Top 7 Exercise Sandbags Reviewed (and easily make your own)

What are Exercise Sandbags?

If you read a lot of about health and fitness, you’ll understand that it’s pretty easy to over-complicate training. Figuring out a comprehensive training plan with the “right” exercises, sets, weight, rest intervals, etc. can be daunting, even to some professionals. So, I have to admit, I’m often a fan of “simple” training with things like rings, dumbbells, and a jump rope.

To that end, one of the simplest – and yet most challenging – training tools is an exercise sandbag. Even though it’s only recently gained in popularity, people have been filling, carrying, lifting, and throwing sandbags for longer than we’ve been alive. It’s a decidedly low-tech but tremendously effective tool that builds real-world strength.

A front squat with a sandbag

Unlike most machines, exercise sandbags allow for an almost infinite variety of exercises. Not only are they more challenging than fixed weights – due to the shifting of the sand – lifting “odd” objects tends to build resiliency and functional strength. In fact, many combat athletes or martial artists train with sandbags as it can mimic some of the loads they experience in their sport.

There are, of course, other benefits to training with exercise sandbags. One, is that you will get an amazing grip as, in order to use a sandbag, you actually have to be able to lift and hold on to it. Mind blowing, I know. And while you can still supplement your grip training with something like the Captains of Crush, a strong training has a large carry over effect in real-life. Also, it has a sport-specific effect – for example, if you’re into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) or Judo where grips are very important, an exercise sandbag is an amazing tool.

An even larger benefit is the ability to easily train your body in different planes of motion. Due to the off-center loading and shifting you experience while using a sandbag, you can easily twist, move forward and back, and side to side. Many conventional exercises like a bench press or squat only work one plane of motion at a time. And, while that is still great, working in multiple planes is important not only for your fitness but for your general health and well-being.

So now that we’ve established why you should use one, let’s look at some things you need to look for in a weightlifting sandbag.


What To Look For In An Exercise Sandbag

Size / Capacity

Obviously, one of the first things you need to decide on is how large of a bag you need. Exercise sandbags are typically cylindrical in shape; as such, they range in both the diameter and length of the bag. Rogue, for example, makes bags that start at 20″ long with a 7″ diameter all the way up to 42″ long with a 14″ diameter.

Not only is there a large sandbag but there are typically smaller “filler” sandbags that you will actually fill up with sand. Then, you place those filler bags inside your larger carrying bag. Sometimes there are variations such as Rogue’s larger “funnel filler” bag shown below.

The benefit of filler bags is that you’re quickly and easily able to change the overall weight of sandbag by simply adding or removing bags. They also help prevent leaking by putting another layer inside the larger bag. Keep in mind you just don’t want to overfill any of the bags as that will increase the chance of the bag bursting.

Using filler sandbags are great when you want to switch exercises or change the intensity of an exercise. For example, you’d probably want the bag heavier while doing squats and lighter while doing overheard presses. Keep in mind, though, you will *not* be able to lift the same amount of weight in a sandbag that you do with a barbell.

Filling

Another thing to consider is what you’re going to fill the sandbag with. Now, you might be saying – “Wait a minute aren’t you filling the bag with, well, sand? After all, it’s a sandbag, right?” Well, you’re right…you can fill the bag with sand but some people choose other things such as crumb rubber, rubber mulch, or other materials.

Another thing to consider is what you’re going to fill the sandbag with. Now, you might be saying – “Wait a minute aren’t you filling the bag with, well, sand? After all, it’s a sandbag, right?” Well, you’re right…you can fill the bag with sand but some people choose other things such as crumb rubber, rubber mulch, or other materials.

Why would you do that? One, if the sandbag were to leak, you don’t have a huge sand pile to clean up. That is something to keep in mind if you workout at home or you’re worried about springing a leak.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sand is very dense – meaning it has a lot of mass for its volume. That’s one reason sand makes a good filler. But it might make the bag too heavy for your fitness level…which is why you might use rubber. Using the same volume of rubber means the bad weighs less and gives you another way to change the weight of the sandbag. Rogue, for example, notes their bags only hold 40% of the weight of rubber as compared to sand.

Use play sand from your hardware store

Another benefit to changing the filler material is that it changes up the feel of the bag. The weight shifting of bag filled with sand versus the weight shifting of a bag filled with rubber is very different. Think of it as just another way to challenge your body.

To summarize, determining the filling material can make a big difference in the size of bag you should get. If you’re going to use rubber (or something else) as opposed to sand, you’ll want a bigger bag.

Construction & Material

In order to not leak and deal with the shifting of sand, a sandbag needs to be tough. Like, listening to Joe Biden try to speak without a teleprompter level of tough. Because of that need, most sandbags are made from nylon which has some great properties like being strong, elastic, abrasion resistant, and highly resilient.

1000D Nylon Fabric

Now, you will see some things like “500D Cordura” or “1000 Denier Cordura” or “MIL spec” when looking at various bags. Cordura is simply a brand of nylon while “denier” or “D” refers to the thickness of the nylon fibers. Fabrics with a high denier count tend to be thicker, sturdier, and more durable.

1000D is the strongest material I’ve seen in any commercial bags and is almost always used by the top manufacturers. To enhance longevity and durability, you also want features like double-stitching and reinforced seams. My recommendation – all else being equal, always go with the bag with the stronger and more durable construction.

Lastly, keep in mind that your entire bag – both the filler bags and carrying bag – needs to be able to withstand punishment. A lot of bags use zippers to hold the smaller filler bags while others opt for velcro (or a combination of both) – just keep in mind that what is used to seal the bag also has to be super tough and durable. That applies to the inside filler bags as well as the larger carrying bag.

