Best Climbing Chalk – Expert Review (2021)

Updated on November 8, 2020

This review discusses the best chalk for climbing currently on the market. 

Whether you’re bouldering or high-walling, indoors or outdoors, chalk is an absolute must for every climber. It absorbs the moisture from your hands so that you can get a firm grip on even the smallest handholds, providing the confidence needed to climb your best.

A lot of first-time chalk buyers will assume that all chalk is essentially the same, which is an easy mistake to make. But there are a variety of textures and different presentations that chalk can come as.

Check out our list of favourite tried-and-true chalks to find one that fits your preference as well as our buyer’s guide to make sure that you purchase the best chalk for your needs.

Best Climbing Chalk (Top Picks)

Best For Sensitive Hands

Primo Chalk

Primo Chalk 1lb Bucket

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Top Chalk For Climbing (Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 11 climbing chalks for this article. Below are the best climbing chalks that made our short list.

  1. FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust Climbing Chalk - Best Overall
  2. Frank Endo Block Gym Chalk
  3. 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball
  4. Primo Chalk - Best For Sensitive Hands
  5. TRANGO Gunpowder Climbing Chalk - Best Value

Read our complete buyers guide for climbing chalk.

Best Overall Chalk for Climbing

1. FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust Climbing Chalk

5/5 Overall Rating

FrictionLabs’ Unicorn Dust sure lives up to its magical title. It will put a dent in your wallet, but climbers claim that the price is justified by its dreamy performance.

Unicorn Dust is part of FrictionLabs’ Loose Gym Chalk line. The Denver-based company is specifically focused on manufacturing climbing chalk and refining its products so that they’re free from artificial drying agents.

This non-toxic, pigment-free magnesium carbonate is therefore safe for both adults and kids while also preventing overly dry hands and cracks.

Its moisture absorption is unmatched, and when used there’s less transfer of chalk onto the rock than the average climbing chalk, making it a popular choice for indoor climbing.

There are 3 chalk textures within the FrictionLabs’ Loose Gym Chalk line – super chunky, medium chunky and ultrafine - and they all work wonderfully.

Their reliability can be based on the 100+ professional athletes that use them. The Unicorn Dust is the ultrafine climbing chalk edition and feels the best for climbing.

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Main Features
  • Silica Free
  • Comes in a resealable coffee bag packaging
  • Clean magnesium carbonate chalk
What we like
  • Doesn’t dry out your hands
  • Safe for kids as well as adults
What we dislike
  • Pricey
Key Takeway

The FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust not only offers a solid grip but also leaves your hands feeling healthy and happy with its clean, non-toxic chalk. It is its much-loved and reliable chalking experience that has put it at the top of our list.

2. Frank Endo Block Gym Chalk

5/5 Overall Rating

Frank Endo Block Gym Chalk has been considered a classic choice for indoor climbers as well as gymnasts for quite some time now.

You can purchase the chalk in packs of 4 or 8 2-ounce solid blocks, which makes the chalk easier to store away and our neatest ranked chalk.

The blocks are initially packaged in sealed plastic which is convenient for throwing into your climbing bag (compared to a paper bag, which usually tears and leaks chalk everywhere).

You can then break solid pieces off of the block and crush it into a very fine powder to put into your chalk bag for your climb, or just keep it as a block to rub your hands on to.

The rest of the block can then be stored in a plastic bag, which results in less chalk waste as well as minimal mess. A lot of block chalk users never go back to powder chalk because of its convenience.

The option to buy these chalk blocks in bulk is a bonus, as it saves money for frequent climbers.

The chalk’s 100% magnesium carbonate make up means that it will also keep your hands dry enough to ensure a secure, sticky grip while not drying them out to the point that they crack.

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Main Features
  • 100% Magnesium Carbonate
  • Comes in compacted 2-ounce blocks
What we like
  • Affordable
  • You can buy bulk
  • Minimal chalk-waste
What we dislike
  • The chalk is a bit too sticky for some climbers’ liking
Key Takeaway

The Frank Endo Block Gym Chalk’s presentation makes for clean chalking and waste-free storage, with packaging that won’t tear and mess chalk all over your climbing bag.

3. 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball

4.5/5 Overall Rating

Chalk balls are a popular choice for indoor climbers.

Users tend to complain about the coating that a chalk ball provides (climbers think it’s not as consistent as regular chalk) but those who have used the 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball appear more than stoked with its performance.

The 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball comes as a 65g chalk sock that’s pre-filled with premium-grade magnesium carbonate that is toxin-free, pigment-free, filler-free and scent-free (which is a surprisingly rare quality in chalks) and leaves your hands happy and healthy post-climb.

The ball works by releasing chalk upon contact. It comes in a resealable zip lock bag which you can use to store and transport it, and you can refill the ball via a drawstring at the top.

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Main Features
  • Non-toxic
  • Pigment free
  • Refillable with loose chalk
  • Unscented
  • 100% cotton sock
  • Includes a resealable bag
What we like
  • Refillable
  • The sock is less messy than loose chalk
  • Doesn’t dry out your hands too much
What we dislike
  • The chalk that it comes with isn’t as grippy as most climbers would like
  • Some users have experienced the bag breaking after little use (under 1% of users, though)
Key Takeaway

Suspend the 321 STRONG Refillable Chalk Ball from your harness in an open chalk bag for the best use.

