PUSH REVIEW: Decathlon's Simond Climbing Chalk
There's no shortage of gear you can buy for climbing but almost all of it is about safety or fashion. Of all the things you can squeeze into your climbing bag the only ones that make you a better climber are your shoes and your chalk.
Here at Push Climbing, we've been getting our hands dirty with Decathlon's Simond chalk which is 100 percent pure uncut magnesium carbonate. We've got the luxury of being partly open air so our climbers can use any type of chalk (powder, liquid, ball or block) that suits them and we've been using the powdered form.
Everyone sweats differently and different chalks suit different people so we gave the Simond chalk to three instructors: Franklin, Jun, and Vy. After a few days we peeled them off the wall for long enough to get their opinions.
Franklin gets straight to the point: “I sweat.”
“Even now I'm sweating: my hands, my feet. So I like to try all the different types of chalk to find the one that works for me and so I usually alternate between a couple of different types. My favorites are fine as baby powder and don’t give me any skin problems even with a lot of use.”
It takes an effort to pry Franklin's beloved favorite chalks from his hands but that's what we did, replacing them with the Decathlon, and he was pleasantly surprised.
“Now I would use the Decathlon – for a good price you get a very similar quality, and right now I am using two. One I use for bouldering, but for top roping”—the practice of looping a rope through the top end of a climbing path—“I use the Decathlon because unlike bouldering you can choose when to take a rest and re-chalk. That means five to eight moves then reach for the powder – shake out your hands, dust your fingers.”
Jun came to the same conclusion. “I sweat quite a lot, and re-chalk often so if I was paying for chalk out of my own pocket I would go for the Simond – for top roping. The Simond is pure magnesium carbonate while other brands have fillers, or in some cases a resin mixed in for a thinner, finer texture that means greater friction. Some holds – slopers for example – are all about friction so I would chose a more specialist chalk for bouldering and competition but there’s no doubt that I’d choose the Decathlon for daily climbing.”
Vy was new to the Simond but her verdict on the Simond chalk was good from the start; “It's stickier and smoother than my usual brand, although not as fine as some top-end chalks. I think it's a great chalk for new climbers because of the price.”
Our instructors have the luxury of a range of chalks to choose from every day so it’s telling that anytime you drop by you’ll find them continuing to use the Decathlon Simond for top-roping. While everyone felt the high end brands had the edge when it came to quality they nonetheless reach for the Decathlon for the day to day.
Pros: impressive quality at a great price. Our instructors would choose it for day to day climbing, especially for top roping.
Cons: more expensive big name brands outperform it for fineness and stickiness, notably on pure friction holds like slopers.