Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Making a Gstring Backboard

SICgrips is committed to innovating and providing the most versatile training products for climbers. Our goal from the beginning has been to target products for people who aren’t able to put up a home climbing wall, who travel a lot, who want an alternative to the traditional hangboard, or who want more flexibility in mounting. This includes those (like students, renters, or those with fussy partners!) who can’t or don’t want to put holes in their walls. :-) When it's possible to feasibly market these products, we will. When it's not feasible for whatever reason, then we’ll provide basic instructions for the do-it-yourself types to make themselves. This is the first of several projects that we'll share over the next few months.

Gstring Backboard features:

  • provides a higher mounting point for the Gstrings, allowing more clearance for hanging
  • easy to put up and take down
  • provides a semi-rigid mount so Gstrings are similar to actual rock or hang boards.
  • stores easily behind an open door, in a closet or underneath a bed
  • easy to mount and dismount the Gstrings
  • cheap to make

While there are both permanent and temporary ways to mount Gstrings, we've heard from some users that when Gstrings are hung from a doorway pull-up bar, they don't have enough clearance to hang even with bent knees. The Gstring Backboard is one way to address this issue. It requires one of the many versions of popular doorway pull-up bars that cam and apply pressure to the top and front of the doorway trim and are easy to put up and take down. Many climbers already have one but if you don't, they can be purchased for $15-30 from sporting goods or department stores, or Ebay.

Items needed 
(total cost ~$15 depending upon what you have on hand):

  • modified Iron Gym-type pull-up bar (see below)
  • basic hand or power wood- and metal-working tools
  • 2' x 2' x ¾" piece of birch plywood (or equiv. hardwood)
  • 2" x 2" x 10' pine for Backboard frame and crossbar
  • #8 wood screws or 1 ½" nails
  • 2 pcs. - 5/16 " x 2 ½" lag screws (hang bolts for Gstring hang loops)
  • wood glue
  • 2 pcs. - ⅛" x  1.5" x 4" mild steel for pivot plates (available from your local hardware store in a 3' long strip)
  • 2 pcs. - ¼" x 2 ½ " hanger bolts with wing nuts and large washers for pivot plate
  • 2 pcs. - ¼  x 2" lag bolts with washers for pivot plate

(This won't be a comprehensive step-by-step set of instructions because the Backboard is fairly simple to make. I'll cover a few specific things that may not be obvious.)

Modifying pull bar:

The dimensions given here are based on the doorway in my home. You’ll need to modify to fit your specific situation.
Remove the foam padding from indicated areas. Cut the horizontal handles off the pull-up bar with a hack saw or saber saw with a metal cutting blade, so there’s ¾" left beyond the center of the bolt hole. The photo shows ⅞", however ¾" is probably better so that it's doesn't run into the plywood backboard when mounted. (With the handles cut off, it can still be used as a pull-up bar using the center foam grip position).

Reverse the horizontal crossbar. Instead of it attaching to the bottom of the curved uprights (the normal way), attach it to the top of the crossbar. This will raise the backboard 2".

Cut plywood to 16" x 24". It could be made a bit taller (18" x 24") or it could be made slightly smaller 14" x 24"). If you have a wider piece of plywood, it could also be made as wide as your doorway). If you’re using the Backboard with the Gstring PROs, it will need to be at least 16” - 17” tall.

Drill a 1" hole in the vertical frame supports exactly in the middle lengthwise. Drill it so the edge of the hole is even with the edge of the wood. Remove excess from hole to edge of wood so that it becomes a 1" slot to slide onto the pull-up crossbar.

Drill a 5/16" hole in the pivot plate and then cut out a diagonal slot from the edge of the plate to the hole. This may need to be a little wider than 5/16" at the edge so it can pivot on the bolt and lock with the wingnut. The plate pivots open to mount on the pull-up bar and then close and lock with a couple turns of the wingnut.



