The Best Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands of 2021

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links. These cost nothing to you and help support our site.

Spread the love

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

If you’re reading this list, chances are that you climb a lot. Inherently, climbing is tough on the skin: fingertips become thin from grabbing textured or sharp crimps, knuckles get dragged across the rock, and the backs of hands get shredded in cracks. Plus, the drying power of chalk sucks the moisture out of skin, increasing the friction on the rock when climbing but causing skin to become dry and brittle once away from the crag. Skincare is incredibly important, then, and healing split skin or thinning fingertips quickly allows you to get back to the crag and climb without pain.

The most important part of any climbing skincare routine is a climbing balm or salve. These products hydrate the skin, allowing for efficient healing and skin regrowth. Plus, they keep hands from drying out and cracking, which can lead to painful splits. There are a lot of options on the market, though, and we’ve done our best to sort through each one and point you towards the best climbing balm and salve for you. So, without further ado, here are our top picks for best climbing balm and salve.

If you find this helpful, be sure to also check out our other climbing gear reviews.

Our Top Favorite
climbOn The All Purpose Lotion Bar, Original, 1 Ounce
Our Top Runner Up
Joshua Tree Organic Climbing Salve
Our Top Value Pick
Badger - Hardworking Hands Healing Balm, Aloe Vera & Wintergreen, Working Hand Balm, Balm, for Dry Hands, Hand Moisturizer Balm, Certified Organic Hand Balm, Hand Repair Balm, 2 oz (2 Pack)
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
climbON Original Bar
Joshua Tree Climbing Salve
Badger Balm For Hardworking Hands
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
climbOn The All Purpose Lotion Bar, Original, 1 Ounce
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
climbON Original Bar
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Joshua Tree Organic Climbing Salve
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
Joshua Tree Climbing Salve
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Badger - Hardworking Hands Healing Balm, Aloe Vera & Wintergreen, Working Hand Balm, Balm, for Dry Hands, Hand Moisturizer Balm, Certified Organic Hand Balm, Hand Repair Balm, 2 oz (2 Pack)
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
Badger Balm For Hardworking Hands
Prime Eligible?
-

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our Favorites for the Best Climbing Balm and Salves Our Favorites for the Best Climbing Balm and Salves

climbON Original Bar

Your hands are thrashed from pulling on sharp, abrasive holds all day, and you’re going around the parking lot at the crag seeing what climbing balm or salve people are using to heal their abraded skin. A fair number of them, we bet, are using the climbOn Original Bar, rubbing the beeswax based, all vegetable puck around their hands and into their wounds. Due to its effectiveness, all natural formula, and ease of application, the climbON Original Bar is our top pick for Best Climbing Balm and Salve.

The climbON Original Bar is the most referenced skincare product marketed towards rock climbers, and it’s popularity speaks to its effectiveness. Users report that the balm is far less greasy than other options, such as J-Tree Climbing Salve, and very effective in healing splits and forming calluses. As one Mountain Project user puts it, “Doesn’t feel greasy, doesn’t smell nasty, and seems to work well.”

Many climbers, including us, appreciate the all-natural ingredients, and the blend of beeswax and plant-based essential oils was carefully selected to treat the most common climbing skin issues. Plus, the bar is easily removed from its tin, allowing for easy application to each sore spot.

What Makes the climbON Original Bar Unique:

  • All natural ingredients
  • The bar can be rolled around your hands for easy and effective application
  • Non-greasy feeling after application

Why Choose the climbOn Original Bar:

  • You’re looking for an easy applying, all natural skincare bar
  • You trust that what works for others will work for you as well
  • You’re looking for a good first climbing balm and salve

climbOn The All Purpose Lotion Bar, Original, 1 Ounce
  • CLEANEST INGREDIENTS – Only plants + beeswax, absolutely NO synthetics or fillers or GMOs ever. We use food grade rather than highly processed cosmetic grade ingredients. Not diluted with water – only the good stuff in this concentrated lotion bar!
  • HIGHEST SKIN PERFORMANCE – Provides intense skin nourishment, moisturization, and nutritious skin fuel in some of the harshest conditions, whether you’re on the trail, slopes, rock, road, yard, etc.
  • EASY TO USE – Simply rub this solid lotion bar onto the skin or densely pack it into dry, cracked, or abused skin. Can be used on fingers, hands, calluses, feet, heels, face, lips, friction areas, hair, and much more.

