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Review: The Ultimate Dice Bag

Posted By Martin Ralya On August 5, 2008 @ 3:16 am In Reviews | 16 Comments

Need a new dice bag? Then man do I have a recommendation for you — hell, even if you like your current bag (I did), you might be surprised how appealing this particular dice bag looks.

Why a New Bag?

I’m pretty obsessive about small things (as anyone whose ever spent much time with me can tell you), and that certainly extends to dice bags. I bought my first one in 1989, and ever since then I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect dice bag. I’ve spent way more time than any sane person should considering all of the elements of a good dice bag, and lamenting the fact that 99% of the dice bags out there fall down in at least one area.

I’ve owned and used a number of bags over the years, including the little fuzzy ones that sometimes come bundled with dice sets, a jumbo leather one with a cord that broke after about a week and my previous favorite, a semi-custom bag from the now-defunct company The Gamer’s Bag.

Sometimes the cord breaks, or just won’t close the bag properly without serious effort. Sometimes they’re too small, or not well made all around — there’s always something. I know expecting perfection in a designed object is fruitless, but I keep looking anyway.

My previous bag was beautifully made and very solid — The Gamer’s Bag was an awesome company, and they built their bags to last. It’s held up to years of regular use, including travel to GenCon, without any problems. But as I’ve shifted around what kind of dice I carry, it’s become too small — and the cord needed to be tied to keep it securely closed, which always bugged me a little bit.

Why so much context? Because I want you to know that when I say I’ve found the ultimate dice bag, it’s not just hyperbole. I fully expect to be using this dice bag for many years to come — it’s essentially perfect.

Marsbarn Designs

When I decided I needed a new, larger dice bag, I didn’t start at my local gaming store — I started at Etsy, a site where folks can sell handmade items. I bought a Pac-Man iPod cozy from an Etsy seller a while back, and I figured I’d be able to find some neat dice bags there.

A quick search led me to Marsbarn Designs, an Etsy seller who offers handmade dice bags for $12, and right away I knew I was onto something — her bags looked awesome. I dropped her a line to ask if I could choose the two fabrics for my bag, and she said that’d be no problem. $12 + $3 shipping and a few days later, I had myself a new dice bag.

The Ultimate Bag

So why is this the ultimate dice bag? It was the pictures in Marsbarn’s store that sold me on this puppy, so I’ll go the same route and show while I tell. You can click on any picture to see a jumbo-sized version.

I picked this superhero-themed fabric for the exterior, although the bag is fully reversible. The bag itself is 4″ x 4″ square on the bottom by 5″ high. Closed and full of dice (as it is in this photo), it’s about the size of a softball.

Why a square bottom? Because it means the bag will stand upright with or without dice in it, not flop over like every other dice bag I’ve ever seen. This is a nice feature, and one of the first things that appealed to me about Marsbarn’s design.

Every aspect of this bag is well-crafted, from the stitching to the seams — good stuff all around. I waited to review my bag until I’d used it for a couple of sessions, and it’s proved to be just as durable and well-made as it looks.

Here’s what I have in my bag at the moment: 77 dice total, including 4 full poly sets, 4 spare d20s, 34d6, 10d10 and a d3. I like having lots of options, as well as sets to share if someone forgets their dice.

There’s plenty of room in the bag for more, and this is a big plus for me — the bag is roomy without being huge. It holds more dice than its dimensions might suggest, and it’s a very satisfying size.

Four other details I just love:

  • The toggle. Dislike tying knots in your dice bag’s cord, or having problems with it coming open during travel? This is the perfect solution.
  • Two layers of fabric. This is going to be a very durable bag. At the same time, it’s not as thick as a leather bag (which I find too bulky).
  • The cord ends. Marsbarn dipped the ends of the closure cord in epoxy, giving them a feel a bit like the ends of a shoelace. This will help avoid fraying, which is a problem I’ve always had with dice bag cords. And there’s enough slack in the cord that if they ever do fray, I can snip the ends off and re-dip them.
  • Fully reversible. See how the cord emerges from between the two layers of fabric? That’s because this bag is 100% reversible. If she’d sewed the cord in differently, you’d be able to tell which side was the inside.

…and here it is reversed, with the subtle swirled fabric I picked for the “inside.” I like that if I’m in the mood for something different, I can just turn the bag inside out. This particular fabric also makes it easy to find particular dice (whereas my “outside” fabric is a bit too busy for that).

If you check out Marsbarn’s available bags, you’ll see that she usually picks two fabrics that share a theme, or that just go well together. I specifically requested my two fabrics, and I bet you could do the same.

Marsbarn was a friendly seller who shipped promptly, took the time to follow up and delivered a product that exceeded my expectations in every way. This personal touch capped off a great shopping experience: I’d mentioned Gnome Stew when I ordered my bag, and she included this hand-sewn flaming gnome card, which has a little personal note on the back. Very cute.

My Recommendation: Buy One

This is bag fully earns its title of Ultimate Dice Bag in my mind — it’s a great, well-made bag packed with little details that make it perfect. If you need a new dice bag, there are only two reasons not to buy this one right now.

Including shipping, it’s $15, making it more expensive than most dice bags — but there’s a big difference between “more expensive” and “overpriced.” This bag is worth every penny, and the combination of durability that should ensure years of constant use and little features like reversibility, the square bottom and the toggle closure made it a no-brainer for me.

The other reason would be if you don’t like carrying lots of dice. If you only bring a seven-die poly set and a couple of spare d20s to your sessions, this bag might feel too big for you — though it will allow you room to grow.

