decoy board
(Photo/Evelyn Jeong)

Decoy Board Jockeys Into Moon Board, Kilter Board Climbing Market

The Decoy Board hit the market early this year with an ingenious adjustable setup. Varyingly textured hold sets mimic a range of rock types to help gym rats train for their projects outside.

If you’ve climbed on a woody before, you know it can be an abrasive experience. Indoor plywood training boards are often steeply angled, and they usually feature vicious holds like thin crimps and awkward pinches.

That said, their track record for rock climbing training has borne itself out for decades. And as climbing has evolved, so have woodies — the Moon Board established a worldwide standard for board climbing in 2016. Then, the Kilter Board took it a step further by giving its product an adjustable angle.

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So, 2022’s Decoy Board elbows its way into the “board room” with what looks like the most evolved system we’ve seen yet. The first installed board uses a Grasshopper frame (the same one the U.S. national climbing team uses for training) to adjust from 0 to 60 degrees, and it features a wide and unique array of hold sets.

decoy board hold set
(Photo/Evelyn Jeong)

The Decoy Board’s 288 holds vary in shape as well as texture. To compile them, the company chose from among its existing holds that mimic actual holds outdoors. The board’s schist set, for instance, derives from the classic Rumney route “Supernova.”

The board also fulfills the distinction of being the first training board with dual-textured holds. Advantage? “Dual-tex” holds force precision by making the climber hit a certain area of the hold, instead of pawing the whole surface. Not only that, they can improve footwork by the same mechanism and help save precious skin.

 

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The Decoy Board’s adjustability and grip variation should help climbers train for a huge array of projects or objectives. It also facilitates a wide range of climbing styles and even easier climbing — something the Moon Board notoriously omits.

Finally, injury risk should be minimal compared to some other boards due to the relatively big holds. And the holds are mirrored like a system board, so you can balance a workout or suss out weaknesses and advantages between your right and left sides.

 

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“The overall comfort found in the sets allow users to train for explosive power, while not having to risk injury,” Decoy Holds founder Daniel Yagmin explained. “Larger footprint holds make for climbing that involves unique beta and movements such as bicycles, reverse bicycles, heel toe cams, and others.”

He concluded that the result makes for climbing that can be “as interesting and technical or as thuggish and powerful as you like.”

 

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The Decoy Board debuted at Brooklyn’s popular GP-81 bouldering gym in December 2021. The layout comes in 8’x12′ (most recommended) and 8’x10′ variants, with a 12’x12′ in the works.

Holds cost a roughly industry-average $12 each and start at the “Foundation” set of 65 for $1,074. The whole enchilada, with 288 holds including 174 dual-tex holds, costs $3,500.

The optional light kit runs $1,200. To build your own Decoy Board, supply your own frame, panels, T-nuts, and bolts. Check out the whole Decoy Board pricing gamut.

Decoy Board Thoughts From a Woody Veteran

Before I begin, I’ll clarify one thing: I love Moon Board climbing. I’ve spent countless sessions playing Moon Board HORSE and add-on with my friends, listening to music, and joking around in our crew’s so-called “board room.”

moon board
A board room session; (photo/Jay Roberts)

Aside from fun, Moon Boarding has made me a more resolute climber. The board attacks my weaknesses mercilessly — to do a Moon Board problem, I almost always have to execute nasty contortions and full-effort dynos.

I like the simplicity of the 40-degree fixed angle. I like how vicious the edges are, and the absurd size of some of the smallest holds routinely makes me laugh.

 

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That said, I’m all for the Decoy Board’s innovative take. When Ben Moon and Jerry Moffat built the Moon Board’s first progenitor in Moffat’s basement in the 1980s, they shaped holds out of household items like drawer knobs and baseboards. (Skip to about 1:00 into this high-octane video to get the idea.)

It was a feat of imagination, which Yagmin appears to have taken as far as he can: How similar to natural rock can Decoy holds be?

That alone should lend the Decoy Board a degree of training specificity that other boards lack. If you’re trying to train for a slippery limestone boulder problem, it behooves you to train on holds that are slick — whether stone or silicone. The generous size and shaping should also help facilitate funky footwork like bicycles and heel hooks.

Finally, the adjustable angle makes a ton of sense. Training for a steep boulder problem on a nearly vertical board makes no sense, and vice versa. It’s also an advantage for anyone who doesn’t climb super hard, so more folks should be able to get a piece of the action.

If I have a question, it’s how much finger strength you can develop with the Decoy Board. The wide variation in holds should do the trick, and the 8×12 is compatible with other board hold sets. But whenever I climb a Kilter Board, I tend to feel like I’m pulling on jugs.

Of course, the full Decoy hold set includes a lot of pinches, pockets, dishes, and slopers, so getting strong on a variety of holds looks like a sure thing. And, of course, the crimps will be nasty — it’s board climbing.

Overall, I look forward to my first Decoy Board experience. News travels slowly in the west and seemingly even slower in Texas, so there’s no telling when it will happen. But when it does, maybe I’ll become a better-rounded climber.

No matter how much you like it, you can only do so much gritting your teeth, pulling down, jumping, and screaming in one session — believe me.

Sam Anderson
By

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.