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


ClimbSkin

Newer to the market, and heavily promoted by pro-athletes like Chris Sharma, ClimbSkin promises a quick drying cream loaded with ingredients designed to heal skin. Climbers that shell out the money for this expensive cream often swear by its effectiveness, and this makes it our second pick for the best climbing balm and salve.

As one user reports, ClimbSkin “worked exactly as promised. I would say it’s definitely worth the money.” Many users find that ClimbSkin soaks into their sore fingertips much faster than other balms and salves on the market, keeping their hands from feeling greasy for extended periods of time. Furthermore, this balm is more effective at making skin supple and less prone to splitting than other products on the market. And, because it’s a cream, application is a breeze.

Though incredibly effective, ClimbSkin has two drawbacks. First, it is far and away the most expensive product in this review. True dirtbag climbers, or money conscious individuals, might prefer a cheaper balm or salve that they can use more frequently without worrying about wasting expensive product. However, many users feel that the effectiveness of ClimbSkin justifies the price, with one user reporting that “I liked it enough to buy a second container!”.

The second drawback are the ingredients. While boasting a formula full of natural oils and extracts, this product is not all natural, and hosts synthetic chemicals such as dimethicone and phenoxyethanol. While all the ingredients are common in cosmetics and safe for topical use, some climbers may prefer an all natural balm or salve, like climbON.

What Makes ClimbSkin Unique:

  • Very effective at softening tough skin
  • Easy to apply cream doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the hands
  • Expensive

Why Choose ClimbSkin:

  • You’re looking for a product that makes skin supple quickly
  • You don’t like dealing with greasy hands
  • You can afford it
  • You don’t mind synthetic chemicals in your balm or salve

Climbskin Hand Repair Cream - Balm to Heal Dry Cracked Hands - Non-Greasy, Non-Sticky, Deep Hydration - Great for Climbing, Weightlifting, Gymnastics
  • Climbskin Hand Repair Cream is a concentrated hand balm that heals, relieves, and repairs extremely dry cracked hands.
  • Shea butter base readily absorbs into your tissue for deep hydration, fast skin regeneration, and no waxy residue. You can touch your phone, keyboard, steering wheel, etc. immediately without getting them greasy.
  • For best results, apply 1-2 hours prior to climbing. This hydrates your skin, preventing splits and reducing sweating. After climbing, wash your hands and apply again. Many climbers also use it at bedtime.

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Runner Ups for the Best Climbing Balm and Salves Our Runner Ups for the Best Climbing Balm and Salves

Joshua Tree Climbing Salve

As the legend goes, this salve was initially created and distributed in Joshua Tree’s Hidden Valley Campground. The positive response from climbers suffering from hands torn up by Joshua Tree’s notoriously coarse granite proved Joshua Tree Climbing Slave’s effectiveness. However, the salve is extremely greasy, and this greatly limits when and where it can be applied, mitigating its effectiveness, and thus this balm is a runner up for best climbing balm and salve.

Like climbON, Joshua Tree Climbing Salve has a short, all natural ingredient list, a bonus to users concerned with putting strange chemicals on their hands. Beeswax based, this balm is contained in a small tin, and its soft consistency allows for easy application to any and all abrasions. Some internet users swear by this balm, proclaiming it heals better than any other product on the market. As one Mountain Project user sums up, “it’s been saving my hands!” However, complaints about Joshua Tree Climbing Salve’s greasiness are just as common online as exultations about its effectiveness. For those that don’t want to spend ten minutes waiting for their hands to dry after every application, a different balm may be preferable.

What Makes Joshua Tree Climbing Salve Unique:

  • All natural ingredient list
  • Entertaining origin story
  • Some users think it heals better than other balms
  • Long drying time

Why Choose Joshua Tree Climbing Salve:

  • You don’t mind waiting ten minutes for the balm to dry
  • You like the all-natural ingredient list
  • An oily balm tends to heal your skin faster

Joshua Tree Organic Climbing Salve
  • Made with 100% Organic ingredients
  • Great for treating skin from climbing - developed by climbers over 10 years ago
  • Powerful healing for treating dry, chapped skin, chafing, abrasions, scrapes and cuts...with no skin softeners - saves calluses

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm

Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm is another beeswax based, all natural balm full of healing ingredients like shea butter and aloe vera. This balm garnered mixed reviews from online users, with superfluous claims like “It might be climber magic!” offset by a number of middling reviews. Again, this probably comes down to personal preference: as each and every climber’s skin, and skin repair needs, are different, a specific cream may work better for you than your climbing partner. Thus, Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm is a runner up in our review of the best climbing balm and salve.

