Best Hangboards for Climbing Training [2020]

best hangboards

A great hangboard is one of the best training tools to improve your finger strength and climbing performance. Sometimes called a fingerboard or training board, it’s a staple in most climbers’ training when they can’t get out climbing enough or need to improve climbing finger strength to break through a plateau. The best climbing hangboards provide effective grip strengthening with controllable and quantifiable resistance. 

Instead of focusing on dynamic movements and skill development, rock climbing hangboards require isometric contractions where the muscle length remains fixed (i.e. no movement). Studies have shown that max strength increases 20% when using isometric contractions, vs 11% when using isotonic contractions (i.e. with movement).

The downside is that isometric training does not transfer well to angles not used during training, so it’s crucial to train the fingers at the precise joint angles you need to strengthen. The best rock climbing fingerboards will have a variety of holds to train different angles and grips, which will carry over to your next climb.

best-hangboards
The best way to improve climbing finger strength is through focused isometric training with a variety of angles and holds.

To help with this, we recommend finding a rock climbing training board that has at least a few holds that you can easily hang from, as well as some holds that you can work up to. A good climbing hangboard will be ergonomically shaped and comfortable with a variety of holds for you to work with. In this guide, we’ll take a look at 9 options to pick the best hangboard on the market and some of the qualities that place them at the top in the industry.

Related: How to Mount a Hangboard Without Drilling, Beginner Hangboard Workouts

Best Hangboard Roundup

 HangboardOverall ScoreStar RatingMaterial 
Best HangboardTrango Rock Prodigy Training Center98
5 out of 5 starsPolyester resinbest hangboards
Best Value HangboardMetolius 3D Simulator964.8 out of 5 starsPolyester resinbest hangboards
Best Advanced HangboardAtomik Yaniro Power Board924.6 out of 5 starsPolyester resinatomik yaniro hangboard
Best Hangboard for BeginnersMetolius Wood Grips Compact II
904.5 out of 5 starsWood
Best Budget HangboardMetolius Project904.5 out of 5 starsPolyester resin
Best for Slopers and PinchesSo iLL Iron Palm
864.3 out of 5 starsPolyurethanebest hangboard
Best Wooden HangboardBeastmaker 2000
844.2 out of 5 starsWoodbest hangboards
Best Portable HangboardMetolius Rock Rings 3D804 out of 5 starsPolyester Resin
Best Science-Backed HangboardEva Lopez Progression Hangboard783.9 out of 5 starsPolyurethanebest hangboard

Best Hangboard Overall

TRANGO ROCK PRODIGY TRAINING CENTER

best hangboards

Material: Polyester resin | Dimensions: 12.1″ x 9.1″ (each), 2 pieces

Pros
+ Diversity of edges and pockets
+ Best progression of holds for strength-training
+ Works well for a wide range of users
+ Facilitates good form and ergonomics

Cons
– Most challenging model to mount
– Takes up more space than others
– Straight-across 1/4″ edge is hard on fingertips

The Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center really takes the cake when it comes to climbing hangboards. It was designed by Michael and Mark Anderson – two of the most well-known climbing coaches and authors of The Rock Climber’s Training Manual. This training board boasts a variety of pockets, edges, pinches, jugs, and slopers to keep your training varied. Several tapered edges allow you to choose your difficulty with precision, making this a great hangboard for systematically progressing your training difficulty. 

A two-piece design, while making for a challenge when mounting and taking up a substantial amount of space, provides optimal ergonomics that can be customized to fit your body type. Better form, better alignment, and less shoulder and elbow stress all contribute to a highly effective workout that works well for a wide range of climbers from beginners to pros.

The corresponding Rock Prodigy Training Program provides a well-designed and highly effective workout that will have you hanging – and climbing – harder in no time. It’s among the more expensive options we tested, but we think the cost is justified and are confident in making the Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center our Top Pick for Best Hangboard Overall.

best hangboards

Best Value Hangboard

Metolius 3D Simulator

best hangboards

Material: Polyester resin | Dimensions: 28″ x 8.7″

Pros
+ Excellent value
+ Great selection of edges and pockets
+ Good progression of holds
+ Ergonomics reduce shoulder and elbow stress

Cons
– Slopers could be improved
– No pinches
– Not great for advanced climbers (5.13+)
– Takes up a lot of space

The Metolius 3D Simulator is the most popular finger board on this list and a perennial best-seller, and it’s easy to see why. For the price, this training board packs in a great variety of edges and pockets that you can progress through as you increase strength. The 3D Simulator has also been around for a while, and has been updated several times over the years. It’s a versatile and ergonomic hangboard with a slightly curved shape that encourages good form while reducing shoulder and elbow stress. 

