The DMM Classic handily earns our Editors' Choice Award as the overall best rope bag. It features a large tarp, comfortable backpack-style straps, and plenty of space for the essential climbing gear. Between outdoor cragging and gym climbing, the Classic is an excellent all-around model if you only want to own one rope bag. It has a removable tarp and zippered opening, which greatly improve its user-friendliness. Its compression straps are great for packing a rope and gear for long approaches, making it feel more like a daypack than a rope bag. The Classic doesn't have any specific features for indoor climbing, but our testers didn't have any issues taking this bag to the gym. Its large tarp and compression straps might feel like overkill if you primarily climb indoors, though. We struggled to find many flaws in this bag and would recommend it to any climber who seeks a well-designed and versatile rope bag.
DMM Classic Review
Cons: Thin fabric, not as durable as other models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Classic has many advantages over its competitors. While it stands out for being a versatile model, it performs especially well on longer approaches. It has three compression straps, two horizontal and one vertical, that cinch down tight and help it feel more like a day pack than a rope bag. Its backpack straps are breathable and wide enough to be comfortable when the bag is packed full with a rope and gear.
When it comes to long approaches, the Classic stands out for its superb packability. It has several compression straps and a backpack-style design, which make it an excellent rope bag if you plan to hike long distances with gear for cragging. The compression straps are unique to this bag, and no other model that we tested are comparably packable. The Classic has a volume of 32 liters, which is barely enough space for a 70-meter rope, rack of quickdraws, shoes, chalk, and a harness. We had a hard time fitting more gear inside the pack during testing and often ended up having to clip our water bottles and additional climbing gear to the outside of the pack. It is the ideal size for a half-day of climbing, or a full day if you split up gear with your climbing partner. The compression straps help to cinch down any extra space when it is not full.
If you prefer to pack your rope bag inside of a larger backpack, the Classic will likely feel too bulky and works much better as a standalone bag. If you need significantly more space than the Classic's pack has to offer, it is possible to remove the tarp and use that to protect your rope inside of a larger backpack.
The Classic feels more like a day pack than a rope bag when it comes to being carried. We wore this pack on several long hikes and had a hard time finding flaws in its carrying comfort. With two breathable backpack straps and three compression straps, it packs down nicely for long approaches and was among the most comfortable rope bags that we tested. The mesh of the straps is great for hot days when thicker straps would feel stuffy or cause chafing.
A unique feature of the Classic is that it has one removable backpack strap, enabling it to be carried as a satchel. We didn't find many applications where this was more comfortable than using both straps, but it does add a bit of versatility. Despite not having a waist belt or chest strap, the Classic is comfortable and stable while fully loaded.
With a removable 43" x 51" tarp, the Classic has ample space for a thick 70-meter rope with some room around the edges to ensure that your rope stays off the ground. This tarp is marginally smaller than average among other models that we tested but still felt spacious enough for all but the most uneven belay spots. It is rectangular and feels thick enough to last for many seasons of frequent use. The colored tie loops are convenient for distinguishing the top end of your rope, which saves some time when you unpack at the base of a climb.
The Classic's main pack has a zippered closure system with compression straps to further cinch down the bag. This design reliably protects your rope during travel, and the material is thick enough to withstand most road trips and approaches. Its material isn't as thick as that of some other models, but this isn't a significant problem unless you drag the pack over abrasive rock repeatedly.
Ease of Use
The Classic is one of the best rope bags available when it comes to ease of use and convenience. It has a zippered pouch that can be easily accessed even when the pack is closed and fully loaded. The compression straps are nice for carrying extra gear that doesn't fit inside the pack, like helmets and extra layers. One of the best features that improve the Classic's functionality is its removable tarp. This is useful for cragging where you move the rope around between climbs or if you want to use the bag as a day pack. It also has a removable backpack strap, which increases its versatility for those who prefer to have a rope bag with only one carrying strap.
The main disadvantage of the DMM Classic is that it doesn't feel as durable as some of the other rope bags we tested. The main pack material is relatively thin, and the zippers are fairly thin. This wasn't an issue in our testing, but you might have to replace it after a few seasons of heavy use.
The Classic provides excellent value and is a top of the line rope bag. It's in the middle of the pack when it comes to cost, yet its performance overall is unparalleled. Even though some simple bags cost less than the Classic, none of the cheaper models come close in terms of functionality or performance. Unless you're on a very tight budget, it's worth spending a few extra dollars to get the Classic because of the massive disparity in features.
As our Editors' Choice Award winner, the DMM Classic is a top-notch rope bag that works well for storing and transporting your rope. It stands out for its functionality as an outdoor cragging pack, and we recommend it to anybody who climbs outside. Although there are better options for gym climbing, no other models that we tested are as versatile or functional for such a wide variety of climbing. If you're looking for a rope bag that can be taken to any crag, regardless of how far it is from the trailhead, look no further than this Classic.
— Steven Tata