Climbers appreciate the ease of application from the small tin, and the Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm’s creamy consistency makes for easy application to specific cuts and scrapes. The all natural ingredient list is also a bonus, though some users find that the blend is less effective than some salves that contain artificial ingredients, like ClimbSkin. As one user states, it “doesn’t have any dodgy ingredients…[and] works for me. Good at healing blisters without cracking.” Another bonus with Metolius products is that they’re all produced in a small factory in Bend, Oregon, so you can feel good about supporting a climber-run business.

What Makes Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm Unique:

  • All natural ingredient list
  • Effective healing
  • Small company

Why Choose Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm:

  • You don’t want to put any unnatural ingredients on your skin
  • You like supporting a small, climber run company
  • It works better for your skin than other products

Metolius Hand Repair Balm 1OZ
  • Specifically formulated for climbers' dry, chapped hands and fingers
  • Antiseptic blend speeds healing and promotes new skin growth
  • Can be applied directly to cuts, scrapes, sun burns, bug bites and chapped lips

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Our Value Picks for the Best Climbing Balm and Salves Our Value Picks for the Best Climbing Balm and Salves

Badger Balm For Hardworking Hands

Numerous skincare products exist outside of the climbing market, many of which target the same thing: dry, abraded skin on your hands. Luckily, this means that a number of cheap and effective products exist. Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands is marketed towards anyone with dry, chapped, or cracked hand skin (split tips?), and the simple, beeswax based balm is a favourite with climber’s that don’t mind buying a non-climbing-specific balm. Initially formulated to soothe chapped hands during winter in the Northeast, many climbers have found it equally effective for treating climbing skin injuries.

With five all natural ingredients, this simple balm rubs into sore fingers and abraded hands easily, softening tough, brittle skin and promoting healing in cuts and scrapes. After applying Badger Balm at the end of a long day climbing, one user reported that “You wake up feeling like your skin has grown 0.5mm, it’s awesome.” It’s low price point, particularly relative to other balms, makes it easy to liberally apply, never worrying about spreading dollars worth of balm on your hands. It’s an oily balm, and requires drying time after application, but heals well for a great price.

What makes Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands Unique:

  • Low price point
  • Small, all natural ingredient list
  • Oily, but effective at healing

Why Choose Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands:

  • Price is a major factor in choosing a balm
  • You don’t mind an oily balm, or a balm not targeted towards climbers
  • You want an all natural, and simple balm

On Sale
Badger - Hardworking Hands Healing Balm, Aloe Vera & Wintergreen, Working Hand Balm, Balm, for Dry Hands, Hand Moisturizer Balm, Certified Organic Hand Balm, Hand Repair Balm, 2 oz (2 Pack)
  • ORGANIC HAND BALM IN A TIN - Badger Balm is an ultra-rich, ultra-moisturizing balm for rough, dry hands and skin. Gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin.
  • BALM FOR HARD WORKING HANDS - Badger Hand Balm is a deep moisturizer for chapped, cracked, and weathered hands. You can trust us when we say this stuff will soothe and soften your driest, hardest, and roughest skin, but is gentle enough to use every day.
  • ORGANIC OLIVE OIL, BEESWAX & WINTERGREEN OIL - Smells great with the light minty and somewhat earthy aroma of wintergreen. If you should ever find yourself lost in some vast, uncharted wilderness, you want this balm with you!

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly is cheap, effective, and found nearly everywhere, including in that gas station that happens to be the only thing around during your remote climbing adventure. For these reasons, the simple jelly is a favorite value pick for the best climbing balms and salves.

Petroleum jelly is usually just one ingredient, though versions can be medicated to help disinfect wounds (like Neosporin). In essence, petroleum jelly works to trap moisture in the skin or a wound, preventing excessive drying and promoting skin regrowth, especially when left on overnight. Vaseline works particularly well on an abrasion kept under a bandage, retaining moisture in the wound and keeping the wound from continued splitting or cracking. As one user reports, petroleum jelly “keeps the skin from getting too dry. Have you seen boxing matches, how they put vaseline on the fighters cuts? Same theory.” Though there are better climbing specific balms out there, for the price and availability, petroleum jelly takes the cake and is our value pick for best climbing balms and salves.

