Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Three Gstring Mods to Add Versatility

This month I'll cover three ways that you can modify your Gstrings for added versatility:
  • Adding finger stops to vary grip depth
  • Marking cord to consistently set grips back to the same angle
  • Creating a dual texture surface to ease friction on finger joints

Finger Stops

One of our design decisions when creating the Gstrings was to only have one flat edge in order to keep the grips simple and maximize space for other grips types. This meant instead of having a myriad of different edge and pocket sizes like some hangboards, there is only one large flat edge. To get the same versatility as a hangboard requires you to vary the depth of fingers on the edge. Some training programs (such as Eva Lopez's) rely on precise edge depth increments to control difficulty and guage progress over time. By using a finger stop you can consistently set the finger depth location back to the same place or easily adjust it incrementally. 

To create a finger stop you'll need a small half-round dowel, a square dowel or a small strip of wood slightly longer than the width of the grips (6.5"). You'll also need two large strong rubber bands that can stretch at least 6.5" 
  1. Cut the length of the dowel slightly wider than the width of the grips (approximately 6.5").
  2. Use a fine line marking pen or pencil and mark the depth of the grip position you want to  train. Optionally, you may want to create multiple lines so that the finger stop can be incrementally moved over time (i.e. a series of lines spaced 1/8" apart).
  3. Place the dowel on the flat edge and loop the rubber band around one end. Pull the other end through the inside of the grip and loop it around the other end of the finger stop. 
  4. The finger stop can also be used on the back of the grip on the sloper surface to limit the amount of surface contact of the hand. We recently used this mod for a dead-hang contest for an AAC fund raiser at Seneca Rocks. Using the finger stop assured that each contestant had exactly the same amount of sloper surface to hang from.
  5. The finger stop can be removed when not in use or it can be stored out of the way in the back corner of the flat edge.

When using a finger stop it's important to be able to also set the grips back to the same precise angle each time (see below).

Cord marking 

When setting Gstrings to different grip positions or adjusting the difficulty of a grip position by slightly changing the angle, it is important to be able to consistently re-set the grips back to the same angle. This is discussed on the SICgrips website so I won't go into the details here.

One additional note: if you have Gstring PROs with black or multi-color cord, use a light colored nail polish or acrylic paint for visibility instead of a marker.

Dual Texture

When training on the flat edge, even though we've purposely designed the edge in an ergonomic manner with a skin friendly StikGrip surface, the friction of the curved edge can still wage war on your skin because of the high pressure on the inside of your finger joints. This is especially true if this is a grip position that you focusing on in your training and are doing many repetitions with added weight, as some training protocols call for.

In order to ease the friction on finger joints, score two lines through the StikGrip about 1/2" apart with a steel straight edge and utility knife. After scoring all the way through, peel it off to expose the smooth aluminum surface underneath. This effectively turns the Gstrings into a dual-texture grip: friction where it's needed and smooth where it's not. 

Hopefully these simple mods will help increase the versatility of your grips. Let me know if you have other mods that you've done that have increased their versatility so that I can pass them on, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Innovative New Chalkbags

One of the founding principles of SICgrips is innovation. We love to innovate and we love innovation when we see it. Not innovation just to be different but innovation that solves a problem or makes something easier or better. Something that is so obvious and makes so much sense that you say to yourself "Why didn't I think of that?!" I've just run across a product like that and it's a chalk bag! But first let me share three scenarios I've experienced that illustrate the need.
  1. Have you ever sat down at the base of a climb, in the gym, or on a ledge and ended up spilling half or more of the contents of your chalk bag? It's not such a disaster in the gym (except for the mess) since a refill source is usually close by. However, if you're out at the base of a climb or several pitches up…a bit more problematic!
  2. A couple years ago, my climbing partners had grown bored with the local gym with its "gigantic 20' walls. We decided to travel an hour+ to a "new" gym, only to arrive and find out it was a "chalk-less" gym. That is, they didn't allow the use of loose chalk only allowed chalk balls due to health concerns because of chalk dust in a confined area and because of the potential mess. I can certainly understand that, but it sure was a hassle emptying out all the chalk out of our bags and then having to buy chalk balls.
  3. And finally…last year I was two pitches up at Seneca Rocks and I'd just put in a piece of pro at a decent stance and was de-pumping before moving on. I looked down to find the best foot hold and noticed out of the corner of my eye what looked like a smoke trail or dust, but didn't pay much attention to it. After several more moves I got to another non-stressful stance and went to chalk up again and it hit me…that was my chalk ball sailing down the wall that was making the "smoke trail". Somehow it had fallen out in the process of fondling it at the last stance. 
Now...full disclosure before I tell you about these great new chalk bags. We recently were contacted by Hanchor, a foreign company who wanted to become a Gstring dealer. In the process of talking with them I found out they also manufacture and retail their own line of soft goods for climbers. They offered us the opportunity to become a dealer for their chalk bags and sent us two chalk bags to evaluate: the Kangaroo and the Hula. Wow, are they cool!

