Hands-on Gear Review

So iLL Starter Kit Bolt-on 55 Review

Best Buy Award
Price:  $167 List
Pros:  Great texture and grip, versatile, multiple color options.
Cons:  Not much variety in hold design.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   So iLL

Our Verdict

So iLL has made a name for themselves throughout the climbing community with their wacky advertisements and unorthodox climbing holds (think holds shaped like Fingers or Telephones). We were a little apprehensive in reviewing their set, thinking they would not stand up against the other four packages of holds being tested. Boy were we wrong! The So iLL Starter Kit Bolt-on 55 was one of our favorite sets we tested on our 40 degree overhanding training wall. We had such a great time setting and climbing on these holds that we almost didn't want to take them off the wall to test the others. We set a total of six boulder problems using 53 of the 55 holds available. When setting using all five sets we gravitated towards these holds and actually had to refrain from using them all again. In addition to being a fun set to climb on, this set is pretty affordable, particularly compared to our Editors' Choice winner, the Atomik 60 pack. That pack has a wider variety than this set, and overall scored just a bit higher. But for great value and fun potential this set can't be beat and it's the recipient or our Best Buy award.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Kenny Barker

Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 6, 2015

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This set comes with all the hardware needed to get your holds on a wall as long as you already have a wrench. Included are:
  • 40 handholds
  • 15 footholds

The 40 handholds included in this set are all edge and crimp trainers.
The 40 handholds included in this set are all edge and crimp trainers.

The handholds include small crimps, large crimps, and a few pinches. There are no large jugs in this set. The bolts are all the same length and use the same size wrench, which makes setting quick and smooth. There are a multitude of colors to choose from, from their trademark slime green to purple, red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, and black.

Performance Comparison


Kenny Barker  our largest tester  trying out this set. Our Best Buy winner was fun to train on and also durable. We had no cracks or breakage with this set  thanks to its "Ultra Bomber" polyurethane material.
Kenny Barker, our largest tester, trying out this set. Our Best Buy winner was fun to train on and also durable. We had no cracks or breakage with this set, thanks to its "Ultra Bomber" polyurethane material.

Variety of Holds


This is a great package of holds for any climber wanting to work and train their crimp and edge strength. However, this set does not have much in the way of variety like the other four packages we tested. It was loaded with small edges, medium sized edges, and large in-cut edges. These large in-cut edges were known as the jugs of the hold package and were still hard for someone who had been climbing for a year to hold on to on our steep 40 degree test wall. This is definitely an intermediate/advanced starter kit, though our testers wished there were more small pinches for both the left and right hands.

Want to improve your crimp strength? The slight variations on the main crimping theme in this set will get you ready for Red Rocks season. This set does not include any jugs  pockets  or slopers.
Want to improve your crimp strength? The slight variations on the main crimping theme in this set will get you ready for Red Rocks season. This set does not include any jugs, pockets, or slopers.

Comfort / Texture


These holds were a joy to test because we were not worried about losing all the skin on our fingers. The texture of the footholds also allowed climbers to maintain the integrity of their shoe rubber. All of the holds were also quite friendly on the tendons. Not once did we grab a hold that compressed a tendon in a weird way.

This set comes with a variety of crimps with great texture and comfort. These are what we call perfect plastic crimps!
This set comes with a variety of crimps with great texture and comfort. These are what we call perfect plastic crimps!

Angle Versatility


The training wall we used for our testing sits at a 40 degree angle and was perfect for the So iLL Starter Kit Bolt-on 55. With that said, this set is great for any other angle as well. Using these holds on a less steep angle drops the difficulty of the boulder problems, which makes it a versatile set for all abilities.

Our Best Buy award winner is a great home wall training set. It's an intermediate/advanced set at this steep of an angle  but the holds work on more vertical walls as well  which drops the difficulty down.
Our Best Buy award winner is a great home wall training set. It's an intermediate/advanced set at this steep of an angle, but the holds work on more vertical walls as well, which drops the difficulty down.

Durability


The material of these holds is described as "Ultra Bomber Urethane," though in their specs they say the holds are actually made with polyurethane (there is a difference). Either way, we'd have to agree that these are a "bomber" set of holds. We overtightened them and did not have any cracking, unlike the Three Ball Cobra 50 pack footholds. We tossed these holds around, and in and out of buckets, and they did not chip or break like the Metolius Mega 50 pack did. We put this set through the wringer and they came out in great shape.

Best Applications


These holds are great for anyone with a home wall or climbing system of any angle. If used on a steep wall, they are best for an intermediate/advanced climber, and on more vertical walls beginners will love the comfort of the holds along with seeing strength gains from using them. Kids will love the bright, vibrant colors if the random color package is purchased.

Training on the most comfortable  solid crimps we tested. This is a great set and these holds work well on any angled home wall.
Training on the most comfortable, solid crimps we tested. This is a great set and these holds work well on any angled home wall.

Value


This is the least expensive package of holds we tested. It retails for $166.95, which averages to about $3.04 a hold. As far as bang for your buck goes, our testers felt this package was well worth our Best Buy award.

Conclusion


Home walls are a way for a climber to become stronger and achieve lofty goals. The So iLL Starter Kit Bolt-on 55 is one of the best options to make those goals more achievable. The handholds in this kit target the strengthening of your fingers so you'll never have to worry about grabbing a small hold again. The forgiving texture of these holds makes sure there is enough skin left to climb outside for days. Even not having a ton of variety within this package of holds, it was still a contender for our top honors and was narrowly beat out by the Atomik 60 pack. However, this set did receive our Best Buy award for being the best price per hold and also being a great set to train with.
Kenny Barker


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Most recent review: October 6, 2015
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