Kaitlin here to share some remodeling tips when it comes to creating a rock climber’s dream house.

As every climber laments, you can never have enough room in your life to satiate all your climbing needs. As time goes on, you’ll need more storage space for all your equipment and gear as your rack increases in size. Similarly, you’ll want to train as much as possible to keep developing your skills.

Luckily, over at Home Improvement Leads (where I work) we love creative remodeling projects. But we also know that climbers often want to build new spaces themselves. If you need more space in your home for your ever-growing climbing obsession, this guide will help you remodel your home to suit your rock climbing needs, whether you do it yourself, or hire out.

How much gear do you have?

As far as storage is concerned, the first step is evaluating exactly how much gear you currently have. Taking into account the fact that your rack will probably grow as your climbing journey continues, make sure to leave enough extra storage space to fill later on.

This list can be a helpful reminder of the type of gear you’ll want to neatly store:

Ropes
Shoes
Carabiners
Belay devices
Quickdraws
Helmets
Harnesses
Chalk bags
Bouldering pads

Cams
Nuts
Hexes
Rope pulleys
Slings
Ascenders/descenders

Packs/rucksacks
Boots/Approach shoes
Tents
Sleeping bags
Sleeping pads
Cooking equipment

If your rack is relatively small, a hallway or bedroom closet will probably suffice for equipment storage. Sturdy shelves, clothes rails, and wall mounted hooks will easily hold a small selection of ropes, harnesses, carabiners and belay equipment, and other climbing gear.

Gear closet of @katreynolds_ #climbing #rockclimbing #climbinggear #tradisrad #gearstoke #weighmyrack

A photo posted by WeighMyRack.com (@weighmyrack) on

Larger climbing racks require more storage space, so we recommend setting aside a built-in storage unit or entire room in your home for your climbing gear. Spare bedrooms, garages, and basements are particularly useful for larger pieces of equipment such as bouldering mats and camping gear, but even if your rack doesn’t contain these bulky items, you’ll be surprised at just how quickly you fill a room with climbing equipment!

Welcome to the motherload. Aka the gear closet of @ascensionist #gearstoke #weighmyrack

A photo posted by WeighMyRack.com (@weighmyrack) on

Creating a storage space

While the specific storage method you use for your rack is up to you, there are several key points to remember in order to maximize space and efficiently store your gear. First, consider the type of storage you want and/or need for your rack. We love large IKEA-style units with open cubes because they are customizeable, hold any number of accessories, and can be easily mounted to the wall to prevent tipping when heavier items are added. Storage tubs, bins, and boxes for smaller items are also a must if you have any hope of finding things when you need them.

Gear closet of @joshnv #climbing #climbinggear #gearcloset #gearstoke #weighmyrack

A photo posted by WeighMyRack.com (@weighmyrack) on

After you’ve set up your main storage area, don’t forget to use the surrounding walls to make the most of your storage space and keep items off the floor. Pegboards, command strips, and wall mounted hooks and rails are perfect for hanging carabiners, ice axes and tools, ropes, and other climbing accessories. Plus, they make a great decorative accessory!

Before you make any irreversible storage decisions, remember that the keys with climbing storage are organization, accessibility and strength. Choose shelving and storage options that you can get to easily and often without too much hassle. Organization is important here, so if you have a tendency to lose things often, we recommend labelling each shelf or drawer. It’s also important to remember that your rack is going to weigh a ton, so sturdy shelving and hooks that can carry the weight of all the gear you someday hope to own will save you trouble later on.

Gear closet of @johngassel #gearstoke #weighmyrack

A photo posted by WeighMyRack.com (@weighmyrack) on

How can you increase your training space at home?

While setting up and maintaining an organized storage area for your gear is extremely helpful, what most climbers dream of is a space to train. There are several different ways to go about creating this kind of space at home, with varying degrees of difficulty and technical skill required.

The first option for bespoke training space is a DIY woody, or at-home rock climbing wall made from plywood and climbing holds. Before you start building, however, there are a few things to take into consideration here.

Although you might think a home climbing wall would be best suited to a backyard or other outdoor area, the reality is that frequent changes in the weather—including humidity, temperature, and precipitation—can seriously alter both your performance on the woody and its physical condition (due to warping and splitting over time). For this reason, many climbers build their woodies inside. Garages, basements, and other spare rooms with high ceilings work best if you want your woody to anything more than a horizontal cave.

Building a training wall is fairly labor intensive and time consuming, but you can find straightforward instructions online for a variety of styles—for some tips, check out this basic step-by-step guide from Instructables. The structural design and construction of your woody will vary if you prefer a vertical to overhanging wall or a horizontal bouldering-style cave, but most DIY climbing wall construction follows the basic formula of plywood, studs, screws, inserts and climbing holds.

indoor wall

Once you’ve constructed the base of your woody, the final step is determining where to place hand and footholds. While this is up to you and your personal preference, many climbing pros recommend a variety of holds in order to practice different grips. This is especially important with systems training, where you work a particular grip (whether open hand, crimp, or half crimp) or maneuver (such as undercling, sidepull, rockover, or Gaston) in isolation repeatedly.

As we hinted to with our link above, Moon Climbing is a great resource, and even has a PDF of how to build your own Moon Board (a simple overhanging climbing wall) with documentation for over 350 climbing problems that you can set on the board-you buy their holds to re-create their problems- in addition to making your own holds/routes.

For other hold ideas, Dave Burdick’s post on how to make your own climbing holds is wonderful. Or you could check out EBAY for some great deals (50 holds for less than $80including hardware and shipping.

climbing holds on a home wall

If you don’t have the time or DIY skill for a homemade woody, or if you want something bigger and more professional, you could consider a larger scale home renovation tailored to your climbing needs. Bringing in the professionals has several benefits, including the opportunity to direct your remodeling project and oversee its progress from start to finish with less stress than making it yourself. A bespoke indoor training space with high ceilings and a built-in woody—or one on each wall, for that matter!—is a climber’s dream and can potentially combine training and storage spaces and offer a temperature and climate-controlled area for practice, day and night.

One final option, geared toward climbers with gym memberships or who are limited by space is a smaller-scale DIY climbing wall on the side of the garage or backyard shed or a very small woody in a spare bedroom. Although these options won’t offer the height of a traditional woody, they are still useful for systems training and even young climbers looking for practice. Fortunately, Andrew McLean has posted a simple PDF of how he made a 4’x8′ climbing board for about $150 on his website Straightchuter.com.

And, for padding, if prefer to stay away from the mattress on the corner with the free sign on it, you could contact VLINE (Utah) or Asana (Idaho) who frequently make custom pads for home gyms.

Share
Kaitlin Krull

Kaitlin Krull

Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. She enjoys writing with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on home projects with confidence.

All author posts