A great rope bag should help preserve the cord that protects your life. We’ve tested bags from all the top brands to help you find the best climbing rope bag for your needs.
Climbing is an inherently dirty activity. On a microscopic level, the grime can gradually damage life-saving soft goods like harnesses, runners, and ropes. Dirt contains a host of particulate matter that isn’t visible to the naked eye.
Over time, sharp particles can work into a rope’s sheath and slash fibers. All-in-all, a clean rope lasts longer than a dirty one. Keeping your rope clean also helps to extend the life of other gear including quickdraws and carabiners.
In addition to periodically washing your rope, the best way to help prevent dirt and damage is to keep it off the ground in the first place. That’s where rope bags come in.
The rope bags on this list do more than just protect against dirt. When moving from route to route at the crag, a well-designed rope bag helps to ease transitions and increase efficiency. More efficiency = more time climbing and less time toiling around with your gear.
We’ve included our favorite rope bags for a variety of different applications. At the end of our list, we’ve also included a comprehensive buyers guide to help you select the best product for your needs.
- Best Overall
- Best Budget
- Best for Hauling the Entire Kit
- Best for Long Ropes
- Best for Cramped Quarters
- Best for the Gym
The Best Climbing Rope Bags of 2022
Best Overall Rope Bag: Metolius Ropemaster HC
Metolius debuted the first rope bag with a tarp in 1991, the original Ropemaster. The Ropemaster HC ($40) is a high-capacity version. It’s a fundamental rope bag; a 52 x 58-inch tarp with the bag connected to a side, both of which are made with 600-denier polyester. A drawcord opening on the bag and two exterior webbing straps with aluminum buckles secure and compress the unit.
This simple design has proven durable over the decades, and the new Rope Master HC is no different. The generous tarp dimensions made for a clean place to keep other gear from laying in the dirt and provided a spot to shoe up. And the bag had enough capacity for 80m or 70m ropes and some equipment.
A nice touch is a transparent window that allowed seeing the rope inside the bag when stowed for easy identification when loading up at home. A pair of rope tie-in points and an adjustable shoulder strap round out the features.
This rope bag has all the features you want and no unnecessary frills, making it our overall top pick for the best climbing rope bag.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound 4 ounces
- Area: 52″ x 58″
- Bag Type: Fold and Roll
- Durable materials
- Tried-and-true design
- A bit bulky
Best Budget Rope Bag: Metolius Rope Tarp
Protecting the lifeline is still a priority even when funds are limited. Well, dirtbags can rejoice — the aptly named Metolius Rope Tarp is a simple 58 x 53-inch oval tarp with a rope pocket and tie-in loops to keep ropes out of the muck for $20.
The tarp was just big enough and the right shape to provide adequate space to loosely flake out a 70m rope. When done for the day, the rope dropped into the pocket, and the bag rolled up burrito-style, smaller and lighter than traditional rope tarps with attached bags, or even square-shaped tarps alone.
Metolius doesn’t charge for a closure system because there isn’t one. Instead, there are loops for a carabiner that held the rolled package closed.
Overall, the Metolius Rope Tarp is a minimalist solution that gets the job done.
- Verified Weight: 9.4 ounces
- Area: 58″ x 53″
- Bag Type: Fold and Roll
- Good value
- Simple and straightforward
- Lacks additional storage and closure system
Best for Hauling the Entire Kit: KAVU Shapiro Pack
KAVU’s Shapiro rope bag ($75) is more than just the typical bag and tarp. The feature-packed 600-denier polyester bag operates like a regular rope bag. The rope is folded and rolled up in the 45 x 45-inch tarp, goes into the bag, and is compressed by a drawcord and four compression straps. With 30 L of capacity, the bag comes with shoulder straps and a padded back panel.
The Shapiro held shoes, a chalk bag, a harness, a dozen quickdraws, snacks, water, and an extra layer in addition to a sub-10mm 70m rope. There isn’t a suspension system or hip belt, but the pack was manageable for loads appropriate for an afternoon or after-work session at the local sport crag.
In addition to two tie-in loops, there’s a webbing handle on all four sides, and a zipper secures the gear inside. This zipper made the tarp and everything on it independent of the pack when desired, which proved handy both at the cliff and gym.
The bag has a pair of full-length daisy chains, a flat zippered top pocket, and a buckled shoulder strap. Additionally, the foam back pad is removable for use as a seat.
The Shapiro Rope Bag almost always drew comments on how “cool” it was and looked; it was visibly more than a regular rope bag and much more straightforward than a typical crag pack. I found it ideal for the “escape kit” to always leave in the car for the impromptu urban crag or gym session.
