The Bells of Steel 3.0 is my top recommendation for most people after 80 hours of research into 50 trap bars.
Choosing the best trap bar for your money is more complicated today than ever.
Because the arrival of open-ended bars turned the market on its head.
Lawsuits, cease and deceased letters…it’s a mess.
I’ve been a personal trainer for two decades now, and I too had a hard time making sense of the chaos. But with all said and done, it was worth it because I found some real gems.
Here’s what I did for this guide:
- I spent 80+ hours researching, rating, and comparing the 50 most popular trap bars out there
- I defined 25 quality criteria to rate the bars in, including knurling, geometry, and finish
- I chose the best in a range of categories – from value and budget to premium
I urge you to take the time to read as much of the guide as you can. It’s the only way to be sure what’s the bar for you.
With that said, let me give you the skinny…
The trap bar I’d recommend for most people is the Bells of Steel 3.0. It scored 18.75 out of the maximum 23.75 points.
It’s open-ended, features a built-in jack, and it’s coated with Zinc.
That makes it just as practical and resistant as bars that cost two or three times more. The things missing from this bar are nice-to-haves but not must-haves (more on that in a minute).
If you’re looking for a classic closed hex bar, our top pick is the CAP Barbell Combo. It’s a minimal piece that ticks all the essential boxes without making a significant dent in your budget.
If money is no object, the high-end Kabuki Strength trap bar is the way to go. It’s THE MOST COMPLETE trap bar out there but costs as much as an 04 Toyota Camry.
- 9 best trap bars
- 1. Best trap bar overall – Bells of Steel 3.0
- 2. Top money-no-object trap pick – Kabuki Strength Trap Bar
- 3. Best budget trap bar – Cap Combo Hex Bar
- 4. Best hex bar from Rogue – TB-2
- 5. Runner-up budget pick – GYMAX Olympic Hex Bar
- 6. Best classic pick – Rogue TB-1 Trap Bar V2
- 7. Eleiko Öppen Deadlift Bar – runner-up in the premium category
- 8. Titan Olympic Hex Bar
- 9. Top budget pick among rackable hex bars – Titan V2
- Honorable mentions
- 25 factors of choosing the best hex bar
- Four crucial (make or break) quality factors of a trap bar
- Primary quality factors of a trap bar
- Secondary factors of choosing the best hex bar
- Minor factors of choosing a hex bar
- FAQs about trap bars
- What are trap bar deadlifts good for?
- What’s the weight of a trap bar?
- Which is better: a trap bar or a traditional deadlift bar?
- Which trap bar to buy?
- Why is it called a trap bar?
- How to deadlift with a hex (trap) bar?
- How we rated the trap bars
- Other trap bars we looked at – rated 12+
- Trap bars – the bottom line
9 best trap bars
|Name of the trap bar||Best in category||Rating (out of 23.75)||Price||Capacity||Finish (shaft/sleeves)|
|Bells of Steel 3.0||Overall||18.75||$$$||700||zinc/zinc|
|Kabuki Strength trap bar||Money-no-object||16.25||$$$$||1500||powder coat/zinc|
|Cap Combo hex bar||Classic/budget||15.125||$||750||zinc/zinc|
|Rogue TB-2||from Rogue||15.125||$$$||1000||powder coat/powder coat|
|GYMAX Olympic||Runner-up budget||14.625||$||800||deco chrome/deco chrome|
|Rogue TB-1 V2||Runner-up classic||14.625||$$$||1000||powder coat/powder coat|
|Eleiko Öppen Deadlift||Runner-up premium||14.375||$$$$$||1102.31||powder coat/hard chrome|
|Titan Olympic Hex||From Titan||14.25||$||500||deco chrome/deco chrome|
|Titan Rackable V2||Rackable||13.875||$$||800||powder coat/powder coat|
(rated 18.75 out of 23.75)
Bells of Steel 3.0 found its way to the top (and with a hefty margin of almost two points) for three main reasons:
- Low price point
- Superior finish
- Rotating sleeves
Let me explain.
It’s conservatively priced but not cheaply made. It means it’s a value bar that does most things just as well as bars that cost twice as much. I’ll get into which things are those in a moment.
Coating of the Bells of Steel 3.0 is on par with the best of them. The shaft is black Zinc, and the sleeves are silver Zinc.
In terms of resistance, Zinc is only second to stainless steel and cerakote, and we have no bars in the TOP 50 finished with either of the two.
Now, that’s impressive!
Mentioning rotating sleeves might raise some old-school eyebrows. Again, it’s THE ONLY bar in the top 50 whose sleeves rotate.
To be clear, I’m not saying that rotating sleeves on a trap bar are crucial or as important as they are on, say, a curl bar.
They’re not as important because there’s no snatching. That means there’s little momentum or sudden acceleration in the movement. BUT, it’s a ‘nice to have’ – the rotational momentum in plates across a high rep, fast-paced set means you could cause a potential injury. Rotating sleeves help to offset this risk.
With that said, the operative term here is “best.”
We’re looking for the bestBEST trap bar for MOST people.
And rotating sleeves make for a smoother movement.
Bells of Steel does it all, does it well, and does it at a much lower price point.
It’s a massive improvement over the second version of the bar, which featured an enclosed design.
The sleeves could be longer, but that would be a different bar. As Andrew Ponsler (Bells of Steel owner) explains it, they intentionally made the sleeves shorter to lower the shipping cost.
Note: This is not the bar for you if you’re deadlifting over 650 lbs, the sleeves are too short. If you’re lifting 700+, you’ll want to look at Kabuki (runner-up) among the open designs and Rogue TB-2 (ranked 4) among the classic designs.
The sleeves are short for a reason
If the sleeves were any longer, the bar would be shipped as an oversized item and that alone would add $100 to the cost.
