How much is there to say about a chalk bag? All it has to do is hang out back there and have that powdery gold ready for your sweaty, trembling fingers…and not fall off mid-way up a route…and not spill all over the tiny ledge you’re belaying on, or the gym floor.
Reviewed by Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor
So it turns out the ideal chalk bag is more than just a Ziploc affixed with duct-tape to a shoelace (although I’ve watched hard routes go down in this style). In my experience, I only notice my chalk bag if it does something it shouldn’t, like fall off or spill or remain soaking wet for days. I solve the first problem by tying mine around my waist with 6mm cord, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Beal’s innovative solution to the second issue.
I’m always excited when someone thinks outside the box and develops a new solution. I never thought anyone was thinking critically about engineering chalk bags, but Beal came up with an intriguing way to open and close a bag more efficiently: rather than closing with a drawstring and toggle like virtually every other bag on the market (even those “after-market” Crown Royal sacks), the whole mouth of this bag snaps shut in an instant.
This patented ‘Clic-Clac’ action bag is really easy to use. I get to the belay, build an anchor, and reach behind to snap the bag shut before I sit down or lay back against the wall. The action is really quick, and the inch-wide interface seals perfectly. Ever drop something on your chalk bag in the car or on your girlfriend’s couch and it erupts like a powdery geyser from the pinhole at the center of the drawstring? White dust everywhere? I hate that. It doesn’t happen with this bag.
I wondered if the bag could snap shut by itself, perhaps mid-route, perhaps just as I’m dipping for courage at the crux. After many pitches I’ve yet to see it happen. It’s possible it could close shut in a chimney, but if you haven’t pulled your bag to the side for a tight squeeze you can’t use it anyway.
As to the problems of falling off and getting soaked: The thin webbing waist strap that came with the bag sucks. It easily slips through the buckle and risks the whole thing sliding down your waist, but I always tie mine on with cord anyway (buckles break, too), so this is pretty much a non-issue. The only thing I’d like to see changed about this chalk bag is the material. Cotton is soft and cuddly but I don’t cuddle my chalk bag. For now, this stays with my sport climbing rack because a cotton sack has no place in the mountains. If Beal makes a nylon version, I’ll probably take it everywhere.
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