Man with a bouldering bag at the crag

Bouldering bag – review of the best bags for bouldering

Bouldering is a great workout and for many a way of life. Others like bouldering as a way to get stronger for tougher rope climbs. What ever is the reason for bouldering, it is always nice to have good gear to make the bouldering as smooth as possible. In this article we look at different kinds of bouldering bags and give our recommendations. Our recommendations are based on years of bouldering and from the perspective of someone who works at a climbing gym as well. 

The best bouldering Chalk bucket

Our recommendation for the overall best bouldering chalk bucket is the Survivor Chalk Bucket. This is an affordable chalk bucket that offers many small benefits. What really won us over was the usability of the magnetic closure and clasp combination. The fact that you can clip the opening to stay open is great when you can use the bag without fear of it tipping over, but also having the magnetic closure as a back up for when climbing at an indoor gym. The bag also has some nice storage spaces and it is quite affordable.  

The best bouldering chalk bucket for DWS (and for the style)

We really liked the So iLL On The Roam Rolldown Chalk Bucket and we would recommend it for the cool design. Also if you do DWS (deep water solo) climbing this can be a great bouldering chalk bucket as works as a dry bag when clipped closed. Some of the things that made us not to choose this for our top pick is that there is really bad availability and the bit heavier pricing. This chalk bucket is actually made in collaboration with Jason Momoa and you might recognize where the print design comes from if you are one of his fans. 

 

The best Bouldering chalk bag

Our top pick for the best bouldering chalk bag is the Mammut Stitch. In wearable chalk bags one of the biggest factors is always going to be the design. We really like the simplicity of the design in the Stitch and it just looks cool to us. If you want to personalize the chalk bag it can be stitched with your own design as well. There are different colors of yarn included that you can use for that. 
That being said the chalk bag is really comfortable to use as well and can be worn with the included waist belt of clipped into your harness. The drawstring closure also works really well. 

Other fun bouldering chalk bag designs

Like mentioned before one of the biggest factors in choosing a chalk bag for climbing is the design. That is why we want to present some of our other favorites as well. You can click on the photo to check the price and availability for each chalk bag:
 
 

Bouldering shoe bag

I personally don’t have an extra bag for my shoes. I sometimes use the mesh bag that came with one of my harnesses. The mesh helps with keeping the shoes ventilated so if they are forgotten in the gym bag they wont start to smell. I often spray my shoes with a disinfectant spray after climbing to clean them out and to kill bacteria. This liquid also needs to dry out and therefore its important that the shoes are well ventilated.

Other bags I have used for carrying and protecting my bouldering shoes have come with some of my helmets or other shoes I have bought. I also just clip my shoes on my backpack to air them out. Of course with rainy weather this might not be a good idea.

If you want to get a specific bouldering shoe bag the Adidas Stadium II is a great option. It is ventilated and it has a lined compartment and a haul handle for carrying or clipping to your backpack. You can check the price here!

Our recommendation for a shoe disinfectant is MOUNTAIN TOP Shoe Odor Buster Spray

This organic disinfectant helps keep the shoes fresh and you won’t have to apologize every time you take your shoes off at the gym or at the crag. If you have sensitive skin you won’t have to worry about irritation from this spray as it is made with natural ingredients. They also offer a 100% guarantee. 

 

Best bouldering bag

Our recommendation for the best bouldering bag is the North Face expedition Duffel bag.  The bag is easy to use as it has great access to all the gear inside, as opposed to searching from a backpack that is loaded from the top. It is easy to carry with event some good weight inside. It is waterproof and durable. This bag can be used for a lot of other sports and for travelling as well so you will be set for your bouldering both indoors and outdoors.  

Our recommendation for a bouldering backpack

If you want to buy a backpack that is more versatile for others sports and more comfortable on longer approaches we recommend getting the Black diamond speed backpack. You can choose a size to fit your needs and some color choices as well. The backpacks also have and option for hydration systems as well. 

What to consider when choosing a bouldering backpack?

