21 October 2012

Review: Liquidgrip

Recently I spotted a new liquid chalk product called Liquidgrip on the market. I’m always keen to try new things out so asked them for a bottle to try and and review for this blog. It particularly piqued my interested since they make the following claims in their marketing:

“Liquidgrip is the only gripping agent in the world which works by binding to the fatty acids in your skin. This means a single application at the start of your session will last for hours without reapplying. Unlike regular chalk and liquid chalk, Liquidgrip leaves NO marks at all on clothing or equipment and is even anti-bacterial for improved hygiene. The harder you work, the harder Liquid grip works. It even works in the rain and isn’t affected by sweat.”

All this sounds pretty interesting. On trying it, it does indeed seem a little different to standard liquid chalk, with more longevity and less obvious deposit on the holds. Crucially, the grip itself feels different. On your skin it feels sticky. So far so good. On the rock, I had variable results. I tried it outdoors at first and initially rather liked it. Later I felt that it worked well on some types of holds and not any better than normal chalk at other times. Indoors, I didn’t get on so well and found it ‘rolled’ off my finger skin and didn’t improve the friction. However, I have really sweaty hands, so I’m a tough customer to please in that environment.

Overall, it wasn’t for me. I felt it filled the fingerprint ‘tread’ too much. The stickiness was good but although the product stays on your skin reasonably well, the stickiness doesn’t seem to last all that well. I was obviously keen to find out more about where that stickiness comes from. I asked the UK distributors but they couldn’t tell me. The ingredients list on the bottle is exactly the same as standard liquid chalk (chalk, alcohol, thickener). However, on the american liquidgrip site it mentions having rosin in it. Rosin is commonly used by weightlifters for grip. Presumably the sticky feeling comes from the rosin? I doubt that in this form it would leave any residue on the rock, but who knows?

[UPDATE] Liquidgrip clarified that there is a small amount of Rosin (less than 5%) in the product and they reassure that there is no transference to surfaces although didn't say how this was tested.

Some people might like it for climbing more than I did. Although I didn’t personally prefer it to standard chalk for climbing, I probably would use it in a weights gym, where you wouldn’t get away with using loose chalk. I’d also use it if I had a fingerboard in a room at home I didn’t want to cover in chalk dust.

[SECOND UPDATE] Here is a nice review of the product by Spenser who tested it systematically and found evidence of some residue left on the rock compared to normal chalk. It's not something I often think about here in Scotland since almost all my routes are first ascents and some of them go over a decade without a repeat. However, in popular areas this review is a reminder that we need to be very careful how we use the natural resource - it can get trashed within the space of a few short years. It's seriously not good and it's unnecessary.


jriggedy said...

Hi Dave.
Love your blog. Just wanted to add that I recently discovered DMM liquid chalk has resin in (though it's cryptically listed as "colophonium"). I've used it a little, but haven't noticed much difference between it and non-resinous liquid chalks. I do know that the bags of resin (aka poff "ghosts") used in Font over the years have created a slick resin on many classic problems. But that was through a more direct application of the stuff...

Many athletes use grip potions like the one you talk about here: weight lifters, pole dancers (I'm serious), foosball players, etc. But I do feel the types of things climbers are looking for in a "grip enhancer" are pretty different than most other folks, mainly due to the small amount of contact between skin and surface we typically deal with (i.e., tips only), and the irregularity of the surfaces we climb, too.

If you're looking for a little toilet reading material on the ol' iPad, check out my non-exhaustive list of "Crap Climbers Put on their Hands": http://thestonemind.com/2012/10/16/from-chalk-to-salve-crap-climbers-put-on-their-hands/

Thanks, and keep up the great work!


Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

Jonathan from Liquid Grip here! Thanks so much for testing the product we really appreciate it and are very happy you will use the product for fingerboarding and in the gym. Don't worry about the tiny amount of rosin, there is zero transference to any surface, it doesn't even leave marks on clothing. Liquid Grip is a lot better for rock than even normal chalk.

You say you have very sweaty hands so may we suggest in the future when applying Liquid Grip, to make sure the hands are completely dry, to coat the hands rather than rub it in vigorously and finally let it dry fully for 60-90 seconds to allow it to bind to the skin (which no other chalk product does).

We have had fantastic results with other experienced climbers including well known climber Paul Craven and a wall owner, Paul Russell of the fantastic www.quayclimbingcentre.co.uk who completed 11 routes with one coat of Liquid Grip and no chalk and has now asked us to sponsor his youth squad.

Ian Birtwistle, committee member of the NMC also tested and wrote this fantastic review for us http://thenmc.org.uk/community/topic/2445-review-liquid-grip-a-better-liquid-chalk/#entry3659

I think it comes down to the fact that people will always have different preferences with everything. What works for one may not work for another.

Dave, I hope after using it more in the house and gym you will give it another go on the wall even if it's for a long lasting base coat to chalk.

Stay in touch!

Liquid Grip