Best CHALK for Climbing & Bouldering | TEST 2023

Best Chalk climbing

We took a deep dive into the world of chalk – we tested and compared 10 different chalks. The 4 best chalks are going to be detailed here.

  • Bonus: the best Chalk Ball and the best Liquid Chalk

Best Chalk – Overview

  • There’s no doubt that chalk increases grip – according to this study by up to 20 %.
  • The chalk’s surface structure is what makes the difference.
  • The right amount of chalk: As much as necessary – as little as possible.
  • Too much chalk creates a smooth, slippery surface and is counterproductive.
  • Chalk draws moisture – brushing off chalk residue from the rock will give you a better grip.
  • Chalk can be bought in various textures: powder, chunks, blocks.
  • People with sweaty hands usually benefit most from fine powder, while chunkier textures are better for dry hands.

The 4 Best Chalks for Climbing

  1. Best Value for Money:  Black Diamond – White Gold
  2. Grip: Friction Labs – Gorilla Grip
  3. SUPER Grip: Black Diamond – Black Gold
  4. Best Chalk Box for Refilling: Petzl – Power Crunch Box


Best Value for Money
Black Diamond – White Gold

  • Best price-performance ratio of the chalks we tested.
  • Consistent results, whether in the gym or outdoors in the summer.
  • 100 % chalk – no artificial drying agents. 
  • Pleasant texture – powder with small chunks.
  • Good grip and gentle to the skin.

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Excellent Grip
Friction Labs – Gorilla Grip

  • This high-tech chalk by Friction Labs provides more grip than cheaper competitors.
  • Great, long lasting chalk coverage
  • Expensive but good.
  • Used by lots of pros.
  • Superb performance, but likely a bit too expensive for the average Joe. 
  • 100 % chalk – no artificial drying agents.

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Best Grip
Black Diamond – Black Gold

(Best chalk for sweaty hands)

  • The ultimate “high-end chalk”
  • Astonishingly effective.
  • Keeps hands remarkably dry, no matter how much you sweat. 
  • Exceptionally good grip.
  • Significant differences to the competition.
  • Expensive but very good.
  • 100 % chalk – no artificial drying agents.

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Best Chalk Box for Refilling
Petzl – Power Crunch Box

  • Handy box with an airtight screw top
  • Perfect for bringing along for refills.
  • Good grip on rock and in the gym.
  • Blend of powder and small to medium size chunks
  • 100 % chalk – no artificial drying agents.

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Best Chalk Ball
Friction Labs – Chalkball

  • Refillable chalk ball with the best price-performance ratio.
  • Good, tough drawstring closure. 
  • Mesh fabric ensures a thin but even layer of chalk.
  • Reduces dust exposure in climbing gyms. 
  • Great for using sparingly and effectively. 

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Best Liquid Chalk
Petzl Power Liquid

  • Liquid chalk is a mix of magnesium carbonate powder and alcohol. 
  • It creates a thorough and very dry layer of chalk
  • Very efficient.
  • No cloud of dust – perfect for the gym. 
  • Extra dry base layer for hot days or difficult routes.

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Test Criteria

We were surprised by the differences between the individual brands. At lower difficulty levels (large holds), the choice of chalk hardly mattered, but tougher difficulty levels made the strengths and weaknesses of each chalk a lot more apparent.

– Especially people with sweaty hands will be able to tell the differences between chalks quite clearly.

Refill of the precious Black Gold Chalk

Chalk coverage & performance
How well does the chalk attach to the skin?
How long does the chalk keep your skin dry?
How often do you have to reapply the chalk?

Skin tolerance
What does your skin feel like after a bouldering or climbing session? Chalk dries out your skin – just like it’s supposed to. However, some magnesia mixes also include certain additives. Most chemical additives (drying agents) aren’t noticeable right away but can (in rare cases) lead to rashes and other ailments for people with sensitive skin.

The purer the chalk the better your skin will tolerate it. 

With all that chalk… i could not resist

Climbing – Chalk | Reviews

Best Chalk – Value for Money

Black Diamond – White Gold

Dry Hands
Value – Price/Performance

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  • Good grip
  • Long-lasting coverage
  • Price
  • Packaging

Best overall combo of price and performance – best chalk for every-day use.

White Gold by Black Diamond dries your hands and ensures reliable grip – even on hot climbing days. In this price class, it beats Metolius, Ocun, Edelrid, and Mammut. White Gold is the best chalk for daily use, no matter whether you’re in the gym or outdoors.

Naturally, there are cheaper chalks available (e.g. Mantle); however, they scored a lot worse in our test. A couple of extra bucks are definitely worth it, especially if you’re past the beginner stage and are taking on more ambitious projects. 

This chalk primarily consists of fine powder mixed with small and medium-size chunks. The desired texture is subject to personal opinion, but we think this form is ideal. The chunks can easily be crumbled. 