That alone means the bar would cost 30-40% more even if manufacturing costs remain the same or change minimally.
With that said, Bells of Steel has been sending out teasers of version 4.0 that would feature longer sleeves (like the short video below), but with the pricing in mind, we don’t see it beating the 3.0 in our scores. But time will tell.
|Bells of Steel 3.0|
|Loadable sleeve length||9.7|
|Shaft finish||Black Zinc|
|Sleeve finish||Silver Zinc|
- Solid bang for your buck – you’ll pay much less for similar features.
- Open-ended design is more versatile – allows you to perform exercises beyond the deadlift – many more. Not unique to this bar, but you rarely see it executed well in this price range.
- Excellent coating – your bar will last longer with little to no chipping or change.
- Rotating sleeves – makes the motion smoother and easier on your wrists.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty – gives you peace of mind and eliminates buyer’s remorse.
- Short sleeves (9.7 inches) – if you lift heavy or use bumper plates, this probably isn’t the bar for you.
- Has some whip to it – an open-ended design and a 0.9” thick frame will give you some whip on those heavier lifts.
- The stand is not as robust as in some more expensive bars – the “built-in jack” is really a glorified stand and is not as stable as the heftier one (like the ones we’ll see in Kabuki and Eleiko).
(rated 16.25 out of 23.75)
If they let me into a room full of trap bars and tell me that I can choose one for free, this is the bar I’d go for.
It’s the most complete trap bar out there, and it’s not even close. Knowing what I know about Kabuki’s approach to making bars, it comes as no surprise – the amount of research and time that goes into developing a Kabuki bar is, well, for lack of a better word, INSANE.
It’s insane in the best possible sense of the word.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not your lifting requires such precision-engineered bars? If it doesn’t, perhaps spend your money on another bar.
The one unique thing about Kabuki is the adjustable grip – both in handle thickness and spacing. The bar comes with a standard handle bracket width of 25 inches and 29 mm thick handles (1.141″).
Optional extra grips
You can go thicker to 1.5 or 2 (Kabuki calls the latter “love handles”), and you can go thinner, down to 1-inch grips. You can also choose narrower or wider bracket handles, 23 and 27 inches, respectively.
That would bring your total bill to over 1K. For most people, that’s too expensive for a home gym.
|Kabuki Strength Trap Bar|
|Loadable sleeve length||17|
|Shaft finish||Powder coat|
- High weight capacity of 1500 lbs – allows you to pack more weight on and gives you more confidence at lower weights.
- Superior knurling – while you might see some wear of the knurling in subpar bars, Kabuki knurling is practically indestructible.
- High-end materials and attention to detail – everything about a Kabuki bar feels premium.
- Just the right amount of whip – you’ll lift slightly more and work on your form in the process.
- Long sleeves (17 inches) – even with bumper plates, this will comfortably fit enough weight for most people.
- Swappable grips – you can choose the grip thickness that feels good for you.
- Well-balanced open design – along with the robust frame, the weighted balance is what makes Kabuki more stable in complex movements like farmer’s walk.
- Good finish of the sleeves – clear Zinc will not chip or flake.
- Expensive – costs much more than an average trap bar.
- Swappable handles cost extra – again, this means you’ll pay more.
- Square tubing – not a CON per se, but you won’t be using this as a cambered squat bar as you would Eleiko.
(rated 15.125 out of 23.75)
The Cap hex bar is one of the most popular ones out there.
It’s not perfect, but it’s great value for those looking for a classic bar that just gets on with it. There’s nothing pretentious about it.
Nor should you expect fancy at this price range.
I’d say that the knurling on the raised handles is on the passive side, while the flush (level) handles are medium. What surprised me is how well the knurling maintains its ‘bite’ over time.
Again, not a given at this price.
The geometry is good, in three main aspects:
- It offers enough space in the “cage,” even for those on the bigger side.
- The dual handles are well spaced at 25 inches, which is the sweet spot for most.
- At 10 inches, the sleeves are long enough for 90% of lifters using Olympic plates.
You won’t be breaking any records with this one, but it’s a good bar that just gets on with it.
|CAP Combo Hex Bar|
|Loadable sleeve length||10|
- Affordable – currently second most budget-friendly bar on the list.
- Solid zinc finish – when I say this, I’m referring to the zinc-coated version that costs a peg more but will chip much less.
- Good knurling – allows for a good grip.
- Money-back guarantee – this means a lot when getting a bar on the cheap. There’s comfort in knowing you can return it.
- Longevity issues – It might bend if used as loading capacity. The bar is listed for 750 lbs max load, but I’ve seen one too many reports of it bending when used at the upper limit for prolonged periods.
- Shipping and packaging issues – you might receive a chipped, dinged bar.
- Quality and tolerances control – there’s a chance you’ll get a bar that doesn’t fit Olympic plates. I’ve seen reports of people sanding the sleeves to make them fit.
(rated 15.125 out of 23.75)
TB-2 improved on what was already a solid trap bar (Tb-1) by adding raised handles. The TB-1 is approved for use in the US Army Combat Fitness Test, which speaks volumes.
The one thing that stands out about the Rogue trap bar is the knurling. Although Rogue doesn’t explicitly say it, it’s pretty much the same medium-depth that people know and love in their standard Ohio bar.
Rogue’s grip just feels better in hand than that of cheaper bars (and many of the more expensive ones). There’s a reason rogue bars are so popular worldwide – this premium feel is just one of them.
Short sleeves are a common issue with trap bars, even the good ones.
Not with the TB-2.
Sixteen inches of loadable length will be more than enough even if you’re lifting heavy and use bumper plates to do it.
The part that I don’t get is the powder coat on the sleeves.
