There are a lot of things we focus on while we climb: what shoes we're wearing, how comfortable our harness is, or how ripped our tank top may, or may not, make us look. (Spoiler alert: RIPPED.) But what about your chalk? Are you thinking about the performance of your chalk every time you clap it on your hands? I know I haven't in the past ... I have typically gone with whatever chalk is closest to free ... but all chalks are NOT created equal, and the newest chalk line we have added to our gear shops at Summit stands out miles above the rest. I'd say it's more than just chalk — but it's not. It's different because it IS just chalk; with none of the other nonsense fillers you see in other chalk blends. Basically, it's the gluten-free blend of the chalk world, and once you start, you ain't never going back. Probably because you can't digest gluten anymore, but whatever. I am no dietician.
The Science: Friction Labs uses more magnesium carbonate in its chalk than any other chalk company out there. Magnesium carbonate, along with calcium carbonate, together make up most chalks mined today. Magnesium carbonate is clutch because when it is exposed to moisture, it traps the water molecules inside of itself, in its molecular laser cage, or whichever scientific term you would prefer. Calcium carbonate, on the other hand, is super B-game — it attaches moisture to the outside of its cellular structure, leaving a slimy, wet feeling, like condensation collected on the grossest, biggest snail you have ever seen. Most chalk companies keep a fairly low magnesium carbonate percentage in their blends because it's easier, and also keep quite a high percentage of calcium carbonate in their chalks — which keeps you feeling greasy and grody. Some chalk blends attempt to make up for that slimy calcium carbonate feeling by adding other drying agents, but these can be bad for your hands, or sometimes just plain old ineffective. Friction Labs are basically just keeping chalk in its purest, most effective form. Plus, without the extra junk that some other chalk companies put into their chalk formulas, there is actually less between your fingers and the rock, giving you a better, grippier grip. Plus, it comes in three different blends, so your chalk can already come with way you like it! No more pumping yourself out crushing chunks in a new bag of chalk, or stressing bout every chunk broken when you're trying to preserve every lump of chalky goodness in your brand new bag.
DIG. The chalk goes on very smooth, and immediately coats your hands in an even layer. Feels kinda crazy, almost like liquid chalk if you have tried that before. You can tell that it sinks into the prints and lines on your skin, instead of just sitting on top like a lot of heavier chalks.
The chalk stayed on my hands and didn't leave as much of a mess on the climbing holds as some other chalks I have tried. It distributed across my palms and fingers easily, and I didn't find myself having to over-chalk to get that all-over coverage, or doing that hand-rubbing-together thing before I got on the wall. I also chalked up less often as I climbed, because my hands legitimately did stay drier longer. I was pretty excited about it, and projected until I wanted to pass out. Overall, the chalk felt different, for sure — and I will definitely bust it out during a long climbing day, or when I am projecting hard!
We've got all three blends now at all of our gyms, in both the full-size 10 oz. coffee bag (do not leave in your kitchen or your non-climber and also probably blind roommate may mistakenly french press you a cup of Magnesium Mocha), and a 1 oz. tester size if you wanna test the magic for yourself.