The majority of edges and pockets are quite deep, and the three jugs are extremely large. There are four sets of different four-finger edges with varying depths including 1 ¼”, 1″, ¾,” and ⅝”, making it an excellent choice for beginner and intermediate climbers looking for a solid progression of holds to train with. Though it lacks any pinch grips and doesn’t have as many smaller holds for advanced climbers to use, the 3D Simulator’s price, versatility, and ergonomic design make it our choice for the Best Hangboard For The Price.

 

Best Advanced Hangboard

Atomik Yaniro Power Board

atomik yaniro hangboard

Material: Polyester resin | Dimensions: 30” x 9”

Pros
+ Large variety of holds
+ Great progression of difficulty
+ Great ergonomics
+ Comfortable texture similar to wood

Cons
– Very large and heavy
– Not suitable for beginners
– No pinches

The Atomik Yaniro Power Hang Board is our pick for advanced climbers who are already accustomed to hangboard workouts and are looking to take their climbing to the next level. It was designed nearly 20 years ago by Tony Yaniro, a well-known crusher. It’s also the only hand-shaped hangboard we reviewed, and the benefit was clear when feeling the comfortable, almost glove-like pockets. 

Boasting great ergonomics, the best texture of any plastic hangboard, and a large selection of challenging holds with a well-designed progression, this board has it all – if you’re up for it.

The wide design encourages good form, reducing stress on the shoulders and elbows. Though at the size, it may be difficult to find space to mount this beast. But if you’re ready to take your climbing to the next level, the Atomik Yaniro Power Hangboard is our pick for the Best Advanced Hangboard.

Best Hangboard for Beginners

Metolius Wood Grips Compact II

Material: Wood | Dimensions: 24″ x 6.2″

Pros
+ Excellent value
+ Compact design
+ Aesthetically pleasing

Cons
– Less variety of holds
– Wood texture has less friction

The Metolius Wood Grips Compact II is one of the most affordable wooden hangboards available on the market. As we discuss below, wood hangboards are easier on your skin and generally more aesthetically pleasing, which is nice if you’re mounting it in a living area. This board is also quite compact (hence the name), so finding a place to mount it is much easier than the Deluxe version or some of the other options on this list.

Despite its compact design, the Compact II does a good job of packing in enough hold options to provide a solid progression and variety of grips. Compared to other options, it is certainly more limited, but for most beginners it has plenty to work with. It features two pairs of four finger edges that are ¾” and 1 ¼” deep, two sets of three finger pockets, and two sets of two finger pockets. Two pairs of slopers and a single pair of jugs round out the holds.

Though the Metolius 3D Simulator offers a greater variety of holds including some easier ones, the compact design and forgiving wood texture make this our choice for Best Climbing Hangboard for Beginners.

Related: Beginner Hangboard Workouts

Best Budget Hangboard

Metolius Project

Material: Polyester Resin | Dimensions: 24.5″ x 6″

Pros
+ Low cost
+ Compact design
+ Decent variety of holds despite its size

Cons
– Narrow width & central holds can strain elbows and shoulders
– Lacking pinches

The Metolius Project Training Board is one of the lowest-priced hangboards available and provides respectable performance and variety of holds for its cost and size. It’s essentially a smaller, cheaper version of the Metolius 3D Simulator. Despite its more limited variety of holds, there is a good progression and enough variety to consistently build finger strength.

The compact size and minimal cost makes this a great option for someone with limited space or not looking to spend too much on a hangboard. The holds are mostly on the larger side, making this another ideal training board for beginner to intermediate climbers. 

Similar to the 3D Simulator, the Project has a slightly curved shape that helps with the narrow width. Because many of the holds are in the center of the board, it can be less comfortable to use and adds strain to the shoulders.

If you can spring for it and have the space we think the 3D Simulator is worth the upgrade, but if you’re on a tight budget or have limited space, the Project is a great option, making it our pick for the Best Budget Hangboard.

