Climb Gear Reviews

Top 7 Best Climbing Hold Bolts

You’ve decided on building yourself a climbing gym at home. Congratulations, post COVID shut downs, you are going to be a lean mean climbing machine! So, you’ve made your designs, picked out your wood and bought your first pack of climbing holds.

The last thing, but also one of the most overlooked things for your climbing wall are the climbing hold bolts. They come in different sizes, different designs, and different materials.

It can be overwhelming, so today we are going to take a quick dive into the nuts and bolts of your climbing wall.

What’s the Best Climbing Hold Bolts

The best climbing hold bolts depend on the type of bouldering wall you are planning to set up. The first question you need to ask is are you planning to build a wall indoors, or outdoors? If you are planning to have an outdoor climbing wall you want to get stainless steel bolts as they will resist rust better.

There are several different types of T-Nuts available. However getting the most expensive is not necessarily the best for a home climbing wall. We suggest getting the simple four pronged T-nut, as hammering these in, with a dab of glue, will be sufficient.

In order to help you avoid spending hours searching the internet for a few snippets of information, we have brought together a selection of climbing holds fittings that will get your climbing wall up and running, no holds barred.

Useful Tips

Indoor or outdoor

As mentioned before, it’s really important to consider the durability of your T-Nuts and bolts. If you are climbing outdoors stainless steel bolts and T-Nuts are the way to go.

Drill hole size

The standard drill hole size is 7/16” for the 3/8″ T-Nuts.

Add a dab of glue

Use a dab of glue on your four pronged T-Nuts when you install them. This will add to the longevity of your holds.

Hand tighten to finish

If using a drill, we recommend that you hand tighten to finish, so as to not over torque the bolt. To hand tighten you will need a hex tool, or a T-bar. You have probably seen a route setter using these at your local climbing gym.

Most Important Features to Look out for

If you are setting up a climbing wall outdoors, make sure you have high-grade stainless steel.

  • Are your climbing bolts compatible with the climbing holds? Generally this is ⅜ of an inch, but you will need to check the climbing hold specifications.
  • Do you need a socket head, flat head or button head bolt?
  • Is the bolt long enough to have ¾ quarters of an inch on the back side of the climbing wall?
  • Do you need multiple bolt lengths? Most likely yes!

Precautions to take note of

To keep your climbing wall in tip-top shape, you will need to do regular maintenance. This includes inspecting the holds, looking for any loose holds and tightening them as necessary.

On the topic of tightening holds, when installing your climbing holds, we highly recommend you finish this by hand, as this will avoid over tightening your climbing hold and potentially stripping the thread of the bolt.

Basic Setup and Usage

To install your climbing holds you will first need to drill your bolt holes on the plywood. An 8” x 8” grid pattern is a fairly common set-up that will give you enough options to vary your routes. The easiest way to drill your climbing board is on a sawhorse, prior to installing it on the wall.

How do you install a bolt on climbing holds

The T-Nuts are installed on the back side of your plywood with a hammer. The prongs on the T-Nuts will bite into the plywood as they are hammered in. Make sure the T-Nuts are installed flush against the climbing board. For the visual learners, check out this how to installation video for installing T-Nuts.

Climbing Wall Build, T-Nut Install

Once the T-Nuts are installed, it is simply a case of screwing in the bolts with a hex wrench, or drill bit.
Tools needed:

  • A 7/16 drill bit
  • A 5/16″ hex wrench
  • A sturdy hammer for the four pronged t-nut
  • A strong glue, such as liquid nails.

For further information on building and designing your wall, read our ultimate guide to building your own DIY climbing wall at home.

1. Escape Climbing Home Climbing Gym Starter Pack

PROS

Multiple bolt lengths

Tool bits included

No double orders

CONS

Not for outdoor use

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The Escape Climbing starter pack is an affordable option that will turn the idea of an indoor climbing gym into a reality. The variety pack provides 250 nuts and 25 two inch bolts, and five 3 inch bolts. What we like is that the starter pack also throws in the right fitting tools, saving you time shopping online and money on shipping.

2. Escape Climbing Outdoor Stainless Steel Bolts

PROS

High quality stainless steel for outdoor use

Rust resistant

Affordable

CONS

Limited bolt lengths

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These 2 inch bolts by Escape Climbing are a very durable set that will withstand the rust and corrosion outdoors. We’d also recommend using these bolts if you are building your wall indoors and it has a damp, or humid environment – such as a basement, or in a tropical climate.

3. Escape Climbing Outdoor Stainless Steel T-Nuts

PROS

Made for outdoor use

Easy installation

Durable

CONS

For large jugs holds on an overhang, you may want to go for a 3 hole screw in T-Nut

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These four pronged T-Nuts by Escape Climbing are made from high quality stainless steel which means they will withstand the elements outdoors. For anyone considering putting their climbing wall outside, this is the option for you. Trust us, replacing a board with rusted T-Nuts is an arduous task that you want to avoid.

