Metolius Wood Grips Deluxe II Review
Cons: Wish it had a smaller 4-finger edge to make it more challenging, no pinches
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wood Grips Deluxe II is a rad comprehensive training tool for climbers in the 5.11+ to 5.12+ range. It would still work well up to 5.13a- type climbers. It sports a very skin-friendly texture, a large number of holds with some of the best progression edge depths for tracking incremental progress and strength gains. Its size strikes a nice balance of having a large number of holds but is still fairly easy to mount.
Edges and Pockets
There's a lot to love about this board. One of the best characteristics is the tightly spaced progression of edges that facilitate nice incremental strength gains and help keep hangboard training more interesting. Of note, all the edges at each level are the same. For example, the highest row has three 4-finger edges, two 3-finger edges, and two 2-finger edges that are all 31mm in depth.
This model has three sets of four-finger edges at 31mm, 25mm, and 19mm (not including this model's top jugs) and then replicates these depths on the 4-finger edges in the center of the board. Our review team found these edges to offer an excellent progression of difficulty, allowing climbers to easily fine-tune their training and see incremental gains to more easily see progress.
While we liked the 19mm edge on this model, for a board of this size, most of our review team wished it had a slightly smaller four-finger edge option (maybe 14 or 15mm instead of 19mm). This isn't a deal-breaker, but worth noting for very strong climbers seeking more difficulty.
This board has three depths of two- and three-finger pockets offered in the same depths as the four-finger edges we mentioned in the previous paragraph: 31mm, 25mm, and 19mm. Our entire review team found this to give us plenty of pocket options. The tightly spaced progression of depths facilitates a broad-based progression. This is particularly important as you start using groups of two or three fingers rather than all four due to the increased strain.
All of our testers appreciated the shape of the pockets, round enough to be easier on your skin but not so round that it makes the hold a slopper or allows you to use a bunch of friction from the pads lower down on your finger (i.e., making it easier and thus less effective). Unlike our wish for a smaller four-finger edge, we think that having the smallest two- and three-finger edges be 19mm is just fine for the majority of users.
Slopers and Jugs
This model offers a large pair of warm-up/pull-up jugs that easily swallows all pads of your fingers (56mm deep and very positively shaped) and provides support for the upper portion of your palm. These are larger than most and are great for warming up, cranking out pull-ups, and are supportive enough in their shape that most climbers will like them more than most for weighted pull-ups.
This model has two slopers, a flat-feeling 20-degree sloper and a more round-shaped 25-degree one that covers the top, middle portion of the board. These won't feel too "hard" for most climbers but proved excellent options for warming up, finishing ourselves off at the end of a workout with a vicious pump, or just building whole-hand strength.
There are no real pinches on this board. Several members of our review team tried to "fake it" by pinching various levels together but to no avail. Generally speaking, open-handed crimp strength training does plenty to improve pinching/open hard power for most climbers.
If you are a southeast sandstone boulderer or frequent Fontainebleau, this board will certainly help you make strength gains. However, a model with more holds geared towards slopers, pinches, and general whole hand strength like the So iLL Iron Palm or the Trango Rock Prodigy would likely be slightly better options.
The Wood Grips Deluxe II, along with the other wooden models Metolius offers, have the review's best texture, hands down. Our entire testing staff found these models to be the most skin-friendly options we've used.
The finish on this board is exceptionally smooth, making it less likely to tear or irritate your skin, especially after extended sessions on the smaller edges or with added weight. While this board is unquestionablesmooth none of our review team found it slippery. For those considering all options, our review team actually liked the texture on this model better than the timeless Beastmaker 1000 or Beastmaker 2000 and found it significantly better than the Yes4All wooden model.
Ease of Mounting
With an 8.5" height, a 24" wide width, and six mounting screws, this model proved pretty average to mount among boards we tested. It will fit above doorways in more average height ceilings (7ft 10in-8ft high) but likely won't in more cramped areas such as basements where ceilings might be closer to 7ft high.
If you are putting this model above a doorway, there is a good chance at least four if not all of the screws will go right into the header of the doorway (a piece of wood framing at the top of the doorway). Otherwise, the 14-15.5" inch spacing of the holes won't line up well with any sort of standard studs. Its 24" width also mean you likely can't go into either the Jack stud or the King stud on either side of the door meaning unless you know you are going into your doorways header, it isn't bad idea to mount this model to a separate piece of plywood first, and then mount it above your doorway.
The Wood Grips Deluxe II isn't really a bargain basement sort of board. It also isn't super spendy, especially considering its wood construction, a plethora of grips, and a winning texture. It offers plenty of advantages over the less expensive boards without giving up almost anything to the more expensive ones.
This model proved to be our favorite wooden board and will work best for most climbers redpointing in the 5.11+ to 5.12+ or maybe even 5.13a range. It has all the things most climbers hope to get from a well-designed wooden board, including the review-best texture and an excellent progression of holds with smaller-than-average depth differences between sizes. This, coupled with its large selection of pockets, make it easier to see more incremental progress and keep your fingerboard training more interesting and engaging with the plethora of holds to choose from. It might not fit everywhere, but its modest size offers more holds than most, and it will still fit above most doorways just fine.
— Ian Nicholson