CLIMBING

Best Climbing Chalk: Maintaining That Grip

Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

If you are a climber, you have to agree that you always want to up the ante on the challenges you face. Climbing sheer rock faces may be exactly what you’ve been looking for, but, as you know, the sport can be dangerous, one simple slip and you fall down. You might have the harness, the shoes, the helmet, but are you missing something: what gives you the grip? With the best climbing chalk, grip will not be an issue.

Not many people consider the grip, they first think about the harness or the rope. However, the solution to slipping, or simply having a much better grip is having a climbing chalk. Now, with so many of them available and at low prices, finding the correct one is hard. That is why we came up with this guide, to help you find the best climbing chalk.

There are many types of chalk, or modalities, and we will discuss that first by analyzing the features you should consider before buying. Then, we will go over a list with the best chalks available, so that by the end of the read you will know which one to buy.

Our Top Picks

Product NameTypeBest UseSpecific FeaturesPrice
Metolius Eco BallPowderGym and indoor climbing, outdoor climbing, boulderingNon-marking, good absorption, good frictionCheck price on Amazon
Black Diamond White GoldPowderOutdoors and indoors climbing, boulderingUses magnesium carbonate, provides improved gripCheck price on Amazon
MammutLiquid
Outdoor climbing and indoor climbing
Dust-free, mark-free, high absorbency means less re-chalkingCheck price on Amazon
Petzl PowerLiquidGym and indoor climbingNon-airborne, dries in seconds, non-markingCheck price on Amazon
Metolius SuperPowderIndoor climbing, weight lifting, outdoor climbingMaximum sweat absorption, minimizes friction, reduces dustCheck price on Amazon
44Sport Gym BowlSolid blockIndoor climbing, bouldering.Used in gymnastics, affordable, effectiveCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

You may tell yourself that chalk is chalk, but they actually come in several varieties, depending on your preferences. Climbing chalks have different features and function in different ways. Since not all are suitable for everyone, we are going to go over the different features as to help you buy the right one for you.

Type of Climbing Chalk

The different kinds of climbing chalk are many. Let’s start by going over them one by one.

Chalk Blocks

First got the chalk blocks. These are most frequently used in gymnastics and weight lifting, as they’re cheap and easy to use. However, they are not the best for outdoors climbing. They’re made of magnesium carbonate with no extra additives, and can be used in their block form, or crushed and added to a sock or bag.

Powdered Chalk

The second type is powdered chalk. This is fine dust that has already been crushed for you, and is easy to pour into your chalk sock. These are more specially formulated for rock climbers, as drying agents have been added to the chalk to promote added dryness.

Powdered chalk

It is a bit more expensive, however, and can be a bit messy to deal with. It’s not the best thing to use if you’re only into indoor climbing, as the chalk can linger in the air and clog climbers’ lungs. At the same time, some parks won’t let you use this kind of chalk if it leaves marks behind on the rock face.

Chalk Balls and Socks

The third type is chalk balls and socks. Some manufacturers already prepackage chalk balls in socks for you so that you don’t have to prepare them yourself. The added benefit of this is that there’s less fallout of chalk in the air and it’s much easier to roll around in your hands.

They also last much longer because of the compact nature of the chalk. However, some socks may not be refillable, so if you run out, you’ll have to buy a new one altogether. Look for socks that allow you to open them and add more chalk as needed.

Liquid Chalk

Finally, there is liquid chalk. This is specialty chalk that seeks to minimize the fallout of powdered chalk. Alcohol is added to the chalk to create a paste-like substance that is spread over your hands and fingers.

Liquid chalk

Image credit: http://rvproj.com

Allowing the alcohol to dry leaves the chalk behind, and lasts for an incredibly long time. Less residue is left behind on your climbing surfaces, and there’s the reduced need to reapplication throughout your upward journey. However, if you need to reapply, it is going to be a very hard task.

