Paper or plastic?

Remember paper or plastic? You don’t? Well allow me to share a bit of American shopping history with you (and you thought this was just another climbing blog).

In the beginning, God created a man. The man was what we call a hunter-gatherer. He searched out his food, killed it, and then brought it home to Eve and the kiddos. Man evolved, and soon learned (more than likely, Eve ‘suggested’) that it was easier to raise his own food then spending days down-wind stalking it, and so farming and ranching developed. This system worked well, as now they could both work the land together and junior could finally have a little daddy time. That was until daddy realized that if he franchised this and sold his goods, he could make a lot more money and finally purchase that new donkey he had been looking at on Amazon. Unfortunately, he was now so busy making money, the kiddos were getting hungry from the lack of supplies, and so it came upon Eve to have to do the hunting-gathering. Lucky for Eve, the man had improved his distribution chains, so that now there was now a food store on just about every corner. She just had to walk in, dip into the coin purse, and purchase the weekly rations. They would even be placed neatly in a paper bag.

Sadly though, all was not perfect in paradise. There was a Serpent, and he (why is the serpent always a ‘he’?) was determined to destroy this perfect system. So he invented plastic. The Serpent convinced the man that plastic bags would save him money and allow him to upgrade to Donkey 2.0. And that’s where paper or plastic comes in. You can’t just change the world (especially the shopping world) overnight. So the Serpent offered Eve a choice, paper or plastic. Of course we all know the rest of the story. She chose plastic, the environment was destroyed, Armageddon ensued, and the man was back to hunting cockroaches in the desert :o.

Which of course, brings me to my topic of the week, and that is hang boards (or fingerboards if you prefer). Someone asked me a great question last week. “What is the difference between wood verses plastic hang boards. And so, me being the helpful lad that I am, offered an explanation: “In the beginning, God created a man . . .” (just kidding).

Actually, I explained that the answer was really pretty simple and it is similar to the grocery bag story.

By far, my favorite hang boards are the wooden ones. They are much friendlier on my fingers and don’t add the extra friction. Those are both very important because when I am training my finger strength, I want to be able to work strictly my finger strength to its limits. To do that, I don’t want to be hampered by pain from a sharp or rough board, and I don’t want to have the assistance if a lot if friction, as again I am targeting strength. (That’s different from climbing, when I want every bit of friction that I can muster, in order to finish the route). Thus, from a quality training standpoint, in a perfect world, wood (or paper in our analogy) is the material of choice.

But we all know that we don’t live in a perfect world. None of us are really any different than early man (or woman). We too want shiny new things. And if those things are more attainable by saving a little cash . . . say with a plastic product . . . well why not?

Plastic (more appropriately, urethane) hang boards work. They will get you stronger. And there is nothing wrong with them. Plus: they will save you about 25% over wood; 25% that you can then spend on shoes, chalk, or your personal donkey.

And that’s pretty much it. As in much of life, you get what you pay for and all choices have consequences. But both are good choices.

Can’t say the same about the grocery store.

Train hard and Follow Your Bliss,


Skip to content