Good climbing chalk is what can make the difference between success and failure, when climbing, bouldering, or training on Ninja Warrior obstacles. Sweaty hands are a big problem when you need a perfect grip. Even when your hands are not sweating as much, climbing chalk will improve your grip, keep them dry, and reduces skin injuries due to slipping, such as flappers. To get the most out of your training and maximize safety you need the best climbing chalk that fits your needs.
On the following pages, you will find a selection of the best climbing chalks, and you will also get some tips for events, such as Ninja Warrior competitions, where climbing chalk is rarely allowed.
What is the best climbing chalk?
Some people say “chalk is chalk”, but climbing chalks differ, for sure. And this difference can be huge when comparing the cheapest and some premium-priced product. Some products stay much longer on your hands and need fewer reapplications. Some have additional drying agents or soothe your hands with added ingredients. And you can buy climbing chalk in various forms – as loose powder, block, chalk ball, or as liquid – with each type having its own pros and cons.
Finally, it depends on what you prefer, and I advise to try at least each type of chalk once. As an example, I prefer liquid chalk as it needs fewer reapplications than loose chalk and is not that messy. But, it also dries out the skin and forces you to apply moisturizer after each usage.
The following climbing chalks are all excellent recommendations, so you don’t need to test everyone. Just take the one which appeals most to you. And once it’s empty, choose another type and see how that one fits. As soon as you know your favorite type, you may try to find small differences between the recommended products until you have the perfect fit.
So let’s have a look at the different types of chalk and the top selection for each one! If you want to jump directly to a specific type, click on the following links:
Loose chalk within a chalk bag is probably the one you have seen most often, and most climbers prefer. This type of chalk comes in various levels of grinding, ranging from really chunky to fine powder, and contains additional drying agents sometimes.
The application is fast and easily doable while already hanging on the wall. The chalk bag can be clipped to a climbing harness or your trousers with a karabiner and, thus, is always in reach. When working out in the gym or training on Ninja Warrior obstacles this feature may be insignificant, and some other reasons may lead to your final choice.
The main disadvantage of loose chalk is that it spills easily, makes the biggest mess of all types, and you waste a lot while chalking your hands. That’s why I advise against using it in a gym.
Nevertheless, if you want to use loose chalk for bouldering or climbing, try the following selection.
Black Diamond White Gold
It has a soft texture, provides excellent friction, and lasts very long, making it a nice fit for people with sweaty hands.
FrictionLabs comes in three different textures:
- Unicorn Dust (fine)
- Gorilla Grip (chunky)
- Bam Bam (super chunky)
You can also order small units with 1 oz (28 g) and try out which one fits best.
Chalk blocks are basically solid blocks of chalk or Magnesium Carbonate. They are usually less expensive and way less messy than loose chalk – that’s why I also recommend them for weight lifting, besides liquid chalk -, but make chalking up more time-consuming.
You can break these blocks into smaller pieces and put these into a chalk bag. Or you crush them further and make loose chalk for chalking up your hands. So, the main advantage of a chalk block is that you can control the level of chunkiness and make the chalk the way you like it most.
And now, some of the best chalk blocks on the market!
GSC Gym Chalk
The minimum available size is 1 pound consisting of 8 2oz blocks. So, it’s a lot for a single purchase, but it’s also way more cost effective than the Metolius Block Chalk.
Chalk balls are soft porous mesh balls filled with chalk. These balls help to contain the chalk, but let small amounts of chalk permeate through its mesh fabric when kneaded. You can get these balls pre-packaged with chalk, or you can buy refillable fabric bags and put your own chalk powder in.
Chalk balls are super convenient. They are considerably less prone to spilling, reduce chalk dust in the air, and usually last longer than loose chalk. That’s why some climbing gyms only allow loose chalk when contained within a chalk ball.
If you want to give it try, you will love the following chalk balls.
Black Diamond Refillable Chalk Shot
The Black Diamond Refillable Chalk Shot is a nice 1.8oz (50g) refillable chalk ball. It’s filled with the previously mentioned Black Diamond White Gold loose chalk and, thus, perfectly handles sweaty hands and improves your grip on any holds.
FrictionLabs Magic Reusable Chalk Sphere
The Magic Reusable Chalk Sphere from FrictionLabs is another great choice. The ball contains 2oz of pure Magnesium Carbonate chalk. You can refill the mesh ball easily once the chalk is consumed.
The only pain point might be the premium price.
Liquid chalk is Magnesium Carbonate mixed with alcohol. It is the type of chalk which features the least amount of waste and almost no dust. You spread it on your hands like lotion, wait for a few seconds to dry, and that’s it. Your hands are covered with a uniform layer of chalk.
Liquid chalk is amazing for humid environments, as it won’t clot like powdery chalk. And it’s great when you want to avoid any mess and leave minimal amounts of chalk marks, such as in a gym or when training on Ninja Warrior obstacles.
If you are suffering from sweaty hands, liquid chalk is one of the best choices you can make. It lasts long and results in really dry and grippy palms. But, as it’s based on alcohol, it also dries out your skin in the long-term. So, make sure to use moisturizer frequently after climbing.
One last tip: Carry it in a ziplock bag. It may leak sometimes.
How to use climbing chalk the right way
Your goal of chalking up should be a fine layer of chalk covering your palms and fingers. Too much chalk will reduce friction and worsen your grip. You don’t want to have a bunch of loose chalk on your hands.
As everyone produces moisture differently, it’s up to you finding out the sweet spot when reapplication is most useful. Just get a feeling for how moist or dry your hands are when training with chalk. Take a conservative approach and use it sparingly.
How to handle Ninja Warrior obstacles without chalk
During most Ninja Warrior competitions, climbing chalk is not or only rarely allowed. So, what can you do, if you are suffering from sweaty hands and want to avoid failure due to slipping from a handle?
Don’t worry! There is a temporary solution for that, called antiperspirant hand lotion. A product which is recommended by many Amazon users, is the Carpe Antiperspirant Hand Lotion. It’s based on aluminum sesquichlorohydrate, an extremely powerful antiperspirant, which stops sweating at its source, the sweat glands. Studies have found, that this antiperspirant can reduce palm sweat by up to 60%.
How to use the antiperspirant hand lotion
Use the antiperspirant hand lotion like liquid chalk. Apply a small portion to your palms, rub them together for a few seconds, let it dry, and that’s it. After 10 minutes the antiperspirant begins working. And if you are using the lotion daily for a few weeks, you will see a long-term sweat reduction.
Using high-quality chalk can make the difference between gripping a hold safely or slipping and maybe injuring yourself.
As there are various types of chalk on the market and everyone has his own preferences and training methods, I recommend trying at least each type once. If you are mainly training on Ninja Warrior obstacles, liquid chalk and chalk balls may be the best choices for you! But if you are bouldering and climbing, loose chalk or the inexpensive chalk blocks may be a better fit.
So, try something new, see how it affects your training, and have fun with a steady and non-sweaty grip!
Now, I want to know from you: What is your favorite climbing chalk? Do you have further tips for chalking up? I would love hearing from you!
Also have a look at my Ninja Warrior Training Guide, if you want to know more about training like a Ninja Warrior. And check out my tips about Skin Care for Climbers and Ninja Warriors, as these are important for training with fewer skin injuries.