Chalk It Up!

You’re working on a bouldering problem, twisted up into a gravity-defying pretzel with your toes gripping holds on the wall and the ceiling, reaching for the next hold which is just centimeters beyond your grasp. With superhuman effort you make contact, your hand tightens around the hold — and then your sweat-slicked fingers slip right off the hold and you fall.

When you’re climbing, you need chalk. Chalk dries your hands and makes your grip firmer.

Chalk for climbing comes is a variety of forms, as you can see in the picture at left from Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A lot of climbers use loose, powdered chalk in a bag. You can attach it to your belt loops and have it with you all the time. The downside for indoor climbing is, as you can see in the picture on the right, that the whole gym can fill with chalk dust. Kind of looks like it’s snowing, right? It’s actually just a climbing competition with lots of powdered chalk in use.

Outdoors, this isn’t so much of an issue.

You can also use chalk blocks. These are usually a couple of ounces in size, less messy to carry, and you can also crumble 0ne into your chalk bag.

Chalk socks are another option. These are fabric balls filled with chalk, just the right size for carrying. They come in standard or refillable options, and keep dust down. Some gyms will allow these, but not loose chalk, because of the mess and air quality issues with loose chalk.

Liquid chalk is a newer option. You coat your hands and let them dry, and you have a long-lasting chalk base coat. Many climbers use some loose chalk along with the liquid chalk, but some gyms will only allow liquid chalk.

Another option we keep on hand is Stic It, a non-magnesium alternative to chalk. You use a very small amount to give yourself a sure grip without any chalk at all. The small bottle takes up minimal space in your backpack, and it leaves no residue on holds and creates no air quality issues.

As with any sports gear, there’s a lot of personal preference involved in deciding among the products. Be prepared to try different options till you find the one that suits you best.

One Comment

  1. […] get your own shoes as soon as you know that you’ll be climbing regularly. If you want to use chalk, you’ll need to buy that, too — just make sure you choose a form that your gym allows. […]

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