Not all powder coats are created equal, and Rogue’s is arguably the best one. I’ll give them that. And it looks awesome, too.
Still, it doesn’t belong on a surface meant to take the wear and tear of packing on plates.
|Loadable sleeve length||16|
|Shaft finish||Powder coat|
|Sleeve finish||Powder coat|
- Premium materials and finish – pretty much any bar from Rogue just feels better in hand than 90% of others.
- High weight capacity – you can confidently load it up to 1000 lbs.
- Long and rackable – adds versatility to your workout. You can use it for rack pulls, pull-ups, overhead presses…)
- Extra-long sleeves (16 inches) – easier to pack on the weight if you’re using bumper plates.
- Good knurling not dulled by the coating – will give you a solid grip and great tactile feedback.
- Generous cage sizing – allows you to get into a better/stronger starting position and lift more freely.
- Powder coat on the sleeves – likely to chip over time
(rated 14.625 out of 23.75)
The runner-up budget pick is the only bar in the top 9 that features foldable handles. It’s not the handles that earned it its place in the front pack, though.
It’s a combination of a few things – a solid build, good knurling that’s not dulled too much by the chrome finish, and a low price point.
Back to what’s unique about it – the folding handles.
They can be a good or bad thing, depending on what you need. Personally, I’m not a fan because I feel they take away more than they bring. I’m not sure who exactly is benefiting from the extra four inches you get when you fold them down.
On the other hand, they render the bar useless for pushups and any overhead movement – they are just too wobbly and unsafe. If you have no plans to use a trap bar for that, enjoy your savings.
|GYMAX Olympic Hex Bar|
|Loadable sleeve length||10|
|Shaft finish||decorative chrome|
|Sleeve finish||decorative chrome|
- Foldable handles – will take less space when stored.
- One-year warranty – gives you peace of mind, a nice plus when buying a bar from a less reputable brand.
- Budget-friendly – will make a smaller dent in your budget.
- Handles not fixed – won’t be stable enough if you want to use the bar for pushups and overhead lifts.
(rated 13.875 out of 23.75)
This is the older brother of the TB-2, which is slightly less well-rounded.
The geometry of the two bars (TB-1 and TB-2) is pretty much the same, except for the raised handles. You can mimic deadlifting with the raised handles by using the TB-1 in a rack.
The build and finish quality is the same as TB-2, including the clean robotic welds and a thick, closed frame that practically eliminates any whip.
Again, my main grievance is the powder coat on the sleeves. Their high-end signature coating drastically improved over the last few years, but it’s still powder and will flake over time.
Overall, a good, old-school bar.
|Rogue TB-1 V2|
|Loadable sleeve length||16|
|Shaft finish||Powder coat|
|Sleeve finish||Powder coat|
- High-end materials and robust build – feels better in hand and looks cooler than most bars.
- Cheaper than TB-2 – you’ll spend about 20-25% less.
- Superior knurling – will give you a more comfortable grip than most bars out there.
- Long sleeves – easier to pack weight on, Olympic plates or not.
- Rackable – makes it more versatile, allows for overhead presses and rack pulls. Plus, it’s easier to store.
- Excellent customer services and warranty terms – easier to solve any issues that might arise.
- Only flush handles – won’t give you as strong starting position as raised handles.
- Powder coat – will likely chip more easily than Zinc or hard chrome.
(rated 14.375 out of 23.75)
Eleiko Öppen is (arguably) the first bar of its kind to hit the market back in 2019. By “kind,” I mean an open design trap bar. It arrived at the market with a lot of fanfare (or should that be fänfäre?!) and was warmly received by the users. But is it as good as we first thought?
Say the words, Eleiko.
Although Eleiko doesn’t use the words’ trap’ or ‘hex’ anywhere in the description of this bar, it’s fairly accurate to describe it as such.
The reason behind not calling it “trap” is probably an effort to separate themselves from the many competitors with similar designs.
The jack is second-to-none
Despite the many new arrivals, this Eleiko is still in a class of its own. Apart from the high-end craftsmanship, the one thing that stands out the most is the weighted jack.
Not only is it the most stable and easier to load, but it also plays a crucial role in balancing the bar. This might not be a big deal for a classic deadlift, but it’s massive when it comes to moving with the bar.
The thick frame also plays a two-fold role. It’s ‘comfortable’ enough to be used as a cambered bar and lends the structural stability that makes the fully open design possible.
Let me illustrate the “fully open design” by comparing it to the top-rated trap bar overall – the Bells of Steel 3.0.
If you look at the two bars side by side, the first thing you’ll notice is that the frame of the Bells of Steel bar is not fully open. Making it such would make it too whippy and likely even compromise the structural integrity (i.e., it might permanently bend).
That’s the main difference between Eleiko and lesser bars. It’s a fantastic bar, but you’re paying top dollar for that level of quality.
|Eleiko Öppen Deadlift Bar|
|Loadable sleeve length||16.34|
|Shaft finish||Hard chrome|
|Sleeve finish||Hard chrome|
- Powerhouse build – likely to last a lifetime without changing much.
- Thick rounded tubular frame – you can use it as a cambered squat bar, too.
- Fully open design – more versatile and roomier, even for bigger people.
- Robust built-in jack with rubber stoppers – easier to load and unload than any other trap bar.
- Great knurling of the handles– same knurling quality as in their barbells. Uniform and comfortable.
- Expensive – costs more than any other bar on this list.
(rated 14.25 out of 23.75)
Titan is getting better in many aspects that used to make them a budget and not a value brand. This bar is a perfect example of that.
Out of the bars that we’d be OK with recommending, this Titan is in the tenth percentile price-wise. That means nine out of ten bars worth having will cost more.