So what sets the Kangaroo and the Hula apart and makes them worthy of mention in a SICgrips blog post? Well…they both have an integrated chalk sock built into the bag. No more mess, spilled chalk, or lost chalk balls.

The Kangaroo has a internal zippered chalk pouch that chalk is added to. It's positioned on the front side of the bag behind the logo. When worn in the traditional position, this places the pouch in the natural place for your hand to grab when you go to chalk up. It's also a dual mode chalk bag, since the chalk pouch can be unzipped and half the mouth of the pouch attached to the other side of the bag to hold it open. This way you can also have access to loose chalk should you want it. The best of both worlds - socked or loose.

The Hula also has two innovations. The first is that it has a 360° chalk sock tube, so that no matter where you put your hand in, you can grab it and chalk up. The second is that it has two 180° external zippers making it super easy to add chalk. For those who frequently reposition their bag (boulderers & trad climbers in chimneys and off-widths), this bag is probably the better option.

Both chalk bags are super burly, meticulously detailed, and constructed out of heavy-duty nylon. Both have a holder for the handle of a small brush if you're a "pad person" and come with a waist belt. I personally like the Kangaroo which gives me the dual option of a chalk in a sock or loose. Other people will likely prefer the 360 degree chalk sock option.

Here's a short video that gives a bit more info:

Here's a link on to the manufacturer's website. Our own store page will also link you directly to their website. Check them out - I can't recommend the bags highly enough. Support your fellow climbers and entrepreneurs. It's through climbing community support of great ideas like this (and Gstrings!) that we can keep innovation alive and great new products coming.

Oh…and I'm not the only one who thinks it's a great product - so does Mr. Honnold!

Friday, March 21, 2014

What New Products is SICgrips Envisioning for the Future?

Where is SICgrips headed in the future? give you a hint, here's an outline of some proposednew grip models and devices. Sorry, no timeline is available yet. These may or may not result in production models for sale but thought we'd leak a few tidbits just so that you know we're not resting on the accolades of the current Gstring models (or out climbing all the time!) We continue to push the envelope on innovation in training devices for climbers.

Where is SICgrips headed in the future? Well…to give you a hint, here's an outline of some proposed portable grip models and devices that are currently on the drawing board - sorry no timeline available. These may or may not result in production models for sale but thought we'd leak a few tid-bits just so that you know were not resting on the accolades of the current Gstring models (or out climbing all the time!) We continue to push the envelope on innovation in training devices for climbers.

We don't want to give away too much at this point but they're based on the values we established when we started up SICgrips: quality, simplicity, versatility, and functional beauty. Most of the proposed grips will feature some type of 3D adjustability along with some new ideas and and maybe a variety of materials. They're listed in descending order of size in relation to our two current products. These are working names for the most part and may or may not be renamed: 

Ladder Rocks
Gstring PRO 
Gstring Classic (original)
*Chock Rocks (probably the next product out) 
Gstring Minis (or Pocket Rocks)

Beside these, we're in the think and test stage of the following products will utilize the grips listed above and/or traditional climbing holds:

Gstring Gallows (folding doorway hanger for Gstrings and mount for holds/hangboards)
Crack Rack
Virtual Gstring Campus Bar

Stay tuned…

Also, we'll soon be sharing a way to easily and accurately set Gstrings in order to record and track your training.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lowering Gstrings for Additional Exercises