How to Use the Chalk

We mentioned above the different types of chalks, now it is time to look at how to use it. This is a fundamental feature, because if you already understood how each one works, you must have a better idea of when and how you plan to apply it.

For example, liquid chalk is almost impossible to apply in the middle of a climb. Just imagine taking it out, opening it and then applying it on your hands and letting it dry. You will be too tired later on. That is why thinking about how to use the chalk is a key feature. Chalk bags are very common, and they can fit chalk ball or socks, as well as blocks or chalk powder. They are the safest and easiest way to put on extra chalk in any time.

Does it Fit the Bag and What Type of Bag

This goes hand in hand with the feature mentioned above, how to use it and where to store it. A chalk bag holds loose powder chalk that you can dip your hands into whenever you need more. However, this does increase the risk of spillage. Chalk balls and socks, on the other hand, make it easy to re-apply when needed, but it’s difficult to achieve a thick coating.

  • Cylindrical: Cylindrical bags hold a very large amount of chalk, and are good for very long climbs. Tapered bags are best for shorter climbs and are least likely to get caught up on the rock’s surface, which is important when making precise moves. These bags also come with a variety of added features to make it easier for you to dip your hands in and keep your powder safe.
  • Cord Closure: Cord closure bags prevent spilling between dips and when you put your chalk bag in your gear bag. A bag-belt makes it easy to slide the bag from the front to the rear for easy access. Then there is the stiffened rim, which allows the bag to stay open for you to dip your hands in.
  • Zippered Pocket: Another type is the zippered pocket, great for keeping your chalk as well as storing smaller items such as keys or a cell phone. The fleece lining will keep the chalk dust in place and helps to apply it evenly over the hands. Finally, the brush loop holds a brush for you to clean off the chalk from the rock surface as you climb.

BD chalk bag

Where You Plan to Use It

It is no secret that the sweat of the hands and the friction with the different surfaces will likely win the battle and eventually wear the chalk off. The best chalks, such as Black Diamond, stay on for a long time, despite the sweat and even edgy surfaces. That is why they are ideal for the outdoors.

Other chalks are cheaper, and will avoid blisters, but won’t stay on as long. Those chalks are better for indoor climbing or gyms, where the surfaces aren’t as edgy, and where the grip isn’t as important as you are in a safer environment. Read carefully what the best use is for the chalk you are about to buy, indoors or outdoors, as they are different.

Marking or Non-Marking

This can seem like a silly feature, but it is not. It is up to you, but normally climbers don’t want marking chalk. The reason for this is that marking chalk makes a big mess.

It is very hard to wash it off the clothes, and your hands will be in touch with your clothes a lot. It also sticks to the surfaces, and in indoor gyms where there are other climbers, they don’t like it. That also applies for normal gyms where if you are lifting weights and use marking chalk, that might annoy other people.

Best Products on Today’s Market

It is time to take a look at the best climbing chalk out there. We are providing you with a detailed list that includes features, descriptions and even pros and cons. That way, by the end of the read, you will know exactly which chalk is better for you.

Metolius Eco Ball ChalkMetolius Eco Ball Chalk

Price: Approx. $5

Dimensions: 2.2 x 5.04 x 5.35 in

Specific features: Non-marking, good absorption, good friction

Best use: Gym and indoor climbing, outdoor climbing, bouldering

Description: This non-marking chalk knows how to get the job done. The Metolius Eco Ball is considered to be one of the top performing chalks in the market, no matter the terrain or the climate.

It works well ant absorbing the moisture from one’s hands and providing sufficient friction to take your climb to the next level. Many customers have complained about the size of this ball, as it’s quite large and isn’t very conducive to saving space in your backpack.

On the other hand, the size allows you to use this chalk ball on hundreds, if not thousands, of climbs. However, the sock itself is not refillable, which means once you run out of chalk, you’ll have to buy a new ball all over again. Plus, the additional expense of buying a new sock all the time can be a bit obnoxious, especially for experienced climbers who want to enjoy the sport more than anything and not be worrying about costs all the time.

