The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Frank Endo Gym Chalk Block Review

This classic gymnastic chalk remains a great choice for all styles of outdoor climbing.
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Price:  $18 List | $15.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Affordable, widely available
Cons:  Messy, not the best value
Manufacturer:   Frank Endo
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 29, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 8
  • Friction & Overall Feel - 25% 7
  • Coverage - 25% 8
  • Mess - 25% 4
  • Value - 25% 8

Our Verdict

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.


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Pros Affordable, widely availableWidely available, good texture and friction, nice priceExcellent value, good friction and coverageCoats hands well, least expensive "climbing specific" chalkGreat Coverage, Excellent friction, almost no dust
Cons Messy, not the best valueEasy to spill, creates a lot of dustUnusable if you have cuts and abrasions on your handsLow friction, doesn't last as long as other chalks.Not a great value
Bottom Line This classic gymnastic chalk remains a great choice for all styles of outdoor climbing.No bells and whistles with White Gold. This magnesium carbonite keeps your hands dry without costing an arm and a leg.This liquid chalk lets you apply a solid base layer of chalk on your hands without creating a cloud of dust.This chalk is the most cost effective way to keep your hands dry.When you need all the friction you can get, this chalk cream delivers.
Rating Categories Frank Endo Gym Chalk Block Black Diamond White Gold Mammut Liquid Chalk Metolius Super Chalk Friction Labs Secret Stuff
Friction & Overall Feel (25%)
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Specs Frank Endo Gym... Black Diamond... Mammut Liquid Chalk Metolius Super Chalk Friction Labs...
Resealable Packaging? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Price Per oz $1.13/oz $1.03/oz $1.94/oz $0.80/oz $7.60/oz
Type Loose Loose Liquid Loose Liquid
Drying Additive No No No Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Two ounces of gym chalk  wrapped in plastic  ready to add some friction to your climbing game. Endo has been many climbers' chalk of choice for decades.
Two ounces of gym chalk, wrapped in plastic, ready to add some friction to your climbing game. Endo has been many climbers' chalk of choice for decades.

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.

Even your best try-hard face won't get you to the top. Even in the dry air of Bishop CA  our testers frequently dip into their chalk bags.
Even your best try-hard face won't get you to the top. Even in the dry air of Bishop CA, our testers frequently dip into their chalk bags.

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.

Coverage


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!


Mess


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.

Filling up your chalk bag with block chalk can be a messy process. We suggest doing it over a big ziplock bag to catch stray pieces and keep things tidy.
Filling up your chalk bag with block chalk can be a messy process. We suggest doing it over a big ziplock bag to catch stray pieces and keep things tidy.

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.

Chunks of block chalk are handy for making tick marks so you can climb precisely on difficult climbs  just make sure you brush them away when you're finished.
Chunks of block chalk are handy for making tick marks so you can climb precisely on difficult climbs, just make sure you brush them away when you're finished.

Value


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.

Best Applications


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.

Each block comes in an individual wrapper to keep the chalk from breaking up the box. Always pick up your trash when climbing outdoors...and indoors. Pick up your trash wherever you go  please.
Each block comes in an individual wrapper to keep the chalk from breaking up the box. Always pick up your trash when climbing outdoors...and indoors. Pick up your trash wherever you go, please.

Conclusion


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