The design and the geometry are nothing to write home about – it’s all pretty standard.
However, what did come as a surprise was the improvement of the chrome. It’s not hard chrome, and you don’t expect it in this price range. But, as far as decorative chrome goes, the coating is surprisingly durable and resistant.
The changes we’re seeing in the finish quality affect both you and us.
For you, it means you can get a cheaper bar that will last. For us, it means we’ll have to have to dig deeper and be more granular in our approach to rating the finishes.
|Titan Olympic hex bar|
|Loadable sleeve length||9.75|
|Shaft finish||Decorative chrome|
|Sleeve finish||Decorative chrome|
- Affordable – you’d save money but get comparable quality.
- All steel construction – more durable than tubular designs.
- Roomy ‘cage’ – big enough to be comfortable, even for big and tall.
- Good welds, nice finish – not likely to chip or change fast.
- Shipping issues – you might go through the hassle of replacing it if it arrives damaged or with no clips.
(rated 14.25 out of 23.75)
The Titan V2 is the only rackable hex bar in the top 9 that costs as much as a ‘regular’ bar.
The design and finish are what we’ve come to expect from Titan in their more recent bars – improved but still not a match for premium brands like Kabuki and Rogue.
The geometry ticks all the major boxes.
The cage is wide enough for comfortable use, grip spacing at the sweet spot, and extra-long sleeves that can easily take on the listed 800 lbs capacity.
Even though we’ve seen improvement in how Titan finishes handle daily use, the powder still has no place being on the sleeves. At this price, Zinc or hard chrome would propel this bar into the top 5.
Or is that too much to ask?
|Titan rackable hex bar V2|
|Loadable sleeve length||16|
|Shaft finish||Powder coat|
|Sleeve finish||Powder coat|
- Value for money – cost less than most rackable trap bars on the market.
- Long sleeves (16 inches) – can accommodate more plates.
- Rackable – adds to the bar’s versatility, you can use it for shoulder presses, and rack pulls.
- Solid warranty – you can return it within one year if anything goes wrong.
- Powder-coated sleeves – likely to chip and rust over time.
- Knurling on the passive side – if you lift heavy and like an aggressive grip, you’ll probably need straps.
We have two groups of honorable mentions, with two bars in each.
In the first group are the two trap bars that we expected to see in the top 9 because of their popularity – CAP Barbell Olympic and REP Fitness trap bar.
In the second group are the two bars that share the 10th and 11th place in our ratings, both with a score of 13.625.
This CAP is one of THE MOST POPULAR trap bars out there, I can only assume it’s because of the low price point.
On our list, it cozily sits at place 28 and we don’t see it moving anytime soon.
It’s a robust bar with two major design flaws:
- Minimal separation between the plates and the grip. If you have bigger hands, your knuckles will rub against the plates.
- No knurling on the handles – this is a big issue as the weight starts to increase.
The first flaw can be “solved” with an extra set of clamps that you’d put on the sleeve before the plates.
The bar is powder-coated, meaning it’s not slippery, which offsets the no-knurling issue a bit…at least if you’re not lifting heavy. The reality is though, you’ll be adding serious weight to the bar at some point in your training life.
Finally, the grip distance is greater than in most bars (29 inches), which means it’s best suited for big guys. With that in mind, not knurling the grips doesn’t make sense to me, n Nor does powder-coating the sleeves.
If you can look past the few flaws, you’ll pay much less for this CAP than you would for similar bars.
We expected to see REP represented at the top, but no such luck.
The one trap bar REP makes is a classical dual-handle design with a low capacity (only 500 lbs) compared to other bars in its price range (only 500 lbs).
This bar was never going to make the top 9, in spite of the solid 5-year warranty. It feels like REP tried to ride the wave of their reputation with this one.
If you’re a loyal REP customer or doing a bulk order on REP and want a trap bar, then this bar would still be good enough for a lot of people.
This is an overlooked bar if there ever was one.
It dropped out of the top 9 for three reasons:
- It’s not popular among users.
- It’s expensive.
- It has a lower max load than you’d expect.
It looks like a tank with a built-in jack that’s just as hefty as that of the Eleiko Oppen. Yet, for some weird reason, the listed weight capacity is 300 kg (661 lb).
That raises doubts about the material used here, which is why I can’t recommend it for Rock’n’Rollas like you.
When a bar that features a basic design ranks this high, it means one thing – high-end materials and top-notch build.
With a rating of 13.625, the Vulcan Prime is the runner-up among classic bars (only flush grip).
In that category, it’s second only to the Rogue TB-1.
In fact, it’s very similar to the TB-1. If the price weren’t a factor, I’d say it’s the better bar because of the hard chrome on the sleeves (vs. powder on the Rogue TB-1).
With that said, price and consumer interest are factors. And big ones, too.
In those two aspects, Vulcan Prime dropped a whole 2.5 points compared to Rogue TB-1. That’s what ‘pulled it’ below the Top 9 line.
25 factors of choosing the best hex bar
The following section will list and explain the crucial (make-or-break), primary, secondary, and minor factors of choosing a good trap bar.
Four crucial (make or break) quality factors of a trap bar
1 – Type of a trap bar – open or enclosed
(zero or one point in our ratings)
This is the first decision you’ll need to make.
With the introduction of the open design, what used to be a very specialized deadlift bar suddenly became a much more versatile piece of home gym gear. You can use it for a range of exercises – from forward and reverse lunges to bent rows.
It opens up even more options if the bar is rackable like rack pulls and overhead presses.
There are factors in the “primary” group (we’ll get to those in a minute) that carried more points than the type of the bar. That’s international – so that we can make the list diverse and give the classic bars a fighting chance.