If you’re looking for a rope bag and crag pack hybrid, this is one of the best rope bags you can buy.
- Verified Weight: 2 pounds 4 ounces
- Area: 45″ x 35″
- Bag Type: Backpack
- Includes room for additional gear
- Durable materials
- Lacks hip straps for heavy loads
Best Bag for Long Ropes: Black Diamond Equipment Super Chute
The Super Chute’s ($50) nylon 4 x 5-foot tarp was large enough for loose flaking of an 80m cord with space left over for shoeing up or other gear. Two tie-in loops helped manage the rope, and the tarp’s tapered shape and curled edges made it easy to funnel the line into the bag. The traditional fold and roll method was also practical.
This nylon bag was by far the largest of the burrito-style models in this roundup. It was large enough to house a dozen draws, harness, belay device, and shoes with a 70m rope. Two compression straps with metal buckles and a drawcord opening compressed the load into a tight package, and an adjustable and padded shoulder strap rounded out the Super Chute — our pick for the best rope bag for longer ropes.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound 2 ounces
- Area: 48″ x 60″
- Bag type: Fold and Roll
- Plenty of space for long ropes
- Enough room for simple story climbing kit
- A bit expensive compared to similar bags
Best for Cramped Quarters: Edelrid Spring Bag
Easily the most unique “rope bag” of the group, the Edelrid Spring Bag 30 ($45) is more of an elongated bucket. Rope buckets are not new; uber-thrifty climbers have been using IKEA shopping bags for years. But the Edelrid unit uses a wire frame to keep the bucket walls upright while in use, and it folds flat into its case for packing.
The 30L bucket measures 9 inches tall, 19 inches long, and 10 inches wide. It did take more diligence when restacking the rope into the bucket to ensure a smooth belay afterward. And it took an extra step to pack up, as stowing the cord in or on a backpack required recoiling.
There are two mesh pockets inside the bucket for storing smaller accessories and a pair of tie-in loops. Opposing handles made for easy transport and served as a clipping point to hang the Spring Bag 30.
At crowded sport crags with limited space, or when belaying on a ledge, the Spring Bag 30’s small footprint kept the peace. The bucket-style bag also prevented the rope from slithering away on sloped ground and made it a viable option for rope hauling during vertical access work, tree work, or route development.
The Spring Bag 30 also presented a stashable solution for multi-pitch climbing when the rope cannot hang below the belay, as on sea cliffs.
When it was time to go, a quick twist (identical motion used for wireframed auto sunshades) collapsed the Spring Bag 30 into an 8-inch-diameter flat circle held taut by a buckled webbing strap.
- Verified Weight: 12 ounces (including storage bag)
- Area: 19″ x 10″
- Bag type: Bucket
- Takes up minimal space at the base of the wall
- Easy to transport from one route to the next
- Doesn’t store the rope in transit to and from the crag; must recoil the rope
Best Gym Rope Bag: Petzl Kab
Another unique entry into this roundup is the Petzl Kab ($80). Although not suitable for most outdoor climbing, it’s sharply focused on the needs of the urban gym climber.
The Kab is essentially a 20L messenger bag with a padded laptop sleeve, expandable to 26 L by way of a zipped gusset. It has a 55 x 55 x 20-inch removable triangular rope tarp as well, with handles on each corner that also act as tie-in points.
The interior of the bag has a laptop sleeve and zipped pocket for small items, and the closure flap has a bigger zipped pocket. A single adjustable shoulder strap rounds out the stylish bag.
Although the tarp was large enough for a tightly flaked 70m rope, the volume and shape of the bag are less than ideal, especially with gym climbing essentials and a computer (my 15-inch barely fit). But with a 35m rope typical for gyms, the Kab felt perfect for remote work-to-gym missions.
The triangular tarp has less surface area than the usual square tarp. Still, it was plenty generous for a 35m gym rope and provided enough room to stand on the tarp to belay, which was preferable when belaying barefoot in the gym. Switching routes involved grabbing two corner handles and funneling the rope into the bag, shoving the tarp in, then grabbing two internal handles to shuttle to the next route.
The Petzl Kab is a one-trick pony. It isn’t suitable for outdoor climbing unless the crag is a very short hop from the parking lot, the required rope is 35 or 60m at most, or if there isn’t a need for extra gear. But for the urban gym-goer, it reigns supreme, even for those who are fashion-forward.
