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Buying advice for alpine packs?
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By Cotton
Jun 20, 2011

MP Community -

I'm new to the world of mountaineering and alpine climbing and am trying to determine what type of pack I'll need that will meet both long-term needs and current skill level (as best as possible).

This summer, my tentative schedule is Hilgard Peak and Dutchman in the Madison Range in SW Montana; then Granite Peak and Mt.Cowen in the Beartooth Range; then the Grand.

I'm pretty low-income so I'd like to get a pack that will serve me well as I progress in skill level if possible. I'm willing to pay well for good gear, I just can't afford to buy 2-3 different packs right now.

Currently, I have the following backpacking packs:
Lowe Alpine Airzone 1500
North Face ? 2400
Kelty Shadow 3500

  • I know that alpine packs and backpacking packs differ due to certain features for ice/snow tools but know little beyond that.

Any buying advice, resources, or pack recommendations would be much appreciated. If you need more info. on my situation, let me know.

Cheers,
Cotton


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By Couloirman
From Providence, RI
Jun 20, 2011
speedriding vail pass

Buy the best at the beginning and you'll only have to buy once (until it wears out of course). Go Cilogear

(No affiliation)

Choose what size pleases you the most. The 45L is awesome and bloats up to 75L if you need.


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By Andrew Martin
From North Jersey
Jun 20, 2011
me

Montana is a great place to be if you are getting into the alpine world! I would check out CiloGear packs. If you are thinking day trips go with a 30L, if you thinking 1-5 days I would look at the 45L. I have the 45L and it is one of my favorite pieces of gear. It has held up very well to a lot of use and abuse in rock/ice/alpine/backpacking.

www.cilogear.com/


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By NC Rock Climber
From The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Jun 20, 2011
tanuki

I have posted this before...


Cold Cold World.

You can do a search here and on Supertopo, and time and time again people sing the praises of Randy (CCW owner / craftsman) and his packs. I have the Chernobyl. It is built to last, the stitching and materials are awesome, and it carries like a dream. I thought that Dana Designs made the best packs ever, and CCW has a very similar level of quality and durability. Let me put this another way; every time I use my CCW pack, I smile. It is that good.

10 years from now you can either be on your second or third "made in Asia" pack, or still be loving your CCW masterpiece. The choice is yours...

CiloGear

I have a CiloGear 30L and like it a lot. CG packs are lighter than CCW, but still durable. CG has a few cool features, but none of the BS that clutters most other brands. There is a ton of great info on their site, and their "propaganda films" on YouTube will show you how the packs are currently being used by alpinists.

CCW vs CG is an apples to oranges comparison in many ways, but both products that are awesome. IMHO, you will not go wrong with either company.

Good luck with your purchase.


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By bearded sam
Jun 20, 2011

would agree, if you are buying one pack to do everything www.cilogear.com/45lws.html

read through all this for the details
wiki.cilogear.biz/index.php?title=Main_Page

I own the 30 and the 45 and use them both a ton, and am going to sell my Arcteryx Bora to buy a Cilo 75 for my big pack. I would be glad to answer any other questions you might have. Feel free to send an email to strikersam at juno dot com


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By paintrain
Jun 20, 2011
Chuck Norris can Divide by Zero

www.ospreypacks.com/Packs/MutantSeriesLightweightClimbing

This is my favorite of late. Lightweight, versatile, compresses down, enough room for gear and bivy, carries well. Price is right. My only complaint is the older school ice tool attachments don't work well with my newer school leashless tools (no hammer or adze). That doesn't sound like an issue for you.

The video gives you a good idea of what it can do.

PT


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By Jesse Davidson
From san diego, ca
Jun 20, 2011
n cascades <br />

I had a bad experience with my backpack (Osprey exposure 42) where the suspension system would interfere with my helmet and make it hard to look up if I was bent over. Check fit with a helmet on.


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By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Jun 20, 2011

I'm a fan of Black Diamond packs.
Light, heavy duty, and built well.


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By Owen Darrow
From Garmisch,
Jun 20, 2011
Nice view

I have a Cilo 60Liter and can compress it down to a summit pack but also make it hold 60 Liters. Extremely good pack and built for alpine climbing.


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By harpo-the-climber
Jun 20, 2011

bearded sam wrote:
would agree, if you are buying one pack to do everything www.cilogear.com/45lws.html read through all this for the details wiki.cilogear.biz/index.php?title=Main_Page I own the 30 and the 45 and use them both a ton, and am going to sell my Arcteryx Bora to buy a Cilo 75 for my big pack. I would be glad to answer any other questions you might have. Feel free to send an email to strikersam at juno dot com



BS, have you seen any reviews of the Cilo 75? I have seen reviews of the smaller packs but not the 75. I am particularly interested in how they beefed up the suspension from the smaller packs and how comfortable it is for big loads.


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By Alan Nagel
Jun 20, 2011
On Cube Point, Tetons

Steve Williams wrote:
I'm a fan of Black Diamond packs. Light, heavy duty, and built well.

