Hangboarding is a seriously effective tool when it comes to building finger strength for climbing. It allows you to zero in on a variety of edge types, grip positions and muscle groups.
Whether you want to be able to hold onto smaller holds or build some awesome power endurance, it can all be done on the humble hangboard.
Most hangboards are designed to be mounted on a permanent structure. That means drilling holes into drywall and/or potentially having to build a dedicated structure. For those of us who travel lots, don’t own power tools or just simply don’t have the space, a portable hangboard can make for a great alternative. As a bonus, these boards can be packed up for the crag and used as a warm-up tool.
In this article, we’ll cover a range of the best portable hangboards currently on the market. We’ll consider the different designs, price points and grip types they have to offer.
IMPORTANT: Remember that hangboards put a lot of strain on your fingers and should only be used by experienced climbers. Make sure you are familiar with training protocols and have at least a couple of years of climbing experience under your belt before embarking on a hangboarding regiment.
Finger tendon injuries are a real risk here and can leave you sitting on the sidelines for a couple of months, if not longer. Youth under the age of 18 or who are still growing should try and stay clear of hangboards or exercised that put a huge amount of strain on your fingers.
THE BEST PORTABLE HANGBOARD
Metolius Rock Rings
The Metolius Rock Rings are a basic design targeted at the intermediate climber. The rings come in a pair and can either be used by hanging them on a structure, or by clipping a weight to them and lifting from the edges. They feature a comfortable jug and a four-finger edge, 3 finger pocket and 2 finger pocket.
While an advanced climber may find the edges and pockets limiting, the Metolius Rock Rings really shine when it comes to offering a full body work out. Just as you might use regular gymnastic rings, the Rock Rings may be utilized for a variety of pull-ups (offset, wide-set, narrow), core and shoulder exercises, depending on your set up.
These are also one the cheapest hangboards you can get your hands on. If building serious finger strength isn’t a priority, and you’re simply looking to maintain fitness while away from the gym, these could make for a great home trainer. Metolius also provide some great training guides to help you get started.
PREMIUM PORTABLE HANGBOARD
Tension Flash Board
From the makers of the Tension Board comes a portable hangboard (or more like hangcylinder) with a unique design. This rounded contraption hosts a pair of both flat and tapered 8mm, 10mm, 15mm and 20mm edge. An additional pair of small crimps can also be found at the top. These are perfect for warming up before an extra crimpy climb. Of course, it may also be used as a pull up bar when hung.
The best part about the Flash Board is the hanging design. Having the cord pierce through on either side means four strands reach up to the point it is hung from. This results in great stability and no tipping forward when weighted. It also allows for the board to flipped around easily in order to access all of the edges.
The Flash Board retails for $85 USD plus shipping. If the lack of pockets isn’t a deal breaker for you, we think that’s a great price for this smart board. It would make for a great travel companion. We think advanced climbers will appreciate the Flash Board the most with it’s extra challenging small edges.
BUDGET PORTABLE HANGBOARD
Ash Climbing Hangboard
The Ash fingerboard is the latest addition to my portable hangboard collection. If you looking for a portable fingerboard that has a large range of holds and edges for a varied workout, you are going to be disappointed.
However, this wooden hangboard does have a trick up it’s sleeve. It is ultra-lightweight.
Tipping the scales at just under 300g, this is the lightest portable handboard on our list. This makes the Ash an ideal travel hangboard or perfect for bringing down to the crag for a pre-climb warm-up.
The humble Ash board has to two pockets depths (15mm and 20mm) and a central 20mm pocket for one-armed training and lock-offs.
If utilize it well, and the Ash hangboard can become a useful training tool. The angle of the hanging cord, for example, can be altered to increase of decrease the intensity of your workout.
BEST OF THE REST
Friction Labs Hangboard
Friction Labs’ expertise doesn’t just end with climbing chalk, they also know a thing or two about making hangboards.
At a quick glance, the Fricition Labs fingerboard is similar to some of the other budget boards on this. However, this is one of the few fingerboards that are both portable and mountable.
While it might not have a massive variety, this portable hangboard comes with a few additional holds than the Ash board. The standard 15mm and 20mm edges are blindingly obvious, but the 15° sloper and pull-up jugs on top of the board are a nice touch to add variety to your training.