Best for Slopers and Pinches

So iLL Iron Palm

best hangboard

Material: Polyurethane | Dimensions: 27″ x 11.5″

Pros
+ Excellent for sloper training
+ Best pinches we reviewed
+ Wide dimensions are easier on shoulders

Cons
– Takes up a lot of room
– Limited edges, no pockets

The So iLL Iron Palm certainly doesn’t look like most of the other hangboards available, but that doesn’t mean it’s any lesser. The most obvious feature of this hangboard is the two large spheres on either end. While slopers are usually a low priority during hangboard training, these are easily the best of any of the hangboards we reviewed. You can grab these in any number of ways, making it easy to adapt your workout as your grip strength increases. 

The pinches on the Iron Palm are also the best of any hangboard we’ve used. With two individual pairs of pinches you can use each separately or combine them, giving you three different pinch sets to train with. 

Without any conventional pockets, the Iron Palm features four wide crimp rails. This unique design seems limiting at first but it actually solves the issue of having too many edges near the center, where the shoulders get pinched and strained. At 27” wide, climbers of almost any size will find this board to be comfortable and surprisingly versatile. 

The four edges offer a “good enough” variety for most climbers to progress effectively, though more advanced climbers may find themselves wishing for a smaller edge.

If we had to pick one hangboard to recommend for most climbers it probably wouldn’t be the Iron Palm, but if you’re looking to train slopers or pinches in earnest, you can’t beat it. That’s why we gladly name this our Best Hangboard for Slopers and Pinches.

Best Wooden Hangboard

Beastmaker 2000

best hangboards

Material: Wood | Dimensions: 22.8″ x 6.3″

Pros
+ Excellent for advanced climbers
+ Great variety of holds
+ Compact design

Cons
– Challenging holds not beginner-friendly
– No jugs or pinches

It’s in the name – the Beastmaker 2000 is an advanced fingerboard for advanced climbers and an outstanding choice for a wooden fingerboard. The large variety of holds provide an excellent progression for consistent finger strength improvement. A high manufacturing quality provides for well-radiused holds that are very comfortable to hang on. 

Despite its compact design, the Beastmaker 2000 boasts three different slopers – 20°, 35°, and 45° – a large variety of pockets and edges, and even a pair of sloping monos (yeah, we told you it was good for advanced climbers!). 

Even though the Beastmaker 2000 is our choice for the Best Wooden Hangboard, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the more beginner-friendly Beastmaker 1000 here. It replaces the 45° sloper with a pair of jugs, and features more 4 finger pockets as well as deeper edges. 

The Beastmaker has a great wooden texture that provides just enough friction to challenge you without trashing your fingertips. Whether you’re a beginner that would be better served by the Beastmaker 1000 or an advanced climber seeking the challenge the Beastmaker 2000 provides, we’re confident either of these should hold the title Best Wooden Hangboard.

Best Portable Hangboard

Metolius Rock Rings 3D

Material: Polyester Resin | Dimensions: 7¼” x 5¾” (each), 2 pieces

Pros
+ Ergonomic and shoulder-friendly
+ Extremely compact design
+ Suspended training improves strength across different planes of movement

Cons
– Limited holds
– No jugs or pinches
– Suspended training reduces peak force on fingers

Okay, so the Metolius Rock Rings 3D aren’t really a hangboard. And yeah, we put the independently suspended feature in both the Pros and Cons lists. But bear with us here. These are easily the most compact training devices on this list, and their unique design opens up a whole variety of different exercises. Metolius has even created a useful guide for the Rock Rings to help you get started using them.

The Rock Rings are far superior when it comes to improving body tension, another crucial skill for climbers. The very minimal variety of holds does limit the ability to systematically progress finger strength, but when it comes to convenient and portable climbing strength training, it’s hard to argue the Rock Rings are a solid choice. And since we don’t imagine too many folks will be mounting up a hangboard in hotels or vans, we’re calling the Metolius Rock Rings 3D our Best Portable Hangboard.

Honorable Mention (Best Science-Backed Hangboard)

Eva Lopez Progression Hangboard

best hangboard

Material: Polyurethane | Dimensions: 23.4″ x 16”

Pros
+ Science-backed design
+ Large variety of edges to progress through

Cons
– Extremely tall, may not fit in many spaces
– No jugs, pinches, slopers, or pockets
– Expensive

Eva Lopez, notorious rock climber and researcher, designed the Progression Hangboard based on a doctoral thesis of finger strength. Though it didn’t fit into any of our top categories, we simply couldn’t leave it off our list as it certainly deserves to be a mainstay in the hangboard industry. 