4. Driftless Climbing Indoor Climbing Bolts

PROS

Good price

Multiple length options

Compatible with the majority of climbing holds

CONS

If you stay in a humid country, they may be prone to some rust

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These Driftless climbing bolts are a good affordable option for those embarking on an indoor climbing wall. They come in the standard 3/8 – 16 socket cap screws in lengths of 1.5 inches, 2.0 inches, 2.5 inches and 3.0 inches. With these bad boys, you will be covered for almost all of your climbing holds.

5. Gabriel Glides Indoor T-Nuts

PROS

Simple installation

Good value for money

Corrosion resistant

CONS

Not for outdoor use

For large jugs holds, such as on an overhang, you may want to go for a 3 hole screw in T-Nut.

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These T-Nuts will do the job for an indoor wall. They are zinc coated steel, which protects the metal from corrosion. They have a four prong design that allows you to simply hammer the T-Nuts into your climbing board.

6. Escape Climbing Indoor Alloy-Steel Bolts

PROS

Industrial grade stainless steel

Affordable

Fast delivery

CONS

Only 2 inch length option

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Escape Climbing is a well regarded climbing bolt manufacturer. These bolts are made to be long lasting when used indoors. They are the standard ⅜-16 socket screw cap. They are two inches in length, which will cover most medium sized rock climbing holds.

7. Bolt Dropper Indoor T-Nuts

PROS

Corrosion resistant

Lifetime guarantee

Good price

CONS

If you are building your wall outside in a climate that experiences a lot of rain, it will be better to go with stainless steel T-Nuts

See it in your local store:

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These T-Nuts by Bolt Dropper are made from high quality zinc coated steel and can be used for indoor and outdoor use. They use the standard 3/8” – 16 size. They have four prongs, which makes for easy installation.

Taking into consideration the issue of durability of bolts and T-Nuts, and the annoying task of removing damaged bolts and T-Nuts, we recommend going for Escape Climbing’s stainless steel bolts and T-Nuts. You may think you are safe if you set up a climbing wall in your basement, but later realise that it was actually quite damp and your climbing hold fittings have rusted to the core!

So, whether you are climbing indoors in a gym or outdoors, paying the extra bit for higher quality metal will mean you spend less time maintaining your wall and more time enjoying it.

In sum, with stainless steel, you are paying for peace of mind.

Questions and Answers About Climbing Hold Bolts

  1. What bolts are used for climbing holds?

    The vast majority of climbing holds attach with 3/8″ bolts. The most popular shape is a socket head. Socket heads are most common due to being the strongest type of screw. However, they also have the biggest profile. Small holds with a low profile use flat head or button head bolts so as to not poke out from your climbing holds.

  2. What is the ideal climbing bolt and T-Nut size?

    The ideal climbing bolt size is a 3/8-16 Allan head bolt into a 3/8-16 t-nut. This is because it is the most common bolt used in climbing gyms, and therefore there are many more compatible climbing holds that fit these dimensions. However, for metric users, there is also the M10.

  3. Choosing bolt-on versus screw-on climbing holds?

    Bolt-ons have the advantage of being able to be changed much quicker than screw in bolts. As bolt-ons are the standard for climbing gyms, you will also have a larger range of climbing holds to choose from. The down side of bolts-ons is they require much more preparation for your wall.
    Screw-on climbing holds on the other hand are useful if you don’t have easy access to the back of your climbing wall. Why? Because you aren’t installing a T-Nut.
    In addition, you are not limited to a grid pattern and can put your climbing hold anywhere on your wall. However, they take longer to install than bolt on holds. They are also useful for small holds that don’t bear much weight, such as foot holds.
    In our opinion, you ideally want to have both screw-on and bolt-on climbing holds in your gym. We recommend mainly using bolt ons, but also having screw ons for foot holds, or homemade DIY holds.

  4. What length bolts for climbing holds are good?

    Different climbing holds require different bolt lengths. As a general guide, 1.5 inch bolts are good for small holds, 2 inch bolts for medium holds, and 3 inch bolts for larger holds.
    Please note, you should leave about ¾ of an inch of bolt thread beyond the bottom face of your climbing hold. This will ensure the bolt is effectively engaged with the nut. A word of caution, make sure you account for this additional space behind the wall in your design, especially if you are making a climbing wall indoors.

  5. How do I remove a broken T-Nut?

    If a T-Nut breaks, or can no longer keep a hold tight, you will need to remove it. One option is to use a pry bar and remove it from the back. The second option is to screw in a bolt and then hit the bolt with a hammer. This is a quicker method, but sometimes you will need to rely on a pry bar.

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