My Marsbarn Designs dice bag is simply one of the best game aids that I’ve ever purchased. It’s sterling, and I fully expect to use and love it for many years — it’s already one of my favorite gaming-related widgets. I’m going to stop hunting for the perfect bag, because I’ve found it.

About  Martin Ralya

A father, husband, writer, small-press publisher, former RPG industry freelancer, and lifelong geek, Martin has been gaming since 1987 and GMing since 1989. He lives in Utah with his amazing wife Alysia and their awesome daughter Lark in a house full of books and games.




16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "Review: The Ultimate Dice Bag"

#1 Comment By DNAphil On August 5, 2008 @ 6:28 am

First, let me say that it a very nice dice pouch. I too am always on the hunt for the perfect dice pouch. So much so, that it is a running joke with my friends at GenCon that I am like a fashionista shopping for a purse.

My latest favorite dice container, I found at Barnes & Nobel. It is a not a pouch, but rather a 3 level container, wrapped in leather. Each level has a zipper allowing me to store 3 different sets of dice, one in each level. This is appealing to me, as I am playing in 3 games right now, and I can keep my dice separate. You can see the container here: http://tinyurl.com/5j4uck

#2 Comment By koranes On August 5, 2008 @ 7:04 am

That dice bag is really cool. It is very impressing, what one can create with a cloth, yarn and a needle … (only that the needle is a full-automatic monster machine nowadays …)

#3 Comment By John Arcadian On August 5, 2008 @ 8:12 am

Ok, that is just a good dice bag all around. The square bottom is the most appealing thing about it to me. Might have to get me one of those!

#4 Comment By LesInk On August 5, 2008 @ 8:32 am

When GMing, my dice bag is a sturdy circular metal container that used to contain candy. The lid pressure fits strongly but is still easy enough to open. It’s about the same size as Martin’s bag and sits upright (since it’s a can). It also carries tokens and other markers besides dice. I don’t have a problem with letting my dice comingle, so I have all my dice in one place. The only down side is the dice do make a bit of noise if you shake it too much, but it is usually just in bottom of my bag with the rest of my books.

As a player, I have one other place I store my dice — a pencil pouch. I setup a folder with all my material I need for the game in a binder and then put in a pencil pouch with the dice needed for that game/character. No bouncing around, and it holds my pencils, pens, and note cards, as well. Need to play quickly? Just pick up the binder and everything is in one place.

#5 Comment By drow On August 5, 2008 @ 9:09 am

awesome! i love etsy, there are a lot of cool artists and crafters there.
my dice bag is a simple black cloth bag from sanrio, featuring bad batz maru. comfortably holds six full sets of dice.

#6 Comment By Scott Martin On August 5, 2008 @ 9:27 am

Did you ever see Rob Donoghue’s dice bag review? I have to admit that between you two, I’m thinking about upgrading from ziplock and crown royal bags…

#7 Comment By Virgil Vansant On August 5, 2008 @ 9:46 am

My dice bags are somewhere in storage. I have a little tackle box I use for my color-coded dice, so each color is separated in its own compartment. These dice anybody can use, and each player can have their own color if they want. My other bag was pricey, but it came with a free bottle of Crown Royal. :) Those were my own dice, but it seems to have disappeared somewhere. Sounds like a good excuse to get a new bag.

#8 Comment By Raindog On August 5, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

Martin,

Thank you for the very nice review. Marsbarn is my wife. I have have two of her bags: one for D+D, and one for Warhammer. The D+D bag, I have used weekly for over 14 years. The open mouth and square bottom is the reason I have used it for so long. The Warhammer bag holds not only dice, but templates, turn counters, and measuring tapes. The bag is popular enough, other Warhammers players started asking for them over the last five years. At a recent, 80 man tournament, about 40 players were using them on their tables.

Cheers,
RD

#9 Comment By Martin Ralya On August 5, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

@DNAphil: I have a small container fetish. I naturally gravitate to that section in most stores, and I already have more of them than I’m likely to use. My wife gets a chuckle out of it. ;) Your zippy thing looks awesome — I can totally see the appeal for dice.

@Scott: Jesus, that’s awesome! It reminds my of The Gamer’s Bag’s signature product, the Dice Bag of Holding.

It was about the same size, but instead of being subdivided it had six or seven little triangular pouches on the inside walls of the bag, and a wide, open area in the bottom. Each pouch was sized to hold a fully 7-die poly set, with room to roll or store tons more dice in the middle.

@Raindog: You and Marsbarn are most welcome! I love using this bag, and I had fun reviewing it.

#10 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On August 6, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

I was at a bar that had the Crown Royal girls handing out tiny little CR bags for drink coasters. They work perfectly for a set of polyhedrals. I need to go find those girls again and get more. (And if I wasn’t married, I’d ask for a phone number, too.)

#11 Pingback By Product Review: Dice Bags by Marsbarn at Etsy On September 7, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

[…] when I read the review that Martin over at Gnome Stew wrote about Marsbarn’s dice bags.  It was such a glowing review that I just had to go over there and buy one for […]

#12 Comment By AvatarArt On February 12, 2010 @ 1:05 am

Have you seen VixenTor’s Adventure Bags:
http://www.vixentorgames.com/category.asp?category=3

#13 Comment By DeadInkPen On June 22, 2010 @ 10:17 am

I bought a plastic bead organizer to use to hold my dice. Got they sorted out by type in there and it works wonderfully for me

#14 Comment By Varda On October 8, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

Lovely!! But I prefer my own dice bags. Take a look, it’s a d20 dicebag :)

#15 Comment By Varda On October 8, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

#16 Pingback By DICE BAG | Kids and Family Products On July 10, 2011 @ 7:03 am

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