Out of the Garage
Porta-Hang started from a problem that needed to be solved. Spending many days and weeks on the road didn’t leave much time to stay climber strong, especially for grip strength. I’m sure we’ve all been there. A long trip or the gym closing for a few days and we lose a little of that edge. I looked for ways to do pull-ups or hang while on the go. Even in one modest hotel in rural Texas the hotel manager stopped me from doing hangs from the steel beams on the back of the stairs. I decided there must be a better way.
Nearly every hotel I traveled to had some kind of sturdy door frame. I tried the TRX, Rock Rings and those “spreader” pull-up bars, though nothing really worked for climbing. With each trip I measured door frames and looked for possible ways to attach a hangboard. But who can carry a hangboard in their carry-on bag? As an engineer, I sketched many possible and some ridiculous options. Though after many revisions and a little inspiration, I found the perfect shape. It may look crude, but this was the shape that created Porta-Hang.
Having this shape, I started to figure out how to make it in my garage. The same place that I had for years made furniture and fighting robots with my sons, now I started to create something new that others might use. Using a miter saw, I cut these rough shapes from plywood and metal. The first model would hang on OK and I worked to keep improving them.
Using climbing hold plastic made sense for this product too. We poured resin to harden in molds so my garage became a factory for pouring holds and the door hangers.
The next model was better, then finally we hit the perfect shape. If you’ve followed us for a while you remember the ridged back, then the smooth, then a thicker version, then XL. Late last summer we were selling so many that my wife volunteered to pour door hangers a couple days a week. Sales kept coming, so I decided to take it to the next level. Working with a plastic part designer, we converted the existing Porta-Hang XL into a fully engineered design for mass production. This product, Porta-Hang 2.0 launched in November of 2020 and the holidays were spectacular, selling out of everything.
We still poured our own holds and continued up through April of 2021. My wife did most of the pouring and I did the final sand. It’s a bit of a family business as my 16 year old sons do all the fulfillment and shipping.
3D printed prototype for Porta-Hang 2.0.
The last pouring day in the garage.
In December of 2020, we partnered with iPeak climbing to develop a set of holds for Porta-Hang. These holds take advantage of the small size of the Porta-Hang face, and also can be installed in 2 or more positions for multiple grips. These arrived in April and after a year we retired our molds and sander.
This new system we call Porta-Hang 3.0 and it's really a new version of our company. Our partners at Rock Digital Marketing have built our social media presence and helped with our formal launch into Canada. We’ve signed a distribution agreement with YYVertical for sales in all of Europe. The Amazon store will go live in July, giving us another way to meet customers. Australia is next, so I’ll be working on serving that market.
And our customers keep giving us great ideas to bring to life. Both the Porta-Board (coming this fall) and Porta-Pockets were ideas from our customers. We are in discussions with a physician to create an entire physical therapy and recovery training regimen. One thing that I’m certain of is that I’ll keep listening and keep creating.
Porta-Hang Founder and CEO