The 9 Best Chalk Bags of 2023

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Odds are you probably don’t think much about your chalk bag. You use it and abuse it. It’s left on the ground for people to step on. It’s not like chalk bags help us climb any stronger. The chalk we put in it is far more critical to your climbing than the bag itself. 

At the same time, a poorly made chalk bag can be an endless source of frustration—the never-ending trail of spilled chalk on the ground, or even worse, all over the inside of your climbing pack. We took to our local rock gym and crags around California to test all kinds of chalk bags. After thorough testing, here are the best chalk bags.

Best Overall

Cotopaxi Halcon Chalk Bag

Cotopaxi Halcon Chalk Bag

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sealed-tight closure

  • Chalk stays in the bag when falling/jumping down

  • Large storage capacity

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t guarantee color

I admit I've always been hesitant to buy Cotopaxi items. I know they're well-made; I'm just not a fan of the bright, mismatched color patterns that are Cotopaxi's unique style. However, that hesitancy quickly dissipated after using the Halcon Chalk Bag. Plainly put, after over 25 years of using all types of chalk bags, this is the best damn chalk bag I've used. 

The Halcon chalk bag features a cylindrical shape with a soft-structured rim to help keep its shape. Compared to most chalk bags, it's considerably deeper with a soft fleece lining, giving it the ability to hold more than enough chalk. The elastic drawstring closure cinches tighter than just about every bag I tested, preventing any loose chalk dust from getting out. One huge selling point for me was that even when jumping off the bouldering wall, very little chalk escaped as I fell. This is thanks to extra nylon fabric that puffs up around the opening to help keep the chalk in the bag. There are two large pockets (one zippered and one elastic) capable of holding your phone, keys, tape, and nail clippers. 

Since they repurpose leftover fabric, the only downside is your color choice isn't guaranteed. So if you're someone that likes to color coordinate everything, you could be out of luck. On the flip side, it's pretty cool knowing that you could be the only person with that color chalk bag in the world.

Price at time of publish: $30

Cotopaxi Halcon Chalk Bag
TripSavvy / Cory Smith.

Best Budget

Mammut Basic Chalk Bag

Mammut Basic Chalk Bag

Amazon

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Soft fleece lining inside

What We Don't Like
  • No pockets

  • Thin waist belt

If you’re just looking for a place to put your chalk and can forgo features like pockets and higher quality design, the Mammut Basic chalk bag is the best money can buy. There’s nothing fancy about the bag; it just works. In terms of size, it’s on the smaller end of the spectrum with a nice, soft fleece lining inside. The drawcord closure does a decent job keeping the chalk in the bag. Two loops can be clipped to a carabiner and fastened to your harness, or you use the included waist belt. Bottom line, if you’re a beginner climber or on a tight budget, buy this bag and spend your money on gear that matters more, like climbing shoes or a harness.

Most Durable

Static Waxed Canvas Chalk Bag

Static Waxed Canvas Chalk Bag

Moosejaw

What We Like
  • Durable

  • A sturdy build allows the bag to stand up

  • Well-made and small batch by climber-owned small business

What We Don't Like
  • No pockets

  • Stiffness allows some chalk leakage

As climbers, we're notoriously tough on our chalk bags. Between repeatedly throwing them down on the ground while we climb and stuffing them in and out of our packs, chalk bags take a beating. Most chalk bags are made with nylon, which tends to wear down and rip over time, especially around the brim. On the other hand, canvas is a highly long-lasting material capable of handling a lot of abuse without wear. 

Each Static chalk bag is handmade in San Diego out of waxed canvas. No other chalk bag is as carefully stitched together and detailed as a Static bag. The canvas gives this medium-sized bag a stiff and sturdy shell. Aside from bucket chalk bags, this one stood up on its own the best, making it an excellent option for bouldering. Due to the stiffness, the closure system initially allowed some chalk leakage, but as time passed and the canvas softened, it got much better. In terms of storage, there isn't a pocket, only a small brush loop. Static chalk bags are the best if you care about quality and want to support a climber-started small business.

Price at time of publish: $35

Most Secure Closure

Arc’teryx Ion Chalk Bag

Arc’teryx Ion Chalk Bag

REI

What We Like
  • Impenetrable locking closure

  • The stiff brim is easy to dip hands into

  • Durable ripstop material

What We Don't Like
  • Extremely hard to open 

Before I say how indestructible the closure system is on this chalk bag, I must disclose two items. First, it's nearly impossible to figure out without instructions. After failing for over 5 minutes to figure it out, I finally resorted to a YouTube tutorial. Second, even after I figured it out, it takes some serious strength to open it—maybe V3 finger strength. 

