As I geared up at the base of the busy Avalon crag in Boulder Canyon, Colorado, this summer, heads turned as I donned my “cougar” Metolius Wildlife Chalk Bag. The bag is colored a soft yellow, just bright enough to be noticed, with a detailed sketch of the wildcat. “That thing is sick,” my belayer complimented me—I knew she wasn’t referring to my harness or quickdraws.
Metolius’s freshest line of chalk bags, using their popular wide-mouthed Competition shape, offers prints of either a cougar, bobcat, ram, or wolf. Each wildlife image is overlaid on a backdrop of muted vintage colors that stand out well in today’s world of Day-Glo, multi-patterned chalk bags. The aesthetic is subtle, but really freaking cool. Each of the four animals is a symbol of strength, poise, and precision, all valuable attributes to the climber. Leaving the ground with the cougar strapped to my back is a psychological boost, a reminder to—like the cougar—move smoothly and confidently.
Aside from being stylish, the Wildlife Chalk Bags have been highly functional and durable. The inner liner is a synthetic micro-fleece, which holds chalk well—at times, I think I’ll be desperately out of chalk, but can still manage to muster up a little extra from shaking my hands against the bag’s walls. My favorite attribute, however, is the bag’s tough polyester outer shell. I’ve been dragging the thing up sharp granite chimneys in the South Platte and Rocky Mountain National Park all summer and have yet to do any damage. The shell is also water resistant, which has been awesome when the rain inevitably dumps on alpine days, preventing my chalk bag from morphing into a wet, useless rag. Meanwhile, the Competition shape is sturdy, holding its form and keeping the mouth open, ready to quickly dip the fingertips before gunning through difficult sections, as opposed to floppy cloth chalk bags I’ve owned that may take a second too long to wriggle into, nuking the send.
Admittedly, I was skeptical when I was commissioned to test and review the Wildlife Chalk Bag—it’s a bag that holds chalk… how much can I say about it? In all earnestness, this simple product has been a valuable addition to my climbing quiver. It is always a pleasure to get compliments on your gear, and the bag’s durability and usability have impressed me. The bag also comes standard with a belt and brush holder.