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Like most climbers, I’ve got some hot, greasy tips that require a thick application of chalk before every boulder. Even better if there’s a fan nearby to dry my digits off with before I grab start holds. Being the self-proclaimed stickiest-fingered climber in the office, I take chalk seriously.
I’ve always been a fan of FrictionLabs chalk. Sure, it’s expensive, but it lasts longer, which often makes the difference between send or no send. Throw in some Secret Stuff liquid chalk, and you’re bound to have a chain clipin’ day. The problem with Secret Stuff however, and for that matter any traditional liquid chalk, is the alcohol. It makes the sticky cream smelly and bad for the skin.
Enter FrictionLabs Alcohol Free Secret Stuff. It’s scent-free and great for sensitive, dry skin. Like the original Secret Stuff, it works. When tested against leading liquid chalk brands, there really is no comparison—it stays on longer. The only real tradeoff is that Alcohol Free Secret Stuff takes longer to dry than its alcohol-containing counterparts. Give those tips a full 120 seconds following application before hopping on your proj.
Like other FrictionLabs products, Alcohol Free Secret Stuff is made with high purity Magnesium Carbonate, so pure in fact that it qualifies as “Pharmaceutical Grade.” Unlike other chalk brands, it isn’t cut with calcium carbonate. This explains both the effectiveness and price of FrictionLabs products. Alcohol Free Secret Stuff retails at $19 for 75 mL, or 25 cents a milliliter. Other brands tend to range from 5 to 13 cents a millimeter.
Also like the original Secret Stuff, Alcohol Free Secret Stuff has an 18 month shelf life, that is, as long as the user keeps the lids screwed on tight and remembers to shut the cap.
One more thing to keep in mind: Because it’s alcohol-free, it will freeze if left out in the car during winter! Being in Colorado, we at Gym Climber learned that the hard way.
I’ve come a long way since my gumby days of using a zip lock baggie as a chalk bag back and accepting whatever flour-consistency chalk that my parents bought me. Since coming to understand what good chalk can do for performance, I’ve been willing to fish out the extra buck.
Gym Climber vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Gym Climber. We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.