorm.
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