Rock Climbing Chalk – Does it Matter?

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Do your hands start to get damp while climbing? Do they feel like they’re about to slip off holds? Worried about tearing your skin from giving out on a hold? What If I told that if you have these problems then rock climbing chalk may be right for you?

A lot of people swear by this harmless chemical (Magnesium Carbonate) that helps keep your hands dry and creates a better grip. I’m here to tell you the positives to that bag of magic that almost everyone uses at the gym.

For an overview, once I started using rock climbing chalk my climbing improved so much. I was able to climb longer routes without slipping, I was able to enjoy not having clamy hands, and I was able to accomplish more routes in a day just due to chalk.

Now lets dive into (MgCO3) otherwise known as your climbing chalk.

What Are The Different Types of Chalk?

Chalk may be as simple as putting some white powder on your hands but it’s a bit more than that. There is pure chalk and chalk with added drying ingredients. Some people might like the added dryness while others find it too dehydrating to the hands. This is a personal preference and varies from person to person.

(Note: All the types of chalk mentioned below have either pure or added agents to dry your hands.)

Now lets discuss the different kinds of rock climbing chalk you can use while climbing and the differences between them.

Loose Chalk: One of the most popular types of chalk is loose chalk. It’s very convenient for most since it is already ground up and ready to go. All you have to do is put it in a bag or use the bag it came in. Depending on the brand, you can get more fine chalk or clumped. Now just pull your hands out of the bag, dust off the excess, and you’re good to go.

Block Chalk: This type of chalk is pressed together into a brick. People tend to prefer this because they can perfect it to the right consistency. This tends to run a lot less expensive than loose already ground up Magnesium Carbonate.

Liquid Chalk: If you want something that really dries out your hands than liquid chalk might be the way to go. This type has alcohol in it but once applied it quickly dries to leave chalk on your hands. People tend to like this type due to it not leaving chalk dust in the air.

How To Apply Rock Climbing Chalk

There are not many options when it comes to how to apply rock climbing chalk. Your chalk pretty much goes in a bag and you apply from there. (Unless you’re using liquid chalk, then you apply it right from the bottle.)

You can either have chalk in loose form or in a chalk sock/ball form.

Loose Chalk: If you are looking to get thicker coverage than this is the way to go. Just pour your magnesium carbonate into a bag and you’re set. You can just dip your hand in the bag and shake off the excess. The only downfall is that spills can happen without using a sock.

Chalk Sock/Ball: If you just want a light dusting and to not worry about getting too much chalk on your hands than a chalk sock might be right for you. Plus you will not need to worry about any spills in the gym. The con to the sock would be that it’s harder to get a thick coating on your hands.

Does Brand Matter?

Well, to make this answer short and sweet, it depends on the person. Every brand offers a different texture, consistently, and formula. Are you looking for a brand that just offers MgCO3 or extra additives to wick away more moisture? Let’s jump into some brands for you guys to decide on.

(For me personally I enjoy Friction Labs Unicorn Dust. I prefer the super fine texture and the fact it coats my hands with a good even coverage that lasts a whole climb.)

Friction Labs: With no harsh drying agents, Friction Labs to me is one of the best brands for chalk. They offer a lot with their chalk and give a great quality product. With being so pure, it feels so smooth to the touch.

They have 3 types of loose chalk for you to pick from and these would be:

  • Unicorn Dust: (Fine grind with very little clumps.)
  • Gorilla Grip: (Is a bit clumpy compared to Unicorn Dust.)
  • Bam Bam: (This is the chunkiest of them all.)

They also offer chalk socks like we discussed earlier and a liquid version of chalk called “Chalk Creme.”

Black Diamond: This brand has such a great reputation, they have been around since 1957 and have a wide array of products to offer other than just chalk.

They only have one type of loose chalk consistency but it is similar to unicorn dust from Friction Labs. It is called White Gold. It is a great choice and is also used by professionals.

They also have chalk socks and liquid chalk as well. So no matter what type of MgCO3 you like, they have you covered.

Metolius: With over 20 years to perfect their formula, no wonder a lot of climbers use this brand. This brand uses a safe drying ingredient to wick away moisture from your hands. They have a few different choices in chalk for you to choose from.

  • Super Chalk: This type of chalk from Metolius is a mixture of fine grit and clumps. It is a great choice for everyone no matter their preference in texture.
  • Fine Grind: This type is ground up to a super fine texture that allows for fuller and thicker coverage on the hands.

They also carry chalk blocks like we discussed earlier and chalk socks as well. This brand definitely has you covered.

(I will be doing reviews off these products and brands as I continue to grow and expand my brand.)

What Will You Be Choosing?

After reading all the information above I hope I have helped you narrow down some options. From learning the different types of chalk, how to apply it, and the top three brands, it should now be easier to make a decision on what to buy next.

Chalk is very important to think about when bouldering and you want what is best for you. Sometimes it might even take some trial and error finding the right match. The most important thing to keep in mind though is does this feel right for you.

Now get out there, apply some magnesium carbonate on those hands, and get to climbing.

Leave a comment bellow on what you think about chalk.

Beta on Boulders!








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