4. Primo Chalk

4/5 Overall Rating

Primo has taken traditional magnesium carbonate and mixed it with five essential oils and Epsom salt to create a product that is both naturally antibacterial and conditioning whilst remaining grippy.

Primo’s essential oil blend (also known as “thieves oil”) is created from the essential oils of clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary and lemon. This mixture kills staph and other harmful bacteria that live in indoor gyms.

And when combined with the Epsom salt this mixture also reduces callus build up and protects your hands from dryness, cracking and tears.

Primo’s chalk doesn’t coat quite as smoothly as the other chalks on our list, but it proves extremely comfortable. The fine texture gets into all the crevices of your hands and stays on your hands longer than other brands (meaning you will use less, and it will last longer).

Its users notice a real difference in how their skin feels, and we can see why the packaging is covered in quotes of praise from climbers and CrossFit athletes alike.

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Main Features
  • Sustainably sourced
  • Contains essential oils and Epsom salts
  • Naturally antibacterial
What we like
  • Soft to the touch and leaves your hands feeling great
  • You can buy in bulk
  • Smells good
What we dislike
  • Pricey
Key Takeaway

The Primo Chalk is the kind of chalk that appeals to a specific type of climber - but for that climber, it will beat everything else on the market.

5. TRANGO Gunpowder Climbing Chalk

3.5/5 Overall Rating

The Trango Gunpowder Chalk is a popular choice for precisely three reasons: its quality, feel and price.

This chalk is a high performer in all the categories demanded of climbing chalk, which essentially boils down to coating nicely and feeling secure during your holds.

The application of this powdery chalk feels silky soft to the touch and coats evenly on your hands.

The chalk absorbs just the right amount of moisture so that you can climb with sweat-free hands without leaving your climb with them dry and cracked.

This Gunpowder Chalk’s nearest competition has been the FrictionLabs chalk.

FrictionLab does exceed the Gunpowder’s performance – and you can see it is our favorite – but Trango’s product is a whole lot cheaper.

It is this strong performance combined with such a competitive price that makes us rank the Gunpowder chalk the best value chalk.

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Main Features
  • Finely ground magnesium carbonate
  • Long-lasting
What we like
  • Affordable
  • Silky smooth
  • Its fine texture works great loose as well as in a chalk sack
  • Doesn’t dry out your hands
What we dislike
  • Not as soft
Key Takeaway

The Trango Gunpowder Chalk ranks below FrictionLabs Loose Chalk in its performance but definitely comes close and is a much cheaper option.

Climbing Chalk - Buyer's Guide (Key Features)

As long as chalk does what it’s supposed to do, you can use it for pretty much any situation. Although some chalks tend to excel in some areas more than others, you can rely on one kind of chalk being able to take you indoors and outdoors as well as bouldering and climbing.

Therefore, purchasing chalk will ultimately come down to personal preference. Here are some things to look into to find the chalk that suits you best.


Experienced climbers tend to have a preference of one texture or another when it comes to grabbing chalk. You can get fine, powdery chalk (like Unicorn Dust or Primo Chalk) or chunkier chalk (like the Frank Endo Block Chalk).

Some brands, such as FrictionsLabs, offer a choice between textures, while other brands will only offer one type (which will narrow down your choice).

Find a texture that you like best and find a brand that offers it to ensure a comfortable climb.

Your Hands

Do you tend to get sweatier hands than is normal? Do your hands act up to regular chalk? Do they dry out quickly? These are questions you should be answering before purchasing chalk.

Although you will generally have to experiment a bit before finding a chalk that perfectly works for you, knowing your body type will kickstart this process and result in much more pleasant climbing.

If you have sensitive hands, the Primo Chalk is a great starting brand. For hands prone to sweating try a fine, powdery chalk like Unicorn Dust or Trango. For dry hands, the Frank Endo Block Chalk could do the trick.


A common mistake in newbie climbers is to assume that all chalks are indifferent, and so they invest in the cheapest ones they can find. The result of this will be much sloppier climbing than if they had taken some time to look into their product.

Because chalk is a trial-and-error product, the best way to see if its price tag is worthwhile is to check out its reviews.

Some of the highest-rated climbing chalk brands tend to be on the pricier side (such as FrictionLabs Loose Chalk) but their users say their performance justifies it. And because chalk lasts forever, you will find that this kind of investment may be well worth your while, especially if you’re a serious climber.

And although it’s a smidgen lower-quality, if you’re on a budget then the Trango Gunpowder will keep you satisfied at a lower price.

Climbing Outdoors

Although chalk doesn’t differ much between environments, your hands might.

For example, indoor climbers who conclude that they have sweaty hands and need drying chalk will sometimes go for a cold outdoor climb and find their hands don’t sweat at all, and then the drying chalk becomes uncomfortable.

On the other hand, someone with dry hands will go out on a sweltering hot day and find their chalk doesn’t absorb enough

Also note that finely powdered chalks tend to be slightly more demanding outdoors, as you want to have a little bit of tactile feedback when you chalk up mid-route.

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