Best Bouldering Chalk Buckets: The Top 5 of 2019

Chalk Bucket Score MSRP Closure Pockets
Top Pick: DMM Edge Boulder Chalk Bag
88
$36.95 Double Drawstring 1 Velcro, 1 Zip
Best Value: Black Diamond Mondo Chalk Pot
80
$29.95 Magnetic/Roll 2 Zip
Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket
75
$33.00 Velro/Roll 1 (Large) Zip
Metolius Dust Bin
72
$29.00 Drawstring 2 Velcro
Mammut Magic Boulder Chalk Bag
54
$39.95 Drawstring/Zip 0

We narrowed down the best bouldering chalk buckets on the market to 5 top contenders and spent a month living with them. The DMM Edge is our favorite thanks to a thoughtful design and an effective closure system.

When I was learning to climb, I dismissed the idea of a chalk bucket. Why not just use my regular chalk bag for bouldering as well?

But when I started bouldering frequently, I came around. Chalk buckets offer two advantages. Most obviously, they hold more climbing chalk. Access is easier, coverage is easier, and you can chalk both hands at once.

Second, less chalk gets wasted. A bucket lets you apply chalk while your hands remain in the bucket, which means that excess chalk just falls back to your pile. This cuts down on a surprising amount of chalk waste.

Chalk buckets have one main job: hold a lot of chalk. Ideally, they also hold a climbing brush, store small items, and keep the rest of your gear chalk-free.

Which bouldering buckets are the easiest to live with? Read on for full details.

Note: If a regular chalk bag is what you’re looking for, check out our guide to the best chalk bags.

The 5 chalk buckets we tested.

The 5 chalk buckets we tested.

Top Pick: DMM Edge Boulder Chalk Bag

DMM Edge Boulder Chalk Bag

The Edge Chalk Bucket does everything well. It has a clean set of features, a deep and usable chalk well, and one of the best closures in our test.

The Edge is unique in that its closure system involves not one but two drawstrings. Located on either side of the carrying handles, the drawstrings close two apertures of fabric above the chalk well.

When both are cinched tight, almost zero chalk escapes — the Edge was a top performer in our “poof test.”

On the inside, the bucket is covered with a soft pile fleece. Chalk sticks to the sides, which makes it easy to get a coating no matter where you grab. The well is capacious and stands easily on its own, making for easy access.

Two brush slots and two pockets cap off the features. Both pockets are nicely sized and will fit most modern smartphones. All the parts are simple and burly, and all held up well to a month of abuse.

In short, the DMM Edge is all we look for in a chalk bucket. The sole downside is the MSRP of $36.95, which is on the high end of our test.

That said, the gap between the Edge and our cheapest bag is less than $8, and a chalk bucket should last for years. If you’re in the market, the Edge deserves a place on your shortlist.

The DMM Edge's double-drawstring closure system.

The Edge’s double-drawstring design was a surprise winner in our closure testing.

Product Specs

  • MSRP: $36.95
  • Closure: Double Drawstring
  • Pockets: 1 Zip, 1 Velcro
  • Brush Slots: 2

Best Value: Black Diamond Mondo Chalk Pot

Black Diamond Mondo Chalk Pot

Black Diamond’s Mondo Chalk Pot has several unique features working in its favor.

The first is a magnetic closure. The two sides of the bucket’s upper lip have magnets sewn in.

The magnets take only a little effort to separate, but they keep the top held shut when not in use. The magnets are just strong enough to pull the bucket closed, which means that as soon as you remove your hands, the brim closes on its own.

In practice, this is a mixed blessing. The benefit is that chalk won’t spill out if the Mondo gets kicked over. On the other hand, you have to reopen the Mondo every time you want to chalk your hands.

Two tabs at the top make reopening easy, but I still found myself getting a little annoyed at constantly opening up the bucket.

The Mondo’s ergonomics aren’t perfect, either — it’s a deep but relatively narrow cylinder, which means reaching way down and having less room for two hands.

But where the Mondo nails its design, it’s exceptional. Once held shut by the magnets, the upper rim can be rolled down and clasped into a circle like a dry bag.

