FrictionLabs is a US based climbing chalk company currently boasting to have manufactured the highest purity of magnesium carbonate chalk on the market. “Why is this so great?!”I hear you ask. Well, chalk is a combination of magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate. The former traps moisture, leaving surfaces dry and the latter attaches water to the outside of the molecule, leaving surfaces moist. It is claimed by the team at FrictionLabs that this makes their chalk last longer, safer to inhale and is less likely to dry out the skin.
We put this fancy new climbing chalk to the test…….
FrictionLabs currently have four chalk products on the market. One is Magic, a reusable chalk ball and the other three are different textures of loose chalk; Bam Bam Super Chunky, Unicorn Dust and Gorilla Grip.
Magic chalk ball
The first thing I noticed about this reusable chalk ball was the size. It is larger than other chalk balls I have used and fit very snuggly into my chalk bag. The mesh on the bag is fine but this didn’t seem to restrict any chalk from passing through. It took a good bit of prodding and squeezing before my hands had a sufficient amount of chalk on to make me feel ready to jump on the rock, however after a few climbs, the bag mesh was saturated with chalk a lot more came out.
I tested the chalk on peak limestone, as I wanted to put the need for crimping and pulling on polished edges to the test. I don’t usually use chalk balls so the experience for me was slightly frustrating as I like my hands to be well coated but I did actually find that I didn’t need as much as usual and found myself chalking up out of habit rather than requirement. I noticed that the feeling of friction on my fingers remained for longer and sometimes lasted a few climbs. After a full day at the crag I did need to wash my hands before the drive home, as there was still a lot of residue. However the main thing I noticed all day was the lack of chalky mess that can accumulate, even with other balls I have used in the past.
I would say the ball is great for a mess free climbing experience (certain climbing walls require bags anyway) and not lose out on friction. The ball is not so good if you have a small chalk bag as it is quite large and also not for those who like to be slathered in the white stuff.
The only “sticking point” is the price. Around £6 will get you 70g/2.5oz and around a tenner will get you 142g/5oz. Of course for higher Magnesium Carbonate purity, which has no drying agent or impurities, it probably costs more to produce, hence the additional cost. Whether this appeals to the average UK climber, I’m unsure. Some retailers offer a smaller pack – 1oz for around £2.50, which means you can test it out with less financial commitment, which seems like a great starter option, if you’re unconvinced of the benefits.
Friction labs Chalk: The Verdict
In terms of post-climbing dryness, my skin does feel much better and less dry than it usually would having used the chalk around 6 times in 10 days. I did also notice that it was much kinder to the respiratory system than other chalks I have used. I also think I probably used less as it was so effective so you have to consider this when looking at cost. I have to admit it’s going to be hard to go back to other chalks I have used and I might just be a Friction Labs convert. We would absolutely love to hear what you think about this new product. When you give it a go, will you tell us what you think?
As well as the chalk ball there are three types of loose chalk available; Bam Bam Super Chunky, Unicorn Dust and Gorilla Grip.
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