The Best Climbing Chalk Review

Frank Endo Chalk
Frank Endo Chalk
Credit: FrandEndo.com
Ahh…chalk. For some of us climbers it’s only necessary in the blazing heat when even a bag of dust would start sweating, and for others it’s a physical and mental crutch upon which we rely to grunt out those superhuman crux moves on our latest project. Either way, we all use it at some point and when we do, it’s important that it works the way we want.

We put some of the top-selling climbing chalk to the test hoping that you will be able to find the one that best suits your needs. Each of the products was extensively field tested and then subjected to a series of head-to-head double blind tests with the other chalks we were testing. We took focused notes on the products’ performance scoring each on the following factors: absorption, duration, friction, value and overall feel. Below is a wrapup of the results.

Read the full review below >

Review by: Robert Beno September 25, 2010

Top Ranked Climbing Chalk Displaying 1 - 5 of 6 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Black Diamond White Gold
Black Diamond White Gold
Read the Review
Metolius Eco Ball
Metolius Eco Ball
Read the Review
Frank Endo Chalk
Frank Endo Chalk
Read the Review
Metolius Super Chalk
Metolius Super Chalk
Read the Review
Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock
Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award    Best Buy Award   
Street Price Varies $2 - $8
Compare at 6 sellers
Varies $3 - $4
Compare at 6 sellers
$2Varies $2 - $15
Compare at 10 sellers
Varies $3 - $5
Compare at 7 sellers
Overall Score 
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83
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57
Editors' Rating
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User Rating
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67% recommend it (2/3)
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1 rating
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100% recommend it (2/2)
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56% recommend it (5/9)
Be the first to rate it
Pros Excellent Friction, Stays on longNon-marking, Good Absorption, Good FrictionCheap, Classic, effectiveCoats hands well, least expensive "climbing specific" chalk.Refillable, Conserves Chalk
Cons ExpensiveBall is giant, Not refillable, ExpensiveLow DurationLow friction, doesn't last as long as other chalks.Sock is Giant, Super Powdery
Best Uses All types of climbingAll styles of rock climbingAll styles of rock climbing.All styles of rock climbing.All styles of rock climbing
Date Reviewed Aug 19, 2010Sep 24, 2010Sep 24, 2010Aug 19, 2010Sep 24, 2010
Weighted Scores Black Diamond White Gold Metolius Eco Ball Frank Endo Chalk Metolius Super Chalk Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock
Absorption - 40%
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7
Duration - 25%
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5
Friction - 15%
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Value - 10%
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Overall Feel - 10%
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
Click to enlarge
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Black Diamond White Gold
$1.5-10
100
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83
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  • 5
Metolius Super Chalk
$2.5-50
100
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73
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  • 5
Metolius Eco Ball
$4
100
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73
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  • 5
Frank Endo Chalk
$2
100
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73
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Metolius Refillable Chalk Sock
$4.25
100
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57
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Metolius Chalk Sock
$3.7
100
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57
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Absorption
We felt the ability to absorb sweat was the most important trait that chalk can have. When your hands are sweaty they’re slippery and when they’re slippery you fall. After pitting all the products against each other in head to head tests, we found that Black Diamond’s White Gold had the greatest absorption, followed closely by the Metolius Eco Ball and Metolius Super Chalk. We loved the way White Gold dried your hands up quickly, giving you that extra grip right when you need it.

Duration
How many times you have to let go with one hand, and chalk up in a route or particularly difficult sequence, can mean the difference between a clean send and a fall. We decided that the second most important thing in judging chalk is to make an assessment of how long it lasts before needing to re-chalk. Our tests yielded a three-way tie for top rank between Black Diamond White Gold, Metolius Super Chalk, and Metolius Eco Ball.

Friction
As an assessment of how much “grip” the chalk providesafter drying up all your nasty sweat, friction is a very important factor when chalking up. We found a significant enough difference between products that we felt this should definitely be included in our results. The top performer in terms of friction was Black Diamond White Gold. The chalk clung to your skin without detracting from the natural ridges on the tips of your fingers getting good traction on the rock.

Value
As an objective measure of how much the chalk cost per gram, this was a fairly straightforward factor to consider. However, some of the products we tested were loose chalk and some were chalk socks…thus a little like comparing apples and oranges. We determined that Frank Endo chalk was the best value for a number of factors. First, it was cheaper than Black Diamond White Gold and Metolius Super Chalk Loose chalk. Second, it is available in a box of 8 two-ounce blocks, saving you some money by buying in bulk. And finally, since you don’t really need a chalk sock, you can go cheap by just rocking the loose chalk.

Overall Feel
This one just pretty much came down to how the chalk felt on our hands, and how the chalk made our hands feel. We found that we liked the feeling of Black Diamond White Gold over all the other products that we tested.

The Bottom Line
Our Editors' Choice award has to go to Black Diamond White Gold, which was the top performer in all categories except value. White Gold kept our hands nice and dry, lasted longer, and provided more friction than all the other products we tested. Though White Gold’s not on the top of the list in terms of value, we think that the performance is worth the extra cent per gram.

Our second place performer and OutdoorGearLab Recommended buy is somewhat of a surprise. We first thought that the Metolius Eco Ball would be a far inferior product that should only be resorted to in times of necessity. The truth is, the Eco Ball outperformed our expectations in all regards and should be considered not just as an option for those times when you can’t leave marks on the rocks, but as an everyday option. With the Eco Ball you won’t sacrifice much performance, and you don’t have to leave a mark.

For the Best Buy in climbing chalk, check out Metolius Super Chalk. It scored well and is relatively affordable compared with all the other chalks that we tested. Good old fashioned Frank Endo Gymnastic Block Chalk is not available at most major retailers but is readily available in many smaller gear shops, making it an easy to find, effective, and super-economical option.

Robert Beno
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