My 18-month Bulldog Gear Open Hex Bar Review

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Having gained a bit more space for my home gym I very quickly added a trap bar to the armoury. Why a trap bar? The diversity of lifts it offered intrigued me – lunges and trap bar deadlifts in particular – and the built in deadlift jack is just plain cool… So is it worth the money? Ultimately YES, if you have SPACE and budget. Here’s why:

Best bits:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Great price for an open hex bar
  • 60cm grip width is ideal (most are in 60-70cm range)
  • Built in high & low handles with swappable fat (50mm) and regular (30mm) grips
  • Built in deadlift jack is a superb feature


  • A stripe on the handle knurl to denote the centre would be an awesome feature
  • Rubber coating on the feet would be nice
  • Knurling on the centre would be a nice feature
Bulldog Gear Open Hex Bar Review - Score: 4/5

At a glance: the Bulldog Gear open hex trap bar

The Bulldog Gear open trap bar is built around a robust, simple but effective design featuring high and low handles with interchangeable thick and thin grips, high quality knurled metal handles and the built in deadlift jack feature (this is awesome!)

Bulldog Open Hex Bar - loaded with 162.5kg

Is it worth it?

Overall it offers an excellent feature set and high quality design at a reasonable price. While an open trap bar costs a little more than the older closed hex bars I feel the additional versatility an open design offers and the quality of finish is worth it.

If you value good quality equipment and making the most of your home gym space then this open trap bar is a great addition and worth the slightly higher cost for the benefits offered.

Do not despair however if you are on a serious budget – you can still have an awesome training career! In this situation I would personally skip a closed hex bar and either save up for an open one (the ability to do lunges and the built in deadlift jack is worth it!) OR adjust my training program to skip the need for speciality bars all together for the foreseeable future (speciality bars are a nice luxury for training – not a ‘must have’!)

Bulldog Gear Open Hex Bar Specs


Weight capacity700kg / 1550lbs
Width between handlesC.60cm between thin handles (inside to inside)
Height (on the jacks)61cm / 24″
Loadable sleeve length39cm / 15.25″
Thin handle diameter27mm
Thick handle diameter49mm
Frame materialPowder coated metal
Sleeve materialSatin chromed finish

Our review of the bar specification

This bar has all the hallmarks of an excellent value trap bar – the handles are a nice distance apart (many bars tend to be a bit wider) which makes it a pleasure to use even for those with slightly narrower shoulders.

The high and low handles are great and the quality of their construction is high – I took this bar apart and the handles are seriously heavy duty! It was very reassuring to see that there hasn’t been any cost cutting on the contact points.

Where I think the spec could be improved is the frame construction. Knurling on the centre would let the bar double as a catered bar more easily, and rubber feet would save the powder coat from scratching off on harder floors.

Trap bar arrives nicely packaged with sleeves removed

What it’s like to use…

I’ve been using this trap (or open hex…) bar for around six months at the time of writing. Overall I think it feels great in use – the contact points are all very high quality which inspires confidence. Be aware that it is a bit big though for tighter gym spaces…

Here’s my review of each area:

Handles (high and low)

The star of the show is the high quality, heavy metal handles. These have a fairly deep and aggressive knurling which I personally like.

I measured the thick handles as 49mm diameter (officially listed as 50mm) and the thin handles as 27mm diameter (officially listed as 30mm). Both feel great for their intended purpose, with the thicker handles punishing your forearms noticeably more!

What Bulldog don’t mention but I personally think is great is the ability to swap the handles (so thicker handles can be a high or low pull) or remove one pair all together (allowing deficit pulls). This can be done with an Allen key and a few minutes of time.

An area for improvement would be some kind of quick release or pivot to enable this swap to be a bit slicker (not to mention quicker) to perform, but understandably this would need to carry a significant cost penalty for the additional engineering required so not likely to appear on an entry level trap bar.

Something else that would be a great ‘nice to have’ would be a marker on the knurl to let you feel where the centre is – this would help with getting your grip just right as you get used to the bar. All trap bars have a tendency to lean forward or backwards if your grip is too far off of the mid-point and this would help avoid that.

Interchangeable thick and thin handles included, both with a fairly sharp knurl

Grip width

Something unusual for those new to trap bars is the fixed grip width – a conventional barbell allows us to pick our own grip, but a trap bar is FIXED!

Bulldog have set the distance between the bars to be roughly 60cm between the thin (or standard) handles (measured inside edge to inside edge), with the thicker ones running slightly closer due to their extra girth.

There is no “standard” width but typically most recognised brands vary their grip width from 60cm – 70cm putting Bulldog at the narrower end of the scale. This is ideal as many complain with the wider brands being awkward for many users on this side of strong man competitions!


The metal frame has a standard ‘U’ shape with a black powder coat. It’s functionally fine, but I have managed to scratch the bar in a few places where it’s made contact with a concrete floor so a thicker powder coat or more robust finish (possibly a chrome) would have been useful here for aesthetics, but possibly at too high a cost.

