Best Climbing Chalk: The Top 5 Formulas of 2017

Climbing ChalkRetail Price
Top Pick: FrictionLabs Climbing Chalk$$$
Best Value: Black Diamond White Gold$$
Budget Buy: Metolius Super Chalk$
Best Chalk Block: The Chalk Block$$
Best Liquid Chalk: Mammut Liquid Chalk$$$
Chalk is chalk is chalk, right? Or… is it?

Some climbers don’t worry about the quality of their chalk because they think it doesn’t make a difference. Conversely, other climbers think the quality of chalk does improve their performance and willingly pay a premium for the good stuff.

Whatever type of climber you are, our list of the best climbing chalk has a top option suited for you. Whether you prefer the best of the best or the cheapest of the cheap, read on to see our recommendations. We also include our recommendations for best liquid chalk and best chalk block.

Top Pick: FrictionLabs Climbing Chalk

FrictionLabs Climbing ChalkMany climbers don’t bother with quality chalk because they think it doesn’t make a difference. FrictionLabs climbing chalk just might be the chalk that converts these nonbelievers.

The company’s loose chalk comes in three different textures (all are the same formula) and performs incredibly well. It is very sweat absorbent and is not only our top pick, but also our selection for the best climbing chalk for sweaty hands.

What’s more, the stuff stays on your hands for a longer time so you don’t have to chalk up as often. It also seems a little less prone to spreading chalk dust, which is always a plus.

Overall, this chalk is our pick as the best for indoor and outdoor climbing and bouldering. Its only downside is that it’s pricey. For those on the fence about spending so much on chalk, we recommend getting a small bag and sampling the stuff for a gym session to see whether or not you like it.

Best Value: Black Diamond White Gold

Black Diamond White Gold climbing chalkIf you don’t want to pay the high price for a bag of FrictionLabs chalk, consider our best value option, Black Diamond White Gold.

This formula has great absorption and friction and stays on for a respectable amount of time. The performance isn’t as noticeable as that of FrictionLabs’ stuff, but it is a clear notch above the cheap options.

White Gold is reliable and cheap magnesium carbonate. The top option for the person looking for a great value chalk.

Budget Buy: Metolius Super Chalk

Metolius Super Chalk If you’re on a budget, check out Metolius Super Chalk. The stuff performs decently well and a 15 oz bag can be bought for less than a 5 oz bag of our top pick, FrictionLabs.

For those who don’t believe that chalk can differ much in quality, we recommend Super Chalk. It’ll fill up your chalk bag, let you grip the holds better, and won’t break the bank in the process.

Buy the big bag and you likely won’t need to restock your chalk stash for another six months.

Best Chalk Block: The Chalk Block

This is the best chalk block in our opinion When it comes to climbing chalk, some of you might like yours a little… blocky.

A chalk block is exactly what it sounds like: chalk that is sold in block form. You can get the chalk on your hands by either rubbing your hands on the block or by crushing the block inside of your chalk bag and using it like normal loose chalk.

To crush the chalk, I recommend putting half of a block inside of your chalk bag, cinching shut the drawstring, and stepping on your bag a handful of times. Do this until all the large chunks are broken up into smaller pieces. I recommend using just half a block to start with because a whole block doesn’t fit into most chalk bags.

Chalk blocks are also ideal for chalk buckets since they can hold so much chalk. If you toss in two to three blocks and crush them up, you’ll have enough chalk to chalk up up to your elbows.

The Chalk Block is made of standard quality chalk, and you can get eight blocks for a decent value. (Eight blocks will last you a long while, believe me.)

There might be higher-quality chalk blocks out there (Frank Endo’s Gym Chalk is quite well-known amongst climbers), but they are nearly impossible to come by online. The Chalk Block’s ease of procurement helps it get our pick as the best chalk block.

