Black Diamond’s white chalk mashes down for sick adhesion on even the most humid days.
For those unfamiliar with chalk, this magnesium carbonate-based powder is used as a drying agent to improve grip in rock climbing, weight lifting, and gymnastics. There are a few differences in the types of chalk available and the way that chalk is delivered. First, this is pure magnesium carbonate without any other additives. Some other manufacturers have antiperspirant additives to attempt to reduce sweating from the palms, but this can lead to chapping of the hands. If you sweat excessively from the hands, you may require the additional antiperspirant additives that other manufacturers include to ensure adequate grip strength. If you do not perspire too much from the hands, pure magnesium carbonate is the way to go. Once you’ve decided on that, next is the delivery method.
1. Chalk shot (“chalk sock” “chalk ball”): this product reviewed is a chalk shot, meaning the chalk is contained within a porous material that allows some chalk to come out when you squeeze or pat the ball on your hand. The advantages of this are twofold: one, you get the right amount of chalk rather than over-chalking which is wasteful; two, since the chalk is contained, it minimizes release of chalk dust into the air, which keeps everything more clean and less irritating to the airways. This is my preferred chalk delivery method. The main disadvantage of this method is that the chalk does not coat the hand as fast because it’s slower than just dipping your hand into a bag of powdered chalk. This can be an issue for rock climbers who need to quickly re-apply chalk during a climb (timed competitions). This is probably what you should buy if you’re climbing indoors, since minimizing dust is important — the other climbers will be appreciative.
2. Powdered chalk: in your bag will just be a bunch of chalk powder. The advantage is quick covering of the hands. Disadvantages include increased airborne chalk dust and wasting chalk.
3. Chalk block: a block of chalk that you’ll just end up crushing yourself and making powdered chalk.
4. Liquid chalk: powdered chalk with some form of alcohol-based solvent; once sprayed on your hand, the solvent will evaporate and leave a chalk coating on your hands. The ultimate in “airborne chalk prevention”. Lasts longer on the hands than powdered chalk, making this potentially useful for longer bouldering problems. Much more expensive than chalk and probably unnecessary unless you’re an advanced climber and already know you need this for X or Y reason.