In honor of Friction Lab‘s count down to the release of their new product, “Secret Stuff,” (which is available for preorder on their site now) I thought I would write a little about why chalk is actually the unsung hero of a climber’s gear arsenal.
When I first started climbing, I knew I needed chalk but I had no idea how important it is to the sport of climbing. I watched as climbers would reach into their chalk bags and their hands would emerge looking a lot like a powdered sugar donut. While on the wall, they would find a comfortable position, knee barring or hanging by some other miraculous gravity defying position, chalk up again then attack the route. This white powder was giving them super powers or something because with each application they were sending. This grip enhancing dust was allowing them to reach new heights. Literally.
I bought my first bag of chalk and admittedly, I just grabbed the cheapest bag in the store. I tore open the unmarked package and loaded up my chalk bag. I got use to my hands being covered in chalk and still feeling slick or clammy. The important utility of chalk evaded me till my friend shared his “Unicorn Dust” with me. Okay let me explain, for the non climbers reading this… Friction Labs has 3 amazing grades of chalk texture for you to choose from:
- Bam Bam – which is ultra chunky chalk
- Gorilla Grip – which is chunky but definitely more powdery (its fun to crush the chalk clusters absentmindedly)
- Unicorn dust – which is ultra fine powder (my chalk preference)
This ultra fine powder coated my hand, making it feel silky smooth. The slight dampness on my palm was instantly absorbed and as I started to boulder I could instantly feel the difference. I didn’t even bother using up the rest of the crap chalk I had left. I was hooked on Friction Labs from the first climbing sesh I used it. This chalk was clearly superior. But why? I took to the internet to find out why this chalk worked so much better than the rest.
Let me drop a little knowledge on you… Chalk is mined as Dolomite, a mixture of magnesium carbonate, calcium carbonate and numerous other compounds. #itssciencebitch Okay but for real, what does that mean? I could write a bunch of fancy scientific words here but let me break it down for ya.
Magnesium Carbonate: When exposed to moisture, traps water molecules inside of its crystalline structure, leaving the surface dry. (Good for gripping rocks.)
Calcium Carbonate: Attaches water to the outside of its structure, causing the surface to feel slimy and wet. (Not good for gripping rocks.)
Conclusion: Chalk with a higher ratio of Magnesium Carbonate (Mg) to Calcium Carbonate (Ca) will leave you with drier hands. So when you are climbing in Joshua Tree sweating your b@[[s off, your hands will still be bone dry. Lesson learned? The right chalk WILL improve your grip and sending game.
It is also important to note that other chalk brands do not have PURE chalk like Friction Labs. This is very serious, dangerous even, to your lungs. No, I am not saying people snort chalk or purposefully inhale it; But I can’t even begin to describe how many times I have gotten a face full of chalk when trying to close my chalk bag or when dumping a fresh bag of gorilla grip into a chalk bucket. The dust rises up into my face and it is almost inevitable it will get into your lungs. As a climber, it is almost a guarantee that you will inhale chalk at least a few times a month, and pure chalk means you don’t have to worry about harmful drying agents, heavy metals or impurities in your lungs.
Friction Lab’s clean chalk also means healthier skin. You can go harder and longer without worrying about your hands over-drying and cracking. Friction Labs sells “Climb Skin” and a file which I highly recommend. If you apply the climb skin like an hour or two before climbing and then again after you file down any skin that is uneven and any callouses that have built up, you won’t have to worry about flappers as much. Climb skin is packed full of nourishing oils and shea butter to keep your paws hydrated.
Friction Labs also has a product called Magic which is a high performance (reusable) chalk ball. It is designed to create as little mess as possible and actually helps make your chalk last longer. It is also super helpful for marking holds on boulder problems. I only use Magic in my bouldering set up, but that is a personal preference. Lastly, is the product they are unveiling… Da Da Da DAAAAAA… “SECRET STUFF.” This revolutionary chalk might just keep you from having a TSA nightmare if you are flying to your climbing destination. Yeah, don’t try and go through airport security with a chalk bag full of mysterious white powder. Even if your ticket says Patagonia, you might just find yourself being searched and accused of being a drug kingpin. Haha
All jokes aside, this cream is the future. When you apply a small amount, it looks like nothing, but after a few seconds it turns white and powdery. Some use it as a chalk replacement while others use it as a base layer. It naturally disinfects your hands and kills the bacteria that normally builds up on your hands during the activity (especially indoor climbing). Win win! You can preorder it now and it will ship by the end of the month. I look forward to seeing how the bar continues to be raised by the scientists at Friction Labs. Their evolutionary advancement of products is changing the game.
Buy your Friction Labs chalk here.