Along with the DMM Edge, this was the most chalk-proof closure in the test, allowing next to no leakage.

The Mondo also has two spacious zip pockets. With nifty expandable flaps, these were among the most usable pockets in the test, and the zip closures are secure. Two nicely placed brush slots are the icing on top.

The Mondo is not without its compromises, which is why it didn’t take home our Top Pick award. The narrow design and self-closing rim make it slightly less user-friendly than the Edge.

But the neat closure and useful features placed it in the upper echelon of our test. At $7 less than our Top Pick, the Mondo is an easy choice for Best Value.

Product Specs

  • MSRP: $29.95
  • Closure: Magnetic/Roll
  • Pockets: 2 Zip
  • Brush Slots: 2

Reviews of the 3 Other Bouldering Chalk Buckets We Tested

Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket

Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket

A common sight at most bouldering areas, the Lunch Bag’s biggest advantage in this test was its flashy fabrics and catchy looks.

To its credit, the Lunch Bag is a simple but time-tested design. A sewn cylinder of 100D nylon is burly and durable, capped by a velcro closure.

The velcro can be rolled down and strapped into a circle by a simple hook. A single, long zip pocket runs down one side.

The elements are simple because they work. The deep well leaves plenty of room for chalk and hands. The zip pocket is big enough for most valuables, and there’s a brush slot on both the front and the side.

The Lunch Bag’s only real failure in our test was its closure. The seams on either side of the bucket are stitched right to the top, leaving a small bump that protrudes into the brim’s opening. The velcro extends all the way to this bump, but it’s difficult to get it entirely closed.

The result is some chalk leakage, even when the rim is rolled down and hooked. Deliberate attention to the outer edges of the velcro helps somewhat, but the Lunch Bag never matched the closures of the Mondo or the Edge.

Other than the closure, the only real drawback to the Lunch Bag is its singular pocket. We don’t see this being an issue for many climbers, though.

At $33, the Lunch Bag is right in the middle of our testing range, neither expensive nor cheap. For many, the fun colors may be enough reason to buy. It didn’t score well enough to take home an award, but we won’t be surprised to see the Lunch Bag decorating many a crash pad.

Product Specs

  • MSRP: $33.00
  • Closure: Velcro/Roll
  • Pockets: 1 Zip
  • Brush Slots: 2

Metolius Dust Bin

Metolius Dust Bin

Another design free from bells and whistles, the Metolius was a solid but uninspiring performer. There’s not much to dislike, but not much to write home about either.

The Dust Bin has a circular well, a drawstring closure, and a velcro pocket on either side.

The drawstring closure is simple but effective. Although it didn’t seal as well as DMM’s double version, it scored in the middle of the pack in our “poof test.”

The Dust Bin’s claim to fame is having no fewer than 8 slots for brushes, skin files, or whatever other accoutrements you could load your bucket with.

I didn’t find this feature particularly useful, although having slots of various sizes is nice for larger brush handles.

One velcro pocket is made of mesh, which is handy for irregularly shaped objects. A single carry handle makes transport easy, but overall the Metolius isn’t quite as enjoyable to use as our award winners.

The Metolius does win out on price. At $29, it’s the cheapest bucket in our test. Especially on sale, it’s a good bargain.

It wasn’t our favorite bag, and for 95 cents extra we like the Mondo, but the Metolius doesn’t have any glaring flaws. If budget is your only concern, the Dust Bin is worth a look.

Product Specs

  • MSRP: $29.00
  • Closure: Drawstring
  • Pockets: 2 Velcro
  • Brush Slots: 8

Mammut Magic Boulder Chalk Bag

Mammut Magic Boulder Chalk Bag

Mammut’s magical bucket is an intriguing design with a couple standout features and a few major flaws.

The Magic Bag’s selling point is its unique packing and expansion system.

When folded and zipped, the bucket collapses down entirely flat. If you unzip the top and pull on the outer drawstring, the bucket snaps out into a standing cylinder, where it can be locked.

