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Cragging Packs

Very few backpacks are subjected to the regular use and abuse seen by the humble cragging pack. Climbers deploy the these small-to-midsize workhorses almost every weekend expecting them to be durable and carry heavy loads without compromising comfort or carrying efficiency - a challenging job description for any pack.

Gear haulers for everyday climbing.

Very few backpacks are subjected to the regular use and abuse seen by the humble cragging pack. Climbers deploy the these small-to-midsize workhorses almost every weekend expecting them to be durable and carry heavy loads without compromising comfort or carrying efficiency – a challenging job description for any pack. Thankfully, pack manufacturers understand these conflicting performance requirements and offer a variety of functional crag packs. These versatile load-haulers satisfy needs of most climbers without the complex suspension systems of oversized expedition packs or the expensive textiles found in ultralight alpine packs.

While some specialized climbing situation may require larger or smaller packs, most crag pack should be between 30 and 40 litres. This volume provides plenty of room for large trad racks without being too big for more minimalist sportclimbing gear. Climbers travelling with six pairs of shoes, a five-course lunch and enough clothing for multiple wardrobe changes should consider packs at the upper-end of the volume spectrum.

Suspension System
For short approaches with small loads, consider a pack with a supportive but unobtrusive suspension. Heavier racks demand a more substantial carrying system but the pack should never be so cumbersome that it prevents the movement necessary for technical climbing approaches.

While lightweight packs are desirable for alpine climbing or during go-light-and-go-fast climbs, they may not withstand the abuse of regular cragging. A more durable all-around pack will better serve most climbers.

50 Caliber – $170
Black Diamond

With its mid-size haulbag shape, it’s not surprising that the 50 Caliber offers easy loading and plenty of space. But unlike conventional haulbags, its plushly-padded suspension system and semi-rigid back panel make transporting gear to base of crag significantly more comfortable. Other non-haulbag conveniences include hydration-system compatibility, a floating top lid for accommodating oversized loads and a tuck-away rope tarp.

Black Mamba $97

The Black Mamba is one of the finest sport-cragging packs available. A beefy zipper offers instant access to the main compartment and two low-profile side pockets help organize smaller items like wallets and keys. Onsight ensures carrying comfort by using a semi-rigid back panel that transfers the load to the hipbelt and protects the back from metal climbing gear. The pack’s unique duffel bag shape, external grab handles and tuck-away shoulder straps make the Black Mamba the perfect travel/crag pack. With its versatile shape, beefy fabrics and exceptional construction, the Black Mamba is a top choice for cragging or travelling.

Sentinal $165

Built like a mini-haulbag, the Sentinal trades multi-pocket organization and convenience for scree- shrugging durability – this is a tough pack. The streamlined sack shape simplifies packing and prevents hang-ups during hauling while the removable harness does an adequate job of carrying loads. Metolius includes a single pocket in the top flap for storage for small essentials while unbreakable aluminum buckles ensure a secure closure. Climbers in multi pitch areas like Squamish or anyone seeking an almost indestructible pack should look no further.

Mutant $180

Climbers wanting a cragging and alpine climbing pack will love the Mutant. Built with enough volume for a full day at the local cliff, the Mutant’s sleek shape and comfortable suspension systems make it ideal for more committing alpine climbs. Osprey uses a smart combination of strong lightweight fabrics with abrasion resistant overlays ensuring excellent durability with minimal weight. Other climbing-specific features include built-in haul loops, hip-belt gear-loops and a bivy pad in the back panel. While these elements may not matter to climbers content with car-side cragging, anyone thinking of climbing longer routes in the backcountry should consider Mutant.

Crag Attack $110

This versatile top loading cragging pack is ideal for hauling loads to the local cliff or tackling bigger challenges in the backcountry. The clean exterior minimizes unnecessary weight and prevents hang-ups when hauling on longer routes. The 40mm wide web-hipbelt provides load carrying stability but won’t impede technical climbing like some bulkier belts. Durable materials, clean construction and carrying comfort make the Crag Attack a smart choice for many climbing situations.

Neon Gear $160

The Neon Gera does not pretend to be an alpine pack and as such, it’s free to embrace cragging-features that would be considered superfluous on other climbing packs. Rather than using a front-side zipper which puts the back panel and shoulder straps in the dirt when accessing the pack, the Neon Gear employs a zippered back to access to the pack’s contents. An integrated rope tarp keeps the rope clean ready for deployment while two lid pockets secure small essentials. Mammut improves internal organization with the addition of a large mesh pocket, internal gear loop and chalk bag pocket. While perhaps too specialized for backcountry climbing, the Neon Gear is a top choice for sport cragging, gym climbing and easy-access single pitch trad routes.

Dihedral $190
Mountain Hardware

This burly top-loading crag pack delivers exceptional durability in a variety of climbing situations without adding unnecessary weight and complex features. A sleek exterior prevents hang-ups when hauling on longer routes or bushwhacking to backcountry crags while the padded hipbelt and semi-rigid backpanel add comfort during long approaches. The innovative compression straps lock down loads and tuck away creating a clean profile. When the weather-window improves and the summit looks within reach, climbers can remove the hipbelt, back panel and top pocket for a light-and-fast summit pack.

Sack $130

Reviewed earlier this year in Gripped, the Pusher sack impressed everyone by successfully combining the performance of a crag pack, rope bag and a minimalist crash pad into one product. Now, with a few more months of use, the Sack continues to draw fans. This lightly padded bag rolls up like a burritio providing plenty of carrying capacity for a day of cragging; rope, shoes, draws, rack, water, food and extra clothing all fit easily into the Sack. At the cliff, climbers can deploy this innovative pack as a rope bucket, a rope tarp or even as a thin crash pad for extra protection during insecure route starts. Perhaps the Sack’s biggest benefit is that it offers a comfortable lounging spot for resting between redpoint attempts – very useful. Two lid flap pockets keep small items organized and unbreakable metal hardware ensures the Sack will last. This is a great pack.

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