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B.C. Climber Making Creative Homemade Chalk Bags

Rachel Doucette makes colourful and creative chalk bags using mostly repurposed materials. You can purchase one online

Ever since chalk was introduced to the world of climbing in the 1950s, climbers needed chalk bags. Nearly every climber has at least one chalk bag and most have had a favourite. They can be big or small, they can clip on or be tied around the waist and they can be made of pretty much any material.

Rachel Doucette, who’s based in Salmon Arm, B.C., only started climbing a few years ago and she’s already making chalk bags. We touched base with her this week about her brand Handjammers.

How long have you been climbing? I started climbing in October 2020.
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When did you make your first chalk bag? I made my first chalk bag only about a month ago, it was a learning experience for me and I’ve made adjustments and improvements since then.
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What inspired you to make them? I was never really happy with the selection of chalk bags from the big brands. I love collecting colourful and fun climbing equipment and I wanted a chalk bag that suited that.
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What do you make them out of? They are made primarily from repurposed clothing and textiles that I pick up from local thrift stores or from donations by friends. The only new materials I use are the thread, webbing, cord, cord stop and buckle unless someone requests a specific pattern or colour that I can’t find at a thrift store. It feels good reducing waste instead of creating more of it.
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How long does one chalk bag take to make? It takes me about an hour to make one chalk bag; provided I have no sewing machine issues to troubleshoot.

Will you start to make anything other than chalk bags? I’d like to start making chalk buckets as well. I made my first prototype this week but definitely need to tweak the design a bit before I start selling them. I’ve also made some custom gifts for family that I might make again. I made a planter for my mom, basically made a normal chalk bag but lined it with plastic instead of fleece, and I made small version of a chalk bag for my sister so she could put dog treats in it when she goes for runs with her pup.
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What’s your favourite one? My favourite is a custom design I did for a climbing pal. He wanted a mushroom print bag and loved the way it turned out. Black and white one with the mushroom print.
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Anything else people should know about the chalk bags? Since the whole idea was to make a bag that suited me and my style, I’m really happy to take custom orders so my customers get a bag that suites them. I will gladly work with anyone to get them the bag they want.
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How can people touch base with you to purchase them? The best way to get ahold of me is through my Etsy page. You can also see the chalk bags in person and purchase from my local climbing gym, Gym of Rock in Salmon Arm.
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