Overall I am happy with the compromise here as it doesn’t hinder the utility of the bar and I wouldn’t want to pay too much more for a speciality bar for home use, so a compromise has to made somewhere and this seems a fair place to take it.

Feet & built in jack

The feet of the trap bar are a continuation of the frame – so powder coated metal. Again this is an area that has picked up a few scratches from very light use / storage on a concrete floor (I do almost all of my heavy lifting on crumbed rubber mats.)

I think it would be worth Bulldog adding a rubber ‘sock’ to this bar to better protect the foot – it would also make flipping the bar in to the jack position a little easier as it would have a bit more natural friction. They could even sell this as a cheap add on, or just include them in the price 🙂

The jack itself is excellent – flipping the bar up raises the plates off the floor enabling easy loading and unloading. The feet are wide enough to offer excellent stability even when the bar is unevenly loaded. Overall I trust it – which is the most important thing.

Trap bar sleeve is removable via 3x bolts

Detachable sleeves

Many (or even most) trap bars have detachable sleeves. These are bolted on with a few bolts (3 in this case) on each sleeve. This is marketed as a feature to save shipping costs which made me initially apprehensive (should we prioritise a fairly minor shipping saving over function?) BUT I was overreacting – in use you can’t tell the difference vs solid sleeves and therefore I have no issues with it.

I was initially concerned about not having bushings or bearings in the sleeves – they are fixed – but for the static lifts this has not caused me any issues to date. It would however be a nice feature to add if releasing a premium bar. I feel the cost vs benefit would make it not worth adding to this entry level / good value bar.

The sleeves themselves are finished in hard chrome and accept Olympic weights. I’ve had NO issues with scratching or loading these – another excellent example of how important it is getting the contact points right in a product. I think the hard chrome finish is really, really good. better than on some barbells to be honest!

How an open trap bar can improve your training

Let’s get this straight (if you excuse the pun…) – trap bar deadlifts are pretty similar to regular, straight bar deadlifts. Both movements are focused around a ‘hip hinge’.

The biggest differentiator is HOW the load is carried in the body – a conventional deadlift puts more focus on your back muscles and hips while a trap bar deadlift involves more quad muscle and knee hinge.

So while trap bar deadlifts are similar to conventional deadlifts, they also have a very small amount of crossover with squats with their quad and knee activation. The best of both worlds, then? Not quite – a trap bar deadlift is very much a deadlift so you will still need to train your squats if you want to improve them as well.

Feet of the open trap bar are powder coated

The benefits to using a trap bar

There are plenty of positives to switching to a trap bar in place of a regular barbell:

  • Easier to learn – traditional deadlifts can be tricky for some to get right, particularly those with mobility or body awareness issues who can end up with rounded spines. Trap bars all but do away with these issues.
  • Simple grip – with neutral handles there is no need for a mixed grip, which can cause some issues to a small percentage of lifters averse to using lifting straps
  • High and low handles – the option of lifting from a higher starting point is great for those with limited mobility or those who want to emulate block or deficit pulls
  • Different movement patters – barbells are more versatile, but trap bars have their own upside: You can lunge, do heavy carries, use as a cambered bar and all sorts of other more niche movements with a trap bar along with some imagination that simply can’t be done with a straight bar


In the interest of balance here are a few considerations or negatives to using one:

  • Not a competitive lift – if you are a powerlifter or want to do a meet at any point then you will need to be effective at the contested lift – typically a straight bar deadlift.
  • Grip width is fixed – when setting up a conventional straight bar deadlift you can take any width you like on the bar, however with a trap bar the handles are at fixed distances apart. This may take a bit of time to acclimatise to.
  • Limited versatility – a trap bar can be used for less things overall than the ubiquitous straight barbell. If you have space this is not an issue as your an have BOTH bars, but if you can only have one bar then a straight barbell will give you more options (squats, curls, bench pressing, overhead pressing, etc.)


I’m very pleased with the Bulldog open hex bar – the touch points are excellent quality, with the main negative being the powder coat on the frame of the bar. While it will not permanently replace a barbell in my gym it’s an excellent sidekick, adding a ton of diversity to my workouts – particularly in the offseason when I’m a bit burned out from conventional deadlifting all the time.

If you have the space and budget a trap bar is a great fun piece of kit to keep your sessions fresh – give it a whirl, and let us know what YOU think once you’ve got it!

Best bits:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Great price for an open hex bar
  • 60cm grip width is ideal (most are in 60-70cm range)
  • Built in high & low handles with swappable fat (50mm) and regular (30mm) grips
  • Built in deadlift jack is a superb feature


  • A stripe on the handle knurl to denote the centre would be an awesome feature
  • Rubber coating on the feet would be nice
  • Knurling on the centre would be a nice feature
Bulldog Gear Open Hex Bar Review - Score: 4/5

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