Hands-on Gear Review

Metolius 3D Simulator Review

Among the world's most popular hangboards, this model combines a fantastic selection of pockets and edges with a shape that inspires good body positioning at an excellent price.
By: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 15, 2018
Price:  $80 List  |  $78.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Very good number of edges and pockets, holds designed with a good progression in mind, ergonomic shape helps lower stress on many users' shoulders and elbows, fantastic price, fits above most doorways
Cons:  Not the best model for higher end climbers, okay texture, not as compact as other models
Manufacturer:   Metolius

Our Verdict

The Metolius 3D Simulator is mega popular, and it deserves its fame. The Simulator offers an above-average amount of edges and pockets, and a fantastic selection at that. While not necessarily aimed at high-end climbers (works great for 5.10 to 5.13- type climbers), the Simulator offers plenty to help the majority of people at the point in their climbing careers where they are going to start using a hangboard to get stronger. The 3D Simulator ergonomically sound and, for a non-wooden board, its texture isn't awful. It's not the most compact model, but it strikes a nice balance of being small enough to fit in a lot of places while still offering a high number of edges and pockets.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The 3D Simulator is straight-up the best hangboard for the price. However, don't let this statement fool you as this is a great hangboard, regardless of cost. Our testers loved this model's above-average ergonomics and appreciated its number and variety of edges and pockets that truly provides a good avenue for most peoples climbing progression.

Performance Comparison


Simply put not better or more versatile hangboard for the price. The 3D Simulator is loaded with holds  sports a shoulder friendly design  and is up to the training task for the vast majority of climbers.
Simply put not better or more versatile hangboard for the price. The 3D Simulator is loaded with holds, sports a shoulder friendly design, and is up to the training task for the vast majority of climbers.

Edges and Pockets


Edges and pockets are the foundation of fingerboard training; thus we weighed performance in this area the heaviest. For clarification, in our review, a hold that is four fingers or wider and is less than 2" deep is an edge. A pocket is any hold that is three fingers wide or narrower.

The Simulator offers an above-average amount of edges and pockets among models we tested (and even considered testing). All of our testers loved the variety of edges and pockets, especially its very ergonomic design characteristics. The first characteristic is common in a number of models. The edges and pockets higher up on the board stand further out than the ones located lower on the board. This overhanging design helps minimize how much the lower portion of the board gets in your way when using the upper holds.

The other design characteristic our testers appreciated is this board's slightly downward turned design which encourages the user to perform various workouts with better ergonomics, thus reducing the amount of stress on shoulders and elbows. Even for folks without shoulder or elbow pain, this model got bonus points for the ergonomic comfort its design encourages.

Offering one of the better progressions of edges of any model in our review  it's systematic design makes it easy to challenge yourself and see and track your progress.
Offering one of the better progressions of edges of any model in our review, it's systematic design makes it easy to challenge yourself and see and track your progress.

Edges

The 3D Simulator offers one of the best collection of usable edges. The bulk of the climbers out there will take advantage of its four sets of different four-finger edges. The depths of these edges are 1.5", 1", 3/4", and 1/2". We like the downward curve designed into these edges that are more supportive of our fingers and offer an overall less harsh feel. This versatility in edges will appeal to a wider range of users, with some deep edges appropriate for warm-ups.

Pockets

This model has four sets of three-finger pockets and two sets of two-finger pockets, as well as a single two-finger pocket and three standalone three-finger pockets all located down the middle of the board. These depths of three finger pockets are 1.5", 1", 3/4", and 5/8". These depths are great for folks working into using fewer fingers while fingerboard training, and most climbers will take a while before a 5/8" three-finger pocket feels easy. This model's two-finger pockets also offer two good depths to encourage a nice progression. Their depths are 1.5", which is a great segway into two-finger pockets, and a 3/4" depth that will nearly always feel hard for a majority of climbers.

Slopers and Jugs


All of our reviewers love the two slopers featured on this board as they complement each other wonderfully. One sloper set (the pair closer to the middle) is more rounded and is geared towards warming up. The other set is more tilted/slopy and great for finishing off a pump.

All of our testers appreciated this model's rounded slopers for warming up  building whole-hand strength  and to bring a punishing pump at the end of our workout.
All of our testers appreciated this model's rounded slopers for warming up, building whole-hand strength, and to bring a punishing pump at the end of our workout.

