The Cheapskate’s Guide to Strongman Gear

Not everyone can afford to be a gear hog, but having a full complement of strongman equipment is an essential to having long term success in the sport. Over time I have found a few ways to save a few bucks and build up an arsenal of useable gear. Free or low cost makes everyone happy, so let us see how we can make your garage gym happy.

Homemade Stone Sleeves (Tony Kalisz style)

What you will need:

  • 3M Duct Tape
  • Old pair of tube socks (I prefer white socks because they seem to be more absorbent)
  • Scissors

Leather stone sleeves can set you back set you back $100 or more. That is way too pricey for many lifters and this option only costs a few dollars per year. You also avoid having “tackied” up gear in your bag.

Cut off the foot portion of the sock then measure your arm from the base of your hand to your elbow. Subtract 4 inches, then cut the top end of your socks to that length. The socks will serve as a sponge, absorbing any sweat and allowing the tape to stay in place. Place the sock on your arm with the ankle part near your wrist.  Next, wrap your arm with the tape by making two passes, which include a half inch overlap.  Starting at the end of the elbow, work your way down to the wrist, then back up to the elbow. The 2″ of the arm near the elbow need to be in direct contact with the tape. The same goes for the 2″ by the hand.  Fold over  the end of the tape on the outside of the arm at the elbow, so you can easily unwrap it after you are covered with tacky and have won the event due to your superior arm wrapping system.

Drag Sled

What you will need:

  • Wood pallet
  • Chain or rope
  • Weight (plates or rocks)

Shipping pallets are everywhere. Just stop and grab one or two because it will wear out. Wrap your chain around the front of the pallet and secure with a carabiner or padlock. Toss a bunch of weight in it and you are ready to drag. You may not get more than a few sessions from each pallet but they are free and easy to replace and it doesn’t get much better than that.


What you will need:

  • 1 ⅞” galvanized fence post or electrical conduit (cut to 7’) 
  • Hose clamp (2) 
  • Truck bed liner paint (optional) 

If you want to go really cheap, just get the pipe and grab some duct tape. You can then wrap the tape around the bar 10 times as a plate stop about 12 inches in from each end. If you use the hose clamps I would tape over them to protect from damage. The truck bed liner paint can be sprayed in the middle where the knurling would go or you can leave it slippery for extra technique work on your continental.


  • Boulders (Natural Stones)

It may sound silly to give this advice, but in most parts of the country you can locate a nice size, semi-round rock pretty much anywhere. It seems like the best solution to a problem is the most obvious, but often it is overlooked. Find a few stones and pressure wash them. Try and get smooth, non jagged boulders for your own safety.  They will provide an additional challenge of grip and balance due to them not being perfect. Don’t forget to grab a wedge shaped one for Husafell carries.

When you need to get a start and save a few dollars these few examples can be a easy start. Don’t forget big tires should be free, and heavy things can be found everywhere. Get creative and get lifting some odd objects!