Whether you’re roadside cragging or in the backcountry alpine, having the right pack can make your climbing day much more efficient and enjoyable. Here are some of this season’s top packs for almost any kind of climbing.
MEC AlpineLite 35
The rugged AlpineLite 35 can haul heavy loads to the base of a route and then stripped down to an 890 g summit pack. While some of these weight savings come from removing the lid, back panel and waist belt, MEC also uses some other innovative ways to save weight. The most obvious is the elimination of padding in the lower portion of the shoulder straps. This removes weight and bulk where it’s not needed without compromising comfort. MEC uses a high-tenacity nylon for the body and a double-layer bottom for extra abrasion and tear resistance. This is great pack for any climber on a budget.
Gregory Alpinisto 50
The Alpinisto 50′s added volume makes this a great pack when extra gear is required. The sophisticated suspension system does a great job carrying heavy loads and can also be quickly stripped down for the summit push. The pack features Gregory’s impeccable construction as well as solid materials will help the Alpinisto 50 survive numerous missions. Other noteworthy details include a simple and effective tool attachment system, access-adding side zipper and large external crampon pocket. Climbers looking for a comfortable and well-made alpine or cragging pack will appreciate Alpinisto 50.
The North Face Casimir 36
The lightweight Casimir 36 offers an excellent fit for most climbers thanks to its highly adjustable suspension. As a result, this pack is also surprisingly comfortable when lugging big trad racks to the base of a route. Three stretch-fabric pockets on the pack body as well as two zippered pockets on the hip belt and a lid pocket provide plenty of organization for water bottles, energy bars and other climbing necessities. For greater comfort during warm weather approaches, The North Face uses perforated foam in the shoulder straps and hip belt. Climbers looking for a great fitting and comfortable cragging pack will like the Casimir 36.
Deuter Guide 35+
The Guide 35+ is a great example of the well-built and functional packs coming from Deuter. Unlike some packs that emphasize low weight (often at the cost of durability), the Guide 35+ uses a few additional grams of material to create a remarkably robust pack. Carrying comfort is enhanced by a sophisticated multi-unit frame, pivoting hip-belt and plushly padded back and shoulder straps. Climbers looking for a durable do-it-all pack will be impressed by the Guide 35+.
Black Diamond Mission
The Mission 50 offers extra volume for big racks or extended backcountry missions. While it has features typical for its class, (hydration pocket, expandability, ice tool compatibility, etc.), what sets it apart are a number of small details that contribute to its exceptional performance. Three examples: a massive lid pocket that offers plenty of accessible storage for gloves, hats, energy bars and guidebooks, a padded bottom panel that prevents gear from punching holes in the fabric when dumping the pack on rocky terrain and finally, a shape that simplifies packing or accessing gear. These seemingly minor features boost the pack’s functionality. But even with all these tweaks, a pack’s primary purpose is to efficiently carry climbing gear. Thankfully, the reACTIV XP suspension with fixed shoulder straps does an excellent job of handling typical climbing loads. Climbers seeking slightly greater volume in a versatile and well-made pack for cragging, ice or alpine should look no further.
Arc’teryx Miura 45
The updated Miura 45 is an exceptional cragging pack. The unique padded panel construction provides structure, improves carrying efficiency and helps prevent hardware from punching holes in the pack. The full-length zipper opening allows access to gear and simplifies packing. An unexpected bonus of the pack’s unique shape is that the Miura 45 also works as a travel bag – perfect for trips involving air travel. A minor quibble is that the pack needs to sit on the back panel for access, which in some circumstances might result in a wet or muddy back. A great pack for sport or trad cragging.
Mountain Hardwear SummitRocket 40
Built to meet the needs of super-alpinist Ueli Steck, the SummitRocket 40 is an excellent choice for any climber. Using creative fabric and fitting choices, the pack comes in at low weight for its volume without unnecessarily compromising durability and carrying comfort. For the final summit push, the pack can be further stripped down by removing the frame sheet and hip belt and using the compression system. Climbers moving fast in the mountains will love this pack.
Osprey Variant 37
The Variant 37 is packed with features that make it a great choice for a variety of climbing adventures. Ice and alpine climbers will appreciate the adjustable tool holders, crampon pocket, glove-friendly buckles and option of stripping the hip belt for reduced weight. Summer craggers, on the other hand, will value the comfortable suspension system and multiple pockets. Other nice touches include a three-point haul system and a tuck-away hip belt to eliminate snags during hauling. This is a great pack for an all-round climber.