As slippery hands can cut your climbing capability in half, this basic piece of equipment can make or break a climb.
Due to its simplicity, it’s often hard to know what to look for in a chalk bag.
This review discusses the best chalk bags for climbing currently on the market. Use our top picks and buyer’s guide below to help you purchase the chalk bag that suits you best.
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We reviewed over 11 chalk bags for this article. Below are the best chalk bags that made our short list.
Read our complete buyers guide for chalk bags.
The Arc’teryx C80, overall, is just a joy to use. Its large size makes it easy to keep your whole hand dry and grippy with chalk and its design is incredibly efficient, making it our (and many climbers’) favourite chalk bag.
The opening has a rigid ring that keeps it open at all times so that you never miss a reach back, with a drawcord system that is one of the most effective yet.
The wide opening even allows for double-handed chalking. The softly tapered shape guides your hands directly to the chalk, minimising fumbling and/or chalk spill.
The inside material is soft and comfortable, with the basket depth allowing you to load as much chalk as you could need.
What’s more, it has a zippered pocket to stow away small essentials as well as a bottle opener built into the belt system in case you bring along a celebratory beverage!
The Arc’teryx C80 Chalk Bag is durable, comfortable and its effective design ensures no chalk will stray. Its ease of use and reliability makes it our top pick on our list of chalk bags.
The vintage-looking STATIC Waxed Canvas Chalk Bag is not only made with the most durable fabric available, but it also consists of 12 components that are hand-stitched together to produce this final high-quality product.
It is this reliable quality that makes us rank it the most durable of our chalk bag favourites.
The canvas exterior is specifically selected for its toughness and then coated with wax.
The result is a chalk bag that is hardier than regular canvas bags and less likely to tip over.
The Paracord closure ensures that the cord won’t slip out under the chalk bag, and inside the bag is a soft anti-pill fleece lining that absorbs chalk (so you still have some chalk leftover even when you seemingly run out).
The appealing aesthetic of this chalk bag will keep you looking stylish in the mountains. It even smells good, as the materials are infused with organic San Diego lavender.
The STATIC Waxed Canvas Chalk Bag is made up of a selection of the toughest fabrics that are then hand-sewn together to create a high-quality, durable product.
A multipitch climb refers to an ascent of climbing routes that have one or more stops at a belay station, and the Mammut Multipitch Chalk Bag was designed especially for them.
The midsized chalk bag provides enough space to carry the extra chalk you’d need to get to the top of a multipitch, and the bag has several installed low-profile pockets for other tools so that you can skip over a movement-restricting pack.
A brush holder allows you to keep a cleaning brush on you at all times, and the larger zippered pocket offers enough space for small necessities like an energy bar (for that much needed mid-climb boost).
There’s even an adjustable bungee on the bag’s lower half to secure a jacket if need be.
The bag’s cylindrical shape and rigid opening make accessing chalk easy, while the secure drawcord and thick fleece lining saves any potential for stray chalk.
The Mammut Multipitch Chalk Bag allows you to enjoy your climb with more than enough chalk and with no filled pockets, an extra pack or stress about a difficult reach back.
It’s a mouthful to say, but this bag’s style deserves the title. Pure Grit, a Colorado-based company, specializes in unique chalk bags that are as efficient as they are self-expressive.
They have a wide range of wicked cool designs – including holiday-themed bags and even faux fur ones - but this Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Chalk Bag has proven to be the most popular.
It features colourful Mexican sugar skulls on a black background.
And it’s not just all aesthetics. The exterior cotton print is paired with a reinforced backing fabric and tough stitching to minimise any potential tearing, while the inside of the bag has a soft, comfortable fleece lining that makes chalking a dream.
A smooth drawcord prevents any escaping chalk, and the adjustable waist strap is removable so that you can tie your bag right onto your harness if you prefer.
If you’re looking for a flash of colour or style in your climbing equipment, the Pure Grit chalk bags are the ones for you. Be sure to check out their wide variety of prints to see if there is a style better suited to you.
Arc’teryx’s Aperture Chalk Bag is possibly the neatest chalk bag on the market. Its unique twist closure not only seals chalk inside incredibly but it can also shrink the volume of the bag down for easier transport.
The Aperture’s tried-and-true twist closure allows almost (if not completely) zero chalk to escape.
This closure is unusual in comparison to other chalk bag seals, and this makes the Aperture unique.
The rigid and wide opening makes it easy to chalk up, however, the bag’s twisting design makes it a little bit floppy when extended.
This lack of sturdiness also creates issues during overhangs, as it doesn’t guide your hand to the chalk very well. The bag also tends to spill on falls when it is open.
The Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag works wonders in concealing your chalk and its unique ability to fold down is very appealing. By purchasing it, however, you need to be wary of keeping it open during climbs as it tends to spill.
Climbing gear has become increasingly complex over the years, so it should come as a relief to you to know that purchasing a chalk bag is pretty simple.
Most gear would require you to focus on your intended use, but because chalk bags aren’t as influenced by your activity, focus on your priorities instead. Do you prefer lightweight over strong?
Large over lightweight? Wide over small? Take a moment to consider your priorities and then purchase the bag that suits you best.
Below, we elaborate a little bit more on each chalk bag characteristic to guide you through your purchase.
A chalk bag can come in two different shapes: tapered or cylindrical.
Cylindrical bags tend to be more popular, and because of this most of the chalk bags in the market are cylindrical shaped. They are easy to put your hand into and ideal for long routes.
Tapered chalk bags are smaller than cylindrical ones and hold only a small amount of chalk. They are commonly used for sport routes, where climbers like to shave off any excess weight/bulk. Tapered chalk bags are also usually ergonomically designed to allow for a quick finger dip.
Most chalk bags come with an adjustable and/or removable belt, and a lot of climbers attach their chalk bag to a nylon belt to wear around their waist. Some climbers, however, prefer to clip it onto their harness with a small carabiner.
Chalk bags will normally have a couple of small loops that a belt can either slide into or a carabiner can attach to, but you still need to make sure that if your desired chalk bag has a belt and you prefer clipping it to your harness, the belt is removable.
The advantage of a belt is that the chalk bag can slide from one side of your waist to the other, so you can dip either hand into the chalk.
Smaller bags are best for longer climbs, as they reduce weight and bulk, but bigger bags are easier to use and tend to be more comfortable. It comes down to preference at the end of the day, but it’s important to note that if you have large hands, make sure to get a bag that is big enough to fit them.
There are a variety of small technical features that are available in chalk bags.
Most bags will have a stiff rim, which lets the bag stay open and makes it easy to slide your hand into. This is ideal, as a floppy rim (like the Arc’teryx Aperture) can lead to chalk spillage during climbs.
A fleece lining is awesome as it allows for even distribution of the chalk throughout your hand. Even better, look for absorbent fleece linings, as this holds chalk extra well.
A loop for a brush to clean holds makes a huge difference too, especially for bouldering. Also, exterior pockets are a bonus because you may store small tools and valuable things (phones, keys etc.) without having heavy pockets or an extra bulky pack. For multipitch climbs, chalk bags with pockets are ideal.
Chalk bags have a drawstring around the rim and a toggle for tight closure. The tighter the closure, the less chalk escapes which means less chalk that you’d waste. For long climbs, when you want a small bag for less bulk and weight, a tight closure is necessary as you will have a limited amount of chalk.