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Gregory Alpinisto 35 VS. Osprey Variant 37
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Dec 10, 2012
I am looking for an alpine and ice climbing 1-2 day pack for use here in Alaska and have pretty much narrowed it down to these two packs. They are both about the same size, price, and have many same features.

Both hold ice tools, crampons, removable waist belt and internal supports, H2O bladder compatable. Side ski holder straps, waist gear loops. etc.

Things I like about the Osprey better are:
Wand pocket on the side for snow picks, probe, shovel handle, etc.
3 clips attach the top lid on the top/back side, more secure?
Larger crampon outside pouch which may also fit a shovel blade

Things I like about the Gregory better are:
I really like the idea of a side entry zipper to axcess stuff at the bottom of the pack quick without going through the top of the pack.
I like the yellow
One buckle to the top lid may make access quicker?

I am not sure which axe attachment carry system will be better.
I know both are good companies and I have a larger Gregory for longer trips I quite like. Both are about the same price $179-199.

Any one have any comments on either design, experience with the companies, duribility, features, buckles, warantee, etc. or just general opinions.

FYI: Either pack I get will be on the smaller size range becaues I will be buyig a small or medium sized pack to fit me best. Probably the small.

I may be open to other packs if they have similar fetures and price range but of all the ones I have looked at I seem to like these two the best.

Thanks for any advice.
From Anchorage, Alaska
Joined May 31, 2012
50 points
Dec 10, 2012
Have you looked at Cold Cold World or Cilogear? Stephan Doyle
Joined Jan 5, 2012
0 points
Dec 10, 2012
FWIW, I really hate packs with attached top pockets. Free floating pockets allow you to over fill the pack allowing for more space in the same size pack when you need to carry a lot. climber pat
From Las Cruces, NM
Joined Feb 5, 2006
161 points
Dec 10, 2012
I own the variant 52, although a larger bag they are virtually the same. Some observations, the bag is heavy at least in my opinion, you can find much lighter bags for a little more $$. It is rather easy to strip down, but a real PITA to put the frame back in. Man I wish I had a side zipper, they really are nice in many situations. And although the top pocket is held on very well. If you ever wnat to remove and replace in the field remember - The top pocket is held on very well.

All that aside I have grown to really enjoy my variant bag, it is very sturdy, does well with different sized loads, and has become a great all around bag for me. And I learned what to look for in my next bag.

Hope this gives some insight.
From Portland
Joined Jul 31, 2012
14 points
Dec 10, 2012
I have the Osprey and I love it. I wish it had a side access zipper but that's the ONLY thing I can think that I'd add or change about it. It does have a floating/removable hood pocket, as well as a removable frame and hipbelt if you want to strip it down for weight.

I've never dealt with Gregory's customer service but I know Osprey's is great. I destroyed my first pack in a fall (snow pickets fit great in those want pockets but if you hit them hard enough they'll go through the bottom of your pack...) and Osprey sent me a new one no problems.
Nick Venechuk
From Golden, CO
Joined Sep 23, 2008
64 points
Dec 10, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock wars, Red River Gorge
Edit: Update below, in later post.

I have had the variant 37 for 3ish years now. Use it for pretty much everything imaginable as my cragging, alpine, ice, and travel pack.

What I love:
It does everything, and does it pretty damn well.
Front pocket is pretty beefy and can stand up to sharp crampons nicely.
Very expandable and compressible. Like surprisingly so. You get a LOT of extra strap room to fill the sleeve and move up the brain. And it carries huge and heavy loads surprisingly well.

What I don't love:
It's complicated. This is the tradeoff you make here. All the extra straps and buckles and things that make it so versatile also make it a bit slow to use.
Obviously a top-loader only. I don't really care that much about this, but others might.
Slightly heavy for an alpine pack, but it really doesn't really matter much to me.
Strap durability (see below).

Full wear and tear report:
1) When I first bought it, the bottom developed 2 huge holes in a few weeks out. Replaced at REI. I haven't had a bit of problems since with the bottom(and I tend to beat the shit out of my things), so I suspect just a bad batch or really bad luck. No clue.
2) The inner waterproof lining has been peeling off, and is pretty much gone around the top sleeve. Not a big deal for me. Still plenty water resistant where it counts.
3) I broke the waist buckle once by stepping on it weirdly. Asked for a new buckle, and they sent me a kit with new replacement buckles for the whole pack (not just the waist).
3) A few months ago, the brain zipper broke. I e-mailed osprey, and 2 days later I had a brand new brain on my doorstep, no charge.
4) The two side compression straps are severely frayed. So much so that they can barely be called straps any more, and are just a loose collection of thread. This might be the death knell on my pack, and a bit of a surprising one. I might send it back to Osprey and see if they can do something about it.

