Ahh…chalk. For some of us climbers, it’s only necessary for the blazing heat and for others, it’s a physical and mental crutch upon which we rely to grunt out those superhuman crux moves on our latest project. Either way, we all use it at some point and when we do, it’s important that it works the way we want. We put some of the top-selling climbing chalk to the test so we could find the best climbing chalk. Each of the products was subjected to a series of head-to-head double blind tests with the other chalks we were testing. We took notes scoring each on the following factors: absorption, duration, friction, value, and overall feel.
For more of our climbing gear recommendations, check out these buying guides:
Best Overall Climbing Chalk: Black Diamond White Gold
This is the best in all categories except value. White Gold kept our hands nice and dry, lasted longer, and provided more friction than all the other products we tested. Though White Gold’s not on the top of the list in terms of value, we think that the performance is worth the extra cent per gram. We found we needed to use less of it, which makes the cost difference smaller than it first appears. It also doesn’t come in giant quantities which precludes getting a big bulk discount.
Best Value: Metolius Super Chalk
This chalk scored well and is relatively affordable compared with all the other chalks that we tested. We love that it comes in large quantities up to 5lbs. It worked well but had a more slippery feel than White Gold. We liked it, just like other options more.
Best for Leaving No (Chalk) Trace: Metolius Eco Ball
Our second place performer and is somewhat of a surprise. We first thought that the Eco Ball would be a far inferior product that should only be resorted to in times of necessity. The truth is, the Eco Ball outperformed our expectations in all regards and should be considered not just as an option for those times when you can’t leave marks on the rocks, but as an everyday option. With the Eco Ball you won’t sacrifice much performance, and you don’t have to leave a mark.
Least Expensive Chalk: Gym Chalk
Every year there is a new super affordable gym chalk. It used to be Frank Endo but this chalk is no harder to find online. Now it’s the Chock Ness monster. This chalk is by far the least expensive in our test and less than a dollar a block. It performed well in absorption and friction. The only downside is we felt we had to re-chalk more often than some top-performers.
Best Refillable Chock Sock: Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock
- Refillable or our non-refillable Standard sock for gym or home use
- Reduces dust
The Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock is a great investment for a climber looking to purchase their first chalk sock, or as a replacement for a worn out sock. At $4.25 price tag we thought it a bit expensive. However, the fact that you can refill the sock will save you some cash in the long run as you can buy your future chalk in bulk. While we like the refillability, the chalk that the ball comes with is too fine-grained and difficult to get out of the sock. The sock itself was also very large so make sure you’ve got a good-sized chalk bag. If you like to refill your own sock, this is a great buy but if you don’t care to refill your sock,
What to Consider When Buying Climbing Chalk
We felt the ability to absorb sweat was the most important trait that chalk can have. When your hands are sweaty they’re slippery and when they’re slippery you fall. After pitting all the products against each other in head to head tests, we found that Black Diamond’s White Gold had the greatest absorption, followed closely by the Metolius Eco Ball and Metolius Super Chalk. We loved the way White Gold dried your hands up quickly, giving you that extra grip right when you need it.
How many times you have to let go with one hand, and chalk up in a route or particularly difficult sequence, can mean the difference between a clean send and a fall. We decided that the second most important thing in judging chalk is to make an assessment of how long it lasts before needing to re-chalk. Our tests yielded a three-way tie for top rank between Black Diamond White Gold, Metolius Super Chalk, and Metolius Eco Ball.
As an assessment of how much “grip” the chalk provides after drying up all your nasty sweat, friction is a very important factor when chalking up. We found a significant enough difference between products that we felt this should definitely be included in our results. The top performer in terms of friction was Black Diamond White Gold. The chalk clung to your skin without detracting from the natural ridges on the tips of your fingers getting good traction on the rock.
As an objective measure of how much the chalk cost per gram, this was a fairly straightforward factor to consider. However, some of the products we tested were loose chalk and some were chalk socks…thus a little like comparing apples and oranges. We determined that Gym Chalk and Metolius Super Chalk were the best values.
This one just pretty much came down to how the chalk felt on our hands, and how the chalk made our hands feel. Some of the chalk feels a little clay-like and slippery while others just feel better. We found that we liked the feeling of Black Diamond White Gold over all the other products that we tested.
If you are a climber, you will most likely be looking to buy chalk at some point in your climbing career. Chalk absorbs moister, drying your hands and making for a sturdier grip. Taking this and other factors into consideration has helped us to select our favorite chalk options in an effort to help you find the best chalk to enhance your climbing experience.