What Is In A Hacky Sack? All Filling Materials Reviewed

“What is in a hacky sack?” you might ask. But footbags and hacky sacks are essentially the combinations of two components: Fabric and filler. We have all heard the saying: “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” and this is very much the case when it comes to hacky sack.

What is in a hacky sack?

What is in a hacky sack?

Well, there is a plethora of filling material, but it can be narrowed down into three basic categories:

  • Sand/dirt
  • Metal
  • Everything else

While there is a multitude of variations and combinations of fabric and filler, we will focus on the pros & cons of these three filling material type.

It’s important to say, the pros & cons of each filling material type might vary for the individual player and the game played.

Plus, everyone has their own preference, so this is just my take on it based on personal experience.

Sand/Dirt Filling

What is in a hacky sack?

The Sandmaster master footbag

Filled with sand for consistent kicks and easy delays (stalls)

$8.00 View on amazon

I decided to present sand and dirt filling together because they are very similar. But before we get to the pros and cons, let’stalk about the small difference between the two.

What is the difference between Sand and Dirt footbag filling?

Discussing the differences between sand and dirt may seem like splitting hairs at first, but there are subtleties that are worth mentioning.

We can begin with how fine or coarse the sand or dirt might be. The finer the grain, the softer the pop. The coarser the grain, the more substantial the bag feels.

To understand this subtle difference, consider the differences between powdered sugar and granulated sugar, or walking on dirt vs walking in sand.

Over time, coarser grains break down and become finer as a result of kicking. Sand is typically coarser than dirt.
For example, there is a different feel to the bag when playing with a Dirtbag vs playing with a Sandmaster.

The Dirtbag is soft and quiet, whereas that Sandmaster is felt and heard with every kick as the grains of sand grind against each other.

Ultimately, the difference in fillers is a matter of preference, but knowing that there is a difference helps to identify what that preference is.

Pros

Sand/ dirt bags are, in my opinion, some of the best bags to start out with. They offer a nice balance of weight, pop, and stall-ability that allows for players to develop skills and competency.

Fine grain filler allows for the bag to form itself to any surface it comes into contact without being too punishing to the bag material itself.

This provides plenty of opportunities to develop control and work on stalls. These bags tend to be durable enough while also allowing for a full range of play.

As awesome as sand/dirt filled bags are, there is a downside.

Cons

You’ll eventually kick all the sand out of your bag. This is something that just happens over time.

After so much kicking and play time, seams get stretched enough to allow for your filler to slowly leak out. Filler escapes little by little until one day you realize that your bag has little to no filler left inside.

Barring the exceptions such as rips and tears, I consider having kicked the bag enough to deplete the filler is a sign of achievement.  

Metal Filling

What is in a hacky sack?

Dragonfly Footbag

Filled with metall for heavy kicks

$25.00 View on Amazon

Metal bags tend to be the heaviest of the filling material types. Metal bags are the easiest for stalling. These bags have substantial weight while typically having a low – fill level.

Pros

Having a low fill level and a weighty bag means it won’t roll off your foot when you attempt stalls. The weight that comes with the metal bag is also perfect for setting up tricks.

From my research, it seems that the top-level footbaggers tend to prefer metal filled bags. These bags offer maximum accuracy, stall-ability, and control.

But, of course, there are costs paired with these benefits.  

Cons

It has been my personal experience that metal bags require more careful use and wear down quicker than non-metal bags.

For example, players should exercise caution when attempting toes pick-ups (you know, when you don’t want to bend down to pick it up, so you just use your feet).

I believe the weight of the filler material grinds away at the fabric with each kick while also putting more stress on the seams of the bag. The added stress due to weight and hardness of the filling material type can eventually lead to small holes forming in the bag.

Stressed seams and holes will result in the filler escaping, which eventually results in a bag in need of re-stitching and refilling.   

What is in a hacky sack? – Everything else

The reason for this broad category is because your filling material type can take many forms. Footbags, hacky sacks, are filled with plastic pellets, beads, cork, rubber, popcorn kernels, etc.

The point is that the possibilities for filling material type are seemingly endless. “Everything else” goes beyond just the filler.

This includes chainmail footbags along with other non-paneled bags such as crocheted bags.

Crocheted bags (Sipa Sipa)

hacky sack rules

Crocheted bags are included in the “everything else” category. These bags are made from so many different materials and fillers.

Crocheted bags can be made from a tough material such as hemp, cotton, or wool. These bags can also be made from flexible blended materials such as elastic yarn.

The type of yarn or string used will significantly impact the feel of the bag. The tightness of the stitching will also impact the feel and play of the bag.

The tighter the stitching, the more of a ball shape it will have.

Again – Ultimately, the difference in Crocheted bags is a matter of preference, but knowing that there is a difference helps you to identify what that preference is.

Pros

These are usually filled with some type of relatively large filler such as pellets, beads, cork, rubber, popcorn kernels, rice, etc.

When using a non-paneled bag, the filler must be small enough to fit a lot of filling material in, but it must be big enough so that it doesn’t escape.

These bags tend to be tough and durable, perfect for circle kicking.

Cons

These are usually filled with some type of relatively large filler such as pellets, beads, cork, rubber, popcorn kernels, rice, etc.

When using a non-paneled bag, the filler must be small enough to fit a lot of filling material in, but it must be big enough so that it doesn’t escape.

These bags tend to be tough and durable, perfect for circle kicking.

Conclusion: What is in a hacky sack?

I have not addressed combinations of filling material type. Addressing combinations of fillers makes the task of describing becomes infinitely more difficult.

An overview of filling material types reveals that the filling material type increases in size as we make our way from sand, to metal, to everything else.

So, to answer the question of “What is in a hacky sack?”

I would answer “whatever you want to be your filler”.

Footbag, or hacky sack, has a creative nature, so the potential fillers are limited to what is at your disposal.

The only real requirements are that it must be kickable and that it is fun to play with.

Each filling material type has its pros and cons.

In my opinion, sand and metal are the best for learning stalls and tricks.

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