Climbers use magnesium carbonate based chalk to help to reduce moisture and sweat from the hands which can cause slipping. This drying agent can increase friction and improve your grip on indoor holds and rock, especially in warmer temperatures.
There are a number of different chalks on the market. The standard being loose powdered chalk which works well on both indoor holds and rock. You can achieve a good covering on your hands easily and can adjust the amount you use as required. The downside to loose chalk is that on application you may lose some into the air. Fill your chalk bag about a third full to reduce the possibility of spillage.
This chalk is also available in a block which can be crushed and used as loose chalk. These blocks generally work out cheaper than loose chalk.
A great alternative to loose chalk is to use chalk balls. These are a sealed mesh bag filled with chalk. Available in high or low diffusion and by patting the chalk ball on your hands you will achieve a more precise and even covering with less wastage than loose chalk. The downside to chalk balls is they may be harder to re-chalk mid climb, one handed, particularly on long routes. A solution to this is to add loose chalk with your chalk ball in the chalk bag for the best of both worlds.
The third option is liquid chalk. This is available with or without an alcohol base. On application, spread the liquid evenly and allow to dry. This chalk tends to last longer on the skin and has much less wastage, dust and mess generally. It can be used with a minimal extra coating of powder chalk for extra grip if necessary. The downside is application from a bottle is difficult one-handed, mid climb plus it can be very drying to the skin due to the alcohol.
If you choose to use chalk, always have a soft brush with you too. This will ensure you don’t leave unnecessary and excessive chalk residue on holds at your indoor climbing wall and especially outside on rock. Always try to leave the rock as clean as possible by brushing any marks away.
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