  • A washer was added to the hang loop to protect it from threads on the Backboard hang bolt. Then the hang loop was re-tied to make it as small as possible.
  • I added tape to bottom of board so the edge is more visible - anyone 5'11" or taller needs to duck :-)
  • I added a strip of yoga mat on ends of horizontal wood bar to protect the doorway from being scratched and dented. 
  • If you use the Backboard with Gstring PROs, you'll want to make sure
    that the board is at least 16"-17" tall because of their length. Instead of a vertically mounted hanger bolt, you'll want to use lag bolts and mount them horizontally at the top of the board face going into the top frame member. This will allow you to conveniently hang the 'biners on them.

  • t-nuts for mounting resin climbing holds, campus strips, or hangboard
  • a wider piece of plywood (up to width of doorway) can be used, though it will add weight and bulk). No matter what size of backboard you design, the pull-up horizontal bar should always be located in the middle vertically.
  • a set of hardwood edge strips could be added to simulate Eva Lopez's Progression or Transgression boards. Access to a table saw would be needed in order to accurately cut a set. The Gstrings could still be hung and accessed even with the edges if designed correctly. She has a done a lot of research and has come up with an effective finger strength training program based on this type of board. The drawback is that it only trains edges. However her blog has a wealth of information for training in general.

You might want to check our website to see examples of other non-permanent alternatives for mounting Gstrings if you haven’t already seen them :
In the near future we'll include instructions for how to make a similar type doorway mounted backboard, that doesn't use a pull-up bar. Stay tuned.

Make and use at your own risk. SICgrips makes no claims, explicit or implied, as to the safety of the Backboard for you and your situation because there are too many variables, including: strength of door frame casing; strength of doorway trim; climber’s weight and how the climber uses the backboard; what brand of pull-up bar is used and its strength rating; and the size, construction quality and materials used. When using the Backboard, do not use huge dynamic moments as it could stress the Backboard, pull-bar, and doorway beyond what it can hold. I am fairly light (135 lb.) so my use is not a good "yardstick" by which to determine your use of it. You can do a "hillbilly" test to help determine the strength of doorway trim by doing finger pull-ups on it to see how it reacts. This will stress it more than the backboard will. Gstring Climbing Grips are rated for climbers weighing 225 lb. or less. Therefore the Gstring Backboard combination should be below that limit. However, due to other factors mentioned above, it could be even less.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Converting Classics to PROs

With the introduction of the Gstring PRO model coming in November and the new RipCord quick-release adjustment system, we're offering instructions for those who have Gstring "Classic" grips and would like to convert them from the Prusik hang loop to the new RipCord adjustment system. While the Classic version will remain the most versatile, some may prefer the ease of adjusting of the new RipCord system. Before starting the conversion, it would be good to review the differences in the previous blog post to see which is best for you. Most materials can be obtained online through various sources or through your local outdoor and hardware stores. We'll also be offering a conversion kit in the near future to make it easier for users. It will include everything necessary for the conversion except the 'biners (see below).


RipCord Update Kit from SICgrips store, OR the following items:
  • 4 - 1" i.d. (inside diameter) x 3/16" (4mm-5mm) thick stainless steel rings. You may be able to get a thinner nickel-plated steel version of these at a hardware store. If thinner, they may not adjust quite as easily and will not be as strong...but should work (use at your own risk).
  • 11' of 5mm extremely flexible accessory cord - the best brands we've tried are Sterling and New England (Maxim). Some of the other brands such as BlueWater are stiffer and will be difficult to adjust using the RipCord system. Smoothness and flexibility of the cord are the keys to ease of adjustment. 
  • 3 feet of 3mm accessory cord.
  • the cord-lock tube that you'll remove from the existing 3D-Sling cord.
  • 4 - 3" pieces of 1/4" I.D. vinyl tubing to serve as cord protectors to prevent abrasion of the 3D-Sling cord by the StikGrip.
Whether you purchase the update kit or the individual items above, you'll also need:
  • 2 oval or 2 symmetrical pear 'biners. NOTE: D or modified D 'biners; asymmetrical pear 'biners; or small 'biners should not be used. They will cause the cords to bind and may be difficult or near impossible to adjust. If you don't have any of these biners and don't need the light weight aluminum 'biners for portability, ClimbTech's steel oval is excellent and reasonably priced.