What Makes Petroleum Jelly Unique:

  • Found everywhere
  • Effective and cheap
  • Some medicated versions exist for better wound healing

Why choose Petroleum Jelly:

  • You want to keep a wound moist under a bandage, like a gobie from crack climbing
  • You’re on a trip and can’t find anything else
  • You don’t fall for climbing specific marketing

On Sale
Vaseline Healing Jelly For Dry Skin and Eczema Relief Original 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly 1.75 oz
  • Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Original is clinically proven to help heal dry, damaged skin
  • Vaseline Petroleum Jelly provides dry skin relief and protects minor cuts
  • Made with 100% pure petroleum jelly. Purity is guaranteed with our triple-purified formula

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Antihydral

Often, when researching climbing balms and salves, internet users recommend antihydral treatment of fingertips. This, in fact, does the opposite of what a climbing balm or salve intends to do, and dries the fingertips completely before climbing. Some people think that antihydral creates a tough, dry layer of skin, and lots of hard climbers swear by its drying ability. Because it’s so often addressed and recommended online, we thought we’d add a section about it here.

First created for foosball players striving for more grip on their handles, climbers quickly discovered antihydral as an effective treatment for sweaty fingertips before climbing. For users that suffer from weeping fingertips, especially when climbing in humid environments, antihydral can help prolong a climbing session and dry out the fingers better than chalk. However, it comes with a drawback: the extreme drying power of antihydral can also cause painful splits and cracked skin wherever it is applied. Trying to prolong a climbing session with antihydral, then, can actually cause a skin injury that takes a while to heal. We don’t recommend antihydral use for anyone but the most experienced climbers, and suggest using at your own risk.

What Makes Antihydral Unique:

  • Extreme drying power for fingertips
  • Can cause dry, brittle skin

Why Use Antihydral:

  • You have constantly sweaty fingertips, and are an experienced climber

On Sale
Antihydral Cream - Sweaty to Dry Fingers, Foot, Armpit - Against Strong Perspiration, especially of feet, hand and armpit sweat; Excessive Sweating for Climbers
  • THE IDEAL PRODUCT FOR CLIMBERS: Antihydral effectively reduces the amount that the skin sweats and increases friction between the skin and rock or plastic. It allows the skin to remain tougher for longer and results in fewer days off waiting for your skin to recover.
  • NO MORE SWEATY HANDSHAKES! Just one little dab of cream will last for hours to help you be in control of how much your skin sweats.
  • HOW TO USE: Rub one little dab of cream onto the affected area (for example, your hands). Your hands will stay bone dry for hours or even up to days. The amount of time this product will remain effective will vary from person to person. Antihydral's 70g tube will easily last you all year.

Last update: 2021-05-24 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


How To Choose the Best Climbing Balm and Salves for You

The reality with choosing the best climbing balm and salves for you is that most work well, especially when using one for the first time. Any skincare routine is better than none, and your hands will heal faster with regular moisturization and care.

That being said, some balms and salves work better than others. Here’s a quick guide that should help you choose the best one for you.

Do I have any balms or salves on hand?

A good place to begin is to start applying something regularly. Make it part of your climbing routine. Do you have petroleum jelly lying around? Dab a little on your fingertips after a climbing session. Does your roommate have a chic hand cream in her vanity? Ask if you can borrow a little, and apply lightly.

What balm or cream should I buy first?

So you want something a bit more powerful than that old tube of moisturizer you’ve been using. Go with something tried and true, and reasonably priced, like the ClimbOn bar or Joshua Tree Climbing Salve. Both are a good starting point, and relatively easy to acquire, as they’re often carried in local outdoor gear shops.

Best first climbing balm or salve:

How did that first climbing balm or salve perform?

You’ve used ClimbOn regularly for, say, a month or so. You now have a reference for your second purchase. Was it too oily? Too dry? Does it not have enough healing power? Start rereading this list and seeing where to go from your starting point.

Best, But Expensive, Balm:

Best Oily Balms and Salves:

Best Dry Feeling Balms and Salves:

Key Differences of Bar, Cream, Balm, and Salves

There are a variety of products on the market all targeted to treat the same problem, dry skin, but labeled differently. To help you sort through the confusion, we will try and differentiate between a few commonly found labels.