2 – Knurling of trap bars
(zero or two points in our ratings)
The knurling type is individual, and we’ve seen people saying that it’s “too aggressive” or “too passive” when talking about the same bar.
For most people, medium depth knurling of about 1.2 mm will be aggressive enough for a grippy feel, provided that it’s not dulled by a thick coating or soft enough to lose its edge.
All of our top picks fall within the ‘medium knurling’ range. Anything outside of that becomes more specialist and personal preference. What we’re looking for is the best trap bar for most people.
3 – Finish of the bar
I’m separating the finish factors into two because the finish of the sleeves carries more gravitas than that of the shaft.
Finish of the sleeves
(-1 to 2 points in our ratings)
Sleeves are the part of the bar that will be “chaffing” against plates day-in, day-out.
The worst you can do is bare steel, and the best is stainless steel. That’s the theory.
In practice, there were no bare steel or stainless steel trap bars. Most of the products we looked at used powder coats or decorative chrome to coat the sleeves, which is less than ideal.
That’s why the one plated with Zinc, e-coat, or hard chrome easily found their way to the top of the list, even if they lacked in some secondary factors.
Finish of the shaft
(-1 to 1.25 points in our ratings)
Everything I said about the finish of the sleeves applies here; it’s just not as crucial as the sleeves because the shaft rubs against asking and not metal plates.
4 – Manufacturing, craftsmanship, and overall quality
This is an elusive category that can’t be directly rated because it stands for more than one thing.
Simply put – this would be the difference between a bar from, say, Rogue and subpar generic bars with the same specs. I’m talking about stuff like welds, the finish of the knurling, attention to detail, tolerances.
The team here at Strong Home Gym has a trained eye when it comes to this. Between us, we’ve tested, used, and reviewed hundreds of bars of all types and sizes, from high-end brands to generic cheap Chinese stuff.
For you, this means, that the picks you’re looking at above are curated to weed out the bars that wouldn’t meet the minimum quality requirements.
Primary quality factors of a trap bar
Weight capacity of a trap bar
(zero to 1.5 points in our ratings)
This one is obviously individual.
But, even if you’re not pushing a bar to the limits, the listed weight capacity can tell you a lot about the type of steel used for the bar. We wouldn’t even really consider anything with a max load of 500LB or less – our suggestion is you shoot for bars with a minimum of 800LB capacity.
You shouldn’t look at the listed max load as an isolated spec, but it’s an important one.
Think of the math.
Does it work out if you take the sleeve length and your plates into account?
That’s a massive factor if you own bumper plates and lift heavy because a 10-inch sleeve will barely fit three 45-pound bumper plates.
With Olympic plates, it’s a non-issue. Our top pick, for example, easily fits six 45s on each side.
Loadable sleeve length of a hex bar
(zero or one point in our ratings)
We already mentioned the length of the sleeves when we talked about capacity.
What works for you will depend on how much you lift and the kind of plates you use.
There are no definitive rules of thumb. In our ratings, we awarded no points to bars with sleeves shorter than 9inches and only a minimal 0.25 to those in the 9-10 inches range.
Do the sleeves fit Olympic plates?
This one is self-explanatory and simple – pretty much all bars on our list fit Olympic plates.
In about 2% of trap bars we looked at, we found an issue with the fit.
To be fair, it’s not that the bars don’t fit Olympic plates; we’ve just seen an occasional report of subpar sleeve finish that gave new owners problems.
We’re looking at you, CAP Barbell.
Size of the ‘cage’ in trap bars
(zero or one point in our ratings)
The dimensions of the inner ‘cage’ of a trap bar are far more important than the overall size of the bar because it directly affects how comfortable you are using it.
It’s not so much of an issue with open-ended design as it is with the enclosed. As a rule of thumb, any bar with a frame width (front to back) under 22 inches will be too small for big people.
If you’re a big guy, pay close attention to this because it can make or break your experience with a bar.
Grip spacing/handle distance
(zero or one point in our ratings)
For most people, the sweet spot of comfortable handle distance will be in the 23-25 inches range.
If you’re looking to buy a hex bar and you feel you don’t belong to the “for most people” category, you have a few options:
- Go to a gym and try their trap. Then ask them about the grip distance or measure it yourself.
- Get a cheap bar before committing to a more serious purchase. You can get a cheap hexr bar from Walmart for under 20 bucks (you can see one here)
- Get a trap bar with an adjustable grip width – the most expensive option but also the most practical for family use.
Grip height of trap bars
(zero or one point in our ratings)
While there’s room to argue that a single-grip bar can do the same thing if you used boxes or a rack, it’s not about improvisation. It’s about choosing the better trap bar.
And the two-handle design is better because you can use the bar with a neutral or raised grip. This gives you hip-dominant or knee-dominant options, placing more emphasis on the back or legs depending on the exercise you use it for.
It’s as simple as that.
Loading and unloading a trap bar
We can talk knurling ’till the sun comes up, but when that flat bar gets to your basement/garage, and you try to load and unload the plates, you’ll forget everything else. You’ll just wish you got a bar that either features a built-in-jack or raised sleeves for easy loading and unloading.
This is THE SINGLE most frustrating aspect of using a classic non-rackable trap bar. It can be the difference between the thing becoming your new favorite piece and collecting dust in the shed.
Raised sleeves carried 0.5 points and a built-in jack 0.25.
(zero or 1.75 points in our ratings)
This one’s important, so bear with me for a minute. The minute here can save you a lot of headaches down the line.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for when it comes to the warranty. I hate it when I say stuff like “generally speaking,” but there is no other way to put this.
I’ll try to move on past that and give you a few real-life scenarios.
Look past the hype
On the lower end of the price range exists the trap bar with no warranty explicitly listed or a bar that officially has none. If you get a bar from a reputable seller like Amazon, you still might get your money back if you have the patience required to go through the hassle.