  1. Take off previous 3D-Sling cord, by either by pulling out and untying the knots inside of the crimper or by cutting cord and pulling knot out the end. Save the short 5" cord-lock tube that you'll re-use.
  2. Cut the 5mm cord into two equal 64" pieces. Melt the ends making sure that the end result is not larger than the diameter of the cord itself. When the melted ends are still molten, roll on a yogurt container lid or thin piece of cardboard to form into a neat, small diameter end. This is important or it will not be able to go through cord lock tube or the vinyl tubing in the next step. Be careful of the molten nylon before it cools - it burns!
  3. Thread new cord through cord-lock tube. Wetting the cord and tube with soapy water will help it go through easier.
  4. Position the cord lock tube so both legs of cord are exactly equal in length.
  5. Thread cord ends through holes in bottom of grip and make sure cord lock tube is pressed flat against bottom of grip. The cord lock tube may slightly bow but the ends should be flat (locked ) against the bottom of the grip.
  6. Recheck to make sure both legs of the cord are equal. If not, pop up the cord-lock tube and pull a small amount of cord through tube to adjust. Press cord-lock tube back against bottom of grip again.
  7. If using vinyl tubing cord protectors, thread one on each cord leg.
  8. Thread both ends of cord together through the 1-1/4" stainless steel ring
  9. Thread the end of each cord through the smaller 1" ring, crossing them where they go through. Each cord end should end up on the opposite side of the grip. This is crucial.
  10. Thread on the last two vinyl tubing cord protectors.
  11. Thread ends of cords through the holes in the hollow of the crimper.
  12. Tie an overhand knot with 1/4" tail in the end of each cord, then push the knot inside the crimper and tighten by pulling.

  13. Take strands A & B and bring them together underneath and inside of the other two strands as shown below:

  14. At this point, make sure the large ring is oriented like this. Note the other two strands of cord come up through the large ring from right to left.

    NOT like this, left to right. If it is wrong, simply flop the ring over the other way from left to right to orient correctly.
  15. Make a loop by pushing strands A and B up through the larger ring between the existing two strands coming through the larger ring. You will now have four strands of cord together that form a loop.

  16. Clip a 'biner through the four-strand loop that you just created. It should look like this:
  17. Cut the 3' piece of 3mm cord into two 18" pieces and melt the ends.
  18. Place both ends of one of the 18" pieces of 3mm cord together and tie an overhand knot an inch or two from the end. Repeat with the other 18" piece of 3mm cord.
  19. Girth-hitch the 3mm cord loop to the smaller ring. This forms the RipCord, that when pulled, will release tension on the 3D-Sling cords so the grip can be easily adjusted. The end result should look like this:

Note: Once you insert the 'biner in the 3D-Sling, do not remove! If you do, the adjustment system will collapse and no longer function. To reassemble again, repeat steps 13-16.


Pull RipCord 5"-6" with one hand to unlock the cords, while at the same time keeping tension on the grip with the other hand, rotating it to desired position. When desired angle is achieved, pull on grip to lock 3D-Sling cords again before using. If changing the grip drastically (i.e. rotating it 180 degrees from crimper to flat edge, or vice-a-versa, or rotating 90 degrees to a vertical pinch), it may take a couple of rocking/seesaw motions consisting of pulling ripcord while rotating grip, then pulling ripcord again with another slight rotation of the grip. Once you get the hang of it, it'll offer an extremely quick and easy method for changing grip positions.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Gstring Comparison: "Classics", PROs, and Converted "Classics"

With the Gstring PROs soon to be offered (hopefully mid-October?), I thought it would be good to compare and contrast the original Gstring (now called Gstring Classics) with the Gstring PROs and converted Classics with RipCords. In an upcoming blog, I'll give step-by-step instructions for converting the Gstring Classics to the new RipCord adjustment system. We won't be offering Classics with Ripcords for sale  but we'll provide detailed instructions for how to do it. Also, in the near future, we'll offer a conversion kit for those who would rather not have to hunt for parts from several different sources.