BEST OF THE REST
Problemsolver Hanzo Board
Problem Solver is a relatively young, Swedish company dedicated solely to creating portable hangboard solutions. Their primary, flagship board hosts a 19mm, 17mm, 15 mm, 13mm and 11mm flat edges for 2 arm hangs. The center may also be used for one arm hangs at 19mm, 17mm and 15mm. If those aren’t challenging enough, the board may be tilted for extra difficulty. If that isn’t enough for you, additional 3mm and 5mm plexiglass inserts are also included which can be used to reduce the smallest edge down to 8mm.
One of our favourite features of the Problem Solver is on the back of this board. Here you will find two tee-nuts, where you are able to mount holds of your choice. This is a brilliant touch if you’re looking for something a bit different like a few slopers or pinches. They also advertise the customization of boards through their website.
As with the Cliff Board Mini, the Problem Solver is a premium handmade board. It comes in at €89 plus shipping. A more compact version of this board is available as the Hanzo (€69), with fewer edges but a significantly smaller size. This board will fit well with a climber looking for an infinite amount of adjustments when it comes to edge size and difficulty.
BEST OF THE REST
Awesome Woodys’ Cliff Board Mini
The Cliff Board Mini from the Australian company Awesome Woodys packs in a whole lot of variety in a compact design and is one of our favorite wooden hangboards. The front side offers three different edges: 30 mm (top edge), 20 mm and 15 mm. The 30 mm is an in-cut jug, while the others are flat wooden rungs with a comfortable rounded edge. A fourth slopping 12 mm edge is located on the back. Additionally, the backside hosts a pair of 3 finger pockets (25 mm), 2 finger pockets (25mm) and monos (30mm). As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve also included 3 hand holes to be used as jugs.
The Cliff Board Mini comes with an adjustable cord that can either be doubled up or extended when hung. Its overall size comes in at a meager 340 mm x 135 mm and only weighs 550 grams. As an extra bonus, they are handcrafted from responsibly sourced plantation timber so you can feel good about using these bad boys.
You would expect this level of versatility from a traditional wall-mounted board, but the variety of edges and crimps make this one of the best portable hangboards for a comprehensive finger warm-up. This premium board does come at a premium price: 139.95 AUD (plus international shipping if applicable). However, if the price doesn’t make you flinch, we’d put this board as a top choice. It’s well designed, well crafted, and most importantly, it delivers a great workout/warm-up at any level.
BEST OF THE REST
Lattice Pinch and Crimp Block
The Crimp and Pinch Block is the latest toy from Lattice Training. It consists of a compact block with a handful of grip positions: 40mm jug, 20mm edge (identical to the slopped Lattice hangboard rung), 25mm positive edge and a 95mm pinch. The intention here is to attach weight to the block and lift using one of the grip position. The progression of difficulty is determined by the amount of weight added. This block may also be hung, making it useful for one arm hangs.
The Lattice Training company, run by pro climbers Ollie Torr and Tom Randall, is currently at the forefront of climbing sports science. Their website, Youtube channel, Facebook group and app offer a wealth of information when it comes to training. The Crimp and Pinch Block works nicely into their routines so you’ll be able to test and train in conjunction with their data set. If you love geeking out over numbers and are set on doing a regimented routine, the Lattice Crimp and Pinch Block would be our recommendation.
A single block comes to £60 plus shipping. Keep in mind that the use of this tool is limited and highly specialized. Though this block could be used to warm up at the crag by a more advanced climber, we would primarily recommend it for at-home use in conjunction with proper weights.
When looking for a portable hangboard you’ll need to consider your exact needs. If you are just getting into training, the Metolius Rock rings will probably do you just fine. At their price point, they really can’t be beaten. For most experienced climbers who balance training with projecting at the crag, we think the Tension Flash Board is a great choice at a reasonable price.
We would consider the Cliff Board Mini, the Problem Solver and the Lattice Crimp and Pinch Block to be more specialized tools. If you’ve got a bit more money to spare and are looking for specific grip types you’ll want to check out these options.
If you are looking for a more permanent setup, why not have a look at the best wooden hangboards?
When it comes to improving strength, nothing beats getting out and doing some good old climbing. However, when that’s not an option, hangboarding comes at a close second.