What to Consider When Looking For the Best Liquid Chalk
How Much Grip It Gives you
Our performance criteria in the reviews above assesses how well the chalk improves your grip, but you won’t know how it affects your skin until you test it out.
Generally, thicker liquids will coat your hands more thoroughly, leaving them white when the liquid dries. Thinner liquids may look less effective, but they can still do the job and are less likely to leave chalky marks.
The strong alcohol smell is definitely a downside of liquid chalk. Some manufacturers add a fragrance to help with this.
The quicker the chalk dries, the faster you can get on with sending your project!
How to Use Liquid Chalk
Liquid chalk works best if you wash and dry your hands before applying. Give the bottle a shake in case the ingredients have separated before squeezing a little bit onto your palm.
Rub the liquid thoroughly into your fingertips, then spread the excess back onto your palm and wait for it to dry.
Pro Tip: Always make sure the chalk is completely dry before touching anything. Waving your hands around can help!
Is Liquid Chalk Better than Powder Chalk?
It’s not so much that liquid chalk is better than powder – it’s just different. Some climbers prefer using liquid chalk, some prefer powder but most use a combination of the two.
Liquid chalk is great for preparing your hands for a day’s rock climbing. It coats your skin, giving a base for loose chalk to stick to, meaning you won’t need to chalk your hands as often.
The big downside is that it dries your skin more than powder chalk. This can cause irritation, particularly if you’re applying it a lot. Ideally, you want a product that you only have to apply once at the beginning of a session.
Although some bottles come with a carabiner to clip to your harness, you’re unlikely to carry liquid chalk with you when climbing. Not only is it impractical to apply it mid-route (even on multi-pitches), you don’t get the psychological boost from dipping your fingers in your chalk bag while contemplating your next move.
How Long Does Liquid Chalk Last?
One of the great things about liquid chalks is that a little bit goes a long way. Just one application of liquid chalk can often last you a full climbing session.
If you sweat a lot or climb in hot weather, you may need to re-apply it a couple of times a day or use loose chalk as well. Personally, I often use it before an important redpoint attempt, though that could be for the psychological benefit!
Does Liquid Chalk Make a Mess?
Liquid chalk cuts down on chalk dust and spillages, but it can still make a mess of you and the rock. Some brands are better than others at minimizing transfer and applying a thin layer means there’s less excess to brush off.
Another potential issue with liquid chalk is leakage. Most bottles are pretty secure, though the hinge on flip lids can wear and break over time. If your chalk comes in a tube, try to store it loosely in your pack rather than folding it as this can cause the packaging to split.
Pro tip: Always keep your liquid chalk in a sealed plastic bag. Like a water bottle exploding, if it does leak, it’ll get over everything.
How to Find the Best Liquid Chalk for You
Non-climbers may look at the vast array of climbing chalks on offer and wonder how they differ. After all, chalk is chalk, right?
As a climber, you’ll know that one brand of chalk can feel and perform much better than another. It’s a very personal choice!
A good place to start is to look at the brand of powder chalk you currently use and see if they sell a liquid version.
You could also check out what your friends use and ask if you test their chalk when you’re out climbing. This allows you to try different brands before you buy.
If you know you have sensitive skin, then we’d recommend trying Friction Lab’s Alcohol-Free Secret Stuff as it’s specifically designed to be non-irritating.
If you don’t have a favorite brand or you’re not sure where to start looking, then start at the top of our recommended list and work down.
Also bear in mind that you may use different brands of liquid chalk in different conditions. In cool weather, you may be able to get away with a skin-friendly brand as you won’t sweat as much. In hot, humid weather, you may need a product such as Fit Grip Liquid Chalk that really dries your skin out.
There are many brands of liquid chalk to choose from. Based on our reviews, we’d recommend looking outside the climbing niche at products marketed at other sports such as weightlifting, crossfit or gymnastics.
Fire Team’s Fit Grip is our recommendation for the best liquid chalk to keep your hands dry, but it’s closely followed by Black Diamond’s White Gold which works out cheaper by volume. Sportmediq is a worthy budget version if money is tight and if you know your skin is sensitive to alcohol, we’d recommend splurging on Friction Lab’s Alcohol-Free chalk.