  • cords are stiff making them easier to hang and remove from mounts over your head
  • can be adjusted either while they're hanging or not.
  • 5mm long-lasting cords 
  • lighter in weight (2.2 lb./pair) 
  • adjustable hanging length from 13"-16". (If vertical clearance is critical, they will mount higher than the Gstring PROs)
  • better for travel because of light weight and versatility in mounting (able to be used in a doorway in a pinch while traveling)
  • strengths: versatility - able to be used hanging, with free weights, weight machines, TRX straps, etc. rowing machines, etc.


  • quicker and easier adjustment with the RipCord quick release system (must be hanging in order to adjust)
  • wider at the crimp end making a full hand sloper easier for larger hands
  • heavy duty 6mm flexible accessory cord used for 3D-Sling
  • two oval 'biners (Black Diamond) included with purchase which are integral to the RipCord adjustment system
  • hanging length - 17" non-adjustable 
  • easier to change StikGrip (do not have to remove 3D-Sling or cut StickGrip to fit around cords)
  • cord protectors to help prevent abrasion of the 3D-Sling cords
  • heavier in weight - not quite as suitable for travel (3.3 lb./pair)
  • strengths: more user friendly for changing positions when hanging; larger; heavier duty

Classics with RipCord Conversion: 

  • user converts a set of Classic grips by purchasing an accessory kit or gathering the necessary parts, then disassembling and reassembling the grips according to provided instructions
  • has Classic size and shape, but with the addition of the RipCord adjustment system which makes adjusting super-easy
  • heavier in weight than the Classics, but lighter than the PROs: ~3 lb./pair (depending upon which brand and model of 'biners are used)
  • like the PROs, they will need to be hanging to be adjusted
  • 5mm flexible accessory cords will need to be replaced more often than the standard stiff cord used in the Classics
  • user needs to provide 2 oval or symetrical pear 'biners
  • 17" non-adjustable hanging length
  • strengths: more user friendly for changing positions in vertical hanging mounts

All grip versions will maintain Gstrings' unique shape and adjustability which give you 8 unique grips positions and the ability to fine-tune the degree of difficulty of each position.

Monday, August 12, 2013

About the Surface Texture of Gstring Climbing Grips

We're back! We've been in and out for a good part of the summer with climbing, vacation travel, and the wedding of my youngest son, etc. Now it's time to start the blog back up with some new articles. The first has to do with the StikGrip surface used on Gstrings.

During the past couple months we've been testing the next version of the Gstring Climbing Grips at a local climbing shop and a gym. On these prototypes (previously we used the working name of 'Black Widow,' but  now we're calling them the Gstring Pros) we used a much courser texture of StikGrip, similar to what can be purchased in the SICgrip.com store. Many who tried them raved at how grippy they were.

However since then we've changed our minds about the value of that much texture. With the coarse StikGrip surface they're so 'sticky' that in the sloper or pinch position one can almost adjust them to a vertical position and still hold on fairly easily. In the crimp position with the coarse StikGrip it can quickly tear up fingertips during a training session. And in some grip positions the 3D-Sling cord rubs on the coarse StikGrip surface and wears more quickly.

So our current thinking is that for general all round use and training the standard medium grit is still probably the best for most users. For those who have been training for a while and are getting stronger, the 'fine' StikGrip offers more of a challenge and a harder workout than either the 'standard' or 'coarse'. For a few badasses, taking the StikGrip off completely and using them bareback will offer the ultimate in difficulty. Gstrings are currently being used this way in Korea for pinch grip competitions by arm wrestlers and martial artists.

