Changing the Rock Climbing Game

One thing every climber knows--even those who just dabble in the sport from time to time--is that chalk is your best friend. You won’t get too far up a route with slippery, sweaty hands, which is why climbers have those handy dandy chalk bags attached to their hips.

Our friends at FrictionLabs know climbing. It’s in their DNA, which is why it comes as no surprise to us that they are changing the chalk game with their Secret Stuff chalk cream, included in this month’s climbing collection. Whether you’re an avid climber, or just like to take on an occasional route and call it a day, you’re gonna wanna get your hands on this stuff--literally!🙌🏽  Secret Stuff is no joke--  it will have you climbing longer distances with less chalking up along the way. It is the future for climbing chalk, and what climber doesn’t want to be able to hang out a little longer, with a little more grip and a lot less worry!

We had the chance to catch up with Keah, co-founder, of FrictionLabs, and learn more about the secret behind the best chalk in climbing.

The Idea Was Born

Most ideas tend to first start with a problem, and the need for a solution. For Keah and FrictionLabs, that problem was generic climbing chalk--it just wasn’t doing the job anymore.

“As climbers ourselves, we were disappointed by the quality and consistency of generic chalk. It didn’t seem like anyone out there had really tried to find a better way, which was crazy since grip-strength and skin health are so critical to a climber’s success. After collaborating with a few scientists to learn more about chalk and how it works, we were convinced that there was an opportunity to make a high purity product, manufactured responsibly in the USA, that climbers would actually love! Fast forward 3 years and our chalk is now the choice of most professional climbers and is on the shelves in climbing gyms and leading retailers all over the world.”

Launching the Business

Starting any business is always going to be nerve racking/slightly terrifying.

After putting hours of time and effort into an idea that you poured your blood, sweat and tears into, you never know if your business idea will actually take off--risk taking at an all time high! Luckily for Keah and FrictionLabs, their idea was solid and started making waves in the climbing industry. Today they are leaders in climbing innovation and show so sign of slowing down.👊🏻

“The first order is obviously always memorable. Getting a message that someone, somewhere, actually bought something you created is surreal and thrilling. Ours was a stranger in Ohio buying a bag of our chalk after somehow stumbling on our website that was still in development!

Really though, the first BIG moment was when a Japanese distributor emailed us after testing our chalk to say “Good feeling we have!” and placed an order. At the time, we both still had full-time jobs and we were doing everything FrictionLabs out of Kevin’s(FrictionLabs Co-founder) basement at night. That was probably the moment we knew it could be a real business. And we’re thrilled that we still work with that distributor today to make our chalk available to climbers in Japan.”

Big Wins

Any little success as a small company trying to get off the ground is a HUGE win.🙌🏽 For FrictionLabs, one of their biggest wins was learning to collaborate with the big dogs of their target market--professional climbers.

“Pro climbers are these incredible athletes who have committed themselves to developing our sport. They are the source of so much inspiration and growth in the climbing community. One of our biggest wins has been learning how to support these pros in a way that helps grow their individual brands, and our brand, as well as psych up the climbing community. Some recent examples of this are Rooftown Volume 1 and Volume 2, where we follow Matt Gentile as he roams the badlands of Arizona developing these unbelievable boulders he discovers inside caves, along canyons, and on remote rivers..

Not JUST For Climbers

What may have started out as a product for climbers quickly developed into a product for any athlete (climbers are good at sharing, too!). After all, climbers aren’t the only ones who need a little extra grip on what they do.

“ We think of our users as High-Care Athletes. Whether they are brand new climbers or seasoned pros, they care about performing at their best. They demand a lot from themselves and they expect their gear to live up to that standard, too. It’s such an honor to be part of their success.

An unexpected surprise has been seeing the adoption of our chalk by High-Care Athletes outside of climbing. We get great emails and reviews from gymnasts, weightlifters, high intensity athletes, basketball players, track and field athletes, and even golfers and tennis players telling us how our chalk has helped them succeed. Climbing is our core and it’s awesome to see that chalk designed for the needs and demands of rock climbers can give the best grip to all High-Care Athletes.”

If you are a rock climber and received our climbing collection this month, then you’re probably pretty stoked on life right now--we know we are! From the Trango Cord Trapper Rope Tarp that dually functions as a tarp AND a bag to keep your ropes untangles and clean, to the  So Ill Finger Massager that will provide your hands with the attention they deserve after a long climb, and of course the delicious Buddy’s Nut Butter to give you a little extra fuel along the way! 😄

We love finding unique, new and emerging gear for our subscribers, and we’d love to hear how you are using yours! Where are you climbing this summer? And how are you using your Cairn collection gear? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

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