In many ways, this makes the bucket a pleasure to use. A flat bucket is easy to pack alongside other gear, and once locked in the standing position, the Magic Bag provides a wide and welcoming chalk well. It only has one brush holder, but this isn’t an immediate dealbreaker.

Sadly, the design comes with compromises. In order to give the bucket the structural integrity to fold and stand, the fabric is reinforced to make it stiff.

The Magic Bag can fold flat, but it doesn’t crumple at all — which can ironically make it more difficult to pack.

Inside the zipper is another drawstring closure. It’s technically functional, but the aperture fabric is too long for the bucket’s depth, which means that the nylon dips down into the chalk well. The bag gets dirty, it’s harder to chalk up, and chalk ends up on the wrong side of the closure.

As a result, the closure doesn’t prevent leakage very well. The Magic Bag did the poorest job at keeping chalk in during our “poof test.”

The closure might perform better if you can avoid getting chalk above the drawstring, but this is a challenge on its own.

To cap it all off, the folding design permits no pockets, and the Mammut is the most expensive bucket in our test. At $39.95, it’s nearly $11 more expensive than the Metolius Dust Bin.

For a bag with fewer features and so many compromises, that makes it hard to recommend.

Product Specs

  • MSRP: $39.95
  • Closure: Drawstring/Zip
  • Pockets: 0
  • Brush Slots: 1

Summary

Here are the best chalk buckets for bouldering:

  • DMM Edge Chalk Bucket
  • Black Diamond Mondo Chalk Pot
  • Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket
  • Metolius Dust Bin
  • Mammut Magic Boulder Chalk Bag

How to Choose the Best Chalk Bucket for Your Needs

Most chalk buckets are built with similar ingredients: a square or circular base, a well for chalk, a closure mechanism, and a pocket or two. The biggest differences come from the closure systems of the well and the pockets.

Types of Closures

Drawstring: Three of the bags in this test used at least one drawstring closure for the main chalk well. The drawstring runs through a fabric circle that opens or closes according to how tight the string is pulled.

Drawstrings are intuitive and easy, but they often leave a small circular hole, even when cinched. For this reason, some brands add another closure (DMM adds a second drawstring, while Mammut adds a zipper).

Roll-top: Inspired by dry bags, two of the buckets in this test feature roll-top closures. A semi-rigid brim can be folded down several times, then looped and secured. With a close seal at the brim, this can be a very secure closure. Any irregularities in the brim still result in chalk leakage.

The Black Diamond Mondo's roll-top closure.

The Black Diamond Mondo and Organic Lunch Bag both use roll-top closures.

Zipper: Zipper closures are used on both pockets and chalk wells. Mammut’s bag is the only one to use a zipper closure for the well, but it’s not very helpful in preventing leakage. Zippers do work well on pockets, making them easy to open and close.

Velcro: Velcro is also used on both wells and pockets. The Organic Lunch Bag uses velcro to seal the chalk well, with mixed results. Most buckets also use velcro on at least one pocket. Velcro pockets are useful for irregularly shaped objects, but are otherwise slightly less convenient than zippers.

How We Tested

Using the DMM Edge to chalk up at the bouldering pads.

Using the DMM Edge to chalk up at the bouldering pads.

I took all five of these bags with me every time I visited their natural habitat: the bouldering pads. I used each as my dedicated chalk bucket, storing brushes, chalk, keys, and whatever else was necessary.

Whenever possible, I asked fellow boulderers to weigh in on features and usability. After all testing was completed, I scored bags for their usability, closure system, and features.

Poof Test

To test the closures, I put the five bags through a mildly scientific “poof test.”

Having filled each with chalk, I sealed each closure system as tightly as I could. Then I suddenly compressed each one to simulate getting crunched in a climbing pack.

The results were revealing. Against a dark background, it was clear which bags sprayed the most chalk under compression.

No bag was perfect (i.e., none of these bags are perfectly airtight), but some did a much better job of keeping chalk inside.

The final results, in order of best to worst closure:

  1. DMM Edge Chalk Bucket
  2. Black Diamond Mondo Chalk Pot
  3. Metolius Dust Bin
  4. Organic Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket
  5. Mammut Magic Boulder Chalk Bag