Agreed. Love my Speed and am happy with the Quantum.


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By Graham Johnson
Jun 20, 2011

Extreme Alpinism (Mark Twight) has some good general advice on what to look for when buying a pack for alpine climbing. The models he lists are out of date, but the advice on what to look for is still relevant.
While Cilogear ticks a lot of boxes for features, I've had multiple bad experiences with the packs themselves. I've had good experiences with Arcteryx, BD, Gregory, MEC and I'm looking forward to a new CCW pack.

some things to look for: removable bivy pad, removable frame, ability to strap crampons to the outside, a good way to carry two tools. Rope strap under the lid, pocket for a hydration bladder and a port, nice high collar around the opening, removable lid, overall weight, compressability if you're going to be actually climbing with it... etc.

hope that helps


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By Climbnh
From Co Springs, CO
Jun 20, 2011

I've had a cold cold world (CCW) Valdez 2400cu. in. for about thirteen years and the thing still has a lot of life even though it has completely faded from purple to blue. My favorite pack ever

Also the Wild things Andinista pack has served me great from the White Mountains in NH, Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Rainier, and the Tetons. It goes from 3000 cu. in. to 5500cu. in. The only down side is the tube sleeves for the ice axes are kind of a hassle with the more radically shaped ice axes. I bought my pack over ten years ago and I'm not sure if that has been fixed but its rugged and great in the alpine


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By Dane
Jun 20, 2011
Cham '11

I've used Wild Things, Cilo and CCW.

I would disagree with the apple to oranges comparison on Cilo and CCW.

Big fan of CCW and unlike many who have posted in the past in support of Cilo I have no connection (past buying packs at retail) to any of the manufactures.

Wearing a pack out? I would defy anyone to actually wear out a stock CCW in use. Although I know it is possible. The airlines can do it in two flights. I've seen a few old CCW packs but never seen one that was actually worn out.

Here are a couple of blogs posts that will at least give you some ideas on climbing packs.

coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-climbing-pack.html

coldthistle.blogspot.com/2010/12/climbing-packs.html

Real climbing packs are an acquired taste. Some have no use for them. Some won't use anything but..even when a back packing pack might be a better solution.

I've found that if the pack designer has actually spent some time alpine climbing at a decent level the packs are generally squared away.

Here is another CCW comment:

eveningsends.com/2011/06/review-cold-cold-world-chaos/

more on goggle @

"cold cold world pack review"


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By Jim Amidon
Jun 20, 2011
J TREE

Going cheap on something that is going to be on your back for up to a full day is well not worth even going into.

BD makes an O.K. product.......

NF makes well NF stuff.........

I have a basement with about a dozen or more well used packs......

The one's I'm the happiest with now are Deuter...and Backcountry Access.....

But well it gets personal when it's on your person for so long a day.....

Each one of my packs have been put to the full test.....beaten to a pulp.......

Spend your money how you want........


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Jun 20, 2011
Imaginate

Graham Johnson wrote:
Extreme Alpinism (Mark Twight) has some good general advice on what to look for when buying a pack for alpine climbing. The models he lists are out of date, but the advice on what to look for is still relevant. While Cilogear ticks a lot of boxes for features, I've had multiple bad experiences with the packs themselves. I've had good experiences with Arcteryx, BD, Gregory, MEC and I'm looking forward to a new CCW pack. some things to look for: removable bivy pad, removable frame, ability to strap crampons to the outside, a good way to carry two tools. Rope strap under the lid, pocket for a hydration bladder and a port, nice high collar around the opening, removable lid, overall weight, compressability if you're going to be actually climbing with it... etc. hope that helps


Mountain hardwear makes a great pack with all of these features. I've taken the south col on month long backpack climbing trips loaded with food for weeks, tent, rack and rope etc. It is an awesome pack and not too expensive.


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By Chris Knapp
Jun 21, 2011

That Cilogear 45 sounds pretty awesome, how you can expand it to be bigger. Really that would be a do-it-all pack and all you would need. It kind of sucks shopping for packs because (at least with me) durability and comfort are the two most important factors, and you can't test either of those out very well before you buy it. You find out 10 miles into a trip how comfortable it is, and you find out about durability after a few hundred miles. I got lucky with my overnight pack. It fits me really well and is still comfortable after 15+ miles of hard terrain.


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By divnamite
From New York, NY
Jun 21, 2011

CCW. Just do a search and you hardly see any complains. While other brands make good packs, but most aren't as durable, comfortable or climbable as CCW.


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By harpo-the-climber
Jun 21, 2011

I have Cilo 20,30,45, and 60l packs. I have used them all heavily. A few durability issues: I have ripped they body of the 20l in a chimney, and the 30l from carrying skis. I have ripped out one of the straps that is sewn to the 60l lid and goes to the body of the pack. Most problematically, I ripped out the haul loop of the 30l but not while climbing. Fortunately, I have a seamstress who does good work in exchange for wine and beer so I haven't had to send any of my packs to Cilo.

