In the beginning, there was Frank Endo Gym Chalk Block, and it was good enough. And it's still good enough for greasy pawed stone monkeys everywhere. It takes a little patience, but with block chalk, you crumble an Endo Block to whatever texture you like, from marble-sized chunks to silky dust. The downside to any block style chalk is the mess. Unwrapping this stuff often results in a few chunks falling on the ground or in the trunk of your car, and once it's broken down in your chalk bag, it will aerosolize and cause dust problems in the gym like all loose chalks.
Frank Endo Gym Chalk Block Review
Cons: Messy, not the best value
Manufacturer: Frank Endo
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Friction & Overall Feel
For the first few generations of climbers, the Endo was the first and last chalk they ever used. Many folks like to tear off the packaging and shove an entire block into their chalk bags, close the drawstring, punch it against the ground a few times, and start climbing (after checking their knot of course). Starting out, the larger chunks are hard to spread around on your hands, but as the day goes on (or with additional smashing), the chalk will become finer, hitting a sweet spot for those who like a little chunk in their chalk, before breaking down further into dust.
For our head to head testing, we used Endo blocks that had been refined to a fine powder with a few chunks in it. The powder can get a little cakey in particularly humid conditions, and we only mean cakey when comparing it to Friction Labs Gorilla Grip, which can be described as "Medium Chunky" out of the package. This can be negated by the old "french blow", where you'll blow the excess chalk off your fingers before latching the next hold, looking cool like Patrick Edlinger circa 1981, or making everyone in the gym cough. Our most discerning testers report that Frank Endo feels as grippy as Black Diamond's White Gold, better than Metolius Super Chalk, but doesn't deliver quite the same rip-your-tips-off friction as Gorilla Grip.
When ground down into a fine powder, a single dip into a full chalk bag will leave your hands cake in chalk, providing coverage almost as good as the liquid chalks. We feel that the Endo performs best when it's in a medium chunky form, and there are pieces of chalk small enough to roll around on your hands. In our sloper tests, we observed that lots of chalk had come off our tester's hands after three hangs, but from the photos, you'll notice that there is still a thin and usable amount remaining. One thing we noticed during all of our testing is that chalk sticks to chalk, and when you're climbing on chalked up holds, chalk will come off your hands faster, so brush those holds often!
With Frank Endo or any block chalk, you'll have the opportunity to make a huge mess. If the Block doesn't fall apart while you're unpackaging it, stray pieces will surely fall to the ground when you break pieces off to put in your chalk bag, and getting this stuff into a refillable chalk sock is especially tedious. Once the chalk has enough time to break down into a fine powder, it will drift off into the stagnant air of the climbing gym and into to your friend's lungs.
Our experience, as well as some peer-reviewed scientific articles, suggests that liquid chalks are the most effective ways to keep chalk dust to a minimum. The narrow opening of the Friction Labs Gorilla Grip packaging makes filling your chalk bag a much less messy endeavor than breaking up the Endo blocks. A savvy climber will do the entire process over a large ziplock, negating the mess from stray chunks and saving all the fallen bits for later.
Frank Endo isn't the best value out there. The most chalk for your dollar goes to Metolius Super Chalk at 80 cents an ounce. Though we didn't test the Metolius's Block chalk, it's worth noting that a 16oz box of block chalk is $4 less than an $18 box of Endo.
If it's on sale or the only chalk available, we wouldn't hesitate to pick up a block or a whole box of the ol' Endo. The for all the mess and packaging, this stuff works, adding the necessary friction to our clammy hands, calming our fears, and allowing us to bear down and try hard. Utilize larger chunks to make tick marks, but be sure to brush them off when you're finished climbing. Additionally, a bored climber could carve the blocks into cool shapes or animals. If you're getting chalk for your kid climbers, do yourself a favor and purchase a refillable chalk sock — they're way less messy.
Simple, affordable, and available, Frank Endo remains a fine option when you're gripped and sweaty. It has no additives or drying agents, making it relatively gentle on the skin. It's a classic and revered among some climbing crowds, for what that's worth.
— Matt Bento