If you want to optimize your finger strength for climbing, you can hardly avoid a hangboard in the long term. These training devices are available in all possible forms and materials - now also fully digitized. We'll show you what to look out for when buying.

A contribution by Fabian Reichle - Bächli Bergsport

In a somewhat simplified way, one can say: the higher the level of difficulty, the worse the grips. Holding onto just those is the real problem. In addition to other factors such as proper technique or body tension, finger strength will sooner or later play a decisive role.

The natural training effect of pure climbing will eventually no longer be enough, your fingers will have to be specifically strengthened. If this is the case, the most efficient way to improve strength is with a hangboard.

The portable fingerboard from Kästners & Söhne to take with you on the wall stand.
The portable fingerboard from Kästners & Söhne to take with you on the wall stand.

What is a fingerboard aka hangboard aka finger board?

The function of a hangboard - also known as a fingerboard or fingerboard - can already be recognized by its name. It is mounted above the head and is used to hang from it. A hangboard is equipped with handles and bars of different quality, which you can hold on to better or worse, depending on the situation.

Exercise caution because the sensitive tendons in your hands are quickly overloaded.

The reason for hanging is because finger strength training should always be static. The load increases your maximum strength. However, patience is required, because the sensitive tendons in the hands are quickly overloaded.

In order to prevent injuries, an intensive warm-up and training that suits your own abilities is essential. The latter mainly depends on the choice of a suitable hangboard. The range is large and the training devices have even reached digitalisation in the meantime.

More than just simple boards

When buying a hangboard, your current strength level is the most important factor. The differences between hangboards can be huge and, if you overestimate yourself, can be frustrating and counterproductive. A classic among the devices is the Beastmaker. It comes in two versions: The 1000er and I baked the 2000er. The first is suitable for beginners and the ambitious, while the second is almost exclusively suitable for athletes who are already very advanced.

Beastmaker fingerboards are some of the most popular on the market. (Image Nick Brown / beastmaker)

How do fingerboards differ?

The basic climbing level already limits the purchase decision. But ultimately, small details are also relevant. The main criteria are the following:

  • Material
    The majority of hangboards are either made of wood or plastic, as we know it from climbing halls. In the end, the material is a matter of preference, but wood has an astonishingly good grip, is kind to the skin and absorbs moisture from your hands. And even if it may be subjective, a pretty wooden board is just more stylish than a plastic block.
  • Handles
    A good hangboard has many different grip options. Strips, holes, handles, slopers: all of this should be available in different variations. Not only the amount is important, but also the nature of the holding options. For example, if a hangboard has a four-finger and a three-finger handle, both of which are the same depth, this is useless because you can hang yourself on a wide handle with three fingers. Another example are slopers: If these are too narrow for your hands, it gets in the way of efficient training.
  • Assembly
    Most hangboards are permanently mounted or screwed on. However, there are too free-hanging and mobile devices. These are not quite as versatile as their permanently mounted counterparts, but they are ideal as a warm-up tool out on the rock, for example. 
  • App
    Even if it may seem unnecessary for some: A clever app for your own hangboard simply has great advantages. Structured training and motivation are just a few of the pluses. The important question in this regard: is there an app at all and if so, how good is it?
The intelligent hangboard from Climbro.

Intelligent hangboard from Climbro

Anyone who speaks of apps must also speak of fully digitized boards - such as the one Climbro Smart Hangboard. At first glance it looks simple, almost primitive: wooden construction, two strips, that's all. At just under 670 francs, the price tag creates additional confusion.

The Climbro app recognizes the climbing potential in no time and puts together a personal training plan.

But here the outside must not be rated, because the Climbro model is equipped with sensors on the inside that measure the finger strength and transmit it directly to the smartphone. The advantage? Exact measurements of your own power on every finger in every position with every grip. From this, the in-house app recognizes the climbing potential in no time and puts together a personal training plan.

Whether it's high-tech or purism: the hangboard has to suit personal preferences. Advice is available from Bächli Bergsport - then it will also work out with the training and hopefully soon strong fingers.

About Bächli mountain sports

Bächli mountain sports is the leading Swiss specialist shop for climbing, mountaineering, expeditions, hiking, ski touring and snowshoeing. At currently 13 locations in Switzerland, Bächli Bergsport offers its customers expert advice and high-quality service. Published on LACRUX Bächli mountain sports periodically exciting contributions to the topics climbing, bouldering and mountaineering.