Top Ten Climbing Chalks Your Should Try

Climbing chalk might not be one of those life-saving pieces of gear, but it can have a massive impact on your performance on the rock or at the gym.

In our view having the right chalk can make the difference between sending your latest project or slipping off that tenuous sloper right at the crux. Finding the right brand for you and your style of climbing can make all the difference.

That’s why we’ve done a round-up of the top ten best climbing chalk available on the market today.

Having scoured thousands of reviews and having used some of the products here ourselves, we hope this will make your next chalk purchase a good one.

Our Top Climbing Chalk


  • Our Rating

FrictionLabs

Unicorn Dust

  • First class performance, even on sweaty hands
  • No added drying agent
  • Reduced skin dryness and peeling after use
  • Good coverage that lasts during climbing
  • Less chalk needed, so same quantity lasts longer
  • Range of grades from fine to coarse available
  • Strong pro climber endorsements

Quick Climbing Chalk Top Ten

#1 FrictionLabs - Unicorn Dust

  • Our Rating

#2 Black Diamond - White Gold

  • Our Rating

#3 Trango - Gunpowder

  • Our Rating

#4 Mosher Mountain Gear - Rock Climbing Liquid Chalk

  • Our Rating

#5 Primo Chalk - Primo Chalk

  • Our Rating

#6 Frank Endo - Block Gym Chalk

  • Our Rating

#7 Bison Designs - Competition Chalk

  • Our Rating

#8 PETZL - Power Crunch

  • Our Rating

#9 FrictionLabs - Secret Stuff

  • Our Rating

#10 Metolius - Super Chalk

  • Our Rating

Feature Breakdown

Type
Ingredients
Additives
per grm
1
Unicorn Dust
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
None
$0.088
2
White Gold
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
None
$0.037
3
Gunpowder
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
None
$0.030
4
Rock Climbing Liquid Chalk
Our Rating
Liquid
MgCO3
Suspension liquid, Rosin
$0.169
5
Primo Chalk
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
Essential oils
$0.060
6
Block Gym Chalk
Our Rating
Block
MgCO3
None
$0.040
7
Competition Chalk
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
None
$0.042
8
Power Crunch
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
None
$0.052
9
Secret Stuff
Our Rating
Liquid
MgCO3
Suspension liquid
$0.818
10
Super Chalk
Our Rating
Powder
MgCO3
Drying agent
$0.028
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Detailed Reviews

#1 Unicorn Dust - Best Performance

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

FrictionLabs - Unicorn Dust

FrictionLabs have been creating a storm recently in the climbing chalk world and for good reason. Their chalk is high quality, free from any additives and performs wonderfully.

Price

This is where FrictionLabs may put some people off. Whilst they pride themselves on being market leaders, they do expect you to pay for it. So whilst this is the best chalk, it’s also the most expensive loose chalk around at the moment.

That said, given the performance of the chalk, this is likely to last you longer than your average chalk, so it may even out in the end.

Performance

Performance of FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust is fantastic. It offers a dry, but not too dry feeling on the fingers, providing a secure connection to the holds.

Users report great performance, even with sweaty hands. Although the coarser grade chalks may suit you better if you sweat a lot, or live in a really humid area.

It’s also a little kinder to the skin, thanks to the lack of added drying agents, helping to reduce peeling and dryness.

Overall, Unicorn Dust is one of the best performers on the market today.

Coverage

Thanks to the extra fine particles the chalk goes on well and provides excellent coverage of the hands.

The coverage also lasts throughout your climbing, meaning your hands stay dryer for longer, and you spend less time chalking up.

Pros
  • First class performance, even on sweaty hands
  • No added drying agent
  • Reduced skin dryness and peeling after use
  • Good coverage that lasts during climbing
  • Less chalk needed, so same quantity lasts longer
  • Range of grades from fine to coarse available
  • Strong pro climber endorsements
Cons
  • Can suffer from clumping
  • Expensive compared to other brands
#2 White Gold - Best All-Round

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Black Diamond - White Gold

Black Diamond has been in the climbing game long enough to know what it takes to make great quality products, and their White Gold climbing chalk is no exception.

