Salves for Sore Hands

Whether it’s cold weather, sharp rock, or a brand new hangboard, your climber hands need some TLC! Today, we review some of the products out there to keep your hands smooth, fresh, and flapper-free. We’ll start out with a few salves and finish up with some lotions specifically for athletes and climbers.

climber skin carecrossFIXE HANDS salve is great for preventing and quickly recovering cracks, tears, and flappers. As a part of the SKINourishment family this salve is made of all-natural, food grade ingredients. It feels soft and quite oily, but in a way that you know is bringing much needed moisturize to your skin. The tube applicator also allows you to apply without getting your other hand covered in salve. With ingredients like beeswax, coconut oil, and green tea oil the scent is natural, pleasant, and not overwhelming. You can also feel good about the packaging – it’s biodegradable and compostable.

climber skin care

W.O.D. Welder Solid Salve was originally designed for Crossfitters, but turns out to be great at treating beat up climber hands too. Made of all-natural ingredients, this salve goes on easy and smooth in its tube applicator. And the twist top ensures that the salve will always stay securely inside the tube. The consistency is not too soft, not too hard, and not too oily either. W.O.D. really seems to be nailing the consistency on this salve. The smell is very pepperminty, but in a way that I really enjoy.

climbOn is one of the major brands on the market, and was religiously used by Tommy Caldwell on his ascent of the Dawn Wall. The familiar scent brinsg me back to climbing trips where it has single handedly kept my skin intact from the over-enthusiastic tendency to climb too many days on without a rest day. They tout their “food-grade” ingredients, which enables it to double as a balm for your crag dog’s cracked paws when the weather gets cold or even as a lip balm. It is thick, oily, and you can almost feel your hands healing as they absorb the salve. This is best applied before bed so that you don’t get anything or anyone else greasy!

climber hand careThe Jam Salves are brainchild of a holiday gift exchange – the founders of The Jam Salves decided to forego Christmas cookies as gifts and instead design their own line of climbing salves for their friends’ callused hands. There are multiple variations of these beeswax-based salves, including ones specific for muscles, tendons, and hands. Of these products, our favorite was The Lotion Bar. The larger bar size makes it easy to generously slather your hands before bed, and the scent of this product was by far my favorite of all the products tested—a light scent of coconut and lavender that lulls you to sleep (even under the most uncomfortable of camping conditions). The consistency of this salve was the softest of the products tested, without managing to be overly oily.

climber hand careW.O.D. Welder Hands as Rx Cream is a thick, all-natural cream that I wouldn’t even call a “lotion”. It has a cool feeling, likely from the peppermint oil it contains, and provides long-lasting moisture without feeling greasy. Like their salve above, be ready for a strong but refreshing peppermint scent. Of the lotions we tested, this has the strongest scent. This cream is versatile and can be used before, during, and after climbing, and really does an amazing job at keeping that all-day moisture.

 Climbskin is a lotion that is lightweight, not at all greasy, and can be used midday at the crag with no fear of slipping off holds. If you need some celebrity endorsement to be convinced, Chris Sharma swears by it. The scent is very neutral, for those who may be turned off by the fragrant balms and lotions above. It may bother the overly granola-minded folk that the ingredients include a fair number of chemicals with difficult-to-pronounce names, but I’m fairly sure this is part of the delicately crafted magic which creates the most perfect consistency for a climbing lotion.

Climb on!
Mary & Emily

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3 thoughts on “Salves for Sore Hands

  1. New England Guy says:

    No love for Badger Balm? They’re a B Corp (, good people, and mostly organic.

  2. Mary and Emily, thanks so much for taking the time to review.

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