There are no jugs, pinches, slopers, or pockets – just a large number of gradually decreasing edges. While this may limit the variety and it isn’t suitable for all climbers, it’s an ideal finger board to systematically train with. The size may be an issue for many climbers though – at 16” tall, it’s nearly double the height of the next-tallest hangboard.

With 9 different edges ranging from 10mm to 30mm, Eva Lopez’s Progression Hangboard includes a training plan that was developed through rigorous scientific studies for maximum effectiveness. For this reason, Eva Lopez’s Progression Hangboard claims our Honorable Mention as the Best Science-Backed Hangboard.

How to Choose the Best Climbing Hangboard

What to Look For

Each climber is unique in their body type, skill, strength, and goals. So it makes sense that the ideal hangboard for you may be different than for someone else. The best climbing hangboard for you should have several holds you can barely grip and a few you can’t yet hang on to. You’ll want easy enough holds to do a warm-up as well as challenging holds to train the types of grips you need to improve. 

The goal of hangboarding is not to spend a long time hanging, or cranking out pullups. In general, you’ll be hanging for 7-10 seconds so you’ll want a board that has a few holds you fall off of within that time, as well as others that you’ll struggle on by the 4th or 5th set of 7-10 second hangs. And if you’re serious about improving, you’ll want a few holds you can’t hang from at all without supporting yourself – you may be surprised how quickly you can work up to these with a consistent, focused training plan.

Material & Texture

Climbing hangboards are generally made from three materials: wood, polyurethane, and polyester resin. Each has its pros and cons and while polyurethane and polyester are quite similar, there are some distinctions to consider. 

Wood

Wood is a great option for beginners because there is less friction than the plastic options. This means it will be easier on your skin, which leaves you ready to go work on climbing skill without shredding your fingers. This low friction also makes the holds slightly more challenging – a bonus for those training for smoother rock types. Wood is lighter than plastic hangboards so it will be easier to mount, and though it’s a matter of opinion, wooden hangboards are generally considered more aesthetic which may be important if you’ll be mounting it in a living space.

The main downside to wood hangboards are their propensity to getting gummy and slick when too much chalk is used. If you choose a wooden hang board, try to use minimal chalk and wipe it down periodically. Another disadvantage of wood is that there is generally a smaller variety of holds, with very few pinches and slopers. Lastly, wood holds onto heat much longer than plastic which reduces friction so be careful if you’ll be using your hangboard in a warm climate or hot attic. 

Polyester Resin

Polyester resin is used to make climbing holds, however it is slowly being replaced with polyurethane because it’s lighter and more durable against cracking. Polyester resin’s main advantage is that it can be custom-formed, which is why most plastic boards have more variety of holds than wooden hangboards. Plastic also has the advantage of being chalk-friendly – it doesn’t get gummy or slick after using too much chalk, but it should still be cleaned occasionally to avoid too much build-up.

Unfortunately, polyester resin often results in a harsh texture that can be abrasive to fingertips. While not an issue for many advanced climbers, newer climbers who are trying to develop strength may find themselves limited by their skin. There’s also more variance in the texture – even when comparing two identical hangboard models. 

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is slowly replacing polyester resin because it is lighter and less likely to chip when being mounted. It is otherwise quite similar to polyester resin, with a more abrasive texture and more customized holds than wooden hangboards. However, as our review of the Atomik Yaniro Power Board mentioned, it is possible to get a smooth texture that almost matches wood.

The main difference between polyurethane and polyester resin is its weather resistance. Polyurethane breaks down quicker when exposed to weather, and loses its texture after extended use. This polishing process can take quite some time though, so unless you’re looking for a hangboard to mount in a climbing gym, we doubt you’ll have an issue – just mount it inside to avoid the elements.

best hangboards

Variety of Holds

You don’t want to pick a hangboard simply because it has more holds, but it’s obviously important to have a variety of holds to train on and work up to. You’ll want to make sure there is a progression from warm-up to too-hard so you can improve for a while before needing another training board. This will likely include not only jugs, pinchers, and slopers, but various depths and widths of pockets. 

The Metolius Project is a great example of a small board with a solid variety of pockets ranging from deep 4 finger pockets to shallow 2 finger pockets. You can always put 2-3 fingers in a 4 finger pocket, but it’s nearly impossible to modify the depth so you’ll want a board that has the right depths before a huge variety of widths.

