Best Chalk Bags: The Top 5 of 2017
|Chalk Bag||Retail Price|
|Top Pick: prAna Chalk Bag with Belt||$$|
|Best Value & Best for Beginners: Two Ogres Essential-Z Chalk Bag||$|
|Budget Buy: Togear Chalk Bag||$|
|Best for Sport Climbing: Arc'teryx Aperture Chalk Bag||$$$|
|Best for Bouldering: Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket||$$$|
The chalk bag will be a simple piece of equipment that you’ll buy and — if you get it right — won’t think twice about for the next few years. However, if you purchase the wrong chalk bag then you’ll be decently frustrated and have to order another one which will be annoying and feel like a waste of time and money.
We don’t want you to be that guy or gal, so we’ve put together a list of the best chalk bags for rock climbing and bouldering. If you want the best of the best, we’ve included that option, and, if you want the cheapest of the cheap, then we have that one for you, too. Read on for the complete descriptions.
Table of Contents
- Top Pick: prAna Chalk Bag with Belt
- Best Value & Best for Beginners: Two Ogres Essential-Z Chalk Bag
- Budget Buy: Togear Chalk Bag
- Best for Sport Climbing: Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag
- Best for Bouldering: Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket
- How to Choose the Best Chalk Bag for You
Top Pick: prAna Chalk Bag with Belt
Chalk bags perform such a basic function (carrying around climbing chalk) that it’s often hard to distinguish one as being better than another. However, the sense of quality and durability that the prAna Chalk Bag with Belt emits makes it a clear notch above the average bags.
The prAna Chalk Bag comes with well-made versions of all the normal chalk bag features: double belt loop, drawcord closure, brush holder, and an adjustable belt with buckle. The drawcord closure on this bag is worth mentioning specifically because it does a better job than most other bags of minimizing chalk dust spillage.
This bag doesn’t have any features beyond the basics to talk about. What is noteworthy about it, though, and what made it earn our top pick, is the quality. The stitching is strong, the inside is comfortable, the bag is lightweight yet durable, and the drawstring cinches shut easily and tightly. It also fits most hand sizes.
Besides all that, the bag has a range of stylish colors to choose from. It retails for around $5-$7 more than the average chalk bag, which is impressive given its quality. We say it’s worth the extra Abraham Lincoln.
Best Value & Best for Beginners: Two Ogres Essential-Z Chalk Bag
Our top pick chalk bag is a little pricier than the value-priced options, so we wanted to include a best value pick. Turns out that our pick — the basic, well-priced Two Ogres Essential-Z Chalk Bag — is also great for beginner climbers or boulderers since it does exactly what you’ll want your first chalk bag to do: carry your chalk.
This bag is a little bigger than the standard budget chalk bag so it fits bigger hands well. It also comes with all the normal features such as a drawstring, brush holder, and adjustable belt. One semi-unique feature it has is a zippered pocket which can be good for carrying small loose items such as keys, gum, lip balm, etc.
Similar to most bags in this price range, the drawstring mechanism isn’t the best at preventing chalk dust spillage. But, to be honest, my first chalk bag wasn’t great at closing all the way, either, and I survived. I have some small piles of chalk dust in my car and climbing pack, but it’s only a minor annoyance.
Bottom line: This is the best value climbing chalk bag on the market and is also a great deal for whoever is looking for their first chalk bag.
Budget Buy: Togear Chalk Bag
If you care very little about durability, design, chalk spillage, etc., then consider our budget buy pick. This bag serves the basic function of a chalk bag — carrying chalk — and can be picked up for one-half to one-third the price of some other chalk bags.
The main downside of this bag is that it is small and likely not able to accommodate larger hands well. If you have never had to deal with your hands being too big for a chalk bag, I have, and I’ll say it is actually pretty bothersome. If you have small or average-size hands you probably won’t have an issue, but to those with larger mitts I say look elsewhere.
Best for Sport Climbing: Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag
The Aperture Chalk Bag by Arc’teryx is one of the most innovative chalk bags on the market. That sounds weird to say about a chalk bag because of the basic function they serve, but it’s nonetheless true.