Sizing: Size up from what you think. I initially bought a small (5'7", 145ish lbs if that helps), but it was WAY too small. Medium was perfect.

Bottom line: when this thing officially dies on me, there is a good chance I am going to replace it with the same one, or else its slightly less complicated cousin, the mutant.
Joined Aug 9, 2010
86 points
Dec 10, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
id reccomend the mutant 38 over the variant 37. superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Joined Aug 23, 2011
31 points
Dec 10, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: How I Send
I would say neither. Both are complicated and "feature-rich," two things you don't need in the alpine. Their features make them versatile, but add unnecessary weight. I would go with what carries the best and the most, striving for the lightest stripped pack weight.

Cilogear has a simplistic approach and is well loved by every "pro" climber that uses them. BUT they can get over complex the more straps you add to their packs...

Wild Things and Cold Cold World also have a strong following, but lack in the suspension department, which can make long approaches with heavy loads tiresome for you back and shoulders.

Of the new packs I have tried, the Arc'teryx NoZone line has impressed me a great deal. Simple, Light and Durable. Removable suspensions - that actually can be removed. Stripped down and clean, but carry large loads and do it well. Good Luck in your search, hopefully we are being helpful, which sometimes these threads wander a bit from the original point.
Tits McGee
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 23, 2008
300 points
Dec 10, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Middle
I had a Variant and got rid of it. Too heavy and too complicated. My buddy has had one for 5 years and uses it for everything (he loves it). Osprey's CS is probably the best in the industry, I like other packs better though. If you like the pack it will serve you fine. Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Joined Jul 23, 2010
155 points
Dec 10, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: On the Grand.
I have the Alpinisto 50, and I love it! I hopped on these packs as soon as they came out, and I don't regret it.

It is lighter and supposedly carries more weight comfortably than the Variant. That's rather subjective though. It also includes more features than the Variant such as the removable bivy pad and built-in and functional crampon pouch. My biggest criticism of my Alpinisto is the tool carry system. I prefer to have my sharp and pointy objects covered up, but it's not uncommon for mountaineering packs to leave tool picks exposed now.

However, fit means a lot, so go with whichever one fits you the best. The Variant is nice, and I know a lot of people with them who like them. However, Gregory's have always fit me the best, so I nabbed it.

Tony T.
From Denver, CO
Joined Jul 29, 2009
71 points
Dec 10, 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: somewhere on Mt. Stuart
I demo'ed both (50L and 52L versions) - ultimately went with the Gregory. Both packs very similar and carry really well - very alpine specific - strip down well and provide good helmet clearance. Gregory fit me slightly better though, so went with it. What I really didn't like on the Variant was the front shovel flap / crampon pouch. It's nice for shovel blade, but sloppy and overbuilt for crampons. Also don't like that the shovel/crampon pouch is secured with a side compression strap.

In the 35 - 40L range, I'd take a look at the Cold Cold World Valdez. Damn near perfect for it's size and application. I would have gone with the CCW Chaos for my 50L bag, but it's hipbelt is fixed.

Alpinisto nitpick notes:
- ice tools can't be removed without releasing the top compression strap. remedied easily with scissors and shock cord.
- hip-belt removal a little cumbersome compared to other packs..
- 'bivy' pad is a joke. only there for marketing purpose. might be useful as a stove pad.
- top lid, rear compression straps are ridiculously long - need a trim
- lower compression strap buckles are tough to access with ice tools attached.
- neo tool attachments are nice and burly (compared to other manufacturer implementations), but tough to thread through traditional tools with a lease attached to the axe head hole.
- frame sheet is really tight. nice as it doesn't move around at all (no squeaks, no rubbing), but difficult to remove and put back in.
From Tuxedo, NY
Joined Jan 5, 2012
27 points
Dec 11, 2012
Thanks for all the info. I did a bit more research into the bags and came across one comment that said the smaller Alpinisto 35 back support and bivy pad are not removagle on that model which would be a small bumber if that is true. This is a newer pack but still hoping to hear more on it I hope.

I think I am mostly going to use it for day ice climbs, trecks, climbs, and if I am lucky I will get out and bag a couple peaks this winter. Nothing major, I am still kind of a winter climbing novice. Maybe at the local rock crags in summer but I do have another bag for that.

So I am mostly looking for something that I can stuff to the max and carry the weight well. Rope, Quark tools, screws, pitons, draws etc, helmet, food, cloths, water, head lamp, for day use and approches trips.

I looked at CCW, Cilgoear, on line but they did not appear to have as well built suspension on them so I was leaning tward the Gregory and Ospery. I looked at all the other big names, (marmot, mammut, mt. hardware, BD, etc.) and still liked these two. Arcteryx looked nice but too much $ for my limited climbing time/use.
From Anchorage, Alaska
Joined May 31, 2012
50 points
Dec 11, 2012
Shoo "Sizing: Size up from what you think. I initially bought a small (5'7", 145ish lbs if that helps), but it was WAY too small. Medium was perfect. "

Thanks for the sizing info. I am same size! and found a good price on the 52L bag in a medium so I might have to consider that one also.

