Hand Tape 101
Hand Tape 101: What Is Hand Tape?
A hand tape is a piece of material used to protect your hands from sharp objects while climbing or doing other activities involving your hands. There are different types of hand tapes available today. Some are made with leather, some with nylon, and others have special features such as being waterproof. Most of them come in various colors and patterns so you can match it up with whatever clothing you wear. You can also buy them separately, but they tend to cost quite a bit.
The most common type of hand tape is called “Biner” which is a thin strip of plastic that’s usually sewn onto the outside of your glove. Biner is not only useful for protecting your hands when wearing gloves, but it’s also very easy to use and doesn’t require any sewing skills. Another popular type of hand tape is called “Glove Strap”.
Glove strap is a kind of elastic band that goes around your wrist and holds your gloves on. They’re often worn over a regular glove to prevent them from slipping off your hands during climbing.
In addition to these two types of hand tapes, there are many other kinds of hand tapes out there. For example, you may want to consider using a “Pile Wrap”, which is basically just a large piece of fabric folded into a tight roll. They’re popular among climbers that don’t want to wear gloves, but still need to use tape to protect their hands.
It may seem a little bulky at first, but most climbers get used to it after some time. If you decide to go with a pile wrap, we suggest getting one with an adhesive backing so you can stick it onto your hands.
You can also try wearing fingerless gloves and using a Biner to tape over the area around your fingers. This will give you the best of both worlds; the protection of a glove and the grip of an exposed finger. If exposing your fingers bothers you, you can use tape to cover up any area you find uncomfortable.
Why You Should Use Hand Tape
There are many reasons why you should use hand tape while climbing. To start, using hand tape is a lot easier than taping your hands with athletic tape. Even if you do it right, it’s still pretty difficult to get the tape wrapped around your fingers just perfectly so that it doesn’t slip or move around while you climb.
Hand tape eliminates this problem since it’s already sticky and doesn’t move at all. Another benefit of hand tape is that it’s much thinner than athletic tape so you can grab small holds much better.
Of course the main benefit of hand tape is that it protects your hands when climbing on rough surfaces. If you just tape your hands with athletic tape and go bouldering, the jagged rock will still tear up your hands and leave you bleeding. Athletic tape can also rip off when you’re climbing on rough surfaces, leaving your skin exposed to all the sharp edges.
Hand tape securely wraps around your hands no matter how rough the surface you’re climbing on is. This allows you to climb harder and longer than you normally could, because your hands will remain intact no matter what you climb on.
There are a few drawbacks to using hand tape. The biggest issue is that using hand tape can leave your hands looking like they have a really bad case of dermatitis. Some people may be self-conscious about having ‘bad hands’ and not want to wear tape.
The other disadvantage is that many gyms don’t allow you to wear hand tape for fear that it may rip off and damage their rocks. In these cases, you’ll have to either not wear any tape or use athletic tape and try to pare down your calluses when you can.
A good pair of climbing shoes is one of the most important elements in climbing. Whether you want to get the best grip or the best comfort, finding the right pair is very important. In this section, we will break down all of the different types of climbing shoes and what they’re good for.
There are many different types of climbing shoes, so it definitely helps to know which type is right for you. The most common types are:
-Ankle Height: These shoes start just above your ankles and usually don’t provide a lot of ankle support.
-Mid-Height: These shoes start around mid-calf and provide a bit more support than ankle height shoes.
-Over the Calf: These shoes start at the bottom of your calf and usually the tallest kind you can get. They provide a great deal of support, but they can be a little clumsy to use at times.
For beginners, we suggest getting a pair of mid or over the calf height climbing shoes. They will help you climb better since you’ll have a little more support, but they won’t be so clunky that they get in the way. If you’re a more experienced climber and want to get the best of both worlds, then get a pair of over calf height shoes.
They offer the most support while still being able to get a good feel for the rock.
Different climbing shoes are designed for different kinds of rock. As you may have guessed, some shoes are more suited for woodier and slipperier holds, while others are better for rough and jagged holds. It helps to have a pair that’s designed for each so you’ll get the best grip.
Most climbing shoes are designed for either indoor or outdoor use. While most people think of climbing being an outdoor sport, many people climb indoors on man made walls. These walls usually have big holds, or jugs, tacked onto them so people can get up them.
Because these walls are man made, the holds on them can be a lot bigger and more angular than natural rock. These types of holds are much easier to grab than natural rock because they were engineered to be climbed on. Because of this, it’s a good idea to get a pair of shoes that are designed for both indoor and outdoor use so you’ll always have the best grip.
Climbing shoes are also usually designed for a specific style of climbing: edging, overhang, and crack climbing.
For Edging: When an edge is a rectangular piece of metal that is installed at the top of a wall to make it looks like the wall has a cornice above the window. It’s usually used to keep people from pushing themselves up and knocking off the window ledge, where they would otherwise be out of reach from a normal height.
For Overhangs: Overhangs are where the wall you’re supposed to climb is supposed to be at the same height or lower than the rest of the wall, but gravity has made it so it’s sticking out.
For Cracks: The cracks are simply where there is a crevasse in the wall large enough for your fingers.
The three different styles of climbing shoes in order from most edge to least edge are: slipper, flat, and half-diamond. The more edging power you have on your shoes, the less you can feel the rock under your feet and the more likely you are to slip.
The three different styles of climbing shoes in order from most friction to least friction are: split sole, all rubber, and all plastic. The more friction you have on your shoes, the less you can feel the rock under your feet and the less likely you are to slip.
