There are plenty of wooden hangboards or fingerboards for climbing training out there, but the Zlagboard has a few refinements to lift it beyond the everyday – unfortunately this applies to the price too.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first – the Zlagboard hangboard really isn’t cheap (£196.90 on Amazon). You could pick up the deservedly popular Beastmaker 2000 fingerboard for much less, or one of the fiercely-priced Crusher Matrix boards for almost half the wedge. However, the Zlag has several secret weapons that make it worth considering in spite of this financial drubbing.
Firstly, the hardware – the wooden element of the board is as prettily finished as either of the above, and made of seamless Alder wood. The 70x16x6cm Alder board is cut with an assortment of Jugs, Slopers (10/35°), Crimps/Pockets (10-45mm depths), all of which will need copious chalking/breaking in before you’ll stick them, especially the slopers, which out of the box are like shiny, new glass.
The wood is attached to the real USP here though, a steel box mount which contains a spring-loaded mechanism and a rubber phone mount above the board. When you weight the board, the phone rocks forwards, triggering the accelerometer. Confused? Here’s the marketing video to explain:
Now that’s all cleared up, the question is does it work? Well, in a word, yes, most of the time. If your board is in the main doorway of a busy home then you’ll be familiar with not being able to leave a detailed training log of holds, durations and repeats lying around, and the smartphone bit here ties all that up. The training programmes are aimed at anyone from beginner up to elite, and have been designed by former world champion Patxi Usobiaga, the current trainer of Adam Ondra. They’re pretty idiot-proof, neatly highlighting which holds you’re using, for how long, and rest times. We’ve been using the board for several months now, and it really does deliver, improving endurance particularly, and the app itself has been flawless, with a pleasant rise in difficulty. Learning how long various workouts take is key though, but there’s something here for even the most time-poor climber.
There’s also a rather nice all-in-one training programme that ups the difficulty automatically over the course of the programme, for those who want progress fast. If you get really keen you can take on the world’s best hang times on the board, which is an awesome marketing idea, and shows just how weak you are on a global scale – check out the current leaderboard here, and this recent competition video demonstrates the madness rather well:
In the box you’ll get a pre-drilled backboard, studded with bolts that hook securely into the steel back of the Zlagboard Pro. This means fitting it to a wall or doorframe (make sure the latter is a solid victorian job, not a flimsy newbuild architrave) is a matter of blasting massive screws through the backboard, then clipping the heavier board unit into place. This may sound a minor refinement, but one you appreciate when balanced on a ladder waving a 7kg heavy, expensive board overhead. Sadly the beautiful sloper units below are an additional extra, but they’re not for the faint hearted!
The Zlagboard.Pro is available now from Amazon for £196.90