Price

For chalk that performs so well, this is great value for money, coming in much cheaper than the FrictionLabs offering, whilst offering slightly more in a bag at 300 g.

Performance

White Gold is a solid performer, providing good moisture wicking and lasts well for an entire session.

It does tend to clump, so do expect to find a few lumps in the bag. This is a pretty common occurrence loose chalk, but just something to be aware of.

Coverage

Users report the chalk going on and staying on pretty well, but not quite offering the same levels of coverage as the FrictionLabs offering.

Overall a great choice and a regular goto chalk for thousands of climbers.

Pros
  • Great value for money, given the performance
  • Provides good coverage and lasts well during climbing
  • Doesn't cause dryness of peeling of skin
Cons
  • Users report finding large lumps in the bag
#3 Gunpowder - Best Value

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Trango - Gunpowder

If you’re hankering after non-stop supply of Unicorn Dust, but can’t quite justify the extra cost, then the Trango Gunpowder might be worth a look.

Price

Trango’s Gunpowder offers great value for money, coming in at around the $0.03 per gram mark and thanks to its extra fine texture it lasts really well, meaning you only use a little bit at a time.

Performance

Users report excellent performance, offering a dry and secure feeling that lasts for several climbs.

It also doesn’t have quite the same drying effect on the hands as other chalks, meaning it’s great for longer sessions.

Coverage

The fine texture of the chalk means it’s a breeze to apply. One of the reviews we saw said it was like “dipping their hand into a cloud”, just a really dry one.

No lumps and that extra fine texture put it on a par with the Unicorn Dust in this department. It also means it’s well suited to use with a chalk ball.

Pros
  • Silky smooth, extra fine texture
  • Great coverage and easy to use
  • Good drying and grip performance
Cons
  • Largest size is 200g, which may be too small for some
#4 Rock Climbing Liquid Chalk

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Mosher Mountain Gear - Rock Climbing Liquid Chalk

Mosher chalk is the first liquid chalk on our list and a new name in the climbing chalk world.

With a small crab to attach to your bag and a handy squeezable bottle to apply, it’s a neat package.

Price

Whilst it’s a fairly low price, particularly compared to the equivalent FrictionLabs Secret Stuff, it’s hard to judge value compared to loose of block chalk due it’s a different method of application.

Most users are getting five or six routes before having to re-apply and are only applying small amounts, which seems reasonable, but your mileage may vary.

Performance

Overall performance is reported to be great, quickly drying the user's hands out ready for climbing or lifting.

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of reports of the bottle failing, causing minor seepage or total, very messy, failure.

Coverage

Thanks to being a liquid, the coverage is great, as it’s applied wet and then dries to provide an even coat across the whole hand.

Some users have reported an unpleasant smell for the suspension liquid, but this is a minor niggle.

Pros
  • Small container and additional crab clip makes transporting easy
  • Good coverage and durability
  • Solid grip performance
Cons
  • Weak bottle can be prone to leaking
  • Strange smell when applying the chalk
#5 Primo Chalk

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Primo Chalk - Primo Chalk

Primo Chalk has a strong following amongst that weight lifting community but is also popular with climbers.

The product is a little different to your standard chalk, as it contains a mixture of essential oils that are designed to nourish your skin during use.

Price

Primo Chalk is at the more expensive end of the pricing range and the bag is a little smaller than some of the others in this roundup, but it does come with a chalk bag, which adds to the value.

Performance

Performance is pretty good also, with users reporting great results both in weight lifting and climbing.

The texture is a little heavier due to the essential oils, but they really do help keep the usual dryness and peeling to a minimum, helping your skin last longer.

Coverage

Coverage is pretty solid also but doesn’t quite match those in the top two spots.