The bigger the package, the more chunks you’ll find. Smaller packages (100g) are almost entirely made up of fine powder and include hardly any chunks.

Excellent Grip + Skin Tolerance

Friction Labs – Gorilla Grip

Dry Hands
Value – Price/Performance

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  • Grip
  • Coverage
  • Gentle to the skin
  • Reapply less frequently
  • Price

Does what normal chalk does – just better. 

  • It absorbs more moisture.
  • It keeps your fingers even drier. 
  • It keeps you dry for longer.
  • It improves grip while keeping chalk usage low. 

Better than conventional chalk
Compared to regular chalk, it seems to be a lot purer and improves grip even in small quantities. 

Much better than cheap chalk
In a direct comparison with cheap chalk, it becomes apparent that there are huge differences – especially in warm conditions.

Gentler to the skin than other chalks
Compared to our grip winner (Black Gold), it doesn’t dry the skin quite as much – therefore, it is a lot more gentle to the skin.

It’s available in 3 different textures. 

Fine – Chunky – Super Chunky
  • Fine – Unicorn Powder
  • Chunky (Mix of powder and chunks) – Gorilla Grip
  • Super chunky (bigger chunks) – Bam Bam


(Best chalk for sweaty hands)

Black Diamond – Black Gold

Dry Hands
Value – Price/Performance

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  • BEST grip of all Chalks
  • Super dry fingers
  • Price
  • Dries out skin a lot

Expensive but brilliant chalk with noticeable differences – unbeatable!

In our chalk test, the participants were not aware of what chalk they were using, and yet almost everyone awarded Black Gold first place

It really has earned its reputation as the highly praised super-chalk. If you love climbing, then you should invest in this stuff and use it when you’re pushing to your limits.

Expensive but good

UPSALITE – The secret formula
Even though this is pure magnesium carbonate, just like other chalks, this chalk’s surface texture has been chemically modified. Black Diamond claims that Black Gold can absorb twice as much moisture as conventional chalk.

The go to Chalk for certain projects.

And to be honest, when I first touched this chalk I was absolutely amazed at how well it works

I will be keeping this chalk in my chalk bag whenever I start a long-term project from now on, even though it’s too expensive for daily use for me personally. On top of that, it dries out the skin a lot.

Just like White Gold it’s an ideal combination of powder and small chunks. 

Upsalite is also available in pure form (Pure Gold) and can be mixed in with any conventional chalk. 

Best Chalk Box for Refilling

Petzl – Power Crunch Box

Dry Hands
Value – Price/Performance

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  • High qualitiy chalk
  • Keeps dry for a long time
  • No mess when refilling
  • Slightly more expensive

If you’re looking for high-grade chalk with a convenient box for refilling – ✅ Petzl Power Crunch Box.

Petzl Power Crunch has won the comparison of refillable chalks over Mammut and Edelrid. 

It was a close call, but the Petzl chalk ensures better coverage than its two competitors, which is a big advantage, especially if you have sweaty palms.

Petzl – Power Crunch Refill

The container for refilling is super handy and makes refilling a breeze. Just keep a box with you in your car or backpack.

This, too, has a good mix of fine powder and small to medium-size chunks. 

Best Chalk Ball 

Friction Labs – Chalkball

  • Chalk balls ensure a thin and even layer of chalk on your skin.
  • They reduce magnesium clouds in climbing and bouldering gyms.
  • The weakest point of any chalk ball is the closure-system.
  • Frictions Labs Chalk ball has a strong drawstring closure and will last many years (if you’re careful when refilling).

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  • Great chalk
  • Refillable
  • Closure System
  • Slightly too big for small chalk bags

Chalk ball with a great price-performance ratio – overall a great buy.

Best Liquid Chalk

Petzl – Liquid Chalk

  • Stops perspiration and ensures fantastic grip.
  • Causes absolutely no dust clouds.
  • A little expensive – but very efficient.
  • Very well suited for a base layer of chalk before starting your routine.
  • Some bouldering gyms don’t allow any other types of chalk. 
  • Dries out the skin substantially so following it up with good skincare is recommended. 

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  • Dries very quickly
  • Thin and very dry layer of chalk
  • High-yield
  • Handy tube
  • Dries out Skin 

Great for long lasting extra grip – professional climbers use liquid chalk frequently.

Further information about the effect of liquid chalk as well as the entire test can be found in our liquid chalk test. There’s one alternative that is gentler to the skin (no alcohol) as well as one with more alcohol (disinfectant).

What Exactly is Chalk?

The white powder made for us climbers and boulderers is magnesium carbonate (MgCO3). Chalk, just like a lot of other magnesium compounds, is hygroscopic, which means that it attracts and binds moisture from its surroundings. In our case, that moisture is the sweat from our hands.

A big thank you to chalk – without you we would simply not be able to climb a lot of routes. 

Additionally, chalk is alkaline, so it neutralizes the acidic sweat of our hands, which slows down the corrosion and disintegration of limestone.