The next level is a money-back guarantee warranty, which is almost often folded into pompous jargon like “no sweat warranty” or “satisfaction absolutely guaranteed.”
I hate that.
It’s just a way for them the right you legally have as a ‘benefit’ of their product.
The proper, direct language for that is manufacturer or money-back warranty, and it typically lasts 30 days.
However, it is true that you’ll probably have fewer problems getting your money back if you don’t like a trap bar and it has an explicit warranty. Just be aware that no one is doing you any favors here – you’re just claiming your right.
An example of a good bar with a 30-day manufacturer warranty is the Cap Combo Hex Bar (ranked 3rd best overall).
Actual warranties and the fine print
The actual warranties are not just a commitment that they’ll return your money. They’re a commitment to correcting any problems that might arise.
They last anywhere from a few months to a lifetime.
“The meat” of a warranty is in the fine print and the companies’ practices.
So, if that’s important to you (which it should be), as soon as you get into those higher price ranges, take the time to actually read the warranty terms.
Even the lifetime warranties are rarely absolute and typically cover specific aspects of the product, like frames and structural welds. They never cover “negligent or faulty use.”
In reality, it’s not that complicated.
With better brands like Rogue and Kabuki, you’ll have no problems claiming the warranty because no one buys a bar to bend it intentionally.
With Eleiko, well…you’d have to sacrifice a virgin to get a bent bar replaced. Then again, their bars (almost) never bend.
Four out of nine of our top picks have a lifetime warranty on materials and craftsmanship, which includes bent bars (or at least it should). Personally, I like how Rogue handles its business when it comes to warranties.
Customer service and consumer opinion of the trap bar brands
(zero to two points, one for customer service and one for consumer opinion)
We admit that this one can be subjective. But we also feel that, among us, we have decades of experience with gym gear, and we know what’s what.
We also make an effort to make it as objective as possible by finding what customers are saying about the brands on sites like TrustPilot, SiteJabber, and, just sometimes, Reddit. The community will tell you a lot about the general quality of a bar.
We only award a point here to bars coming from brands with a PROVEN track record.
The keyword here is PROVEN, and that goes way beyond looking at the ratings. You need the experience to separate the genuine reviews and ratings from the fakes.
Explaining our process beyond that would bore you to tears.
Packaging and delivery practices
(zero or one point in our ratings)
I only understood how much of a factor this was when I started writing this guide.
Even then, it started out as a minor factor (0.25 points) and worked its way up to a full point. It happened as I grew aware of how problematic subpar packaging is. You don’t want to pay hundreds for a bar, only for it to arrived chipped and damaged.
(-4 or 1.625 points in our ratings)
How much should you spend on a trap bar?
No less than $100.
To be fair, there’s one bar priced at $99 (the last known price) that’s not available right now. If it were, it would’ve made the Top 5. I check regularly and will include it on the list when/if it becomes available.
Price as a standalone factor makes little sense; it only makes sense when considered with other factors (hence the massive range).
Let me go beyond the cliche for a second and give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say that you’re looking to complete a home gym and need a squat and a trap bar.
Instead of going with average bars and spending a few hundred bucks on each, you might opt for a beast that is the Eleiko Oppen and be the talk of the town…or the two other people at your job who work out.
Anyway, I hope you understand the point I’m clumsily trying to make here.
Secondary factors of choosing the best hex bar
Secondary factors can be described as nice-to-haves in a trap bar but not must-haves. In our ratings, these carried 0.25, 0.5, or 0.75 points.
Let’s start with the upper echelon of the secondary factors and work our way down.
Weight of a hex trap bar
In and of itself, the weight of a trap bar is not a quality aspect.
You might take it into account along with the overall dimensions if you’re working out in a small space, and it’s important to maneuver easily, but that’s about it.
There is one minor quality aspect related to weight that no one ever thinks about – whether it’s a quintuple (a multiple of 5). Tracking your lifts and progress will be much easier if the bar weighs 50 lbs than 37.25.
Weight being a quintuple carried 0.125 points in our ratings.
Is it rackable?
(zero or 0.75 points)
Rackability is not about the convenience of storage. A rackable trap bar is more diverse and safer for certain lifts, especially if it’s open-ended.
First of all, it allows you to use it with spotter pins, which is a massive plus.
It’s also great for overhead presses and racked deadlifts (rack pulls).
Where is the bar made?
Not all US-made bars are created equal, and a Chinese-made bar is not inherently bad.
With that said, most of the premium trap bars are made in the USA. The quality control is just on another level, so yes, we deem it a factor.
Four out of the top nine bars are US-made, and four are either made in China or miss origin information (when the latter happens, it usually means it’s made in China).
Finally, Eleiko has been making their bars in Halmstad (Sweden) since 1957. They’re fantastic bars, but you might need to take out a loan to buy one!
This is not a quality factor in the true meaning of the word. It’s a design blunder that renders a bar useless.
If there’s no delimiter on the sleeves, the plates will bump against your knuckles.
It’s rare, but it does happen. I’ve seen it in 4% of the bars we reviewed.
Minor factors of choosing a hex bar
These are the factors you probably wouldn’t think of (or notice in practice) if I didn’t mention them. There are three of them.
Can it be used as a safety squat bar (SSB)?
For a vast majority of trap bars, the answer to that would be a no.
There are three reasons for that:
- The geometry doesn’t work.
- The frame is too thin for comfort.
- The bar is made out of rectangular tubing.
In most bars, at least two of the above are true.
Once in a blue moon, a bar comes along that works as an SSB. Eleiko Öppen is a case in point.
You wouldn’t miss rotating sleeves in a trap bar unless you first used one that has them.
