For girls who care about which balls they squeeze, we tested a bunch of chalk dispensers that are slightly cooler than average. Does size matter to you? Care for a little friend in your chalk bag? Are the ethics of leave-no-trace high on your priority list? Scented chalk, anyone? There is something for everyone out there, so get comfortable while we give you the run down.
The original. Did you know that “Chalk Ball” is to “chalk dispenser” as “Kleenex” is to “tissue”? In 1986, inspired by a lady’s nylon stocking he spotted in a washer, Bison Design owner Brian Kelleghan started to make chalk dispensers for himself and his friends. Two years later, the first “Chalk Balls” hit the stores of REI. The rest is history—gone were the days of puffy white clouds at the climbing crags. For many years, the Bison was the only chalk dispenser available in retail. The Bison Chalk Ball comes in two sizes and in a version filled with chunky chalk. Squeeze the Ball and you get the perfect amount of high-quality chalk. The “mini” size is perfect for small hands. Thumbs up for the original Chalk Ball. PS: Bison Design offers all sorts of chalks that are worth looking into.
Imagine you’re just below the crux, pumped, your heart rate is going up and up. Hands are sweating, you chalk up frantically. Suddenly the soothing scent of lavender surrounds you. The world turns violet. One deep breath and you pull the crux. Joshua Tree’s herbal scented chalk balls clearly win today’s competition. Scented chalk makes climbing even more fun. If “Flower Power” isn’t for you, then try “Ice.” While the label “tip-numbing” is an overstatement, this mint-scented version is nonetheless invigorating. Also available: spicy “Fire” for the ultimate kick. Aside from its olfactive quality, JTree’s chalk scores high marks in terms of both adhesion and application. Hence, the non-scented version is definitely worth looking into if you’re an all natural gal. Psst…definitely also try JTree’s delicious lip balms.
Behind AllBeta is climber girl Lucy Lo. Her mouse chalk dispenser comes in two sizes and hands down wins the award for the cutest chalk dispenser on earth. Alas, you gotta squeeze the little rodent quiet a bit to get your hands chalky. If you’re in for the style and not for performance, then you might make friends with this adorable companion. Note, the mouse comes empty and can be filled with your chalk of choice. Check out Lucy’s Etsy store for more adorable animalistic chalk bags and dispensers.
The Mercedes among the chalk dispensers as far as price goes. I’ve been a fan of Friction Lab’s loose chalk for a while. The Magic is refillable and a good alternative for climbers who swear by Friction Lab’s high quality chalk and want a no-mess solution. It doesn’t dispense enough chalk with one squeeze, for my taste anyways. I might stick to Friction Lab’s Unicorn dust for now and try to minimize my mess on the bouldering pads.
Leave no trace is a rule all climbers should adhere to, right? Soon after magnesium carbonate became a staple in any climber’s pack, a search for an alternative substance that wouldn’t leave white marks began. If chalk traces are of concern to you, the Eco Ball might be the right choice—if you are willing to compromise on performance. The chalk substitute doesn’t keep your hands as dry as regular chalk. If your aim is to leave ZERO trace, you might consider doing it the Saxon style. In the limestone crags of Germany’s climbing mecca, local climbing ethics prohibit not only the use of metal protection but also chalk…so wipe your sweaty palms off on your pants and climb on!
So there you have it, our take on all the balls! Original, smelly, cute, magical, and eco-friendly. Which do you prefer?