Gstrings are incredibly versatile. However, I suspect that most users don't utilize them to their maximum potential, and most people have probably not tried the exercises shown below because of the need to lower the Gstrings. For more discussion of these exercises and positions go here and scroll down to Building block exercises and Core strengthening.

hanging push-up       
mantle / press-up
overhang pull-up
undercling step-up

Lowering the Gstrings can seem like an extra hassle, but with one of the methods listed below it's quite easy and uses very little extra equipment. Here are seven possible ways of lowering your Gstrings. Each has its own pros and cons. Hopefully you can find one that suits your requirements:
  1. CARGO TIE-DOWN STRAPS ($7-$30) - Purchase from a hardware or large department store.  PROS: quick release buckles makes it easy to adjust; no need for 'biner to attach the grips if they come with a "J" hook on at least one of the ends. CONS: Extra tail or loop (depending upon configuration) hangs down; cost; made for holding cargo, not humans. The ratings are way beyond the stresses exerted on them by hanging or doing pull-ups, however use at your own risk. 
  2. PURCELL PRUSIK - Make from 5mm-7mm accessory cord. First tie the ends with a Frost Knot or a Figure Eight to form a hang loop. Then proceed according to the linked diagram to tie the Prusik on the loop of cord.: PROS: nice and neat - no loose ends hanging down; quick to adjust; can also be used as an adjustable tether at belay stations for multi-pitch climbing. CONS: limited adjustment range; uses almost twice as much rope as the blake-hitch method; 'biner is needed to connect grips. 
  3. BLAKE HITCH - Made from 5mm-7mm accessory cord with Figure-Eight on the bight to form a loop to hang grips from. PROS: wide range of adjustment; uses smaller length of cord than Purcell Prusik option. CONS: extra tail hanging down; length can only be adjusted up to half its tied length; 'biner is needed to connect Gstrings.T
  4. CLIMBING ROPE + PRUSIK - Use a piece of old climbing rope with figure-eight loop for hanging and an overhand stopper knot in the end. Then attach a small Prusik Loop made with 5mm-7mm accessory cord to slide up and down the rope for adjustability. PROS: Simple to tie and set up; widest range of adjustments possible for a given length of cord; climbing rope piece can also be used for Chris Parson's workout. CONS: extra tail always hangs down; 'biner needed to connect Gstrings.
  5. CLIMBING SLING - Use a climbing sling (double length is probably best) with an overhand knot(s) to adjust the length and/or add a fixed position or two for different exercises. PROS: most trad climbers already have slings; simplest; fullproof and secure - no worries of a friction knot slipping. CONS: least adjustable; need to tie extra over-hand knots for additional mounting points; need 'biner to connect Gstrings.
  6. TIED LOOP of ACCESSORY CORD or TIED SLING OF WEBBING - Use a Double Fisherman's Bend (cord) or Water Knot (webbing) to make loop. Tie additional over-hand knots along loop to make multiple clip-in points if desired. PROS: most climbers have extra cord or webbing lying around; foolproof and secure - no worries of a friction knot slipping; simple. CONS: not adjustable on the fly; need 'biner to connect Gstrings.
  7. DAISY CHAINS - Only if you happen to have two daisy chains already. PROS: simple and effective CONS: Expensive if you have to buy them; may not lower the grips as far as desired for some of the exercises.

If you're tying your own loop with cord or webbing, you'll need to figure out the maximum amount of cord needed so the grips will hang at the lowest position desired. Remember to take into account the length of the grips including the hang loop and 'biner. Also, remember that you'll need significantly more cord to allow for knots. Prusiks, Figure Eight, Blake Hitches, Frost, and Water Knots all use a considerable amount of extra cord.

Hopefully this will give a range of ideas for how to lower your Gstrings and experience more of their versatility. If you have other methods for lowering your Gstrings - please let us know!

NOTE: When using Gstrings in a horizontal or prone position make sure to use some type of padding underneath you as a safety precaution.

The security and safety of all knots depend upon: the knowledge of the tier; the knot being properly dressed; using the proper type and size of cord; and the strength of the anchor point.