Most bars have fixed sleeves because there’s not enough acceleration or angular momentum in a trap bar deadlift to make them essential.
If you ask me, they are a plus because they make for a smoother movement. I predict that once one of the bigger players includes them in a bar, the rest of the industry will follow.
The bar weight being a quintuple (a multiple of 5)
I already mentioned this one when we talked about bar weight. A bar weighing 50 lbs will simplify planning your workout (compared to one weighing, say, 32.75).
In our ratings, the minor factors brought 0.125 points each.
FAQs about trap bars
What are trap bar deadlifts good for?
Trap bar deadlifts are good for hamstrings, glutes, abductors, and quads.
Compared to the traditional straight bar deadlift, a trap bar deadlift puts less strain on your lower back, requires less technical proficiency, and results in greater power output.
A 2017 study by the University of Chichester (UK) found an instant 6% increase in deadlift loads, accelerated weight progression, and a 28% increase in the power output (source).
What’s the weight of a trap bar?
The weight of a trap bar is in the 40-77 lbs range.
On the lighter side, you have your classic steel bars (typically shorter and non-rackable) like the CAP Olympic Trap Bar. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll see the robust, rackable bars made of solid steel, like the Kabuki Strength trap bar.
Which is better: a trap bar or a traditional deadlift bar?
It depends on the use case, but a trap bar is usually safer and better than a traditional deadlift bar. It’s safer, easier on the spine, and allows you to lift more.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a trap bar is superior to a traditional bar. The peak moments on the lumbar spine were lower, and the peak force, velocity, and power were greater (source).
Why is it called a trap bar?
It’s called a trap bar because it was initially designed to train the upper trapezius (traps).
It’s the brainchild of a powerlifter Al Gerard, who patented and trademarked it (USD317641S, 1987). The initial design of the frame wasn’t hexagonal but rhomboid – it’s only in later iterations that it ‘became’ a hex bar.
How to deadlift with a hex (trap) bar?
This is how to lift with a trap bar, step-by-step:
1. Assume a shoulder-width stance in the middle of the trap bar frame
2. Bend out the hips and knees and grab the handles.
3. Adjust your back position to be flat while looking ahead (choose a point approximately 5.5 to 6.5 ft in front of you).
4. Breathe in and begin the lifting movement as if you were driving your feet into the ground. The movement ends when your hips and knees are fully extended.
5. To make sure you’re completely upright, squeeze your glutes for a moment and maintain the position for about a second.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 while keeping your back straight.
How we rated the trap bars
Our initial database and the final list of top picks were ‘designed’ with two basic principles in mind:
- To cater to a range of fitness and strength levels – find something for everyone instead of going with a random group of bars.
- To look for value, not just absolutely quality – most people looking to add a trap bar to their home gym aren’t willing to spend exorbitantly.
With those two principles in mind, this is what I did to complete this guide:
- Compiled a longlist – I made a complete list of 50 trap bars that I feel are worth reviewing.
For you, this means we made sure we’re not missing anything.
- Compiled a massive database of raw information – found every relevant morsel of information relevant to judging the quality. The raw database includes anything from weight and tensile strength to sleeve length and finishes.
For you, this means that everything and anything relevant is taken into account.
- I defined a list of 25 quality factors to judge the trap bars by – based on my experience and what I saw owners shared as PROs and CONs.
For you, this means that the ratings you see are comprehensive. If you have a question in your mind, we’ve covered it.
- Whenever possible, we tested the bars ourselves or talked to people who own them.
For you, this means that the ratings you’ll see are based on data and experiences, not mere opinion.
- I rated the bars in each quality category, chose the top picks, and awarded specific labels like “best overall” and “best budget pick.”
- Type of the trap/hex bar– one point for an open-ended trap bar, and no points for enclosed.
- Weight capacity – from 1.5 points for bars over 1,200 lbs to 0 points if less than 500 lbs.
- Loadable Sleeve length – from one point if the sleeve length is 16+ inches to zero is under 9 inches.
- Rackable – 0.75 points if yes, zero if no.
- Comfortable grip spacing – a subjective factor based on owner experiences without a specific cutoff number – one point if yes, zero if no.
- Adjustable grip spacing – 0.25 point if yes, zero if no.
- The “cage” is spacious enough for bigger people – one point if yes, zero if no. I found that the cutoff point of cage size where big people started having problems is 22 inches of width (only applicable to closed designs).
- Built-in bar jack – 0.5 point if yes, zero if no.
- Can be used as SSB (safety squat bar) – 0.125 points if yes, zero if no. Only one bar in the top 50 earned points in this aspect – the Kabuki Strength Trap bar.
- Multiple grip heights – one point if yes, zero if no.
- Multiple handle thickness (swappable/rotating) – 0.25 point if yes, zero if no.
- If the plate-to-handle distance is OK – 0.5 points if yes, zero if no. Not a common problem, but it’s a deal-breaker.
- Finish of the sleeves – from two points for stainless steel, 1.25 for hard chrome coating on the high end to – 1 point for bare steel on the low end.
- Finish of the shaft – from 1.25 points for stainless steel, one point for hard chrome coating on the high end to -1 point for bare steel on the low end. You’ll notice that we assigned more gravity to the finish of the sleeves because a subpar finish there will have more of an impact on daily use.
- If the sleeves fit Olympic plates and collars – two points if yes, zero if no.
- Propper knurling, not too aggressive or too passive – two points if yes, zero if no.
- Weight is a quintuple (a multiple of 5) – 0.125 points if yes, zero if no.
- Rotating sleeves – 0.125 points if yes, zero if no. This might raise some eyebrows because 99% of trap bars have fixed sleeves (more about that in the reference section on best trap bars).