So...who might want to use and benefit from the course StikGrip? Probably only those who want to toughen up their finger tips and hands. If you're training for climbing on extremely sharp granite or sandstone, it could help toughen up your skin, but at the same time limit the degree of difficulty because they are so 'sticky'.

If you want to use the coarse StikGrip because it makes the positions easier, we suggest that instead you adjust the Gstrings to a more relaxed (easier) angle instead of going with the courser StikGrip. A future blog will deal with other ways to make the Gstrings easier - especially for beginning climbers who may want to train but haven't built up tendon strength yet and should probably work on endurance more than strength.

Lastly, we're nearing completion of testing and sourcing materials for the production of the Gstring Pros. We hope to have a limited number of sets available in time for the holidays. They won't offer any major new grips positions but will offer stronger materials, a bit wider grip at the top, and a new Ripcord quick adjustment system that allows you to change positions easily without taking them down from their mounts. They're aimed more at heavy duty gym use and for those who just 'need' to have the ultimate in Gstrings! :-) We'll compare and contrast the differences in a future blog post closer to the time of their release.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gstring Climbing Grips Videos

These videos have been announced on our Gstring Facebook page and have also been integrated into the SICgrips website. However, if you're a reader of the blog and haven't seen them yet, the following short videos may be of interest.

We spent a week in Missoula climbing, rafting and shooting these videos. The goal was to create several short videos that document what's already on the website such as grips positions, adjusting Gstrings and suggestions for exercises to use in a training program. Some people would rather see it in video form than photos and text. Also, it helps create more buzz by having them up on youTube and in a form that can easily be passed around.

We also wanted to create a short video showing the uniqueness of the grips while illustrating our product tag line: 'Less is More'. Since I didn't have any creative ideas, I gave my son complete creative freedom to come up with something ~30seconds that illustrate the 'less is more' concept. Well he did that in a very unique way and which also ties it into the double entendre unique to the product name. Imagine my surprise when I got a rough cut of this! Please be aware that the first video may not be suitable to play in a work environment.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Set Gstring Climbing Grips Back to the Same Angle

The local rock monkeys work'n the Gstrings on the Gallows prototype

Some users have mentioned that it's a challenge to consistently set the Gstrings back to the exact same position used in the last training session. While it can be done by trial and error, the following method can help aid this process and make it simpler, quicker and more consistent.

For example, say you're training on the crimpers. Since the rotation of the grips determines the difficulty of the crimp (because they're ellipses and contact area varies), it's important that you get the grips consistently back to the same angle so that you're training the same degree of difficulty each session.

When you find a grip position that you'd like to train, hang the grip and double check that it's the exact angle you desire, then tighten the Prussik knot. Take the grips down and use a fine or medium tip marker and put marks along both sides of the Prussik knot on the cords of the 3D-Sling like this:

This will result in four small marks - two on each side of the Prussik knot:

Take the second grip and adjust it so that it hangs exactly the same as the first one. Then mark it like you did the first grip.

Now when you change the grips to different positions, you'll see four marks along the 3D-Sling that should look like this:

Whenever you desire to return to the grips to the previous position you were training, you'll have these marks as reference points to set the grips back to that position. It's simple to loosen the Prussik knot and slide the hang loop back and forth along the 3D-Sling until the marks line up with two on each side of the Prussik knot just as had when you first marked them. The grip will hang at exactly the same angle as before:

If you want to mark several different grip positions, it could become confusing with several sets of marks all the same color. If you find yourself in that situation, you may want to use different color markers for each position. For example: black for one position, red for another, dark blue for another,  and green for another.

As you continue to sue them over time, you may find that it becomes easier to adjust them and that you rely less on the marks. However, if you're into a serious training program where it's critical to have them set exactly the same as before, the marks will enable you to consistently do that.