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Helmets and Chalk


Helmets broadly come in two types. [ upper ] Foam, or foam-lined helmets, are the lightest, but the most expensive and least durable. [ lower ] Plastic-shell helmets can last for years and are easier on the wallet.

Consider a helmet to be as necessary as a rope. A helmet will make climbing safer, just like a seatbelt makes riding in a car safer. Every year climbers suffer serious head injuries, either by hitting their heads during a fall or being hit with a falling rock or piece of dropped gear. Any helmet CE-certified for climbing will suffice. Some helmets have adjustable suspensions that let you loosen the fit when you’re wearing a cap, or tighten it down after your buzz cut. Most climbers don’t wear a helmet in the gym, but it’s a good idea if you’re belaying a partner much heavier than yourself on a route that begins with overhanging terrain—you could get pulled upward and whack your head into the wall.



Sweaty hands are slippery hands, so we use “chalk,” magnesium carbonate, to keep them dry.

You can get dry chalk in block or powdered form. Both are inexpensive, and which to use is personal preference. Experiment. If one type feels slick or doesn’t stick to your hands, try the other. Chalk balls, which are baseball-sized porous cloth sacks filled with powdered chalk, are good for keeping all that white dust off your clothes. Carry loose chalk or chalk balls in a chalk bag. Chalk bags fasten around your waist, and any one of the dozens of designs will do; purchasing one is simply a matter of taste. On popular boulder problems and routes, chalk can cake up on the holds, becoming unsightly and making the rock more slippery than ever. Scrub it off with a brush or toothbrush carried in a small sleeve sewn to the chalk bag for the purpose. If you’re bouldering, a chalk “bucket,” a large pot that you set on the ground and dip into before climbing, may be more convenient.

Gymnastic chalk will give sweaty hands a positive grip. Carry it in a chalk bag on a belt cinched around your waist.
















Check out Rock and Ice's helmet and climbing accessory reviews.


Next Knots for Rock Climbing
Revisit Crash Pads

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