Climbing chalk has been going through a renaissance lately. The days of using bulk packs of cheap athletic chalk are over. The latest chalk brands market a purer, more refined product and sell at a premium – claiming better friction and performance. The latest technology to be used in climbing chalk is Upsalite.
What Is Climbing Chalk Made Of?
All climbing chalk is made from Magnesium Carbonate – MgCO3. This is a broken down form of the mineral Magnesite which is mostly mined in China. This chalk absorbs water without breaking down so it’s great at increasing friction by removing moisture.
A lot of climbing chalk also includes a drying agent. Most of the expensive brands of chalk use a “purer” form of Magnesium Carbonate which is essentially just much finer. This gets into crevices in your skin better and will absorb water more efficiently. It can still come in a block or powder form and some people say this chalk works better than your standard bulk stuff. There are different brands and claims, and your mileage may vary.
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What Is Upsalite?
Upsalite is a new form of Magnesium Carbonate with a much more porous structure. It was discovered by researchers working at Uppsala university in Sweden when they accidentally left a reaction running over the weekend. Basically Upsalite is a form of chalk that absorbs water much better. It is claimed to absorb 10 times more water than regular chalk.
Will Upsalite Make Me Climb Harder?
If you are a bit of a sweaty betty and find yourself chalking up a lot – maybe. Using this stuff as a top up with your regular chalk or pre-mixed should absorb more sweat. On hot days this should mean less chalking up. An Upsalite climbing chalk could become the new norm as climbing expands to a larger market.
Black Diamond are the first brand to start using Upsalite in their chalk – marketing it as “Pure Gold”. You can buy it in a small 1, 5 or 10 gram packet meant to be added to a larger amount of your regular chalk like a top up. BD also say that using just the “Pure Gold” Upsalite as a base coat should last a very long time. It’s definitely more expensive but getting a 1g tester is a cheap way of seeing if it works for you.
Black Diamond Pure Gold
Black Gold 200g
$19.95 $14.96 at Black Diamond
BD have also added a new “Black Gold” range of chalk to compliment their standard “White Gold” chalk. The black stuff includes 10% Upsalite which – in this ratio – works out to about twice the moisture absorption of normal chalk. There is also a liquid chalk formula. Give it a try and let us know what you think. Climbing chalk brand round up coming soon™.
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