However, chalk adversely affects sandstone since it clogs the pores of the stone and reduces grip. This means that you should only use liquid chalk or alternatives free of chalk in certain regions (e.g. Fontainebleau).

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Different Textures 

A quick reach into the chalk bag is enough to cover the entire palm of your hand with chalk. I’m personally not a huge fan of the very fine mixes since they leave too much excess chalk on your hands. However, it’s likely the best solution for people that tend to have sweaty and moist hands. 

Refilling chalk balls works best with fine powder. 

Reaching into the chalk bag leaves a lot less chalk (but usually still more than enough) on your palms. You can also crumble the chunks to achieve whatever fineness you like best. This is my favorite option and allows you to use the chalk a lot more sparingly than the fine powder.

Chunks are also offered in different textures and sizes, like small or larger, solid chunks.

Chalk can also be purchased in compressed blocks that avoid dust clouds almost entirely, particularly in bouldering gyms. Refilling chalk bags is also an easy and, more importantly, clean affair – just break off the desired amount and place it in the Chalkbag.

The disadvantage is that applying chalk takes longer when you’re using a block. Therefore, they are not a great option for climbers who want to reapply some chalk quickly right before a crux section. Of course, blocks can also be crumbled to achieve the desired texture. 

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Chalk – Alternatives and Variations

Chalk Balls

A small fabric pouch filled with chalk, which is available either as disposable or refillable chalk balls. I definitely recommend the refillable version since you can use them as often as you want.

Advantages: more efficient, fewer dust clouds when used correctly
Disadvantage: not ideal for people with sweaty hands.

Liquid Chalk

A liquid mix of chalk and alcohol, sold as liquid chalk in either little bottles or tubes. 

Once the chalk has been applied, the alcohol starts to evaporate and leaves behind a thin and very dry layer of chalk on the skin. It’s particularly dry since the alcohol also dries out the skin.

Advantage: great grip, no dust (ideal for climbing gyms), dry hands for longer.
Disadvantage: expensive, can’t reapply chalk while climbing, dries out the hands a lot.

Application: Drop a small amount of the liquid onto your palms and rub your hands together, then wait for a few seconds for the alcohol to evaporate. That’s all there is to it!

Where to use it:

  • Ideally in climbing and bouldering gyms to avoid dust clouds (at least in combination with regular chalk)
  • Before starting your route

DIY Liquid Chalk – Super Easy

Liquid chalk is not exactly cheap – but making it yourself is very easy and straightforward. All you need is:
1. Chalk (powder or finely ground)
2. Alcohol (e.g. 70% ethanol)
3. A tube to bottle it in:
– Mix about 2 parts chalk with 1 part alcohol until you achieve the desired consistency.
– Fill it into the tube. 

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What is Pof = Sticky Tree Resin

This is a completely natural alternative to conventional chalk that is completely free of magnesium. The liquid solution is made of distilled tree resin (mostly from pines) and alcohol. Its application is similar to that of liquid chalk. It does not leave behind any chalk marks or create any dust clouds, so it’s most often used in areas where the use of chalk is not permitted.

Note: The magnesia that gymnasts use is not suitable for climbing since it contains additives (talcum) that create a “gliding” effect on gym equipment. We climbers are definitely better off without it.

Too Much Chalk?

If you make the (common) mistake of using too much chalk, the holds will be downright coated in chalk, which reduces grip and makes the holds slippery.

Chalk absorbs moisture from its environment, no matter whether that’s your palms or the surrounding air. 

In this case, less is definitely more. You can remove excess chalk by using a climbing brush. With the help of this fairly coarse brush, you can clean holds and get rid of the layer of chalk that has built upon them.

Part of a good climbing etiquette is occasionally brushing down holds – but we’ll get to that in a separate chapter down below.

Too Little Chalk?

Not using chalk at all doesn’t work either. Chalk is definitely an aid that increases grip and makes a noticeable difference, especially at higher difficulty levels. 

Not using enough chalk leads to sweat getting on the hold and mixing with chalk residue from previous climbers, particularly on plastic holds in the gym. What you’re left with is clogged pores and a slippery layer of chalk on the hold. Since the holds need to stay dry, using no chalk at all is not recommended.

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Chalk Etiquette 

Dust clouds
Pay attention to how much unnecessary dust you cause and try to minimize it. 

The excess chalk should be shaken off inside the chalk bag rather than blown off of your hands (at least in the gym).

Brushing down holds
A thin layer of residue chalk can coat holds, particularly on popular climbing routes, which will cause your grip to decrease noticeably. Brushing off holds every now and then will earn you some praise and appreciation. 

Tick marks 
Tick marks are small lines of chalk that are drawn on the wall. They are helpful and aid you in locating the best holds. However, it’s good etiquette to only use as few marks as possible and to remove them once you’ve finished your project. 

Chalk… and the French Blow (: