How to Choose the Best Climbing Bag

Your climbing bag will become one of the most essential accessories during your climb. Not only will you use your climbing pack to hold your most important climbing gear, but it will also help you transport your water bottle and snacks. With many rock climbing bags in the market, it can feel overwhelming choosing the right one for your needs.

Important Characteristics In a Good Climbing Bag

The best climbing bags have a few key characteristics. They are spacious enough to hold all your gear, while also durable enough to last in the toughest conditions. Comfort is also an essential consideration as it will need to comfortably fit around your climbing gear, including your rope bag and waist belt.

When shopping for your new climbing bag, you will want to consider the following characteristics:

  • Size: Evaluate how much space you need in a climbing bag. What type of equipment is required for your style of rock climbing? Do you plan on bringing water or snacks?
  • Weight: Consider your weight needs in a climbing bag. In order for your haul bag to be as comfortable as possible, you’ll want to choose a fabric that distributes the weight.
  • Durability: Whether you climb on the weekends at the gym or are an avid climber who spends most of their time outdoors, you need a bag that can keep up. Durability will also ensure that your rope and other climbing gear stay protected.
  • Storage: Consider how much storage you need in a climbing bag. Haul bags come in all shapes and organizational styles. Storage can range anywhere between 16-50 liters. Climbing bags with numerous pockets or a spacious main compartment can also help you keep your climbing gear well organized.
  • Utility: When you choose a bag that is intended for your preferred style of climbing, you will get the most benefit out of it. Haul bags are made to accommodate specific tools.
  • Comfort: You spend a lot of time considering the most comfortable climbing gear, and this same consideration should go into your bag. Good climbing packs should rest comfortably on your back, without affecting your harness. Carrying style can also affect your comfort, making it crucial to choose a style and fabric that you enjoy.
  • Accessories: Many climbing bags come with additional accessories like hip belts or waist belts. Other accessories like rope tarp holders are also useful in protecting your rope and other accessories when climbing.
  • Safety features: Some haul bags come with safety equipment, like an emergency whistle. You also want a bag that will protect your rope from dirt and other debris. In addition to keeping your rope clean, protective materials will also prevent your rope from abrading prematurely.

It can be helpful to consider the type of climbing that you do when choosing which characteristics are most important to you in a climbing bag. Crag climbing requires a climbing bag with more durability. If your climbing trip extends over multiple days, you might need room in your bag for water and snacks and a change of clothing. Climbing gym bags tend to have more pockets for things like your keys and wallet.

Best Climbing Bags and Where to Get Them

Here are a few of the best climbing bags and where you can get them:

Patagonia Linked Pack

The Patagonia Linked Pack is a good choice for its durable design and comfortable features. It comes with a long list of accessories and anchor points to attach all your climbing equipment.


  • Designed with lightweight materials
  • Durable design that will hold up on numerous climbs
  • Includes anchor points to attach additional gear including a hip belt
  • Includes a rope strap

Petzl Bug

The Petzl Bug pack is a good choice for single-day rock climbing. It can hold up to 18 liters of gear, while still being comfortable with durable materials.


  • Durable design that will hold up
  • Fits higher on your back to stay out of the way
  • Unique design, available in gray or red
  • Includes a storable waist belt

REI Co-Op Flash 18

One of the best features of the REI Co-Op Flash 18 is that it is one of the most versatile bags. It can, of course, be used for rock climbing. But, it can also be used for your other outdoor adventures.


  • Versatile enough to use on all your outdoor adventures
  • Made with lightweight materials
  • Hydration-compatible design
  • Sternum strap comes with a safety whistle

Patagonia Cragsmith 32

The Patagonia Cragsmith 32 is a good option for climbers who prefer backpack style. This bag features ample interior space, along with a lightweight material.


  • Easy access to contents with a clamshell design
  • Made with durable, water-resistant (DWR) materials
  • Available in four different sizes
  • Features over 35 liters of interior space with a bag weight of just 2.3 pounds

Metolius Ropemaster HC

The Metolius Ropemaster HC is a great climbing pack for climbers with varied needs. Its duffel-type design means you can bring all your equipment, including your climbing rope.


