Although it’s not something we notice and think about on a daily basis, the human body produces a lot of moisture at all times, in one way or another. And when a person is engaged in a demanding physical activity, such as exercise, this occurs even more due to the increased secretion of sweat.
Now although this is a completely normal process, sweat can surely come between an athlete and their impeccable performance. When it comes to rock climbers for instance, this extra moisture on the hands can really have a negative impact on a person’s ability to succeed.
Luckily, there is a solution to this problem and it comes in the form of chalk, which itself comes in several different forms. Climbing chalk is used in order to dry sweat and other moisture that is on the hands. This practice significantly increases friction and improves the grip on the climbing wall holds or the rocks as a result.
The majority of climbing chalk products are made from Magnesium Carbonate. This is the same compound used by gymnasts, weightlifters, and some other athletes for improving friction and grip and although it is sometimes available in different colors, generally it’s white.
The best climbing chalk used for climbing purposes comes in several different forms: block, loose, or liquid.
The block variety is in fact a solid chunk of Magnesium Carbonate. In order to be able to use it, you break it apart. Usually, the most common method for this is to is to put the block in a climbing chalk bag and then step on it until it breaks apart to the desired size.
Loose chalk is block chalk that you buy already broken up and it can be hardly broken up into little pieces (chunky) or in the form of a fine powder (and everything in between). This variety usually comes in cloth balls which have a closed end and are filled with loose chalk. What’s great about them is that they can also be refilled.
The liquid type of chalk is used by squeezing out only a little coin-shaped liquid on the palm which is then rubbed on the palms. It usually contains alcohol and it’s not the most preferred version.
Although it all comes down to personal experience, loose chalk is considered the best climbing chalk.
Its advantage in comparison to block chalk is that you can put it in the bag and have it already broken apart and ready for use. What is perhaps more important than the form in which you get the chalk is its quality. Some may say that chalk is chalk and there isn’t all that much to compare when looking at the different brands, however, experts that are keen on detail and like to go in depth note that there are certain things to look out for.
What makes one type of chalk superior to another is its higher ratio of magnesium-carbonate (the dry substance that keeps water inside its molecules) to calcium-carbonate, calcium-sulfate and other impurities (the slippery substance the purpose of which is to keep water outside its molecules). A superior type of chalk would be one that is very soft, lasts a longer, and doesn’t go airborne. Also, a prepackaged chalk ball can also contain a mix of chalk and a cooling menthol extracts that can additionally help your hands stay not only dry, but also cool.
Now, let’s learn a little bit more about the chalk bags. They come in two main shapes: cylindrical and tapered. The cylindrical bags are the most commonly used variety as they can hold a greater amount of chalk. In addition, they allow for easier application due to being uniform in shape. Just keep in mind that they may or may not have a flat side so if a flat side is required or you’re concerned about the bag getting hung up when tacking climbing holds on technical climbs, you should get a tapered bag instead.
In some cases, the fact that tapered bags hold less chalk can make them the better choice. For instance, they are better suited for short climbs or for those instances when maneuverability is most important as to be able to get a grip of a greater number of rock climbing holds.
There are several different features manufacturers might add to their bags. These include rims, linings, and closures. A stiff rim is an addition that can help the climber to dip their hands more easily as keeps the bag open. It is also designed with the purpose to let you have access to the powder without it being able to spill all over.
Speaking of spilling, some bags are completely open while others have some sort of closure. This closure is often in the form of a cord or a toggle and it’s also useful for keeping the bag closed when not in usage.
Some bags also feature a lining. Fleece lining is the most popular variety as it is soft and helps distribute the chalk over one’s -hands more easily. It also reduces the amount of dust created when chalking the hands.
Another useful addition is the brush loop, which is designed to hold a small brush. This brush is used for cleaning off old chalk from rocks. A bag may also include a belt and a zippered pocket where you can keep small items (phone, car keys, small snack bar, etc).
To newbie rock climbers, many of these bits of information may sound new, however, even without knowing too much about the chemical components themselves, a lot of people in the past have made use of this technique. Athletes and warriors of the past knew the importance of dry hands – remember the scene with in Gladiator when Russel Crowe is covering his hands in dust?
