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Build a Climbing Gym in Your Home

Human hand reaching for a wood block on a wall

If you’ve recently moved into a spot with some extra wiggle room, let us be the first to congratulate you on your new space.

You may find that you have extra room to put to good use. But you’re not really interested in turning the garage, basement, or guest room into a storage closet or office.

You’ve got bigger plans.

You’re going to create a first-rate in-home climbing gym complete with traverse and overhanging walls, hang boards, and an area for stretching and free weights. You see it when you close your eyes. Maybe you’ve started to sketch out a plan.

This seemingly massive project might feel daunting, but—with the right kind of budgeting, planning, and ingenuity—you can create your dream climbing space in as little as six months.

Let’s break it down.


Holds

The number of holds you need will depend on the size of the gym you create. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how many to use per foot or anything like that. Think of your climbing wall as an ever-evolving masterpiece that you can add to over time. Start with 80 holds and grow from there.

Holds can be purchased new or used and range in price depending upon their size and uniqueness. Larger or more novel holds are sold individually, while smaller, more generic holds typically come in sets.

Starter collection of holds
$100

Plywood or oriented strand board

Plywood and oriented strand board (or “OSB”) are the two materials most commonly used to create climbing gym walls. Both materials have their pros and cons. While plywood is typically less expensive, OSB tends to last longer.

Choose the material you feel most confident working with. As long as your construction is solid, either material will work just fine.

Plywood or OSB
$250

Tools and hardware

You’ll need the right tools to put your climbing wall together. Luckily, a lot of them are home DIY standbys, like the circular saw, power drill, tape measure, and stud finder. Most of the more specialized items are small and inexpensive, but these differ from project to project. Read up on them online and secure your wall plans before investing money in any new tools.

Before heading to your local hardware store to buy new gear, consider borrowing tools from a friend or tool library, or buying them used online. This will help you save some money on your big project.

Tools
$250

Crash pads

When you need to bail on a tricky route, or you’re not confident that you’ll hit your next maneuver, you’ll be happy to have crash pads. The number you need depends on the size of your space, but most climbers agree that, when it comes to crash pads, more is better.

This climbing wall must ranges in price from practically free to $200 per pad. The cost depends largely on how plush you want your landing to be.

New, standard crash pads will cost you between $100 and $200 per pad, depending on the brand, size, and quality. You can get used crash pads online for $30-$150 per pad.

If you’ve invested most of your project budget into a bunch of cool holds or a new set of power tools and you need to cut back, you can also appropriate used futon or bed mattresses as pads for a negligible cost.

One crash pad
$150

Hang boards and campus boards

Hang boards and campus boards are necessities for any hardcore climber. These mounted boards allow climbers to build upper-body strength, finger strength, and stamina by providing them with a series of pocketed holds for practicing pull-ups and other maneuvers.

Purchasing these items new is fairly straightforward, as there is little deviation in quality from one product to another. However, they can be costly if purchased new. Keep an eye out for sales or deals on used boards. If purchasing a secondhand board, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t have any splits or cracks.

Hang boards and campus boards
$100

Workout gear

If you have space left over to stash some extra workout gear, you can supplement your time spent on the wall with strength and flexibility exercises to become an even better climber.

A yoga mat makes stretching more comfortable; free weights build strength; and balance balls are excellent for developing stability—all very important for climbers dedicated to their craft. These items can be purchased used and for cheap (check out our post on building your own home gym for details) and make excellent additions to your climbing gym.

Workout gear
$350

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