Metolius Wood Grips Compact II Review
Cons: Less holds than other boards
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you have limited space, are on a tighter budget, or just don't want to spend a bunch of money on a hangboard, then the Wood Grips Compact II is a solid model to consider. We love the texture of this board, and while its compact size means it doesn't have the variety of holds that other boards have, it does have a good enough selection to keep most people interested who are in the 5.10-5.12+ type range.
Edges and Pockets
Edges and pockets are the foundation of strength training with any fingerboard. In this review, we consider an edge to fit four fingers in width or wider, and a pocket fits three fingers or less.Edges
The Compact II sports two pairs of four-finger edges (1 1/4" and 1/2") and two stand-alone 4-finger edges in the center of the board ( 1 1/4" and 3/4"). As important edges are for training, it is sad to note that our model had a slight rib on the lower pair of four-finger edges. This rib was fine for casual use but became borderline painful on our fingertips after long fingerboard sessions. We also wished both of these edges were just a little bit smaller as most climbers will outgrow them quickly with continuous training.
This model features two sets of three-finger pocket and two sets of two-finger pockets which are all 1 1/4" and 3/4" in depth. These pockets have nice rounded edges that weren't painful on our skin and offer a little more support for our tendons. We think these two and three-fingered pockets complement the 4-finger edges well and will give most climbers enough to work with considering the size of this board.
Slopers and Jugs
The Compact II has two sets of slopers; a more challenging one and one with a subtle arch. Our review team feels that these, coupled with a single pair of jugs, are nice for warming up as well as building a pump toward the end of a workout when we might be running low on edge holding power. Again, these slopers aren't just different angles; one is a straight/linear downgrade which was good for building whole hand power while the other one has an arching downslope for warm-ups/burnouts. The latter sloper was also nice to do pull-ups on when we were tired of just cranking them out on the jugs. As for this model's lone pair of jugs, we particularly like their ergonomic and comfortable shape.
The Wood Grips II's wood construction gives it some of the better texture in our review. When we say better texture, we mean less harmful on our hands, skin, and fingertips. This model's smooth finish wrecked our hands noticeably less than other models that use resin or polyurethane (or a combination of both). This is particularly apparent when using a fingerboard more than two times per week or when we added weight to our workouts.
In general, smooth texture is slightly better training. Besides the fact that it is more comfortable on your skin, it's slicker and thus is less forgiving, requiring you to try subtly harder to keep from sliding off than a model with better friction.
For people who love to use chalk, this model isn't the best, as excessive chalk use will make all the holds feel much greasier than polyurethane or resin models that handle chalk a lot better. We found that a little chalk early on can feel good, but consistent and copious chalk use can certainly lead to "gumming" up the grips. This isn't a super big deal as you can clean off the holds and the damage is far from permanent but should be done quasi-regularly and left to fully dry before use.
Like many compact models, this model features no real pinches. We feel that while pinches are nice for warming up, building a pump, or maybe increasing strength for a route-specific move, they are far less important. For most people, their training should revolve mostly around edges and thus it shouldn't be a dealbreaker that this model doesn't have pinches.
Ease of Mounting
The Compact is easy to mount and can fit in almost any space you'd consider mounting a hangboard. Because it's only 24" x 6.2" (61 cm x 15.7 cm) in size, it will even fit above doorways in most places with only 7 foot ceilings.
This board offers strong value, ringing up just above half the price of some of the competition. Though some other boards offer a wider variety of and more challenging holds, we don't think they're twice as good as the Compact II like their price tags might reflect.
You buy the Metolius Wood Grips Compact II because it is made of wood yet still affordable, and its compact dimensions mean it can be mounted above doorways even with below-average-height ceilings. The Compact II has enough holds and edges to be useful for consistent fingerboard training (otherwise we wouldn't have included it), but barely. This board is a little more interesting that the more basic (but cheaper) Metolius Prime Rib but offers similar training opportunities.
— Ian Nicholson