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Climbing Chalk Etiquette: Top Tips

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Ever wondered how to make the most of your climbing chalk? Here are our top tips for ensuring you’re getting the most out of your chalk. 

1. You need less than you think 

The temptation is always to grab as much chalk as you can, and certainly you do see some climbers wandering about with hands like a French mime. But in reality, a little goes a long way. Like all things with climbing, efficiency is what you’re looking for here. By only using exactly what you need, you’ll find your chalk will last longer.

2. Loads Less

In fact, too much chalk is actually bad for your climbing. Having your hands caked up with chalk reduces friction, rather than improving it – and no amount of chalk will compensate for poor finger strength. If you’re using loose chalk, then one pinch between forefinger and thumb is all you need for both hands. You want a light dusting. If you can blow off the excess, you’ve got too much. If Janja Garnbret can smash a world cup semi-final without her chalk bag, us mere mortals can probably cope without a glam rock-inspired chalk cloud around us. 

3. Ball it up

If you’re going for loose chalk, pop it in a ball within your chalk bag. These mesh balls keep your chalk tidy, for starters, and ensure you don’t end up using way too much by controlling how much ends up on your hands. It prevents spillages, and they’re reusable so environmentally friendly too. 

4. Don’t take it bouldering 

Wearing a chalk bag on a bouldering route is unnecessary. If you fall or jump down you’ll just create a chalk cloud on landing, and you may not be able to top up part way through a problem anyway. Apply chalk right before you start a problem, and try clapping off any excess chalk inside the bag itself rather than in front of your face – you’ll contain the chalk inside the bag, instead of it filling the air in the centre.  

5. Not on every climb?!

Consider what you’re climbing before you reach for that bag. This may be a controversial suggestion, but when you’re warming up, or if you’re tackling a nice juggy route, you’re simply not going to get a great deal of benefit off chalky hands. Keep it for when you’re pushing your grade and you will feel the benefit on sweaty hands. Save your chalk for when you need it, or you might as well just throw some cash at the holds and walk away.