What I really like about the Cilo is that they work well for climb/hike/ski with all their adjustability. I am testing a Cilo shovel pocket for Graham and had my seamstress make me a pocket that fits shovel handle and probe.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Jun 22, 2011
Buenos Dias!

"Extreme Alpinism (Mark Twight) has some good general advice on what to look for when buying a pack for alpine climbing. The models he lists are out of date, but the advice on what to look for is still relevant.

...some things to look for: removable bivy pad, removable frame, ability to strap crampons to the outside, a good way to carry two tools. Rope strap under the lid, pocket for a hydration bladder and a port, nice high collar around the opening, removable lid, overall weight, compressability if you're going to be actually climbing with it... etc. hope that helps"


This pack will do it.

www.alpinist.com/doc/web05-06/ms-arc-teryx-nozone-pack

www.mountainproject.com/v/fs-arcteryx-nozone-backpack-tall/1>>>

So if you're looking to save money, PM me an offer, I'd rather somebody used it than let it sit in my basement, and I can't be bothered to post it on flea-bay.


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By Kevin Craig
Jun 22, 2011
KC on Fields (medium).  Photo (c) Doug Shepherd

-sp wrote:
"Extreme Alpinism (Mark Twight) has some good general advice on what to look for when buying a pack for alpine climbing. The models he lists are out of date, but the advice on what to look for is still relevant. ...some things to look for: removable bivy pad, removable frame, ability to strap crampons to the outside, a good way to carry two tools. Rope strap under the lid, pocket for a hydration bladder and a port, nice high collar around the opening, removable lid, overall weight, compressability if you're going to be actually climbing with it... etc. hope that helps" This pack will do it. www.alpinist.com/doc/web05-06/ms-arc-teryx-nozone-pack www.mountainproject.com/v/fs-arcteryx-nozone-backpack-tall/1>>> So if you're looking to save money, PM me an offer, I'd rather somebody used it than let it sit in my basement, and I can't be bothered to post it on flea-bay.


I climbed with the Nozone for several years, as have friends. Pretty sure they don't make it anymore and honestly, though it could carry huge loads well, it's a pretty dated and heavy design given the offerings from Cilo, CCW, Osprey (I currently use the Variant series) and others.

Honestly though as others have said, it's mainly what fits you best and has the features that you want/need.


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By Graham Johnson
Jun 22, 2011

I honestly don't see how a pack can be AMAZING (I'm not taking the piss out of you, sawyer). A good pack should simply be an afterthought when you're climbing with it. A good alpine pack should do what it needs to do well, and you don't have to worry about it at all. The last pack that I had that did this was an Arcteryx Khamsin 52 (and then a string of Cilogears that didn't do this). You shouldn't be amazed that a pack does what it's supposed to do.


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By Jon H
From Boulder
Jun 22, 2011
At the matching crux

Graham Johnson wrote:
You shouldn't be amazed that a pack does what it's supposed to do.


Quoted for truth


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By Ralph Kolva
From Evergreen, CO
Jun 22, 2011

Graham Johnson wrote:
I honestly don't see how a pack can be AMAZING (I'm not taking the piss out of you, sawyer). A good pack should simply be an afterthought when you're climbing with it. A good alpine pack should do what it needs to do well, and you don't have to worry about it at all. The last pack that I had that did this was an Arcteryx Khamsin 52 (and then a string of Cilogears that didn't do this). You shouldn't be amazed that a pack does what it's supposed to do.



Still using a Khamsin 38 I picked up in Squamish (or Vancouver, not sure) for around $50 (much better exchange rate then), great packs, simple, comfortable, and hold up well. Have an Osprey Variant 52 that's going back to REI; can't recommend it, fragile buckles, doesn't fit as well as other packs, and a bit heavy for what I need.


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By Dane
Jun 22, 2011
Cham '11

Ha, ha, lovely sentiment. Gear you never notice?...because it actually works for the intended purpose and stays in one piece.
Novel idea :-)

Best packs I have used are actually pretty boring that way.


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By Cotton
Jun 23, 2011

Great advice all around. Lots to consider obviously. Like I said, I'll pay for good gear, just want to make sure it's legit and going to do it's job (as Graham pointed out).

I'd rather support local business if possible and ProLite gear here in Bozeman is having a sale tomorrow and Saturday.

Here's the link to what they have in stock: www.prolitegear.com/site/search_engine?mv_session_id=njbLQbz>>>

They don't carry some of the brands you all mentioned (i.e CiLo and CCW) that seem to be good products. The GoLite Terrono 70L does compress down and has a lot of alpine climbing features. Here's a link to it: www.prolitegear.com/go-lite-mens-terrono-75l.html

If you get time and have a look at either link, I'd appreciate thoughts. Otherwise, the advice given thus far is plenty adequate and I look forward to using my pack this season!
Cheers,
Cotton


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