- Warranty terms – 1.75 points for Lifetime Warranty and zero points for NO warranty (or no clear info).
- Price – 1.625 points for bars under $100 to negative 4 points for trap bars over $550. This category is always the hardest to get right.
- Consumer Opinion – ranging from positive two to negative two points. We don’t directly use existing user experiences but plug all the data from multiple sources into our statistical model.
- Good packaging and delivery practices – one point if yes, zero if no.
- Brand’s customer service track record – one point if yes, zero if no. For this, we use sources like TrustPilot, Better Business Bureau, and SiteJabber and only award a point if we’re confident that a brand excels in the category.
- Where are the bars made? Half a point if made in the USA or Europe & no points if made in China (or if the info is not disclosed).
- Easy loading (raised sleeves or bar jack clearance > 18 “) – 18 inches is not an arbitrary number. The diameter of an average 45 lbs Olympic plate is in the 17.5-17.75 range. If the bar features a design with a clearance of at least 18 inches, it’s going to be much easier to load. It depends on your feedback, but I expect to see more gravitas assigned to this quality aspect in the updates.
Maximum possible rating: 23.75
Negative points and total range
Notice that the rating range is actually broader because we do assign negative points in 4 quality categories: coating of the sleeves and the shaft, price, and consumer opinion.
The total negative point potential is -8, which puts the total point range at 31.75.
Bonus points and penalties
We might award bonus points or detract penalty points. We do it when we feel that a quality aspect is not universally applicable to all bars.
A good example of bonus points awarded is the Archon Trap Bar (currently ranked 15th overall). It received 0.75 additional points for the “unique design/coolness factor.”
An example of penalty points is the Cap Combo Hex Bar. We detracted 0.5 points for “quality control and tolerances” because we saw one too many reports of sleeves not fitting Olympic plates.
That didn’t stop this Cap bar from ranking 3rd overall and being the top pick in two categories – budget and classic.
Disclaimer: What we’re describing here is OUR system of rating. We make no claims that it’s perfect and an absolutely accurate representation of the quality of the trap bars.
Other trap bars we looked at – rated 12+
We’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention a few bars that didn’t make the top, but put up a good fight.
- Cap Barbell Olympic Super Trap Bar (rated 13.5) – awesome-looking bar (especially the red cage) with raised loading. It dropped points in finish quality – they powder-coated the whole thing.
- Valor Fitness OB-HEX bar – (rated 13.5) – another great-looking bar, similar in design to the CAP above. However, it costs more and has a lower capacity…t least the sleeves are not powder-coated.
- HulkFit Olympic 2-Inch Hex Bar (rated 13.5) – popular budget bar with classic, dual-grip design. Short sleeves, though.
- Archon trap bar (rated 13.5) – if you ask me, this is the best-looking trap bar on the market. It looks like it eats lightning and cr**s thunder. Low capacity (500 lbs) dragged it down in the ratings.
- CAP Barbell Olympic Open Trap Bar (rated 13.375) – a unique design from CAP. We see it moving up as it becomes more popular among users and the data sample we have on it grows.
- DAY 1 Fitness (rated 13.375) – classic bar with a high user rating…they don’t explicitly say what kind of chrome they used to coat it, though.
- Vulcan Pro High hex bar (rated 13.375) – solid bar with a 1-year warranty and a high price point…too high.
- XMark Olympic Hex Bar (rated 13.125) – I expected to see at least one XMark in the Top 10 but no suck luck. There’s nothing substantially wrong with this bar; it just costs too much for the quality of the finish and the welds.
- Synergee trap bar (rated 13.125) – Good value from a reputable brand. If Synergee boosted the weight capacity or the finish (of the sleeves at least), it would launch the bar into the Top 10.
- Everyday Essentials (rated 13) – conservatively priced bar, good value for money, and backed by a money-back guarantee. Again, powder coating the sleeves is inexcusable, no matter the price point.
- XMark Hi-Lo Handles (rated 12.75) – solidly built classic bar with a low weight capacity (only 400 lbs).
- Dripex hex bar (rated 12.75) – classic bar with a unique rubber ring and Cap on the sleeves. The 1.2 mm knurling seems comfortable, but the placement is awkward. Instead of covering the handles throughout, it features a no-knurl central section. As Shakespeare once said, “Why hath you not knurleth the center, Dripex?”
- Titan EZ Load hex bar – V2 (rated 12.125) – Titan’s entry in the hexagonal-cage, raised-sleeves design. It’s reasonably priced, looks cool but has a low max load of 500 lbs. On top of that, we’ve seen one too many reports of the bar arriving chipped.
- Goplus 56″ Olympic Hex Bar (rated 12.125) – top-rated among models with foldable handles. We’re not sure who foldable handles are for, but there it is.
- Cap Mega Olympic Hex Bar (rated 12.125) – powder-coated version of one of the best trap bars overall.
Trap bars – the bottom line
I feel that the 80+ hours we spent researching, testing, and rating trap bars are well worth it because a few clear winners emerge out of the quagmire.
For most people, I’d recommend the Bells of Steel 3.0. It’s the bar that comes dangerously close to the premium brands at half the price. It’s open-ended, solidly built, zinc-plated, and can pack on enough weight for 90% of lifters. It’s also the only bar here with rotating sleeves.
It’s not THE ABSOLUTE BEST, but it’s top value.
If you don’t like to compromise (and have the budget for it), go with the Kabuki Strength trap bar.
The dent in your budget will become a distant memory the moment you lay your eyes on this immaculate beast.
Open-ended design with a built-in jack for easy loading, adjustable grip distance, swappable handles, and a whopping 1,500 max load…it doesn’t get any better than that.
You can skip back to the reviews and rating table by clicking here.