Brushing holds is a pretty vital part of bouldering, but often the holds that need the most attention from the bristles are those that are out of reach. That sloper near the top always gets cacked up right when you don’t want it to – by the time you get to it the chalk coating that your hands started off with has turned into a layer of grease... There are several remedies to this predicament, and the only one that doesn’t involve tiring yourself out, or risking injury from falling out of the neighbouring tree/problem, is the use of a brush-on-a-stick. Many boulderers rely on a home made brush stick, but the limitations of an old mop handle with a toothbrush taped to the end usually become clear fairly quickly. Well, now you can throw the old mop handle in the recycle because, for the first time, there is a purpose built alternative: the Geckosport Boulderbrush. This new product is designed specifically for brushing out of reach holds, rather like a beta clip stick for boulderers! Having cobbled together and used a variety of home made jobs over the years I was keen to see how the boulderbrush fared in comparison...
Construction and Design
The boulderbrush is made of a sturdy and high quality telescopic AL 6060 pole that is continuously adjustable. This makes the whole package incredibly light and transportable, and the 170cm reach the pole gives means the majority of problems can be cleaned thoroughly. The ‘business end’ of this pole is angled to facilitate the brushing of holds of all angles – a key stumbling block that Boulderbrush many home made poles fail to accommodate. It also means it is less likely to slip out of a bouldering pad while walking to or from the rocks. The two brushes are screwed onto the pole giving a secure attachment, which also makes it easy to interchange between the large and small brush options.
The angled head and extendable shaft make the boulderbrush an excellent hold cleaning tool. In fact, during my extensive test I was able to give all kinds of holds and angles a good clean. One key advantage over my old mop handle brush is that the angled head means you can really direct the brush where you want it on the rock surface. Another advantage is the fact it doesn’t flex – giving maximum purchase and allowing pressure to be applied to the hold in question. Flimsy poles fail on this measure and can make the brushing process more of a token gesture! The fact that there are brushes on both sides allow for greater choice of angles meaning that no hold is beyond the boulderbrush’s cleaning capabilities.
Now, let’s talk bristles. All quality brush sticks need a decent set of bristles to find their way into the boulderer’s regular armoury - a stick lacking in this department is like a Rottweiler with no teeth! The brushes supplied with the boulderbrush are all of very high quality and give a variety of brushing options. They are probably best described as a cross between the Lapis horsehair and Metolius style nylon which gives possibly the best brushing output possible. There are a mix of lengths and sizes, meaning that the small and the large - ledges, slopers through to micro edges are no match for the boulderbrush (see box for exact specification). The accessory brush is also impressive, and has occupied an unrivalled position in the pocket of my chalk bucket since its arrival. The black end is slightly firmer than the soft white end giving you the versatility for different scenarios and cleaning needs. The brushes themselves have stood up to a fair bit of abuse over the 6 weeks I’ve been using them, and the rigors of grit, sandstone and limestone have not proved too abrasive – so I would class this is a very durable product. Despite this, some may find the price tag on the high side but considering the distinct advantages over the home made alternative I think it is worth the investment. Replacement brushes are available from Geckosport for when they do wear out so there is no need to buy the whole package again.
Overall I have been very impressed with the boudlerbrush – it has outperformed all other brushes I have used and I am hoping the extra cleaning power it delivers will give me the edge on the boulders as the autumn and winter months draw closer!