www.alpkit.com | $113.00 for a pair | 2 Stars
After five winters playing the mixed game I'm still a rookie, but I'm hooked. I was stoked to get into the gym and check out Alpkit's new dry-tool training device, the Figfour is basically a stiff rubber loop anchored to a birch plywood shaft that resembles the handle of a mixed-climbing tool. I had hoped to get a head start on the specific forearm fitness that mixed tooling requires. The Figfours certainly delivered on the pump, and I had a blast traversing around the gym and experimenting. The great thing about the Figfours is that (unlike sharp picks on ice tools) they won't damage gym holds. You can practice hooking at any gym, and not worry about ruining holds, falling and poking your tool through a pad, or dropping your tool and impaling your belayer or a bystander. It was fun to experiment with hooking sloping features, and the Figfours approximated the scary, unexpected falls of mixed climbing.
In a technique-dependent sport like climbing, however, specificity is the most important training principle, and just as Tiger Woods wouldn't play Frisbee golf to improve his short game, mixed climbers shouldn't expect the Figfours to appreciably improve their dry tooling. Like Frisbees, these tools are fun, but they just don't approximate real mixed climbing closely enough to be a serious training tool. That said, if you're looking for a novel way to pass a winter evening and develop forearm fitness, the Figfours could be just the ticket.
- Birch plywood shafts (33 cm).
- Replaceable die-cut double-reinforced rubber loops (32 cm).
- Weight (pair): 25 ounces.