The porous cloth on this chalk balls allows you to get a healthy serving of chalk on your hands but doesn't do much in terms of reducing dust in the climbing gym.
Friction & Overall Feel
For chalk to pass through the small holes in the cloth and onto your hands, it has to have a very fine, powdery texture. Some of our testers prefer the Gorilla Grip chunkier texture of loose chalk, but if you fill this chalk sock with chunky chalk, you won't get much out of it. If you dig the silky texture, then you're psyched!
You'll get much better coverage with the Black Diamond Chalk Shot than with the Metolius version. Significantly more chalk covered the hands of our testers using the BD Shot because of its porous cloth. One of our testers appreciated this while testing chalk in a climbing gym in North Carolina, where it turns out to be just as humid indoors as it is outside. The BD ball is a tad smaller than the Metolius and arrived with the chalk packed in tightly, where the Metolius feels more spongy and squeezable.
We were pleasantly surprised by how much chalk we could actually get on our hands with the BD Ball.
This chalk ball will prevent big spills and wasted chalk all over the floor, but it's the messier of the chalk ball options in this review for a couple reasons. First of all, the powdery chalk comes through the cloth so easily that we don't feel like it actually does a ton for the air quality. Just handling the ball right out of the package, our testers managed to get a light dusting of chalk everywhere.
In terms of refilling, the Metolius Super Chalk Sock is the easier option since it has a slightly wider opening. The elastic cord on the BD Shot does a fine job of keeping the chalk in though, and the cord lock allows you to seal it up tightly.
One gentle slap from this chalk sock results in more chalk than the Metolius version, but most of our testers prefer to use loose chalk when they can.
For $4.95, you get a refillable ball that will last a long time as long as you don't overfill it and are gentle when you cinch it closed. BD sells a non-refillable version for a dollar less, and we really can't think of a good reason to spend a dollar less for something you're just going to throw away. The Metolius refillable Chalk Sock is about 50 cents less, so unless you're buying these things buy the hundreds, just go with what's most appealing to you.
Again, the BD ball is definitely the best choice for those who feel they need to have a lot of chalk on their hands to climb well but are required to use a chalk ball in the gym. One of our testers likes to make sure there is a ball in his chalk bag for alpine climbing since strong updrafts tend to blow loose chalk out of the bag.
Of the two chalk balls we reviewed, we're most likely to climb outdoors with BD's, since dust isn't as much of an issue and their ball provides better coverage.
Our testers were pleasantly surprised to discover actual differences between the chalk balls in this review, and while one isn't necessarily better than the other, it's great to have options!