At first, you should probably just get a pair of all rubber shoes designed for both outdoor and indoor use. If you’re only going to be climbing indoors, then you’ll want an all rubber shoe designed solely for that so you can feel the holds easier. If you’re going to be climbing anywhere from small cracks to big overhangs, then a hybrid shoe will work best because it will give you more edging power without sacrificing too much from the friction.
Having a wide pair of shoes will give you more surface area to stand on, allowing you to stay upright on smaller holds and bumps.
Having a pointy pair of shoes will make it easier to fit into small spots and crimps.
Beginners should start off with a pair of mid-calf height shoes because they offer support while also giving them some growing room.
Experienced climbers can start off with a shorter pair of climbing shoes because they need less support.
The higher the top of the shoe, the more support and security it gives you while also limiting your foot’s range of motion.
The lower the top of the shoe, the more your feet can move around and feel the rock but you have less support.
Brand doesn’t matter too much as long as they are a popular brand and not some cheap no name brand. It’s also important that the pair of shoes fits your feet. A lot of climbing stores will allow you to return or exchange shoes as long as they haven’t been worn.
Be sure to try on different sizes and widths. Not every shoe is going to fit your feet the same way.
The general approach to climbing is to find the starting holds of the route (either marked or unmarked), and then continue upwards using a combination of grip, muscle, and movement to achieve this. As you climb, your weight will be directed towards the holds that you are using. As the name might suggest, half holds are those that you only place a portion of your weight upon (for example: an edge or a crimp).
Whether you are bouldering or roped climbing, you will want to use holds that are somewhat secure (if possible).
There is no set order in which to use your holds. As long as you are able to reach the intended hold (and it is a good one to use), then you can try and use it.
The process of “sequencing” involves looking at every move as separate, and working out the best way to achieve that move. Once you have worked out the move, then you should look at the next (sequentially).
This means that you should try not to get distracted by other holds if you are working something difficult, and also not to attempt something too difficult when your muscles are fresh.
Over-gripping is a very common mistake that many new climbers make (including me). This means that you are gripping a hold harder than you need to, before you have even utilized it (if at all). This is a major cause of ” pumped” or “tired” arms, and should be avoided by only gripping when you need to, and even then no harder than required.
In the same way, over-crimping is also a mistake that is commonly made by many climbers (including me again…).
This means that you are only using two or three fingers to grip a hold (whereas you could use all four, for example). This restricts your ability to place different parts of your hand/fist on the hold and can often cause strain in the long term. Be sure to use as much of your hand as possible to distribute the pressure across both the fingers and the palm.
Useful tips (primarily split into techniques and training exercises) for improving your climbing ability
This section will be based upon tips that work for me, and may differ for you (depending on what type of climber you are). I’ll start with the basics that are common to all types of climbing:
Before getting started, it is important to be in good physical condition (and it helps if you’re not a complete slob…).
Climbing is a very intensive physical activity and will push your body harder than most things that you have done before. You’ll also be putting your body in some fairly awkward positions, so make sure that you have had plenty of stretching (once again, no slobs).
A large amount of climbing injuries seem to be caused by people over-gripping holds. This over-griping is both a mental and physical mistake (over-gripping causes your muscles to tire quicker, which in turn means that you are more likely to make mistakes due to lack of endurance). Work on keeping a relaxed grip, so that you can pump your muscles more and squeeze the holds as hard as you need to without fear of over-gripping.
Another common cause of injury is tensing other parts of the body. This causes your muscles to tire quicker and puts unnecessary pressure on your tendons and ligaments (which may snap or be over-stretched, causing injury). One of the best things to do to prevent this is “Relaxed Hands”, this is where you relax all of the muscles in your hands apart from the ones that are required to grip the holds.
This will prove particularly useful on smaller holds (such as tiny crimps) where you don’t really need to squeeze that hard.
A final common cause of injury is Tension. This is both mental and physical, too much of either can result in mistakes being made (too much tension causes the mind to be overwhelmed, leading to missed hand/foot holds/poor decisions and excess strain on the muscles). Be sure to keep your mind clear, take things slowly and relax when you are climbing.
Typically, you will find that you climb better when you are relaxed.
These training exercises are designed to improve your general climbing ability. They can be done at home (indoors/outdoors) and don’t require any additional equipment (beyond your climbing gear).
Climb a lot (obviously), but make sure that you climb a variety of things. Climb easy routes really slowly and hard ones reasonably quickly (this will help your endurance as well as your strength)
Another good exercise is to simply hang from a rail or chair using different combinations of fingers. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute (depending on how strong your grip is) and repeat. This exercise will help your all-round strength on the walls and in particular will help you to hang from uneven holds.
There are two ways to do this. The first is to use the edge of a table, door frame or similar and hang from it (using both hands) at arms length. Gently move your hands apart (don’t let your elbows bend at all) until you feel you can’t hold on any longer and let yourself drop.
Repeat 10 times (once a day) and in a few days you should notice an improvement in your grip strength.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Tape cartridge and tape printing apparatus (T Sasaki – US Patent 9,539,832, 2017 – Google Patents)
- Tape cartridge (T Sasaki – US Patent 9,545,802, 2017 – Google Patents)
- Tape cartridge and tape feeding apparatus (T Sasaki, K Nakajima – US Patent 9,586,423, 2017 – Google Patents)
- Hand-held tape dispenser (RA Luhman, JD Ramacier, CD Thompson – US Patent 5,759,342, 1998 – Google Patents)
- Tape cartridge and tape printing apparatus (T Sasaki – US Patent 9,630,429, 2017 – Google Patents)
- Tape-fixed leadframe (M Matsutomo – US Patent 5,969,412, 1999 – Google Patents)