Which holds are best for you will depend on a few things: current strength, finger size, and climbing goals. A hangboard can be used to train a single grip for a specific move on a project, so if that’s your goal then make sure you find a board that has the right holds. There’s no sense in training slopers if you want to improve your pinch grip (remember that isometric contractions only improve strength at the specific angle you train). Let’s take a look at a few of the specific holds on most hangboards. 

Edges

Edges and crimps are the mainstay of fingerboard training and should be the top priority when choosing a board. Don’t be afraid of small edges – while it might be impossible at first, hangboard training improves grip strength very quickly and you’re likely to start using smaller holds within just a few hangboard workouts. 

In general, we recommend finger boards with at least three edges ranging in depth from ½” to 1”. The finger boards tested here all have slightly rounded edges which will be more comfortable and encourage a proper open crimp. 

Pockets

Pockets are great because they isolate one, two or three fingers on your hangboard. Many intermediate and advanced hangboard workouts will use these pockets in a progression so you don’t compensate for weak fingers every time you hang from a 4 finger crimp. Similar to edges, you’ll want a variety of pockets on your hangboard that you can progress through.

Slopers

Slopers are great for warming up, finishing a workout after shredding your fingertips, working whole-hand strength, and improving open grip strength. However, they’re generally a small part of hangboard training and you shouldn’t choose a board just because of its slopers (unless that’s your primary goal). One set of slopers will be enough for most climbers, but a second pair can be nice to add some variety.

Jugs

You know that feeling when you’re pumping out and finally reach the “Thank-God” jug? As great as it feels when you’re sending a project, it’s not a very effective method of training near your limit. Jugs are mainly used for warming up or training lock-offs and pull-ups. Most boards have one set of jugs which is all you need, as long as they’re big enough to hang from for around a full minute. 

Pinches

Pinches are one of the least common features on the hangboards we tested, and for good reason – they’re less useful for most climbers. Climbers training for roofs and other overhanging terrain will benefit the most, and for those folks it will certainly be nice to have a dedicated pinch grip. The Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center and So iLL Iron Palm both have pretty good pinch grips. The Iron Palm is easiest for beginners and boasts three widths of pinches, while the Training Center offers both narrow and wide pinch grips at a downward angle for added difficulty.

Level of Difficulty

Probably the most important factor when deciding on a hangboard is how difficult the holds are. We generally recommend against hangboard training until you’re climbing well into the 5.10 range, but even at that level there are plenty of hangboards that will be too difficult to get the most out of. Getting the right amount of difficulty will allow you to train effectively without injury while progressing into the next level.

Depending on your goals and the types of holds you prioritize, you’ll want a hangboard that you can hang onto about half of the holds. You can always incorporate a counter-weight pulley system, weighted vest, or single-arm hangs if your hangboard is too challenging or becomes too easy for you, but you’ll be able to progress more quickly if you have a good variety of holds that closely match your strength level.

 

Mounting Considerations

Just like climbers, hangboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Bigger boards generally have more holds which can be useful but is certainly not a requirement. Rather, having the right holds will give you the most effective training. 

The most common way of mounting a hangboard is to pre-mount a ¾”-1” piece of wood to your wall by screwing it into the studs. Then, you can freely mount the hangboard on this piece of wood with the pre-placed mounting holes.

Since you’ll be hanging from the training board, you obviously want an open space underneath. This means you’ll generally be mounting your hangboard above a doorway, or on an exposed roof joist. Depending on your space, height may be a limiting factor. Be sure to check the dimensions of each board so you know if it will fit. 

There are also ways to mount a hangboard without drilling holes in your wall, which is ideal if you are renting or simply don’t want to damage your home. The most popular and convenient way to mount hangboards without drilling is to use a pull-up bar. We’ve even created a simple set of instructions for you to follow.

Another option is the Blank Slate Climbing series, which is essentially a pre-manufactured version of the assembly we explain in the above guide. These are a bit expensive and still require a hangboard to actually mount onto them, but the convenience and quality are undeniable. 

Lastly, you can build a DIY freestanding hangboard which can be easily moved or brought outside, but takes up a substantial amount of space and requires a more involved construction process. If you plan to add campusing to your workouts eventually, this may be more practical since you can mount your hangboard and campus board to the same freestanding frame. 

Conclusion

Training on a hangboard is the most popular way to increase finger strength for a reason. You can see our hangboard workouts for more information on how to get started or take your hangboarding to the next level. I hope this review helps answer some questions you have about hangboard materials, holds, and difficulty levels to pick out the best one for you. Let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

See you out there!

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