Ultimate Sandbag Review
The Ultimate Sandbag is a functional exercise tool that’s shaped like a duffle bag, has comfortable heavy-duty rubber handles in biomechanically placed locations on the bag, is made of a proprietary material that’s ultra-durable (30% stronger than corder) and non-abrasive to the skin, and available in various sizes allow you to train with loads ranging from 5 to 150 lbs.
Ultimate Sandbags are available in six different individual models, and there are also combo packages available that include multiple bags in the set. I wanted to have a selection of sandbag weights going up in comfortable increments from 10 to 100 lbs., so I purchased two each of the Core, Power, and Strength sandbags; and one Burly bag.
The very first thing that stood out to me when I received my Ultimate Sandbags is how professional the packaging and presentation is, and how through and detailed the manufacturer has been in ensuring that they provide all of the instructions and guidelines that customers could possibly need to train safely and effectively with Ultimate Sandbags.
Each Ultimate Sandbag was packaged in it’s own individual retail box, with nice looking artwork on all four sides, and each box contained an instruction manual, a DVD, and a wall chart poster with a library of exercises you can perform with the USB. The only other fitness product I’ve ever purchased that came in such nice retail packaging was the TRX Suspension Trainer (which is packaged with Apple-like attention to detail), so that’s great company for Ultimate Sandbags to be in.
If you want more programming in addition to what’s included in the box, you can visit the Ultimate Sandbag YouTube channel for the most comprehensive collection of sandbag training videos available anywhere in the world. Here’s a short video explaining the benefits of performing functional resistance training using Ultimate Sandbags:
Design & Build Quality
Don’t be fooled by thinking that these are just “bags with handles”. I learned the hard way that all sandbags are not equal. I tried to save some money by purchasing a cheap flimsy sandbag from a budget CrossFit equipment supplier, and I ended up just tossing the bag in the garbage because it was such a poor design (shoelace thin handles that made the bag downright painful to lift).
The $100 that I wasted on the “torture handles” sandbag was enough to make me realize and appreciate how much experience and testing must have went into the development and evolution of Ultimate Sandbags. Important features like the non-abrasive material (as opposed to the rough canvas used by almost every other competitor), and the biomechanical placement of rigid rubber handles (competing products have fewer and less comfortable placements of relatively flimsy handles) are easy to dismiss if you’ve never experienced how uncomfortable, and in some cases painful, it is to use other sandbags lacking these features.
So the design of the Ultimate Sandbag is without question head and shoulders above anything else that’s available. If you’re looking for the sandbag with the best and most comfortable design that will allow you to focus on enjoying the workout instead of suppressing pain from canvas burn on your face and string-like “handles” digging into your fingers, then choose the Ultimate Sandbag be comfortable that you’ve absolutely chosen the best tool for the job.
Overall, I’ve been satisfied with the quality of my Ultimate Sandbags, but I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled. The quality of nearly every aspect of the product seems to be very high-end and durable, but my disappointment stems from one of my filler bags having an entire row of popped stitches along the top velcro closure. I reached out to the manufacturer hoping for a replacement, and they sent one, which I thought was great, but it got sent to the wrong address and they never bothered to try to sort that out. I purchased 7 USBs worth over $1,000 CAD, so I would have liked to see them try a bit harder to get me a non-defective filler bag.
But besides being stuck with one defective filler bag, I have otherwise been very pleased with the build quality of my Ultimate Sandbags. The smooth material of the sandbags feels fantastic, and is way thicker and heavier duty than I was expecting; the handles are super robust and comfortable; and the velcro and zipper closures all fasten extremely tightly and feel very secure (with the only exception being the aforementioned defective filler bag with stitches popping out all over the place).
Versatility & Value
Ultimate Sandbags are more versatile than free weights (dumbbells and/or barbells) because you can use one or two USBs to perform all of the same exercises you can do with a complete set of free weights, but the shifting and unstable nature of sandbags allows for an entirely new form of functional training that’s not possible with perfectly balanced weights like dumbbells or barbells. So when you consider that a couple hundred dollars worth of Ultimate Sandbags can replace thousands of dollars worth of free weights and/or exercise machines, the tremendous value offered by Ultimate Sandbags is obvious.
The only other equipment that comes close to matching fitness sandbags in the area of versatility and bang for the buck is resistance bands and suspension straps, but neither of those products will satisfy someone specifically interested in dead weight training (as opposed to using elastic tension with resistance bands, or bodyweight resistance with suspension straps). So if you’re looking for the most versatile product that allows you to lift dead weight, then sandbags are the best value you’ll find.
The best alternative in this product category is Alpha Strong, but I wouldn’t consider them a great alternative because they only come in two sizes, and the somewhat flimsy handles are significantly lower quality and less comfortable than the robust rubber handles on all Ultimate Sandbags.
There are lots of other sandbags available from various other manufacturers (Amazon, eBay, big box fitness equipment retailers, small online companies, etc), but most are worse quality and even more poorly designed than the two alternatives I just mentioned, so none of those products worth are mentioning by name. Avoid them.
I first learned about Ultimate Sandbags sometime around 2008, but I was never seriously interested in sandbag training until this year because, for the previous decade, I had little to no use for any equipment that wasn’t ultra-portable and easy to carry around in a gym bag. This past spring, when I found myself in a position to be able to start using larger, heavier equipment that’s not very portable, the first purchase I made up was seven Ultimate Sandbags, and I’m extremely glad I did.
Functional training with Ultimate Sandbags is a lot of fun and offers a unique challenge due to how unstable the weight is because of the constant shifting of the sand. Prior to getting into sandbag training, I had heard that the unstable nature of sandbags makes the weight significantly more difficult to lift than equivalent weighted dumbbells or barbells, but I wasn’t prepared for just how drastic the difference is — it’s something that truly needs to be experienced to be appreciated.
Check out the Ultimate Sandbag website for more info or to purchase the Ultimate Sandbag.