This bag has no drawstring but instead can be twisted shut to create a near-airtight seal that prevents virtually all chalk dust spillage. Seriously, it’s pretty incredible. If this was my first chalk bag then I’d never have had loose chalk floating around in my car or backpack.
This is our pick of the best chalk bag for sport climbing because when it is hanging free around your waist (like a chalk bag often is when sport climbing) it is arguably the best bag on the market. However, when it is on the ground it doesn’t stand up or hold a climbing brush well. For these reasons, it isn’t good for bouldering. You can read more about the pros and cons in our full review of the Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag.
Lastly, the quality of this bag is many notches above any other I have seen. In classic Arc’teryx style, the bag uses a bunch of strangely thin yet highly durable mystery materials that seem to be bombproof. They are desirable but also, as you would expect, costly. The large size (which I recommend for large hands) is one of the most expensive chalk bags available.
Best for Bouldering: Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket
Most any chalk bag can be used successfully for all types of rock climbing. However, if you do a lot of bouldering then a chalk bucket will serve you better when training at the gym or climbing outside.
Chalk buckets are much larger than normal chalk bags and are designed with a simple premise in mind: they won’t need to be strapped around your waist. They carry much more chalk, can fit even Dikembe Mutombo’s hands, and usually have some extra pockets or brush holders.
Of the chalk bags and buckets designed for bouldering, the Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket is our top pick. Organic products are known for incredible quality and their customizable designs. I’ve never known anyone to regret buying anything from Organic.
The Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket is feature-heavy: well-designed hook-and-loop closure system, large pocket, two brush holders, and whatever color scheme you could ever want.
How to Choose the Best Chalk Bag for You
Big Enough for Your Hands
In case you didn’t know by now, you need to constantly shove your hands down into your chalk bag while climbing in order to chalk them up. Buying a chalk bag that you can fit your hands into is a simple but crucial thing to remember. If it’s too small, it will be largely unusable.
If you have big hands then buy the large version of your preferred chalk bag. For example, my hands are pretty big (about seven inches from the bottom of my palm to the tip of my middle finger) and I usually need a large chalk bag to fit my hands. However, if your hands are small then you needn’t worry about size.
You’ll be carrying your chalk bag around in a backpack or gym bag when you go to the gym or crag. You might even put it in the seat of your car when you’re driving to and from the gym. If your chalk bag isn’t sealed while you’re moving it around then chalk will spill and get everywhere — in your car or bag, floor or carpet. It will spill there and it will stay there for a while because chalk can be very difficult to vacuum up.
To avoid this mess (literally), it is crucial you get a chalk bag with a sealable opening. This usually comes in the form of a drawstring for cinching shut the bag’s mouth. Newer, more innovative chalk bags, such as the Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag, might have a different method for preventing chalk from spilling. Just make sure your preferred bag has one that works well.
When rope climbing, and sometimes when bouldering, it’s necessary to attach your chalk bag to your waist so you can chalk up while on the route or problem. A simple adjustable belt with buckle is all you need to be able to do this, so make sure that’s included with your purchase.
Climbing brushes are incredibly useful tools for cleaning off and improving the grip of holds. If you don’t have one already, believe me, you’ll get one soon enough. When you do, you’ll need to carry it around and a brush loop on a chalk bag is the perfect way to do this.
A brush loop is nothing fancy. It’s a vertically-oriented loop on the side of a chalk bag, usually black in color, that you can put your brush into. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s oh so useful, so make sure your bag has one before purchasing.
This last one is obviously optional, but don’t take it so lightly. Chalk bags are one of the few climbing gear items where you can express a little of your personality with a design you find cool. You’ll be carrying your chalk bag around for the better part of, well, a few years, so why not make sure it’s appealing to look at?
Some companies, such as Organic Climbing, customize designs. Or, you can just take an extra minute to pick the color of your preferred bag that appeals to you.
Photo Credit: prAna, Amazon, Arc’teryx, Organic Climbing