I still need to look into sizing to see how the Gregory small compairs size wise to the Osprey bags. I also need to take a trip to REI next week to use their pack sizer and get some hands on with these bags and see what is what with these.

Also considering the Mutant 38.

Keep the info coming, very helpflul. Thanks.
From Anchorage, Alaska
Joined May 31, 2012
50 points
Dec 11, 2012
I have the Gregory and love it. In the last few months, I spent 6 weeks with it in Nepal and Sikkim and have taken it rock climbing in Colorado and Utah, plus long alpine ice routes in Colorado. It is so damned comfortable, especially on those long days with heavy loads (and trad gear is heavy). I think all the hype about pack weight and simplicity of climbing packs misses the point: if your back, shoulders and hips are trashed from the approach, your climbing suffers.
And the yellow pack looks amazing in pics....I am always amazed by gear companies that don't think of the importance of color for pics.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sikkim
Joined Nov 11, 2010
31 points
May 15, 2014
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock wars, Red River Gorge
See original post higher up

Figure I would give a long run update on the status of my Variant 37. Bottom line: I bought the exact same pack to replace the dead one.

A few months after writing the above, my pack bit the dust for good. The fraying straps were, indeed, the thing that finally called it in. Both side compression straps disintegrated, making the pack very inconvenient. Replacing the sewn-in straps would have been a pretty difficult job, and in the state it was in, who knows what was next. Everything else (except the inner lining) seemed in pretty good shape, but an old abused pack is an old abused pack.

3 years of abuse as my primary pack for all things (dedicated weekend warrior rock and ice), travel, everything, makes it my most used/abused pack. The straps disintegrating was disappointing, as this the last thing I would have expected to die a priori. Had they not broken, I almost certainly would have used it until the next critical piece failed, even in its state. All of the other issues (brain zipper, buckles, lining) were either me doing something stupid or were not likely to be preventable in a pack at a comparable price point.

While some may interpret the above "this pack isn't very durable," I do not. I personally think the pack held up like a champ through its life. Importantly, I used that pack until its last reasonable day of usability. I didn't sell it, or buy a new one because I wanted a different pack. Never even considered it.

After the pack finally died, I was back on the market for a new one. I searched for quite a while for a pack that meets similar requirements. In the end, I came up with the following. Yes, there are all-around nicer packs out there. They probably do everything just as well, maybe a touch better, and may last a bit longer, with minimal tradeoffs. Side note: I have a preference for versatility over lightweight, as I can only really afford one do-it-all pack at a time.

However, there are two problems with every single one of those packs, as far as I am concerned. 1) Money. The Variant is $180 retail (so you should be paying $145 or less), making it the cheapest pack that fit my requirements out there. 2) I know exactly how to best deal with all the little issues in my pack. I know what might break, and I know how long it will last. I know that Osprey is timely and generous when it comes to replacement parts. I don't want to spend more money on a pack I know less about. That matters less for someone who hasn't owned one previously, but it was a factor in my decision.

So I ended up buying the exact same one as soon as it went on sale.
Joined Aug 9, 2010
86 points
May 15, 2014
You confess to being new to winter and alpine climbing, and you say suspension is important to you. This is a common ask among folks who are new.

When I started out, I wanted feature-rich packs with good suspension, since it made sense to me at home and in the store when I was fiddling with packs and imagining what I wanted when I was out in the field.

As I became more experienced, I found myself wanting simpler and simpler designs, caring a lot less about "suspension" since the weight I could squeeze into a mid-30L pack wasn't very big anyway, and realized that these packs with flimsier suspensions felt better to my back while I was actually climbing even if it meant they weren't as plush for all the times I wasn't climbing.

My rambling point here is that you should get what you want now, just recognize that what it is you want now may be quite different from what the future version of yourself (one who has had the opportunity to get out on a lot of fun adventures in the mountains, hopefully) wants. The voices pointing you in the directions of the purpose-built packs (like Cold Cold World, Wild Things, and Cilogear - I own one from each manufacturer and love them) are the voices of experience. You may find, as the old adage goes, if you don't buy nice, you may end up buying twice.
Joined Jan 30, 2013
150 points
May 15, 2014
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock wars, Red River Gorge
Jared, that dude posted in 2012. I think he has a pack now. I was just updating my post to give some (slightly) longer term updates on mine. shoo
Joined Aug 9, 2010
86 points
May 15, 2014
... and I'm that guy.... jaredj
Joined Jan 30, 2013
150 points

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