A climber’s hands are his tools more than any harness or pair of shoes and are the part of the body that is, more than any other, necessary for the sport. But a climber’s hands go through a lot since they live between sharp and rough rocks every day. The best climbing salve pays dividends to nurse your precious extremities back to shape, so they can perform at their best when they need to.

The best climbing balm will help mend and soothe skin that has been through a lot, helping it to quickly get back to peak condition, and is something that every climber should be equipped with. Follow the tips we have gathered below to find the best climbing salves on the market, the ones you should bring on your next expedition to keep your hands healthy.

How To Choose A Climbing Salve And Balm – Buying Guide



Despite all balms going after the same final objective, they don’t use the same ingredients. Some ingredients, you will find, are common throughout various brands, but a few have decided to add different touches, such as using propolis. All are carefully selected for their healing properties and do a good job of taking care of mistreated skin. 

Luckily, most brands have chosen to use only natural ingredients, which is a nice environmentally friendly choice and does not in any way make them less effective. At the end of the day, the matter is mostly up to your personal preference. You might like creams with fewer ingredients more than others who can seem too full of too many different things to give you a good idea of what they do. Be sure to carefully read the ingredients before you make your purchase to see if there is anything that sounds dubious, but in our experience, this is very rarely the case.


Most climbing balms and salves are meant to be used after a long day of climbing, preferably just before you are about to go to bed. Use an amount that lets you completely cover all of your fingers, rub it in a little, and then leave it to be absorbed, so that the next morning your skin will be on the way to being healed. 

Different balms take different amounts of time to completely soak into your skin, and some might leave your hands oily for longer than you wish. There are some products, which you can find in our climbing salve reviews, that will absorb very rapidly and that can be used both before and after a climb, to make your skin ready to face the abuse that awaits it on a rocky wall and nurse it back to shape afterward. It is important to note, however, that salves and balms cannot be the only tool you use to take care of your climbing hands, and that some simple rest is also highly recommended after a very demanding ascent.

Intended Use

Climbing balms and salves are designed to help your hands recover after the intense stresses they experience while climbing. Fractured and torn skin is a common feature of a climber’s hands, but this can be very uncomfortable and painful if it is not taken care of with a product such as the ones we have presented earlier. 

Nevertheless, climbing salves and balms have such pleasing moisturizing capabilities that they can also be used on other parts of the body that might require some care. Just be sure that the creams can be used to this effect before you go ahead and smother yourself with them, and read the instructions that come with them very carefully.

Bar vs Cream vs Balm vs Salve

Not only do climbing balms come with different ingredients, but they also are available in various shapes. The most commonly found are bars, creams, balms, and salves. Bars tend to have a greater amount of wax in them, so they are easy to rub on your hands but might feel a little harder to get out of the cans. Creams are softer than bars and can be applied without pressing too hard. They usually come in tubes or tins. The difference between balms and salves is not clear, and the two terms are often interchangeable depending on who you hear from. Some argue that balms are harder than salves and others point out that a salve is just a balm with the addition of herbal ingredients. 

In the end, these small differences don’t matter. What is most important is that you find a product that fits with what your habits are when climbing and one that you find easy to use and to transport. All the items listed in our review will have a beneficial effect on your skin, so you just have to find the salve that best suits your needs.



Q: How Do You Make a Climbing Balm?


A climbing balm can be manufactured at home without too much bother, by using mostly food-grade beeswax and natural oils. Simply melt the beeswax in a double-boiler and then add the oils (for example, apricot kernel oil and raspberry seed oil). You can also add something to obtain a pleasant aroma, such as lemon or lavender oil. Pour the mixture into a silicone mold. Once it's dry, you have your climbing balm.

Q: How Do You Use A Climbing Salve?


Once you're done climbing, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, removing any dead or torn skin. Groom your calluses with a pumice stone and then rinse your hands again with alcohol to disinfect micro-cuts and harden the skin. You are then ready to apply the climbing hand balm, which should rapidly soak into your skin. You can also reapply it again later to strengthen its effect. 

Q: Should Climbers Use Lotion?


Lotion can have some effect in mending your skin, but it has the big drawback of softening calluses. These are the natural protections your body builds up over time to toughen your skin and make it more resistant to contact with sharp rocks, so it's not a good idea to get rid of them. Therefore, we recommend that climbers use salves rather than a lotion since it leaves those calluses intact.

Globo Surf Overview

Climbers wear the wounds on their hands as a sign of pride, a testament to the effort they put into their sport. These can, however, become extremely uncomfortable and hinder your climbing more than glorify it, so it is crucial to have an ointment with you that can speed up the recovery process. The climbing salves and balms presented in this article will help keep your hands healthy and happy so you can focus on more important matters (climbing!).

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!