Big wall bucket - 5 gallons of stout storage


Want to have delicate items on your next vertical camping trip remain unsquished from the grinding wear and tear of the big wall haulbag? How about keeping your phone, camera, water, snacks, rain shell, fleece jacket and sunscreen close at hand during the day? The answer: the big wall bucket.

What you need:

  • 5 gallon plastic bucket paint store or big box hardware store (or maybe free from a doughnut shop or big supermarket bakery)

  • Gamma lid. This is a clever contraption that lets you install a screw-on lid to a 3 or 5 gallon standard bucket. This is a WAY better option than fighting a tight paint bucket lid with beat up wall hands!

  • A few feet of 3 mm cord or other really strong cord, like bank line

  • About 5 feet of tubular webbing, diameter not really important

  • Drill and bits (or knife with sharp tip)


This is a gamma lid:

gamma lid.JPG

First off, install the gamma lid “ring” onto the top of your bucket. I found about the easiest way to do this is to position the ring part of the lid on the top of your bucket, put a 2 by 4 or piece of scrap wood on the top, and tap the wood a few times with a hammer.

The wire handles on these buckets are fairly strong for around the house, but not stout enough for the rigors of big wall climbing. Back up the handle by drilling a small hole in the side of the bucket near where the handle connects to the bucket, inserting one end of the webbing, tie a stopper overhand knot on the inside, spiral wrap the webbing around the handle, and then repeat the hole and knot program on the other side. Wrap some duct tape around the webbing/wire handle to keep it tidy.

Try to make the holes you drilled as small as possible to make it harder for water to get in. You’ll probably need some needle nose pliers to pull the webbing through the hole, and consider putting a dab of silicone sealant around the webbing hole junction as some additional water protection.

Your last step is to add a keeper cord to the lid, so you can’t drop it. Take about 3 feet of thin cord, like 3 mm from the climb shop (or bank line) and drill two small holes, about 1 inch apart in the side of the bucket about 2 inches down from the top. Make these holes just a hair larger than the cord in the side of the bucket. Pass the cord through the holes, and tie a bowline knot to secure it.  Repeat this near the center of the lid. Now your lid is permanently attached to the bucket and you can never drop it.

Hang this bucket on a tether cord below your main haul bag. You can pull up on the cord to access the bucket anytime you want during the day. And, anything inside it is guaranteed to be uncrushed and pretty much watertight. Read more on gear tethers here.

Wall buckets have been around for a long time. I first heard about this tip from Climbing magazine, published in 2002. The Gamma lid is a definite improvement.


Note the tied off ends of brown webbing inside the bucket, backing up the wire handle, and the lid keeper cord. Duct tape keeps the webbing and wire handle together.

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wall bucket 2.JPG