It’s an open secret that some manufacturers have not learned: cragging is really hard on backpacks. Lots of packs can carry your load, haul bags can do it without tearing, but even in their smallest size are usually bigger than you need for a day at the rocks and don’t carry well.

The Cinder 40 l. overcomes all of these problems by providing enough room for a day of rock climbing in a water-resistant, virtually untearable 1000D PU-coated nylon, and the tear-shaped design and padded hip-belt give a surprisingly comfortable carry.

The metal hip-belt buckle is a relief to use, if only because it won’t have to be replaced when it breaks after being dropped on the talus. The theme of unbreakability and simplicity continues with the integrated cordlock closer on the pack.

The North Face Cinder Pack

Compartments just get in the way when hauling climbing gear around, so the pack has a single compartment so you can sling in your rack and rope and other gear however you like. This, of course, hearkens back to the haul bag and bucket-pack designs that provide maximum space.

I appreciated, however, the top flap with a single metal buckle closure that keeps your gear drier in the rain than roll-top closures on some bucket-style loaders. Two zipped pockets are all you need for keys, cell phone, guidebook and headlamp. Exterior gear-loops could be used for lashing or clipping on more gear.

The technical advice of Canadian rock climbing star Peter Croft and other The North face athletes shows in this uncompromising design. The Cinder 40 l. is highly recommended for anyone who is looking for rock climbing pack that will carry well and last a long time. (MSRP $169)

The North Face Cinder Pack

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