Bar

Bars are waxy, removable pucks of balm that can be easily rolled around hands or rubbed onto wounds. These tend to be fairly hard substances, but because they remove from their container, are still easily applied.

Best Climbing Bar:

Cream

A cream can either be squeezed out of a tube or contained in a tin, like Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Cream and ClimbSkin. These are a softer consistency than a bar, and are rubbed on with a fingertip or after squeezing into an open palm. While most climbing bars are beeswax based, creams vary in composition.

Best Climbing Cream:

Balm or Salve

Balm and Salve are both common descriptors for hand care products that, while commonly used, are nearly interchangeable. Some seem to think a balm is by definition a harder consistency than a salve. This would make ClimbOn a balm, and something like Joshua Tree Climbing Salve a salve (duh!). However, Joshua Tree Climbing Salve is a similar consistency to Badger Balm, clouding this definition. Other people suggest a salve is merely a balm with herbal ingredients added, making many of the products on this list a salve and a balm.

In reality, whether you buy something marketed as a balm or a salve doesn’t really matter, and shouldn’t be your first concern when purchasing a climbing balm or salve. All the products on this list are effective regardless of their composition, so get one and start applying!

Best Climbing Balms:

Best Climbing Salves:

What to Consider when buying Climbing Balm and Salves

There are a few different you can make when choosing a climbing balm or salve.

Price

Most climbers are on a budget of some sort. Price, then, is a good starting point for picking a climbing balm or salve. Cheap options include generic items such as Badger Balm or petroleum jelly, and are perfect for a dirtbag climber on a budget. One tube will last a while. On the expensive end, ClimbSkin does a great job at repairing worn out fingertips, but only climbers intent on high volume days or those with plenty of disposable income should choose this balm. Also, if you find other salves and balms less effective than you desire, ClimbSkin may warrant the extra expense. Luckily, there’s a large mid-range of balms and salves in terms of price, and ClimbOn, Joshua Tree Climbing Salve, and Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm are all good options for the price.

Best Cheap Climbing Balms and Salves:

Best Mid-Price Climbing Balms and Salves:

Best Expensive Climbing Balm and Salve:

Composition

Some climbers may be concerned with the composition of their climbing balms and salves, and will prefer an all-natural ingredient list. Luckily, many of the climbing balms and salves on this list are made from natural ingredients.

Best All-Natural Climbing Balms and Salves:

Summary of the Best Climbing Balm and Salves

To sum up, here are the best climbing balm and salves we looked at today:

Our Top Favorite
climbOn The All Purpose Lotion Bar, Original, 1 Ounce
Our Top Runner Up
Joshua Tree Organic Climbing Salve
Our Top Value Pick
Badger - Hardworking Hands Healing Balm, Aloe Vera & Wintergreen, Working Hand Balm, Balm, for Dry Hands, Hand Moisturizer Balm, Certified Organic Hand Balm, Hand Repair Balm, 2 oz (2 Pack)
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
climbON Original Bar
Joshua Tree Climbing Salve
Badger Balm For Hardworking Hands
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
climbOn The All Purpose Lotion Bar, Original, 1 Ounce
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
climbON Original Bar
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Joshua Tree Organic Climbing Salve
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
Joshua Tree Climbing Salve
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Badger - Hardworking Hands Healing Balm, Aloe Vera & Wintergreen, Working Hand Balm, Balm, for Dry Hands, Hand Moisturizer Balm, Certified Organic Hand Balm, Hand Repair Balm, 2 oz (2 Pack)
Climbing Balm and Salve for Your Hands
Badger Balm For Hardworking Hands
Prime Eligible?
-

Last update: 2021-05-23 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This list is a good starting point when choosing a climbing balm or salve. To summarize, our top picks for climbing balm and salve are the ClimbOn Bar and the more expensive ClimbSkin. Our runner ups for best climbing balm and salve are Joshua Tree Climbing Salve and Metolius Climber’s Hand Repair Balm. Our value picks for the best climbing balm and salve are petroleum jelly and Badger Balm, both effective and a reasonable price. Refer to this list from time to time when buying a new balm, and start treating those dried out hands immediately!

Was this valuable? Be sure to also check out our other climbing gear reviews.

Readers of this post also read...