Pros
  • Solid performance
  • Good coverage, but not quite on a par with the top performers
  • Really looks after your skin
  • Antibacterial properties
Cons
  • Menthol smell might put some people off
  • Fairly expensive, especially if the skin care aspect is not relevant
#6 Block Gym Chalk

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Frank Endo - Block Gym Chalk

As the name would suggest, this chalk is primarily focused at the gymnastics crowd but has also got some strong supporters in the climbing arena.

Price

This stuff is a bargain! It comes in eight blocks of 2 oz, totalling 16 oz or just over 450 g.

For a product that delivers on the performance front in the way this does, makes this a very compelling option for the budget conscious.

Performance

Performance reports are great, with some users reporting that this is the best chalk they’ve ever used in their life.

This is straight up Magnesium Carbonate, so there are no additives, so you will have to look after your hands afterwards, but the dryness and grip offered is on a par with the top performers.

Coverage

Coverage is good, but as this comes in blocks you will have to break it apart yourself.

You can either keep it in a block, this reduces spillage but will reduce how much chalk you can get on your hands, or you break it down into a powder, more hassle, but easier application and coverage.

Pros
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Great performance
  • Easy to transport thanks to individual blocks
Cons
  • Have to break the chalk up yourself
  • May dry your hands out more than some of the others
#7 Competition Chalk

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Bison Designs - Competition Chalk

Bison Designs Competition Chalk is another pure Magnesium Carbonate chalk with no bells and whistles.

It’s a big tub of chalk...simple!

Price

The price is a bit of a weak point when compared to some of the others in this category, coming in at the more expensive end of the spectrum.

That said, you do get a large 453 g container for your money.

Performance

Performance is pretty good, offering a good drying action and the expected additional grip. It’s not quite in the same league as our top picks, but certainly no slouch.

Coverage

Coverage is good, but quite light. The chalk itself is very fine meaning that application is easy enough, but you may find yourself chalking up more often as it does come off during climbing.

Pros
  • Fine texture makes applying easy
  • Large container, will last for ages
Cons
  • More expensive than comparable rivals
  • Not the most durable, may have to re-apply a lot
#8 Power Crunch

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

PETZL - Power Crunch

Petzl’s offering is the Power Crunch chalk, a mixture of larger lumps and finer particles, this is another 100% pure Magnesium Carbonate chalk.

Price

Price wise the Power Crunch is pretty good value for money, coming in at around $0.05 per gram.

Performance

Users report a real sense of dryness with this chalk and good levels of grip.

The mixed texture does have some critics, as it can be a little messy, but others love the mix of chunks and finer particles and see it as a benefit.

Coverage

Coverage is great, thanks to the finer grade which help the chalk go on quickly and easily.

That said, as you use up the finer chalk, you will find yourself having to break the larger chunks down.

Pros
  • Mix of fine and chunky appeals to some
  • Great drying performance
  • Good levels of grip
Cons
  • Can be a bit messy due to the texture and having to break it down
#9 Secret Stuff

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

FrictionLabs - Secret Stuff

This is the second offering from FrictionLabs in this roundup, but this time in liquid form.

Price

You may need to sit down for the price of FrictionLabs Secret Stuff as it is pretty pricey. Whilst liquid chalk normally is more expensive gram for gram, as it’s supposed to last longer, this is expensive even for that.

Performance

Performance is good, but users report using it in conjunction with powdered chalk, preferring to use it as a base layer that lasts underneath the powdered chalk.

There have also been a few reports leaky bottles or the chalk drying out. This seems to be an issue with liquid chalks, so watch out for this.

Coverage

As with most liquid chalks, coverage is amazing, as you simply rub it all over your hands and let the isopropyl alcohol evaporate, leaving behind the chalk.

Pros
  • Very easy to apply
  • Good coverage and lasts well
Cons
  • Will probably need to combine with loose chalk
  • May need to re-morgage the house
#10 Super Chalk

  • Our Rating
  • Coverage
  • Performance
  • Price

Metolius - Super Chalk

Metolius is another well-known name in the climbing scene and has been producing chalk for years. Unfortunately, their Super chalk, is less super and more kinda...ordinary.