Lastly, it is important to mention that less is more, as with many other things in life. When using chalk, remember that you need a little bit of product as to soak up any extra moisture, but too much powder can also reduce the ability to grip and get a hold of the unique shapes of rock climbing holds.
Best Climbing Chalk and Chalk Bags
Every climber uses chalk to tame sweat or enhance grip on their hands. It’s hard to say if there’s any difference in the chalk as most climbing brands sell it. All climbing chalk or Magnesium Carbonate is designed to absorb sweat and enhance friction, but some outperform others by improving your performance. If you’re looking for chalk that will last long in your hands, you may have to test a few to know what works best.
Also, climbing routes tend to have resting places where you can chalk up – deep your hands and fingers, before getting to the difficult terrains. There are many stylish bags with innovative designs that can hold up your chalk as you climb. In this guide, we will show you what features you need to consider when choosing climbing chalks and chalk bags. Below are our top four picks for best climbing chalk and chalk bags for climbers.
Why we like it: This Black Diamond White Gold loose chalk is our editor’s choice with climbing chalk composition of magnesium carbonate mesh balls designed to keep your hands free from sweat when climbing best for bouldering and lead climbing adventures.
Refillable Chalk Balls
The loose chalk is a block that has been broken up to a fine powder and kept into refillable chalk balls – a soft porous mesh ball that prevents it from spilling and limits the amount you get in your palms making it the best climbing chalk.
Additionally, the chalk balls give you the right amount of chalk when you pat the ball in your hands and also minimizes the amount of chalk released in the air.
Easy to Put Into Your Climbing Bag
The subtle texture on this rock climbing ball enables you to put in your chalk bag and won’t easily break up. However, some climbers don’t like the powdery texture of the chalk balls. You can find this climbing chalk on Amazon.
- Excellent grip
- No additives
- Minimizes the amount of chalk dust released in the air
- Good buy for the price
- Not the best for those who sweat profusely and may need additional antiperspirant additive
Why we like it: Metolius Super chalk is a high-quality non-refillable chalk sock that releases enough chalk in your palms and fingertips without kicking up too much dust making it our top pick brand for rock climbing chalks.
Safe Drying Agent
The climbing chalk ingredients of magnesium carbonate that make up this loose chalk work well for hands that sweat a lot making it the best rock climbing ball for trad climbing, bouldering, and sports climbing. Some climbing rock Amazon reviewer think that this is the best chalk for very sweaty hands.
Portable and Mess-Free
This product comes in a releasable bag that makes portability easy for better climbing performance. The delivery method on this chalk ball helps you release the chalk you need without being wasteful. Additionally, the chalk sock minimizes the chalk released in the air meaning you’ll have less irritated airways.
Unlike a climbing chalk block, which you end up crushing yourself, Metolius Super chalk comes in loose chalk form for easy use and saves time.
- Thick, sturdy sock
- High-quality chalk that coats thinly
- Remarkable grip
- Works well for super sweaty hands
- Non-refillable chalk sock
Why we like it: Sukoa Chalk bag features an intuitive, adjustable draw closure that prevents chalk spills making it the best rock climbing chalk bag and our editor’s choice. It also comes with a quick-clip belt and two large zippered pockets.
This bag is well featured with a quick clip belt that easy to use and attaches securely and nicely on you thanks to the two loops on included on the back perfect for rock climbing, bouldering, weightlifting, and gymnastics.
Deep and Roomy
For those with larger hands, Sukoa accommodates big hands to dive and grab the chalk well. The product feature quality material construction with a broad shape the holds the structure of the bag for more extended durability.
Sukoa notably features two zippered pockets which you can keep most things that you carry along in the rock climbing like ATM cards and car keys.
- High-quality, durable materials
- The circular shape holds the structure
- The closure system is prone to spills
- Not easy to get your hand into
Why we like it: The 321 Strong refillable high-quality premium graded cotton chalk ball that is non-toxic and pigment-free. It helps to increase friction and grip and is best for rocking climbing and gym use.
