Not every training board is the same. The Kilter Board is unique. It is big, monochrome, expensive, and the highest-quality piece of climbing equipment in the world. “Compromise” is not a word that exists in Kilter’s studio. There is only perfection.
Kilter has been designing this board for sometime. In 2018, they decided to move forward with what would become the original layout. Though light-up boards are nothing new, it could be argued that Kilter almost perfected the training board.
The Kilter Board isIan Powell’s passion project. Powell is among the best shapers in the world. He is responsible for most of the products that roll off of Kilter’s production line. the Kilter Board is one of these products. He is obsessive when it comes to detail and that is important. It is the selling point of Kilter’s products.
The Kilter Board comes in many sizes. We will talk about the original. It is a 12-foot by 12-foot layout. In this first detail, the board stands apart from its competitors. It is wider than its contemporaries.
The original board has over 300 unique holds. What does this mean? Well, the MoonBoards have 198 hand holds each. This means that Kilter has over 50% more grips for the athlete to choose from.
This is also a selling point of the board. A greater variety of unique holds is required for a greater variety of boulder problems. Unique boulder problems builds the foundation of a strong climber. This is due to a process climbers described as “pyramid building.”
Building your pyramid is the process of completing many boulder problems of a lower grade in preparation for problems of a higher grade. As a person fleshes out their pyramid, they come into contact with a variety of moves that will later be essential at a higher difficulty. Perhaps the difference between a V4 and V6 is the depth of the hold or the angle of the wall.
By filling in the pyramid, a climber will not have to learn has many moves per new boulder problem. This is essential for climbing harder faster. It is the concept of volume, but in an organized manner. The Kilter Board allows a person to maximise this portion of their training.
While the holds do a good job of increasing opportunity, the adjustable angle of the board is perhaps even more significant. While training on several angles is challenging due to the fact that it can be difficult to focus on any particular angle, if approached systematically, every boulder problem can become as many as 15 boulder problems due to the adjustability of the board.
The Kilter Board has presets every 5 degrees from 0 to 70 degrees overhanging. This allows for a beginner to climb on the board just as easily as a professional. This is important from a gym owner’s perspective. A product that only serves one portion of your clientele is only as useful as the number of people that are able to access your product.
This last aspect is important. The MoonBoard is not a fun place for beginners. Though I recommend that anyone with access to a MoonBoard should spend time getting used to it, this is easier said than done. If you are not able to climb V6 in the gym, the MoonBoard is going to feel nearly inaccessible.
If you are unable to climb V4 in the gym, your MoonBoarding might look similar to dead hanging the grips as opposed to completing. This is a problem.
The Kilter Board offers accessibility to the new client and provides an opportunity for progression. If the climb is too easy at 0 degrees, then try it at 10 degrees. If too easy at 10 degrees, try it at 35, or 65 degrees. Once you are sending the problem at 70 degrees, change the original boulder. Maybe even increase the 0 degree difficulty.
Between the over 300 unique holds at the 15 unique angle presets, there is significant variety in the boulders the athlete might try.
With that in mind, let us continue on to the power discussion. Board climbing is a power tool. Power is the maximum amount of strength a person can apply over a period of time. The higher the strength, and the smaller the amount of time, the greater the power.
As such, it is important that the Kilter Board is able to perform this function. As you might expect, it is able to do this easily. At a time, I thought that the holds were too positive to be a useful bouldering tool. This is not the case.
For one, training boards are not where we go for strength training. We go to hangboards if we want to hold smaller grips. Training boards are tools that helps us drive force through our fingers when we depart form a starting position and latch down onto another hold. This is why the most important part of a board is the angle. If a board cannot approach 35-60 degrees, it is not a very useful piece of training equipment for the climber that seeks to reach beyond V6/7.
The Kilter Board hits this angle. That is good.
If the angle is the most important aspect of the training board, then why do we care that Kilter’s holds are unique? Though the angle is the most important, hold density is almost as important. A person could argue that hold quantity is even more important once the angle reaches beyond 25-degrees. They would probably be correct in saying so.
As such, hold quantity is significant. We know that Kilter does well in this respect. What sets Kilter holds apart from those of other training boards is their feel. They are comfortable. I thought this was a problem. Surely, uncomfortable holds would help you climb on the uncomfortable holds of outside.
Though there is something to be said for pain tolerance, that which makes the fingers feel the most pain is their own weakness. Any climber finds crimps painful at first. A few months later, however, and the holds that put too much pressure on the hands become comfortable in the grip.
Though training on sharp grips might appear useful, the most significant aspect of a hold is its unique shape. We want to learn how to grip all different types of holds from several different positions. Time spent wasting our skin on corners only shortens the session.
As mentioned before, the training board is a power-training tool. It is not a useful tool if we must end the power-phase of our training session early due to a lack of skin. The comfortable ear-shaped grips of Kilter’s holds allow the skin an opportunity to engage on the plastic without splitting. To that effect, the rounded grips resist tweaky finger positions. These tweaky positions are those that cause injury. We cannot have injury coming from our training tools.
If not for Kilter’s clean three- and four-finger grips, there would be risk of over-stimulating individual pulleys on certain moves. This would be problematic.
Instead, the comfortable grips increase a board climber’s session by at least an hour. To that effect, the texture of the grips is intended to feel as close to wood as possible, while maintaining its durable polyurethane construction. This means that your skin will survive the session and subsequent sessions.
Now that we have an understanding of the grips and exactly why the Kilter Board is what it is, we can describe the more aesthetic portions of the system.
The double pour of the grips is useful and better than its peers. The entire grip lights up when accessed on the application. This makes its easy to know where your feet should go after you have moved through a sequence. The LEDs are beautiful.
The board itself also has a great many footholds. It also has lights for grips that are intended to be used exclusively as footholds. This aspect adds variability to your training. Foothold-specific board climbing activates the core.
The Kilter Board also has a “routes” feature. These routes are longer than boulder problems and fully utilize the expanse of the space. To that effect, the larger size of the board makes it easier for climbers to create larger boulder problems. The more possible moves, the easier it is to increase the difficulty of the problem.
Featured Image by kiltergael