Price

This is one of the strengths of the Metolius chalk, as you certainly get a lot of chalk for your money. Throw into the mix the fact that you get a chalk sock as well and this is a cost-effective offering.

Performance

The performance, however, is a bit mixed. Some users report good performance, but others rate it as fairly average.

Compared to the top players such as the FrictionLabs, it’s just not in the same league, offering average levels of grip.

Coverage

Coverage is good whether you’re using the sock or not, but it can suffer from clumping in the bag, which can be a pain as you’ll need to break the lumps down before you can really apply it properly.

Pros
  • Great price point making it a good option for the cost conciouse
  • Large bag, which will last for ages
Cons
  • Fairly average performance
  • Reports of clumping in the bag
  • Customers report sometimes gettting a resealable bag, other times not

Scoring Criteria

For us, there are three key aspects that are important when it comes to choosing the right climbing chalk.

Price

There is a wide range of prices on the market and they don’t always correlate directly with performance, which is why we think this is an important call it out.

Whilst we don’t price actual prices, we do give you a price per gram, to help you compare one chalk against another.

Performance

In our opinion, this is the most important.

When we talk about performance, covers how well the chalk does at drying sweaty hands, as well as the sense of security on the rock.

We also call out any issues with clumping or packaging failing.

Coverage

Finally, coverage, or how easily chalk goes on and stays on is critical to its usability, which is why we called out coverage as another essential metric.

The perfect chalk goes on like a dream and stays there.

More Information

Different Styles of Chalk

Block

Just as the name implies, block chalk is a chunk of Magnesium Carbonate that comes in the shape of a square brick.

You can break off as much as you want to use at a time, or crush the entire block into your chalk bag by stepping on it like a kid bursting bubble wrap. Just make sure the bag is closed tightly before stomping on your block or you’ll have a mushroom cloud of chalk dust to clean up.

The nice thing about block chalk is that you get to crush it to your preferred consistency. Some climbers like it thick and chunky, others like it fine and smooth - you choose with the freedom of a block.

Plus, a contained square of chalk is less messy to transport than a bag of loose powder, which we’ll cover next.

Loose

Loose chalk comes in the form of a powder, ground up to a factory-determined consistency.

Some companies offer different levels of coarseness, so you might have to play around with different varieties before deciding which texture is right for you.

Another element to consider when buying loose chalk is whether to get pure chalk (MgCO3) or chalk with added-in drying agents.

Some climbers like the extra drying qualities of the blended chalk, and others think it’s unnecessary and prefer the purity of Magnesium Carbonate.

Which you choose is, again, up to you.

Liquid

The most recent development in the world of climbing chalk is the idea of liquid chalk. Combine MgCO3 (loose chalk) with C3H8O (rubbing alcohol) and voila: you’ve got liquid chalk!

The advantage of liquid chalk is that the alcohol dries quickly, leaving a chalky residue on your hands and eliminating the dustiness of powdered chalk, making it cleaner and less likely to leave white smears on the rock - Leave No Trace, anyone?

Liquid chalk might also last longer than powdered, meaning you don’t have to apply it as often. This means you can climb for longer periods without wasting time chalking up.

Rubbing alcohol does have a tendency to dry out the skin, so if you’re sensitive to chemicals or have especially dry skin, liquid chalk may not be your best option.

To apply, you can either squeeze the chalk from a bottle and rub your hands together, or, if the consistency is thicker, you may have to actually paint the chalk across your hands, just like when you fingerpainted as a kid.

A few companies are producing their own front-of-the-line liquid chalk, and most let you try out a sample before committing to a whole bottle.

How to Contain and Carry Climbing Chalk

Typically, climbers like to keep their chalk contained in a chalk bag that either clips onto their harness or fastens around their waist. Within the bag, you can either keep your chalk loose, making it easy to scoop, but a bit messy, or you can choose to use a chalk sock.

