The 2014 Grip List

Photo: Thrive FB
Thrive Climbing

5. Thrive

Phoenix, Arizona-based Thrive Climbing is one of the many hold makers that charged onto the scene this year.  Most of these brands will drop away like leaves in the fall, but Thrive is placing themselves in a position to thrive by starting small and concentrating on creating a meaningful market differentiation.

One way they are doing this is by carving holds that are hand-neutral or symmetrical. These sets include a left and a right hand version of the hold so a setter is never left wanting.  Setters have been requesting this from hold makers for years with only a few brands listening.

Thrive is also trying to get ahead of the wave of gyms moving to tapeless or colored hold setting. As owner and shaper Ryan Wurm told us, “[We] are offering colors that are very closely matched to the top hold companies in the market, for those ‘no-tape setting gyms’ that set by hold color. This way of setting is becoming more popular so we are trying to stay ahead of the game if a large transition happens towards this style. And, these colors do not come at an extra cost.”

Thrive relies on the talent of Ryan Wurm and Nicholas Hayes to shape the line. These two have created a good start for the company with stand-outs like the Moon Pies, Mounds, Snaggletooth slopers and their Petal jugs. Wurm’s shaping philosophy is anatomy driven. “Not everyone is going to set holds ergonomically,” said Wurm. “So I try to pay a lot of attention to the anthropometrics of each hold when I shape it. That way everyone can climb comfortably no matter what angle a hold is positioned. I think of shaping as a complex human-centric design process so that I can make the best product possible.”

Thrive is currently pouring and shipping all orders in-house. As Wurm told us, “All our our work is done in our small little shop, allowing us to have the best quality control possible. We inspect every single hold carefully before we ship anything out.” This sounds nice but probably has more to do with finances than ethics. We’ll see as the brand gets bigger if they stick with this strategy or explore outsourcing their pouring like some of the other big boys.

The Phoenix crew have done a great job so far of distinguishing their brand from the myriad of players, but it will be their shapes that will ultimately win the day.