PROS:

  • Can be used on all terrains
  • Stays on a long time
  • Excellent grip and quality

CONS:

  • Non refillable

Related: The AMC Chalk Bag is commonly bought alongside this chalk ball. It is a good bag with a nice design of a Panda that appeals many.

Check the price on Amazon

Black Diamond White Gold ChalkBlack Diamond White Gold Loose Chalk

Price: $2 – $67

Dimensions: 3 x 10 x 13 in

Specific features: Uses magnesium carbonate, provides improved grip

Best use: Outdoors and indoors climbing, bouldering

Description: You’ll feel the superior quality of this Black Diamond White Gold Chalk the very first time you use it, and you may never want to try anything else. This is by far one of the best chalks in the market, but it can get expensive.

This chalk is designed to keep your hands dry and for much longer than other brands, so you won’t have to reapply as much during your climb. However, if you want quality, you’re going to have to pay for quality, so expect the price to be a bit more than what you’re used to.

Often, beginners will not want to buy the most expensive chalk on the market as they might not know how long they will last in the sport. As for experienced climbers, they might not want to have the most expensive chalk for just some training, they might want to save it for the outdoor experiences.

PROS:

  • Best grip out there
  • Lasts long
  • Best chalk

CONS:

  • Expensive

Related: The Black Diamond Mojo Zip Chalk Bag is commonly bought alongside this chalk. They are from the same brand, featuring excellent quality, with the zip bag keeping everything safe.

Check the price on Amazon

Mammut Liquid ChalkMammut Liquid Chalk

Price: Approx. $18

Dimensions: 1.8 x 3 x 6.5 in

Specific features: Dust-free, mark-free, high absorbency means less re-chalking.

Best use: Outdoor climbing and indoor climbing

Description: If you want a convenient way to carry chalk with you on your hikes, this 200 ml Mammut Liquid Chalk, may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. This liquid chalk is designed to keep your hands dry without leaving a mess behind. Just squeeze a dollop of it into your hand, rub your palms thoroughly, and allow the alcohol to dry.

The chalk left behind won’t rub away as easily as other kinds of chalk so you can climb for much longer without needing to reapply as often. And for those climbing areas where you’re required not to leave any marks behind, this chalk stays exactly where you need it to be.

Of course, like all other liquid chalks it has one big downside, that being reapplying the chalk on your hands in the middle of the climb. If by any chance the chalk you already applies starts to wear off, putting some back on is not easy or simple at all.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Dries quickly
  • Good for outdoor climbing

CONS:

  • Putting more on your hands in the middle of the climb is a very hard task
  • Doesn’t really stay on for that long

Related: The Valley Climbing Chalk Bag is the perfect chalk bag to get with this liquid chalk. This bag has an outer zipper to store the liquid chalk, and then it comes with a chalk ball to store inside too. The chalk ball can be used on the climb, applying the chalk over the liquid chalk base.

Check the price on Amazon

Petzl Power Liquid ChalkPetzl Power Liquid Chalk

Price: Approx. $16

Dimensions: 2.1 x 2.6 x 6.5 in

Specific features: Non-airborne, dries in seconds, non-marking

Best use: Gym and indoor climbing

Description: This, 200 ml Petzl Power Liquid Chalk is designed mostly for gym climbing, but it could be paired with other chalks, in order to increase your grip while you’re out rock climbing.

You only need a small amount of product for it to work, and it dries within seconds, so you can get to climbing sooner than you think. And with a product guarantee of about three years, you’ll manage to squeeze in a lot of climbing before you need to replace it. And because it dries so quickly, you won’t have to worry about losing any of your products to the air, meaning that more stays on your hands.

Nonetheless, keep in mind a few things, the first being that since it is a liquid chalk, it is very common for those who have never used it, to squeeze too much out. This results in the chalk not lasting as long as intended. It is true, it stays on for a long time saving the hassle of having to reach back into the bag for more, but the fact that it’s liquid, makes it hard to put more whilst climbing.

