As ubiquitous as rock shoes, chalk bags are not just a method of carrying chalk, but a statement of personal style. They are available in so many colors, fabrics, and textures that it’s possible to get virtually any style you want, whether it’s recycled GI Joe sheets from the 80s or gold lamé. Generally chalk bags get little wear and tear, so as long as they have a good liner and a stiff, reinforced upper rim, the outer fabric can be almost anything. But to say they’re style over substance is missing the point of some really good engineering. This guide on how to choose the best chalk bag will help you narrow down the myriad choices.
Sizes: Chalk bags are most commonly available in three basic sizes. Standard bags, which you wear on your waist, account for two of those sizes. The first of this set is big enough to put your hand in completely while the other is designed to accommodate only half of your hand. The latter is more popular among sport climbers, especially in Europe. The third size, which is usually referred to as a chalk bucket, will fit both of your hands completely, and is designed to sit on the ground while you’re bouldering.
Closure: When purchasing a chalk bag online, it’s important to make sure to ensure the bag has a good closure system. If the bag doesn’t close up to an extremely tight seal then you’ll end up with chalk all over your gear.
Storage: Some chalk bags, and almost all chalk buckets, will have a small loop for storing a brush (often a toothbrush) for cleaning off holds, and a small Velcro or zipper pouch for keys and sundries. This is not an absolutely necessary feature, but can be very useful if you don’t have any pockets.
Attachment: Chalk bags are either attached by a carabiner to your harness, or using a waist belt with a buckle or cord. The benefit of using a waist belt is that you can boulder wearing your chalk bag without having to wear a harness, and it oftentimes allows you to put the chalk bag in a place on your back that is easier to access.