I mainly use to different kinds of backpacks for bouldering. For indoor gym bouldering and for boulders with shorter approach I use a duffel bag for easy access to my bouldering gear as well as my snacks, camera equipment, water bottle etc. The duffel bag can also be flattened inside the crashpad as well for the approach, so I wont have to wear it in the front as this can affect visibility to my feet on more technical approaches as well as blood circulation to the arms.   Some people like to just throw the gear inside the crashpad and hope nothing falls out, but with the duffel I know everything will be safe and starting climbing is faster as the crashpad is faster to use once at the boulder. The duffel bag is also waterproof to keep the gear safe from getting wet. Just remember to air out your gear and take out any left over food etc from the bag. Did you know a banana peel can liquify inside a waterproof bag if left for several weeks. I wish I didn’t know this! The smell was really bad.

For longer  approaches and for multipitch climbing I use a backpack as I can use a hydration system with it. This is rarely needed during bouldering and I usually prefer a duffel bag and a water bottle when bouldering. If you are going to buy only one bag it might be wise to consider if you are going to use it for other sports or for travelling as well. 

What to consider when choosing a bouldering chalk bag?

What kind of closure it has? 

As someone who also works at a climbing gym I always like to point out the importance of the closure system of the chalk bag. The closure will protect your stuff when your chalk bag is packed onto your backpack or crashpad. Also when people have their chalk bags lying on the bouldering mat there is always a chance for chalk to be spread out on to the mat. This is a hassle for the gym staff to clean and also can affect your own climbing. The chalk from the mat gets on your shoes and affects your climbing as clean shoes have a lot more friction and having really chalky shoes can make your climbing harder.
Also when people fall or jump off routes in to the mat, the chalk on the mat will poof up in to the air. Knowing how the chalky air affects people with asthma or other breathing difficulties makes me hope that people will be more careful with their chalk bags and also how they use the gym’s chalk.

The same thing applies to climbing outdoors. While people are thankfully aware of not leaving their rubbish at the crag, the same can’t be said of chalk. Pretty much all crags have piles of chalk on the ground left over from spilled chalk bags. Hopefully this won’t affect access rights to any climbing crags.

The most common kinds of closures are drawstring, clasp and magnetic. Some bouldering bags have a combination of different closures.

how to wear/use a chalk bag for bouldering?

When bouldering you can usually choose to either have the chalk bag clasped on to your waist, similarly to rope climbing or you can have it on the ground. Boulderers often have a chalk bucket on the ground that has easier access and is more stable to avoid spilling. For high ball routes or outdoor boulders that might have some wet spots many like to have a wearable chalk bag so they can chalk up during the climb as well.

For DWS (deep water solo) routes I usually leave the chalk bag at the bottom of the cliff so that the chalk stays dry even when I fall in the water. For longer DWS routes many wear a chalk bag with them as they climb.

How do you pack for bouldering?

If you are climbing at an indoors bouldering gym, you only need to pack some clothes to climb in. The way I pack for bouldering indoors is I use a duffel bag for easy access and carrying. What I take bouldering indoors:

  •  Shoes: I usually take 2-3 pairs of shoes. One more durable pair for warming up and two different kinds of shoes for different kinds of routes. You can read more about climbing shoes here: Best Climbing Shoes 
  • Climbing clothes: I usually wear my climbing clothes when going to the gym.
  • Water bottle: its important to stay hydrated
  • Snacks or fruit: to keep up my energy on longer sessions and to make recovery faster.
  • Theraband: To warm up I like to use my own theraband as availability is not always sure at the gym and also to not get any germs. 
  • Chalk bag and liquid chalk
  • Hold brush: Although most gyms have brushes I have mine with me as I dont want to forget is when I go climbing outside. 
What to pack when bouldering outside:
  • All of the above items from the indoor bouldering list
  • Crashpad
  • Approach shoes
  • Extra food
  • Extra water
  • First aid kit
  • Portable fingerboard for warming up
  • Clothing for the weather: Warm layers for the colder times and wind- and rainproof clothes. Gloves and hats as well. Long sleeves and hats to protect from the sun.
  • Headlamps: preferably two so you have a backup when the first one goes out. Make sure they are loaded up before going.
  • Camera and maybe a tripod for recording a video of your send?  
There are several ways to do it, but my preferred way to pack for bouldering is to put my gear flatly packed in to a duffel bag and then carry that duffel bag inside my crashpad. This way my hands are free and I can see the approach trail without having a bag on the front.

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