Chalk socks are made of porous fabric that releases chalk when you squeeze the ball, keeping it contained and preventing a loss of chalk due to excessive spilling.

The size, shape, and style of your chalk bag and whether or not you choose to use a chalk sock, is completely based on your own tastes and needs.

Chalk bags come in three general sizes: small, standard, and bucket. Some climbers like small, unobtrusive bags that are strictly made for chalk, like the Black Diamond Ultralight Chalk Bag.

Your average gym or sport climber will typically use a standard-sized bag like the Arc’teryx C80.

Still others prefer chalk bags with pockets for random accessories, like a cell phone or climbing brush. Zippered pockets can be especially useful on long, multi-pitch climbs when having an emergency snack or ultralight jacket stuffed into your chalk bag could improve comfort on the wall.

Check out the Mammut Multipitch Chalk Bag if pockets sound appealing to you and weight isn’t an issue.

The final type of container for climbing chalk is the chalk pot.

These massive buckets of chalk are great for group bouldering sessions, when you don’t want to carry a chalk bag on your back, but you need something quick and easy to dip into between attempts.

The Metolius Dust Bin chalk pot is the perfect accessory to bring to any hard bouldering session, with 8 gear loops for a variety of brush sizes and two side pockets to hold a cell phone or energy bar.

How to Use Climbing Chalk

Using chalk is a simple art, but it’s important to understand the necessary uses and proper etiquette before taking the plunge into your chalk bag for the first time.

Leaving behind chalk residue on a route may seem inevitable if you’re using chalk, but if you find you’re constantly leaving behind streaks of white powder on the wall, then you’re using too much.

You don’t need to actually see the powder on your hands for the chalk to do its job. So when you go to dip into your chalk bag or roll your chalk sock on your sweaty palms, use moderation. Get just enough to soak up the moisture, but not so much that excess powder falls from your hands.

Once you’ve dipped into your chalk bag and powdered up your hands, rub them together in the bag if possible, to prevent a cloud of dust from puffing out into the atmosphere. If your bag is small, or you’re mid-climb, use a few fingers to chalk-up, then spread the chalk judiciously onto each hand as needed.

If you find you did accidentally over-chalk and there are large chunks stuck to your palm, you can blow off the excess so you have a smooth, uniform layer of chalk covering your entire hand.

Also, keep in mind that some climbing areas don’t even allow the use of chalk. Always check with a local or refer to the guidebook about whether chalk is allowed before packing up and heading out to a new crag.

And be aware that there are some hidden environmental costs of choosing to use climbing chalk in the first place, which is why many eco-friendly climbers opt not to use chalk on the rock.

It is possible to climb without chalk, especially if you’re mostly climbing moderate routes that don’t require excessive friction to grip the holds. Chalk was the catalyst for the evolution of dynamic sport climbing, but not everyone is a sport climber, and not every climber needs to use chalk.

Always be sure to educate yourself about the impacts of your hobbies on the world around you, and make an informed decision when considering gear purchases like climbing chalk. Your choices may have a bigger impact than you know.

Is rock climbing chalk bad for you?

Climbing chalk is not harmful in any form. Minor inhalation of small amount whilst climbing will not cause you any problems.

You might find that your hands become dry, peel and crack if you’re climbing a lot. The simple remedy to this is to ensure you wash your hands thoroughly after climbing and apply a moisturiser to look after your skin.

Is climbing chalk the same as lifting chalk?

Yes. It’s the same basic ingredient Magnesium Carbonate.

It’s really common for climbing chalk to be used in gyms and at the wall, which is why some of the product in this round up are aimed at gym users and other at climbers.

How do you use a chalk ball?

Just pop it into your chalk bag and then, whilst still in your chalk bag, give it a squeeze when you want to re-chalk.

Some chalk balls are re-fillable, others are not, but when they get low, you can either top them up or pull them open and extract the last of your chalk.