Best Liquid Chalk: Mammut Liquid Chalk

Mammut Liquid ChalkLiquid chalk isn’t the most common form of climbing chalk, but in some situations it is necessary. Maybe the climbing gym or crag you frequent limits you to liquid chalk, or maybe you want something that will stay on your hands for the duration of that lengthy boulder problem you’re projecting. Whatever the reason, our pick of best liquid chalk goes to Mammut’s formula.

After this stuff dries on your hands it stays on for a long time. This makes it perfect for situations where you can’t chalk up often or hangboarding sessions that involve lots of reps with quick rests in between.

Like all liquid chalks, there is virtually zero chalk mess from this formula. The chalk might stay on your hands longer than normal, and we wouldn’t recommend rubbing it into your favorite shirt, but chalk dust is all but nonexistent when it comes to liquid chalks.

The main downside of all liquid chalk formulas, including our top pick, is that they are pricey. If your situation doesn’t necessitate that you use liquid chalk then either don’t buy it or buy it as a supplementary chalk source that you pull out when you absolutely need it.

How to Choose the Best Climbing Chalk for You

Loose Chalk vs. Chalk Ball vs. Liquid Chalk

Climbing chalk comes in three forms: loose chalk (either in a block or bag), chalk balls, and liquid chalk. When determining which climbing chalk is best for you, consider first which kind to get.

Loose chalk is just that — chalk by itself which you can dump into your chalk bag and coat your hands with whenever you please. The upside? Cheap, easy to use, and you can find it anywhere that sells chalk. The downside? It’s the messiest form of chalk and some places don’t let you use loose chalk.

A chalk ball (AKA chalk sock) consists of loose chalk stuffed inside a porous, resealable sack. The bag helps contain the chalk a little bit so it doesn’t make as much of a mess. It also can be used to chalk up holds. In reality you only need one chalk ball per chalk bag so you could (like most climbers do) buy one and use it for years. All you have to do is refill it with loose chalk when it runs out.

Finally, liquid chalk is climbing chalk mixed with alcohol. It comes in a tube and you squeeze it out on to your hands and rub it around. The magic here is that, when the alcohol evaporates, you are left with a perfect layer of chalk on your hands. Many people claim that liquid chalk actually stays on your hands longer so you don’t need to chalk up as often. However, liquid chalk can be pretty pricey.

NOTE: Some people try to make their own liquid chalk, but we do not advise this. Loose chalk can include minor impurities such as heavy metals. Though harmless in loose chalk form, if mixed with alcohol and rubbed into your skin these metals could enter your bloodstream through small cuts. Manufacturers of liquid chalk remove these impurities from the chalk before mixing it with alcohol, so the pre-made stuff is the safest bet.

Drying Agents?

Do you hands sweat a lot? If so, and other climbing chalk hasn’t been dry enough for you, consider a climbing chalk that includes drying agents. These are typically antiperspirants that clog your pores and stop them from producing sweat.

If you are new to climbing or bouldering and are unsure whether or not you need a chalk with drying agents, we recommend just going for a basic chalk first and adjusting later on if you need to.

Watch out, though, since drying agents can cause some people’s hands to chap.

Climbing Location

Before buying chalk it’s important to consider where you’ll be using it. Some climbing gyms don’t allow loose chalk because of the mess and chalk clouds it creates. Instead, they might restrict use to liquid chalk.

Likewise, some outdoor climbing locations have certain rules about chalk etiquette. It’s always best to do a quick online search to see if your next outside climbing destination prohibits a certain type of chalk.

Photo Credit: Amazon

About the Author:

Alex is the owner of 99Boulders and has been blogging about the outdoors for over two years. When he isn't working on the site, he can be found backpacking around South America or at the bouldering gym using his 6'5" wingspan to skip all the hard holds.
  • shadetee

    I despise Metolius Super Chalk. My skin would ache for two days after climbing with the stuff; even with diligent washing and lotion.

    • Ouch! Sounds like there could be some drying agents or extra stuff in the formula that your skin is reacting to. I personally haven’t had those problems with it but would definitely not continue to use it if I did!