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Chalk, or magnesium carbonate, is a climber’s best friend. It absorbs the moisture from sweaty palms so that you can achieve a secure grip on even the smallest handholds; giving you the confidence you need to climb bigger and better. There are many different climbing chalks to choose from, and their basic composition is usually very similar. Differences include the texture and the presentation (i.e. whether your chalk comes loose, in a block, in a chalk ball or as a liquid). Which of these is best for you is a matter of personal preference. Below, we look at the best climbing chalks to suit a broad spectrum of tastes.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: FrictionLabs Loose Gym Chalk
FrictionLabs’ Loose Gym Chalk is one of the most expensive climbing chalks on the market, but users claim that the price tag is justified. A Denver-based company dedicated exclusively to manufacturing climbing chalk, FrictionLabs refines its product so that it’s free from artificial drying agents. This means that your hands won’t get overly dry and crack; while the non-toxic, pigment-free pure magnesium carbonate is safe for adults and kids alike. It also offers unparalleled moisture absorption, thereby maximizing the efficiency of each application.
There’s less transfer of chalk onto the rock, making it popular to use at indoor climbing gyms. The chalk also comes in a convenient resealable bag, which you can keep in your climbing backpack without fear of spilling. Use it directly from the packet, or pour it into your chalk bag or refillable chalk ball. There are three textures to choose from: Unicorn Dust (ultra fine), Gorilla Grip (medium chunky) or Bam Bam (super chunky).
Best Runner-Up: Black Diamond White Gold Loose Chalk
The Black Diamond’s White Gold Loose Chalk is a worthy option and is specially blended for climbing to ensure maximum grip whether you’re training on an indoor wall or tackling a multi-pitch route up a cliff face in high humidity. With that being said, gymnasts and weightlifters also report using this chalk successfully, with athletes from all disciplines praising its excellent friction, moisture absorption, and staying power.
The chalk has a medium texture with a combination of powder and small chunks. The resealable packets come in a variety of sizes from 50g to 300g. For avid climbers, the 300g packet is the best value and lasts an astounding length of time. Because the neck of the resealable bag is relatively narrow, you will most likely want to pour the chalk into a bag, bucket or refillable chalk ball for maximum ease of access.
Best Block: Frank Endo Block Gym Chalk
An affordable option for those that prefer to keep things simple, Frank Endo Block Gym Chalk is considered the classic choice for indoor climbers and gymnasts. Each block weighs two ounces and can be broken off in pieces so that you only add to your chalk bag what you need for a single session. The rest of the block can be kept in a plastic baggie, minimizing mess and waste. It is for this reason that chalk blocks are so popular with indoor climbing schools.
You can buy the blocks in packs of two, four or eight. The bulk option is a great money saver for frequent recreational climbers or pros. Made from 100 percent magnesium carbonate, the chalk keeps your hands dry enough to ensure a secure grip on tricky handholds; but not so dry that they crack.
Best Liquid: Mosher Mountain Gear Rock Climbing Liquid Chalk
Mosher Mountain Gear’s Rock Climbing Liquid Chalk goes on like lotion, then dries quickly to the consistency of regular chalk. The advantages of using liquid chalk include the fact that it’s easier to achieve an even coating and it lasts longer, meaning that you don’t have to apply it as frequently. Because it eliminates the clouds of white chalk dust synonymous with loose chalk, it’s also particularly great for gyms where powder is banned. When you’re finished climbing for the day, the chalk washes off easily.
The chalk's Super Grip formula has been lab-tested to increase friction and the pocket-sized 50 ml container fits easily into your backpack or climbing pants. For ultimate ease of access, use the included carabiner to clip the bottle onto your belt or harness. The chalk also scores points with conscientious climbers due to the fact that it isn’t tested on animals. Disadvantages include its high price-tag and the potential for a mess if the bottle leaks.
Best Ball: 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball
Another popular option for indoor climbs in gyms with a powder ban, chalk balls simplify the process of chalking up by minimizing mess and waste. Some argue that the coating they provide is not as consistent as other kinds of chalk, but reviewers for the 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Bag seem more than happy with its performance. It comprises a 65g cotton sock that releases chalk on contact and can be refilled when necessary via the drawstring at the top.
It comes pre-filled with premium grade magnesium carbonate that’s free from toxins, pigments, and fillers so that you can use it constantly without worrying about the health of your skin. The chalk is also unscented (a surprisingly rare plus when it comes to climbing chalk). The ball comes in a resealable zip top bag for clean transportation and storage. When climbing, the best practice is to suspend the ball from your harness in an open chalk bag.
Best Eco-Friendly: Pur 100% Natural Chalk
Pur's chalk is an innovative product for outdoor climbers who are tired of seeing scenic walls and crags marred by the white chalk marks left by previous climbers. Choose natural shades of ash, sandstone or redrock to match the rock type you typically climb on. Of course, there’s more to this chalk than its ingenious aesthetic; it’s also excellent quality. Made from 100 percent pure magnesium carbonate, it’s free from fillers and artificial drying agents and is also completely sustainable and biodegradable.
Traditionalists or indoor climbers can also buy the chalk in classic white. It has an ultra-fine texture, which the brand claims to help fill all the ridges of your palm and fingertips for a flawless coating and increased grip. The powder comes in a 100g resealable bag that you can replenish and re-use time and time again. When you finally decide to throw it away, it is, of course, recyclable in keeping with the brand’s eco-friendly philosophy.
Best Budget: Metolius Super Chalk
Metolius Super Chalk claims to be the No. 1 selling brand of climbing chalk in America, and it certainly is one of the most popular climbing-specific chalks out there. This is due in large part to its affordable price. The chalk comes in 2.5-, 4.5-, 9- or 15-ounce packets, and is better value the more you buy. For example, you’re paying around 70 cents per ounce when you opt for a 2.5-ounce packet, while those that purchase a 15-ounce packet are only paying a 40 cents per ounce. Either way, these are rock-bottom prices for chalk that works well both indoors and out.
This chalk is also praised for its moisture absorption and staying power. It has a chunky (not gritty) texture that breaks down easily into a fine powder. Unlike the rest of the chalks on this list, it mixes pure magnesium carbonate with an artificial drying agent; however, the agent is safe for your skin. All packets are resealable and refillable.
Best Combo: Elite Sportz Equipment Rock Climbing Chalk Bag and Chalk Balls
Those looking for a budget chalk and chalk bag combo should check out this offering from Elite Sportz Equipment. It includes two chalk balls, each measuring approximately 8 x 4.7 inches; and a climber’s chalk bag in pink, grey or blue. The chalk balls are filled with 100 percent specially non-staining magnesium carbonate and are big enough to evenly coat all hand sizes.
Made from heavy-duty material, the chalk bag features a drawstring cord that keeps the ball securely in place. It also comes with a buckled waist strap so that you can access it easily while climbing; or alternatively, you can use the belt loops to attach it to your harness using a haul rope. A small zippered pocket comes in handy for stashing small items, such as credit cards or keys. Some experienced climbers have issues with the bag’s depth, which they say makes it tricky to reach their chalk when hanging.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular climbing chalks on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different chalks overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers, read 30 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.