With that out in the open, the complex drawstring closure on this is bombproof. Once closed and locked, it will never open unexpectedly. If you're familiar with the discontinued Arc'teryx C80 or C40 chalk bags, the Ion is very similar in terms of shape. The Ion comes in two sizes, large and small. However, the large is smaller on the Ion than the C80. Both feature a stiff brim that's easy to get in and out of but will allow chalk to escape when falling off the bouldering wall. There's a small zippered pocket and loop for your brush. 

I've always been a fan of anything Arc'teryx makes. Their products are well-designed and always use premium materials. My one gripe is that the engineering team at Arc'teryx over-engineered this one. Although the most secure, the closure system may be too difficult to open and close regularly. With that said, if you only open your bag once per session and want a dead-tight closure system, this one is for you.

Price at time of publish: $45

Arc'teryx chalk bag
TripSavvy / Cory Smith.

Best for Multi-Pitch

Mammut Alpine Chalk Bag

Mammut Alpine Chalk Bag

Moosejaw

What We Like
  • Solid closure system

  • Large storage capacity

What We Don't Like
  • Large size

Two things make one chalk bag more suitable for long alpine trad days—storage and chalk capacity. The Mammut Alpine chalk bag has one of the largest storage capacities you can buy, with two zippered pockets (one side and one downward) and a mesh compartment that can store everything you need for a long day on the wall. The pockets easily fit a phone, tape, fueling, emergency wind shell, and even a small camera. The semi-firm brim holds its shape, while a soft fleece-lined inner ensures you get a good dipping of chalk without dusting up from the bag. 

This bag is perfect for light and fast, extended-day missions when you don’t need enough gear to warrant a backpack but still need to bring things like your cell, fueling, wind shell, or even a soft flask water bottle.

Price at time of publish: $40

Best Value

Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag

Black Diamond Mojo Chalk Bag

Black Diamond

What We Like
  • Excellent value

  • Light

  • Zippered pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Very basic-feeling

If you’re of the mindset that a chalk bag is just a mechanism to carry chalk, and that’s it, the BD Mojo chalk bag is for you. This no-frills bag has everything you need and nothing you don’t, all at a very reasonable price. This cylindrical bag features a wire brim to help hold shape when dipping for chalk and a drawstring cord-lock closure. A single zippered pocket is medium-sized and can have a key, tape, and fingernail clippers, but not a phone. 

Honestly, the best part of the BD Mojo is its value. At $20, it’s around one-third the price of most chalk bags with similar performance. I also enjoy the very clean and simple styling with five color options. Finding one to match your other climbing gear is easy.

Price at time of publish: $22

Best Small

prAna Graphic Chalk Bag

prAna Graphic Chalk Bag

REI

What We Like
  • Extremely soft

  • Leakproof closure

  • Cool graphics

What We Don't Like
  • No pockets

  • Small brush holder

Despite its small size, this bag holds a surprising amount of chalk. Thanks to a kettlebell-style shape that flares out at the bottom, the Prana Graphic chalk bag can hold just as much chalk as larger bags. The 100 percent recycled polyester with fleece-lined interior is incredibly soft and pleasant to dip your hands into. The drawstring closure was one of the best at keeping the chalk in the bag, not on the floor or in your pack. 

In terms of storage, this is where the bag falls short. There isn’t a pocket, and the brush holder is minimal and thin—something I could see ripping over time. For anyone looking for a soft-touch bag with cool graphics options at a reasonable price, I suggest checking this one out.

Price at time of publish: $35

Best Lightweight

Black Diamond Ultralight Chalk Bag

Black Diamond Ultralight Chalk Bag

Black Diamond

What We Like
  • Extremely lightweight 

  • Good closure

  • Takes up very little pack space 

What We Don't Like
  • No pockets

  • Wind can blow it around, spilling chalk

Over the years, I've become somewhat weight- and space-obsessed with my route climbing gear. My local crag is about a 45-minute hike in and out—nothing major, but enough to notice the weight and look for ways to lighten the load. While a chalk bag may not seem like a significant weight expense, every ounce helps, especially when you're trying to send your most challenging project.

The BD Ultralight Chalk Bag is as minimalist and lightweight as possible. At 1.4 ounces, it weighs roughly the same as seven quarters. The features are bare to cut weight—no pockets, no brush loop, no liner, and just a small shoestring waist belt. Its most significant advantage comes in its lack of features because this cuts down on the weight. The cost of such a lightweight bag is size and stability. I'd call it somewhere between a finger and half handbag, and on windy days it gets thrown around like a flag. 

I wouldn't recommend this as a daily gym or bouldering bag because it's too lightweight and minimalist. If you're a comp, sport, or trad climber looking for a second bag to cut down on weight or space, this bag is for you.