- Verified Weight: 1 pound 13 ounces
- Area: 55″ x 55″
- Bag Type: Fold and roll
- Ideal for gym climbing
- Doubles as an urban day pack
- Not ideal for outdoor use
Why You Should Trust Us
The GearJunkie team is made up of many experienced climbers. To put together this list of the best climbing rope bags, the team tested dozens of models over multiple years. We tested rope bags at some of the grittiest, grimiest crags on the planet, including sandy red rock deserts and muddy, leaf-littered forests.
Rope bags are relatively simple, and the differences between them are subtle. The winning products fit seamlessly into our existing climbing kits and effectively kept our ropes out of the dirt.
As new rope bags hit the market, we’ll be sure to test them thoroughly in consideration for this roundup. At any given time, our list will include the best climbing rope bags available.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Climbing Rope Bag
Before picking a rope bag, there are a handful of factors to consider. First, will the rope bag solely contain the rope Or will it need to haul an entire climbing kit? If the latter, how long is your usual approach?
More factors to consider are the length of the rope and if climbing will be primarily at the gym or outdoors. And, lastly, you need to determine a tolerable price range.
Answering these questions will help you decide what kind of bag you need. You should consider the structure of the bag (backpack style, fold and roll-style, etc.). Then, consider how much built-in carrying comfort you need.
Also, think about tarp size and how much you need the pack to compress. In the end, pricing concerns may rule all. If that’s the case, remember that every rope bag here performed its primary function — keeping the rope out of the dirt — well. The rest is just bells and whistles.
Rope bags should be large enough to easily fit a standard climbing rope, and be relatively straightforward to pack up. Most climbing ropes are 60, 70, or 80 meters in length and between 8.5 mm and 11 mm in diameter. While testing rope bags, we primarily used a burly 80m x 9.8mm rope. If this rope fit in the bag, most others should too.
Some rope bags are meant to store your whole climbing kit, and others are just for the rope. In either case, it shouldn’t be too complicated or time-intensive to pack and unpack.
For gym use, we like rope bags that store the whole kit and come with backpack straps — such as the Kavu Shapiro. It’s nice to have everything you need in one place and be able to carry it all with ease. Packs of this style are also great for crags with short approaches.
Tarp Size and Shape
Your rope bag’s tarp should be large enough to keep your pile of flaked rope off of the ground. In our experience, tarps should have a total area of at least 12 square feet.
All of the tarps on this list are suitable. If you are looking for a large tarp that offers room for sitting, racking gear, or multiple ropes, check out the Black Diamond Super Chute.
Tarp shape is a matter of personal preference. Rectangular rope tarps are the most common, and they seem to be the easiest to pick up and move.
Ease of Use
Rope bags should not be overly complicated. A simple and effective rope bag should simplify the process of moving your gear from the base of one climb to the next. We like models with easy-to-find handles and places to tie off the rope’s end. On this list, the Kavu Shapiro and Edelrid Spring Bag are a breeze to use.
Rope bags are constantly in contact with rocks and dirt, so they need to be made from burly materials. We’ve found that most products on the market are made from polyester. If you’re extra concerned about durability, look for a tarp that is water-resistant and has a denier rating over 500, such as the Kavu Shapiro.
Types of Rope Bags
Backpack rope bags, such as the Kavu Shapiro, come with shoulder straps and can be worn as a backpack. These bags are great for the gym and crags with minimal approaches. Many backpack bags also come with fold and roll tarps.
Fold and roll rope bags have been around for decades. Essentially, these bags are made of a large tarp that can be folded and rolled into a compact bundle that contains the rope. Many fold and roll bags, such as the Metolius Rope Tarp, come with an integrated pocket to better house the rope.
Basket bags are similar to collapsible laundry hampers. Typically, these rope bags fold down flat and pop up into a basket when called upon. On this list, the Edelrid Spring Bag is a great option that works well at cramped crags with minimal belay space.
Do I Need a Rope Bag?
If you’re going to be climbing on a rope outdoors, you need a rope bag. Using a rope bag significantly extends the life of your rope and the rest of your gear. Even in the gym, a rope bag is helpful for keeping your gear contained while transitioning between routes.
What is the Best Rope Bag for a Beginner Climber?
Just about any rope bag will do for a beginner, but we recommend a simple option like the Metolius Rope Tarp.
Will my Rope Fit in a Climbing Rope Bag?
All of the rope bags on this list fit ropes up to 80 meters in length and 11 mm in diameter. That’s about as big as climbing ropes come, so if you’re choosing from this list we can guarantee the bag will accommodate your rope.
Have a favorite rope bag we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.