I need an new or at least another bouldering bag bag to help deal with all the clart that I’m lugging back and forward to the climbing centres and crags these days. I have, up until now stuffed everything into my Tendon rope bag while carrying my shoes, chalk bucket and juice in my Simond boulder bag. I love my Simond bag it’s solid, but it’s what I use to travel and for daily use. I need a bag to use specifically for my climbing gear, so I can just grab it and go.
So I was pleased as punch when I got a hold of a Cassin Dama bouldering bag for our reviews.
The CAMP website blurb goes like this “A messenger style bouldering bag designed to integrate seamlessly with the Domino pad. Features a total of five compartments (all different sizes) for rigorous organization. One compartment is separated for carrying shoes and imprinted with a full size chess board for playing games at the crag or on the road.”
So yeah, um, chessboard on a bag… yeah. Ok.
Lets forget about that bit for the moment, On picking it up the bag feels really light and insubstantial compared to the Simond bag and other bags that I have checked out. This aside, it is made of a cordura type material so it should be pretty strong and the Dama bag does have a rubber/plastic waterproof coating similar to the Simond bag but again it is nowhere near as heavy duty. The Dama is designed to fit inside your bouldering mat as pictured however it does retail at nearly twice what the Simond bag does, definitely something to think about.
Moving on to the construction of the bag it is held together by single row stitching, and the outer (black) face of the bag does seem to be doubled up in thickness, most likely waterproofed in the same way the pockets are throughout the bag. Pockets are something that this bag is not short of 5 in total, 2 x side by side looking suitable for 2 pair of rock shoes or possibly one mid size trainer in each. 2x laptop style slots overlayed on each other with the outermost slot being split in 2 down the middle again rock shoe sized. Which brings me bag to this chessboard idea, what the hell is that all about. Maybe, just maybe you could stand chess or draughts (checkers for those stateside) pieces on it if this was the pocket for the laptop but it’s not this is where your lumpy stuff like shoes, etc go.
By way do not put your laptop in this it will die, there is no padding. It would have made more sense for the laptop pocket to be on the outer side so as to be cushioned by your spare cloths and shoes but as it stands it probably couldn’t even keep your laptop dry if it rained heavily. Zero points for oddball ideas.
Hey it’s not all doom and gloom about this bag though. What I really like are thepockets, cos there are loads of them and they are really spacious if you want to take spare clothes, chalk, books, and other rock related bits and bobs. The pocket all have chunky, durable YKK zips and cordura tags on these so you can still open and close them when you have ripped your fingers to shreds.
Although the bag is sold as a messenger bag, I think CAMP/Cassins thinking behind the design was mainly to have it fit inside a folded bouldering mat, this would explain it’s thin material and total lack of padding. In this case the bag works well. The Dama comes with a nicely padded strap sporting a set of those well used aluminum buckles we see often on high quality bouldering mats. Cassin say this is to allow the Dama to be fitted to the Domino mats (If they send us one we will let you know how that goes!) this can be removed completely. This is a major bonus as an extra strap with these hooks will work well to secure mats together and locate them at tricky spots. Increasing the chance of you not maiming yourself!
All in all the Cassin Dama isn’t the worst bag you could pick up. I find the $59.95 or £45-50 retail price a bit much considering how flimsy it feels as a messenger bag. I think if you jammed it full to bursting everyday it may just fall apart. I know there are better messenger bags out there; Momentum, Simond are just a few. This one fits inside your bouldering mat, which is what I bought it for. It will be more suited for the Project mat I have, which is a taco folding mat as opposed to the Phud which is used for size and ease of use purposes. I like it for this use and the buckles on the strap but if you need a heavy duty bag I’d look elsewhere.
As a little side test I checked out if the Dama bag could be used as a panier bag. It certainly fits but securing it may be tricky and no guarantees on your stuff keeping dry.
P.S. If you are in the Glasgow area, I noticed the GCC has them on sale at just under £30, not bad at that price!