  • Padded shoulder strap design
  • Compression straps with secure buckle closure
  • Mesh window in the bag to quickly locate items
  • Features a tie-in loop accessory to keep rope untangled

Mammut Magic

The Mammut Magic bag has earned its name from the many useful accessories included. It is a versatile option that can easily convert from one use to another. It can transform from a rope bucket to a crag mat. Climbers also tend to enjoy the included cleaning patch, which keeps the interior of the bag clean and free of debris.


  • Zipper closure for secure closing
  • Internal strap keeps items in place
  • Coverts from a bag to a mat
  • Mesh pocket in the interior

Black Diamond Super Chute

The Black Diamond Super Chute climbing bag is popular for its spacious interior. You can easily fit your climbing shoes in this bag. It also comes with internal quick draw loops so you can easily keep your rope organized. 


  • Includes a protective tarp
  • Includes compressions traps
  • Comfortable messenger-style climbing bag
  • Spacious design that holds a 70-meter rope

Metolius Dirtbag

The Metolius Dirtbag is one of the sleekest climbing bags in the market today. Made with a lightweight material, it is a good option for climbers without a lot of climbing gear.


  • Padded shoulder strap for optimal comfort
  • Numerous organizational features to keep items organized
  • Comes with a tarp
  • No-bulk design that won’t get in the way

Keeping Your Climbing Equipment Clean and In Good Shape

Your climbing bag is just one of the tools you can use to maintain the cleanliness and condition of your climbing equipment.

You can also keep your climbing equipment clean and in good shape with these tips:

  • Rinse off your harness with warm water before storing it in your backpack
  • Remove the gear from your climbing bag when home
  • Clean off your climbing shoes before putting them in your climbing bag
  • Routinely clean your climbing bag with warm water and mild soap

When you take good care of your rope bag and climbing backpack, you can get more use out of them, while also protecting your gear. Climbing packs are an investment that requires upkeep. You can use the same steps to protect all your other climbing gear, including your crag pack and also your climbing rope.

Best Climbing Bag Brands

These are a few of the top climbing bag brands in the market today:

  • Patagonia
  • Summit
  • North Face
  • REI
  • Black Diamond
  • Mammut
  • Petzl
  • La Sportiva

These brands have come to know the climbing industry well. They are the leaders in manufacturing durable and user-friendly climbing and rope bags. If you’re currently looking for a good quality crag pack for a weekend trip or durable Alpine pack for an upcoming mountaineering trip, consider checking out one of these brands. 

Best Bags for Multi-Pitch Climbing

Multi-pitch climbing is a type of sport ascent climbing that includes sections. With multi-pitch climbing, climbers will ascend numerous stations and stop in between pitches. Multi-pitch climbing requires a unique type of climbing bag. The best multi-pitch climbing bags have a spacious interior with compartments to store gear like shoes, water, clothing, and headlamp.

These are a few of the top multi-pitch climbing bags to consider:

Metolius Sentinel

The Metolius Sentinel haul bag features an extremely durable design that comes with leak-proof features. It is also a comfortable choice with upgraded straps.


  • Small design with ample interior space
  • Suitable for use as a cragging pack
  • Designed with a leak-proof material
  • Features padded shoulder straps and waist belt

Black Diamond Creek 35 (Or 50)

The Black Diamond Creek 35 comes in two sizes to accommodate climbers of all types. It is also recommended for its cragging capabilities.


  • Main compartment is secured with a full-length zipper
  • Available in either a 35 L or 50 L capacity
  • Top-load design for easy load-in and load-out
  • Padded shoulder strap design

Types of Carrying Style

Narrowing down your climbing bag options is easier when you consider the type of carrying style that you prefer best. These are a few of the most common carrying styles to consider:

  • Messenger style: Messenger style climbing bags typically are sold as a gym bag. They tend to be smaller in size and have multiple compartments to keep clothing separate.
  • Backpack-style: A backpack-style comfortably fits over your shoulders and is worn on the center of the back.
  • Burrito style: Burrito style bags tend to have the most interior space. The large opening also makes it easier to access your gear.
  • Top-loading: Top-loading bags come in different styles. They allow you to access your gear from a top, central pocket.
  • Clamshell/suitcase-style: A clamshell/suitcase-style is a popular choice for crag packs. It can also be used as a carry on when traveling.
  • Hybrid bags: Hybrid bags have more than one entrance. This allows you to access your gear from different openings.