Easy to Refill
This chalk ball leaves no stain and is easy to refill with the featured re-closable drawstring. This unscented product is a fine powdered and flows well through the sock keeping sweaty palms and fingertips dry for better rock climbing performance, and decreased slips and drops.
It takes a few minutes with this product to distribute chalk evenly on your hands and get a fine coating that keeps your hands dry. On the other hand, the resealable zip-top bag enables mess-free storage and less wastage. The durable stitching and sturdy fabric on this chalk ball give it durability.
- High quality
- No- Mess
- Evenly coats the hands to keep them dry
- No odd-smell
- Slower than dipping your hand in the bag and need quick re-applying
What Does Chalk Do for Climbing?
Your body emits moisture secreted as sweat and oils pushed on the surface of your skin. When you exercise you sweat more, and a lot of moisture is released. For rock climbers, this moisture can be a great hindrance and the difference between success and failure when rock climbing.
Chalk is a rock climber’s best friend. It absorbs moisture and sweat from your palms and fingertips to ensure a secure grip and give you the confidence to climb better. No matter which forms you choose to use – block, loose or liquid, they are all chemically the same and will help improve the grip on the holds.
Is Climbing Chalk Bad For You?
As with any chemical, inhaling chalk dust over some time can be risky. However, if inhaled in small amounts, it wouldn’t hurt you at all. A majority of companies manufacture white climbing chalk for use in the gym, rock climbing or other athletic activities. However, there’s a variety of colored climbing chalks available in the market and matches the color of the climbing surface.
The most significant disadvantage of using white climbing chalk is the mess it leaves on the rock and a chalky print on everything you touch. But what’s disturbing is the number of bacteria found in chalk like E-Coli, Staph, Salmonella, and Candida. You’ll need to clean up your hands thoroughly after using climbing chalk.
On the other hand, the environmental effects of white chalk are minimal. Nonetheless, it’s better to use it when rock climbing to avoid losing grip. It’s affordable and portable for rock climbing activity.
What is The Best Climbing Chalk?
There are plenty of excellent climbing chalks on the market that can be used to improve friction and grip. They come in different forms, but the climbing chalk composition is technically the same.
Climbing chalk block is a thick chunk of magnesium carbonate that’s crushed to the desired size for use. The loose chalk is a chalk block that’s already broken while the liquid type is in liquid form which is easier to apply.
The three types of climbing chalks used by climbers feature the same composition. However, the three forms feature different advantages. The chalk ball allows some chalk to come out when squeezed and is, therefore, less wasteful and reduces the amount of dust in the air.
On the other hand, the climbing chalk block powdered to the desired size covers the hands quickly but increases dust in the air, chalk wastage and is very messy. The liquid form mixed with an alcohol-based solvent dries quickly and lasts longer than powdered version best for bouldering though quite pricey — the reason one person chooses one type, or another depends on preference and type of activity.
How to Use Rock Climbing Chalk bag?
To maintain a better grip when climbing and negotiating difficult terrains, you’ll need a rock climbing chalk bag to hold your chalk and for easy application. Assuming you’re just starting your climb, you need to put your hands in the rock climbing chalk bag, grab some chalk and rub it on both palms including fingertips and pour the excess back.
Blow away any excess chalk to have a more distinct layer of chalk covering on your hands. If you’re mid-climb, repeat the process once new moisture starts to eat away your chalk. People produce moisture differently, so most climbers will reapply when resting, at the beginning of a tough attempt or when climbing hard sections.
Whether you’re a novice or seasoned pro, what you’re looking for is chalk that gives you control of rock climbing by improving your friction and grip. If you’re looking for a rock climbing ball, you need to shop for quality rock climbing chalk as there’re many products the market but not all are the same.
At the same time, you need a bag that’s designed to hold your chalk in place as you climb, and prevent it from spilling. Ensure it has an effective closure system that fits your style and showcases your personality. Also, you’ll need to look for rock climbing gears that suit your budget.