While a lot of bags aren’t cheap, you should think of the bag as an investment in your health. And if you can’t afford a good bag, well, I’m going to show you how to make your own.

Handles

In terms of handles or grips, I’d look for something heavy-duty and with some padding. You also want multiple handles – with many top bags having 7 – so you can grip and lift the bag differently for different exercises. While some bags will have rubberized handles, I prefer simple reinforced non-rubberized ones. They’re just as (or more) comfortable and have better durability.

Warranty

Obviously, the longer the better. Warranties will vary greatly – from 30 days to lifetime. Try to go for something that’s at least 1 year long.


Top 7 Sandbags Summarized

Now, there are more exercise sandbags on the market than imageable even just a few years ago. But, I’ve narrowed it down to the most popular ones overall. First, though, here’s a quick overview….

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • 4 Sizes, Only 1 Color
  • 1000D Nylon, 7 Handles, 1 yr warranty
  • Tough, Durable Contruction
Best Overall →
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Great Reviews
  • Multiple Sizes, Colors
  • 1000D Nylon, 8 Handles, 1 yr warranty
View on Amazon →
  • Multiple Sizes, Colors
  • 1000D Nylon, 7 Handles, 1 yr warranty
View on Amazon →
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Great Reviews
  • Built-in Liner
  • 1000D Nylon, 7 Handles, 1 yr warranty
View on Amazon
  • Unknown Warranty
  • Nylon construction, 8 handles
  • Multiple Sizes, Colors
View on Amazon
  • Good value especially when on sale
  • 1000D Nylon, 7 Handles, 1 yr warranty
  • Filler Bags Need Some Reinforcement
View on Amazon
  • Plastic Handles (bleh)
  • Questionable Durability
View on Amazon

Rogue & Rogue 2.0 Sandbags

My favorite overall bag is from Rogue as it’s a bag I’ve used and have seen used. There’s a level of overall trust with Rogue equipment and I have no reservations recommending almost all their products, including their sandbags.

Rogue is hugely popular in the Crossfit World and for good reason as they make some really awesome gear. The Rogue Exercise Sandbag is no different. The price-to-value is very good and the bag itself is tough, durable, and looks good. Rogue Sandbags “feature a 1000D MIL spec Cordura construction with reinforced, double-stitched seams and seven high-strength, black-webbing handles.” They come in four sizes, an attractive green and black color, and a full 1 year warranty.

The original Rogue Sandbags

The sandbag is very well-reviewed on Rogue’s site with the main complaint being that the advertised carrying capacity of the bags is smaller than expected. In short, order up one size from what you think you need.

Rogue also has a 2.0 version of their sandbag. It is very similar to their original bags except for the fact that the filler bag is sewn into the larger carrying bag. Meaning, you don’t have modular filler bags to fill out or use. While I haven’t used the 2.0 bag, personally, I’d stick with the original unless you really value the convenience of not having to fill and switch out the smaller bags.

Rogue’s 2.0 Sandbag With Built-In Filler

Brute Force

Started in 2009, Brute Force is relatively new to the fitness industry. Their exercise sandbags, while not the cheapest, are handmade in Denver and have great reviews. Featuring 8 handles, their bags “made with 1000D Mil-Spec Cordura, featuring YKK Zippers, and Triple Reinforced BOXX stitching.”

The bags come in a ton of colors as well as multiple sizes and claim to be the only exercise bags with reinforcement inside the main shell. Their warranty information is a bit vague but seems reasonable enough.

Some of their bags have free returns so you could always send it back if you don’t like it.


Rep Fitness

Also based in Colorado, the Rep Fitness Exercise Sandbags are a great value. Much like the other top bags, they feature 7 handles and a durable cross-stitched 1000D Cordura shell. Rep’s handles are slightly different as they are triple-stitched seams and rivet-reinforced, ideally providing some more strength. Their bags also have a 1 year warranty which is a nice plus. Like most other manufacturers, you have your choice of multiple sizes and color combinations.

If you’re looking for a very good exercise bag and a good price point, it’s hard to go wrong with Rep Fitness.


Garage Fit

Featuring a rectangular cuboid shape (yes, that’s a real shape and, yes, I had to look that up), Garage Fit’s sandbag is the outlier on this list. A rectangular cuboid is simply a 3d rectangle shape like so:

Straddling the line between the more expensive options (like Brute Force) and the cheaper options (like below), Garage Fit’s sandbags are well-reviewed. They do have some nice features like 8 handles and Cordura outer shell contructions. Additionally, to prevent leaks, they come with double-sealed inner liners that have double-sealed velcro.

That said, there’s no mention of the warranty and there are some reviews where durability is a concern. Considering the price, I’d lean to one of the bags mentioned up above.


Yes4All

Yes4All’s construction is similar to other bags as it has 7 handles and a durable cross-stitched 1000D Cordura shell. While not as attractive as other bags, they do have a wide variety of sizes and color combinations. The bag is pretty tough and durable with one the main complaints being the size and location of their handles

Their bags also have a 1 year warranty and 30-day return period. If you can find one on sale and don’t want to break the bank, they’re worth a shot but below the top options.


Sklz

Even though the SKLZ sandbag is cheaper than the competition, it is not one I would recommend. Not only does it have hard-plastic handles which aren’t very durable, they’re also uncomfortable. There’s also no mention of the materials or the construction process and there are quite a few reviews where the bag ripped after just a few uses.

If you’re looking to save money and are somewhat handy, you’re better off building your own.


Bonus

Create your own

This the best video I’ve found on how to easily create your own.

https://youtu.be/7PCJ4ZFrLXM

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