It can also be helpful to understand the different types of gear bags. When shopping for climbing bags, you are likely to come across the following descriptions:

  • Crag pack: A crag pack is designed to hold all your climbing gear when cragging. This includes quickdraws, climbing rope, water, shoes, and snacks.
  • Rope bag: A rope bag is actually a tarp that can be converted into a climbing bag. You can use it to store your rope and climbing shoes.
  • Overnight bags: Overnight bags are designed for climbers who enjoy extended climbing trips. They can usually accommodate a large inventory of snacks and clothing.
  • Gym bags: Gym bags, or sometimes described as a climbing day pack, are ideal for quick trips to the gym.
  • Alpine or mountaineering packs: Alpine or mountaineering packs, similar to overnight bags, are ideal for longer trips and more significant interior space.
  • Climbing carry-on bags: If your climbing trip includes a plane ride, then you will want to consider a climbing bag that is comfortable enough and fits within the airline’s rules. Fortunately, most climbing bags in the market and the ones on this list are already approved for carry-on usage. Of course, the rules will vary depending on the airline. It is always good to call ahead to learn about any specific sizing or weight or requirements.

Do Duffle Bags Work?

If you prefer the duffel bag style, you will be pleased to learn that there are a few good climbing bags available in that style. Here are a few of the best:

Summit 90L

The Summit 90L Duffel Bag is an excellent choice for climbers who prefer something they can throw over their shoulder.


  • Designed with a durable fabric
  • Ample interior bag space
  • Metal fasteners to keep items secure
  • Adjustable straps for a perfect fit

North Face Base Camp

The North Face Base Camp is another good duffel bag option. It is also stylish and made with durable materials.


  • Padded shoulder straps for comfort
  • Numerous interior pockets for storage
  • Weather-resistant design
  • Multiple colors and styles.

Additionally, many duffel style bags also come with backpack straps. This means that you can easily convert them when carrying. Duffel bags range in size between 30-150 liters, giving you significantly more interior space than that of your traditional climbing bags. Many duffel bags are also water-resistant.

Items to Include in your Climbing Bag

Determining which items you need and how heavy they are can also help you choose the best climbing bag for your needs. These are just a few of the items that you might include in your climbing bag:

  • Climbing shoes
  • Water bottle
  • Clothing
  • Snacks
  • Sport harness
  • Chalk bag and chalk
  • Helmet
  • Mountain hardware

Choosing the Best Chalk Bag

A chalk bag is a type of bag that holds your climbing chalk. It is often much smaller than a climbing bag. It needs to be easily accessible so you can dip your fingers in it during a climb. You can choose the right chalk bag with the following tips:

  • Choose your preferred shape: Chalk bags typically come in two shapes, cylindrical and tapered. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Choose your preferred design: Chalk bags also come in many different designs, depending on the designer. Choose a color and style that you enjoy most. Chalk designs can also affect how easy it is to dip your finger in mid-climb.
  • Convenience: Where you place your chalk bag and how convenient it is to access is also important to consider when choosing a chalk bag. Ideally, you want your chalk bag to sit at your waist for easy reach. You might need to try out a few different types until you find the one that works best for you.
  • Choose the best kind of chalk: There are also numerous types of chalk to consider. A few of the most common include block, loose, eco, or liquid. Consider which one you prefer when choosing the best type of bag to use.

Chalk bags also come with different features. These features make it easier to access your chalk contents, like with a stiffened or closeable rim. Interior linings ensure that you can get an even amount of chalk on your fingers. Bag belts and brush loops are also useful in securing your chalk contents.

There are other options available for chalk bags, including a chalk pot. Chalk pots are more common with certain types of rock climbing, like bouldering. 

A few of the top chalk bags include:

  • Arc’teryx C80
  • Petzl Saka

You might wonder what choosing the right chalk bag has to do with finding the best climbing bag. Chalk bags are just one of the many things that you will include in your climbing bag, and the best option is to pair them together. Choosing the right climbing bag and finding a chalk bag that can easily be attached will ensure you have the best climbing trip possible.

Climbing bags are essential when climbing. Whether you are free climbing, sport climbing, traditional climbing, or bouldering, it is necessary to consider your needs ahead of time. Evaluate the contents and weight of your climbing bag, as well as the type of climbing that you do most often. This will help you narrow down your choices and find the best climbing bag.