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Bucket

Organic Climbing Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket

Organic Climbing Lunch Bag Chalk Bucket

Organic Climbing

What We Like
  • Durable

  • Leakproof closure

  • It can hold a lot of chalk  

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t guarantee colors

Visit any bouldering area in the U.S., and odds are you’ll find someone with an Organic chalk bag. These custom-made chalk bags are fun-colored and damn near indestructible. The sturdy 1000d nylon fabric is stiff and durable. You don’t have to think twice about repeatedly throwing them down on the ground. The roll-down top ensures no chalk will leak or dust out while closed. A large zippered pocket is big enough to hold a phone and an entire finger care kit.

The best thing about bucket bags is their capacity for chalk. Forget refilling your chalk regularly; you can fit a whole 15-ounce bag. Whether you use this as your primary bouldering chalk bucket or as a sealed-tight way to store your extra loose chalk, the Organic Lunch Bag is as good as they come.

Price at time of publish: $33

Final Verdict

Chalk bags can be much more than a bag to hold chalk, including an expression of style. But before being drawn to buy a particular chalk bag for its bright colors, excellent graphics, or coordination with your shoes or harness, it can pay to put a little consideration into your purchase. Bag size, volume, storage, and closure can make one bag more suitable than another. We talked with climbers about what they like about their chalk bags and tested over a dozen bags to develop a comprehensive list of the best chalk bags. 


What to Look for in a Chalk Bag

Despite the similar appearances, there are a few key details to pay attention to when searching for a chalk bag that make some better for the various climbing disciplines. Here’s what to look for when buying a chalk bag.

Bag Size

The most significant difference between chalk bags is size. While the ideal size is somewhat of a personal preference, there are advantages to putting some thought into chalk bag size and how you’ll use it before buying. Two things come into play when talking about the size of a chalk bag: its spatial size and volume. 

Spatial size may not be essential for trips to your rock gym, but for alpine or sport climbing, where pack space might be limited, having a smaller chalk bag can free up a lot of pack space. A larger chalk bag will take up more space in your pack. 

Directly related to physical size is volume. Volume pertains to how much chalk the bag can hold. Gym climbers, boulderers, and those who use a lot of chalk should look for voluminous bags or buckets. 

Bag Storage

Most chalk bags will come with some sort of small storage in the form of a zipper, pocket, or brush holder. Storage capacity varies significantly between bags. This allows you to carry small items such as your keys, wallet, tape, nail clippers, liquid chalk, or even a smartphone. Most bags will have a small loop on the side for a brush. A brush holder is a necessity, in my opinion. If a bag doesn’t have somewhere to hold a brush, I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Closure

The closure system must be well-made if you want to keep chalk from getting all over your climbing pack. There are two main types of closures: a drawcord and a roll-top. Most chalk bags will have a drawcord, whereas most buckets will have a roll top. A well-made drawcord closure will cinch completely tight, leaving no hole for chalk to fall out. This is easier said than done. I found even the best-made drawcord closures still let some chalk puff out. A roll-top closure, on the other hand, guarantees chalk will not spill out. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I pick a good chalk bag?

    First, start with how you’ll primarily be using it. Will you be bouldering, sport climbing, or trad climbing? Inside a gym or outside? From there, you can begin to narrow down the style. Boulderers may want a larger chalk bag with plenty of storage for different brushes and liquid chalk, such as a bucket style. Route climbers should look for a medium to smaller size drawcord chalk bag that won’t take up too much space in your pack.

  • How big should a chalk bag be?

    Size is climber-dependent. Those who use a lot of chalk will probably want to look for one that holds more chalk so you do not have to refill it often. Typically, boulderers can benefit from a larger chalk bag and one that sits up on itself. Sport climbers and trad climbers should think about pack space when picking a chalk bag. Larger bags will take up more space. 

  • Do people boulder with a chalk bag (why or why not)?

    Yes, people do boulder with chalk bags around their waist. You’ll most likely find it during more prolonged boulder problems when sweat can start to accumulate on the hands. A quick chalk up during the climb can help alleviate sweaty hands. For short and very hard boulder problems, most climbers will not wear a chalk bag because chalking would take too much energy and add extra weight.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Cory Smith is a freelance journalist specializing in climbing, running, and fitness-related content and gear review. He's been a rock climber since 1995, primarily focusing on sport climbing and bouldering with an occasional trad day in the Sierras. If he's not sport climbing or bouldering at his local crags outside Los Angeles, he can be found in the Sierras, limestone cliffs around Las Vegas, or the granite boulders of Black Mountain. He's also an elite-level runner and a full-time running coach.

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