This model sports one pair of wide-set jugs that are great for warming-up and cranking out pull-ups. We found the positioning of these to be above average for a majority of our testers as far as encouraging a better pull-up position and thus easier on several testers' shoulders.

Texture


This model is built with plain old polyester resin. We found this model's fine-grained texture, however, above-average among non-wood models. We thought it was far better than the So iLL Iron Palm and even slightly better than the Trango Rock Prodigy.

What constitutes a good texture? One that is smoother and less damaging to the skin of the users' fingertips. Because hangboard sessions are generally quite intense on a very small portion of your finger (mainly the first and maybe part of the second pads) grippier texture can tear the skin up in these locations if performed too regularly (which we would all like to do). Plus, on a fundamental level, a smoother surface is more slippery and thus requires more strength to hang-on, resulting in a better workout.

The fact that polyester resin boards are heavier isn't a super big deal except during the moment when you are mounting it overhead. The difference in texture has also decreased  and while wood is still superior  it isn't near as big of a gap as it was five or six years ago.
The fact that polyester resin boards are heavier isn't a super big deal except during the moment when you are mounting it overhead. The difference in texture has also decreased, and while wood is still superior, it isn't near as big of a gap as it was five or six years ago.

Pinches


This model doesn't sport any pinches. This isn't a super big deal as only a few of the models we tested did. If you want to train your pinch strength, consider the versatile Trango Rock Prodigy.

Ease of Mounting


This model is relatively easy to mount. It comes with the eight screws required to mount it. While more of a mid-sized fingerboard, it is still small enough to fit above most average sized doors in rooms with 8-foot ceilings. It is a little tight to do complete pull-ups in these locations, but a hangboard is more for hanging and building strength.

This model requires a little more space when mounting because of its slightly downward-curved nature compared to non-curved models like the Beastmaker 1000 or Metolius Wood Grips Compact II. Of course, the advantage of this board over either of those is you get more holds and the shape is a little easier on most peoples shoulders and elbows. Unless strapped for space and seeking the most compact board possible, most users will appreciate the Simulator's increased ergonomics and the multitude of holds.

More grip options are generally better  but a good progression of holds regarding their depth and difficulty is the most important thing. Holds should get progressively smaller without large of leaps in difficulty to provide the best overall design for strength gains and long-term training. The 3D Simulator sports an above average amount of grips.
More grip options are generally better, but a good progression of holds regarding their depth and difficulty is the most important thing. Holds should get progressively smaller without large of leaps in difficulty to provide the best overall design for strength gains and long-term training. The 3D Simulator sports an above average amount of grips.

Best Applications


By virtue of its sheer number of holds, this board works well for a wide range of ability levels but is best suited to climbers in the 5.10 to low 5.13 range (5.11+ -5.12+ climbers have the best options with this board). If you climb harder than that (or are close and aspire to climb harder), we recommend the Beastmaker 2000 or Trango Rock Prodigy, which offer poorer holds. What the 3D Simulator does have are versatile holds that are above-average in helping to create a good progression for its user and allow for easy-to-follow note taking and training plans.

Value


We think this is a sweet hangboard in general, but for $80, the 3D Simulator is impossible to beat for value. Simply put, we feel there is no better hangboard for the price than this one. The Simulator has more holds, edge depths, and pocket sizes than a majority of models in our review, and its overall design proved above-average for ergonomics (something many climbers' elbows and shoulders will appreciate). Compared to other top scoring models, the Simulator costs about $50-$60 less, and the majority of climbers won't be giving up almost anything in the way of performance with this board.

Conclusion


The Metolius 3D Simulator is the winner of our Best Buy Award because it is the absolute best model you can buy for the price. Even price aside, this is a pretty dang sweet hangboard that offers plenty of options to facilitate a nice progression of improvement and increased difficulty for folks in the 5.10+ - 5.12+/5.13a range. The number of edge depths and pocket sizes beats most hangboards on the market, and its ergonomic shape and stacked design (higher edges overhang the lower ones) lead to better form and a slight reduction in stress on shoulders and elbows. You can buy a nicer model with better texture or a greater number of more challenging holds, but its hard to find a better board for equal or less money.

Ian Nicholson


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