DIY Sandbags

By Jeff Rice

In Equipment

May 11, 2011

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A sandbag is really just a bag of sand. Jeff Rice explains how to save a few bucks by making your own.

The benefits of using sandbags as part of your CrossFit training were well covered in Josh Henkin’s CrossFit Journal article It’s in the Bag (July 2009). Sandbags are large, irregular, heavy objects—like many things one might encounter in real life. And because the heavy things that fill the world don’t always come with 28-millimeter-diameter steel bars attached to them, any functional training program would be well served by including lifting and moving irregular objects like sandbags.

Many sources exist for commercially produced sandbags. The problem I have had with these commercial products is that they have always seemed fairly expensive compared to their complexity. Spending over $50 for what is essentially a duffle bag filled with sand has never sat well with a do-it-yourselfer like me. With that in mind, I set out make my own sandbags using inexpensive and readily available materials.

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8 Comments on “DIY Sandbags ”


wrote …

good advice. you might try pea gravel as well, doesn't leak as easily as sand.


Hey Carl, great tip. I used the "tube sand" because I had about 5 bags of it laying around in my garage that I used in a prior vehicle during the winter months. I strongly advocate for using whatever you can get on the cheap. Never tried pea gravel, but avoiding splits and leaks is key.


wrote …

We followed these directions: and used a combination of mulch and wood stove pellets for various sizes from 22# to 80#. They have worked great for us.


wrote …

Thanks for the article and link to cheap bags.

I have had fantastic results by using used tire tubes from skid loaders or semi tires, duct tape and zip ties. these bags can be used as "filler bags" or used on their own.


Jeffrey Rice wrote …

Kyle - like the idea of using wood pellets. Good video reference. The density of the sand makes the bags less "full" than using wood pellets or mulch. I might make a couple this way to have a variety of sizes at the same weight. I do like having the bags easily adjustable though. Particularly for a home gym where you may not want multiple bags taking up space. Thanks for the link!


I saw a video of someone making sandbags this way as well. Another great option. The old inner tubes are basically indestructible. Just make sure you identify (and avoid) any holes in the inner tubes if you are filling them with sand.

At the time I made mine I called all over town to find used inner tubes and none of the local tire places had any. Around here they get scarce in the fall/winter as people use them for winterizing their pools (not sure how they are used for that, but that's what all the tire dealers told me) I didn't want to buy new tubes just to cut them up so I went with the contractor bags. Thanks for the tip though. Free tubes are even cheaper than contractor bags!


wrote …

Thanks for the great article.

We began to use sandbags bags as a great way to add functional loads to large group classes. Eventually they worked into being used with every class of every age at our gym (6-68).

A mixture of pea gravel and rubber mulch (in contractor bags and then 16 x 30 cotton duck bags from gemplers) gives the bags volume. Instead of adjustable bags we just assembly-lined a bunch of 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 40s, 50s 60s and one big 75 pounder. Only the 60s and 75 pounder needed to be in a larger canvas navy sea bag.

The only trouble we have with the bags is drying them out thoroughly after a wod. I spray them with a mild disinfectant, line them up out in the sun and don't use them for consecutive classes. Making your athletes haul them to and from "the bunker" (the big pile of bags in the office) is a solid warm up. Sand bag step ups, get ups, clean and presses, overhead carries, sandbag runs, squat cleans and etc. etc. have become some of our most memorable movements.

Love Sandbags? Consider coming to Charleston next spring for the 16th Annual Bulldog Challenge. It is a team adventure-mud-sandbag-obstacle race on the campus of the Citadel. All proceeds benefit the Citadel Marines' Warren E. Frank Leadership Fund. (see hero WOD "War Frank") Best From Charleston and CrossFit Discovery.


wrote …

I wanted to make sandbags my son and I could use but was worried about the mess that a broken plastic trash bag would make. I looked around for some inexpensive options. The first that I found was the $1.00 childrens play balls. I was able to push the stopper into the ball and the force a small funnel into the fill hole so I could pour in the sand. I bought both the small and large size balls that and found that I could get 10 pounds of sand in the small ball and 25 pounds of sand in the large ball. The balls were very full and the sand did not shift around much. This did give me some flexiblity when loading a bag for my fourteen year old son. He is able to start off with a lighter bag and work up to a heavier bag as his strength improves. The second option I found was a pilates ball. I was able to get a medium size funnel into the fill hole so pouring in 50 pounds of sand was a lot faster. With the play balls I had to cork the fill hole with glue but with the pilates ball I was able to put the plastic cork in it. I can add sand to the pilates ball as I need to but can't make it lighter. Fifty pounds of sand in a pilates ball flows very well and I think that even another fifty pounds would still have room to move.
I also made cloth bags to put the sand bags in. I don't have any handles on the bags right now but I am thinking about adding some later. I have about $50.00 in the bag with the pilates ball and maybe $30 in the bag that uses the play balls. The outer canvas bag was the most expensive part of the set up. I know that is more than a bag made with contractor's trash bags but I keep my bags in my livingroom and haul them in my car so loose sand was not something I wanted to deal with.

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