PROS:

  • Stays on for a long time
  • Dries very quickly
  • Only a small amount is needed for it to work well

CONS:

  • Putting more of it on during the climb is a very hard task
  • Suitable only for indoor climbing

Related: The ClimbOn Bar is the ideal product to buy alongside this chalk and any other. It will not help you have a better grip or store the chalk, but it will help your hands heal much faster after any climb.

Check the price on Amazon

Metolius Super Chalk SockMetolius Super Chalk Sock Standard One Size

Price: Approx. $11

Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.9 x 4.6 in

Specific features: Considered to be the original climbing chalk in the market, maximum sweat absorption, minimizes friction, reduces dust.

Best use: Indoor climbing, weight lifting, outdoor climbing

Description: This Metolius Super Chalk Sock, is one of the most affordable chalks out there, and it has a long-standing reputation behind it. It’s been in the market for years, and many climbers have trusted their health and safety to this climbing chalk.

One of the best things is the fact that this chalk is fit for different purposes. It will perform well in indoor climbing, weight lifting an even outdoors climbing. Of course sweaty hands are always likely to win the battle, but for the price you are paying, this chalk is very good.

With this product, you also get to save costs on having to buy a new sock over and over again; just place more chalk in it when it’s empty. The added drying agent allows your hands to stay moisture-free and reduces friction so you’re not tearing your fingers and palms open.

There is some dust that gets in the air when you’re refilling this sock, but that’s to be expected.

PROS:

  • Excellent price
  • Refillable sock
  • Very good quality despite cheap price

CONS:

  • Not the best of chalks, but very good still

Related: The Sukoa Chalk Bag is a great bag commonly bought alongside this chalk. It will allow you to put in safely the chalk or the sock without it spilling or falling while you climb.

Check the price on Amazon

44Sport Gym Chalk Bowl44SPORT Gym Chalk Bowl

Price: Approx. $7

Dimensions: 3.9 x 8.3 x 9.1 in

Specific features: Affordable, effective, made from a tough and durable Polyethylene structure

Best use: Workout, rock climbing, weight lifting, gymnastics, bouldering

Description: The 44Sport Gym Chalk Bowl is the product that most gymnasts use. It has the classic block shape that makes it easy to pack in your backpack and take out when you need it. The fact that gymnasts use it, suggests one thing: it is ideal for indoor climbing. It will be resistant to sweat and for an excellent job even on slippery surfaces such as the “fake rocks” that indoor gyms use.

The light weight won’t weigh you down either, and you can get a lot of use out of just one block. The weight also makes it ideal for bouldering, especially when climbers find themselves in uncomfortable body positions, where even the slightest miss-distribution of weight can make them fall. On the downside, it will kick up a lot of dust and you will have to reapply, but the cost makes it affordable for you to buy these blocks in bulk.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Does not leave any marks or traces

CONS:

  • This is a decent chalk for the price you pay for it. Not suitable for outdoors, not the most professional or best grip either.

Related: The Neopards Drawstring Chalk Bag is the ideal chalk bag for this ball. It has the string to close the bag tightly as to avoid the chalk ball from falling even when you are in different positions.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Don’t put your safety at risk by neglecting to bring some climbing chalk with you. It can make all the difference in the world and will provide you with the necessary grip that you need to stay on that wall and keep going. It can also help you reduce or avoid blisters on your hands.

Remember that having the best climbing chalk also implies choosing it properly. If you just go out there and buy the cheapest one, it might not be suitable for your sweaty hands or the surface you normally climb. The features to consider before buying were listed with the purpose of helping you buy the adequate chalk.

Have any comments you’d like to share about any of these products? Got any suggestions on products we should include in a future list? Feel free to leave your commentary with us in the section below and we may include them in future articles to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.