mountaineering pack recommendation


Original Post
neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20

I currently own an Osprey Atmos 65. Its more of a backpacking pack rather than a climbing/mountaineering pack...but it does work.

I am considering getting a pack that would be used for 3-5 day trips like a Whitney in winter, Rainier, Baker, etc. I was thinking in the 75-85 liter range.

The Atmos works but the hip belt tends to get in the way of the harness a bit and I realize it is not exactly a climbing pack. But I don't want to purchase something I will likely use only 2-4 times per year. But I don't want the lack of a proper pack to impact my experience negatively.

I was looking at the BD Mission 75, Mountain Hardwear South Col 70, Gregory Denali 75, Gregory Baltoro 75, and Berghaus 80 expedition lite.

Can anyone comment on using the Atmos 65 or similar for 3-5 day trips as well as good packs for the types of trips I am considering?

In the past I had a Cold Cold World Chaos I used for winter overnights in the ADK and NH but I sold it as I was not that into more technical climbing at that time. I am kind of sorry I did now.

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20
Dave Schultz wrote:I think you should be looking more at the 35-45 liter size (maybe 50 liter). Carrying a big pack sucks. Biggest I used in the PNW for many, many multi-day routes (all year, with and without skis) was 33 liters (once) and normally only 28 liters. Depending on HOW technical, almost any of the packs from Arcteryx, BD, Mammut, etc that are geared towards climbing will fit your bill. I personally have an Axis 33 and a Trion Light 28, both carry skis exceptionally well. I also have an Arcteryx Alpha 30 and 45, but have not used them in the PNW; they do not carry skis well, but for anything without skis, they have been awesome.
this is for 3-5 night overnight trips? wow. I have a BD I-tent, a 0 degree montbell down bag, etc. I just couldn't see fitting all my gear, food, etc in a 35 liter pack. I have an Osprey Kestrel 45 as well and I just can't see it. Obviously you have made it work...just not sure what your kit is.
FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Dave Schultz wrote:I think you should be looking more at the 35-45 liter size (maybe 50 liter). Carrying a big pack sucks. Biggest I used in the PNW for many, many multi-day routes (all year, with and without skis) was 33 liters (once) and normally only 28 liters. Depending on HOW technical, almost any of the packs from Arcteryx, BD, Mammut, etc that are geared towards climbing will fit your bill. I personally have an Axis 33 and a Trion Light 28, both carry skis exceptionally well. I also have an Arcteryx Alpha 30 and 45, but have not used them in the PNW; they do not carry skis well, but for anything without skis, they have been awesome.
I can't imagine a 35-45 liter pack being large enough for backpacking and climbing gear for a 3-5 day trip. Or even an overnight trip. And I consider myself fairly good at packing.
Ty Falk · · Park City, UT · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 270

I have no problem doing a 3 day climbing trip with my cilo gear 45 without the brain.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162

I don't pack quite as efficiently as Dave, but I agree that 75 liters is huge. Not only is a 75 liter pack big and awkward, it encourages you to pack 75 liters of stuff, which is WAY too much.

I have an MEC Alpinelite 50 and it is very appropriate for 2-3 day objectives with technical climbing; I'd recommend 40-50L for anyone doing similar climbs. A 30 liter pack is plenty for an overnight that doesn't require as much gear.

Of course, a long winter trip has different requirements than a typical spring/summer climb in the PNW.

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20

why do you think a lot of places like AAI, etc recommend 70+ liter packs for their 3-5 day trips/classes? Is that because most of the people may not know how to pack and they want to leave leeway for folks to pack inefficiently or have latitude to pack as they choose safely to a degree?

DEF · · Boston, MA · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 55

I also have an Atmos 65, which I find comfortable but would never want to climb with it on me. I also have a bad habit of packing too much stuff. I think the biggest problem with the atmos 65 is the sheer number of pockets - there are so many, they add bulk and when you actually use them you can manage to just lose stuff inside your pack. I would think a simpler smaller pack like a 50 without all the bells and whistles would be easier to pack and organize.

Dave Schultz - I have to ask - how did you manage to do a one night two day trip with the speed 22? I can barely get my rack and rope to the crag in that thing.

Dan2000 · · Richmond, Virginia · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I just climbed Rainier last month with a guided group (2 nights/3 days) using my Osprey Aether 60. I thought the size was just about perfect--could've gone a little smaller even if I had packed less food. If I had to pack more group gear or my own tent, etc., on a non-guided climb, probably would've been right about at the pack's limit. A 65 liter ought to be fine.

Tico · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 0
Dave Schultz wrote:Okay: Baker, C-D (original objective was Coleman Headwall, thus had a large ice rack), September 2012, 1 night/2 days, first mountaineering objective in PNW - 33 Axis Rainier, Gib Ledges, December/Jan 2012/2013, 2 nights/3 days - Axis 33 (with skis) Hood, NF Right Gully, March 2013, 1 night/2 days - Speed 22 (with skis) Rainier, Liberty Ridge, April 2014, 58 hours/only slept once, first party on the route for the season - Trion Light 28 (with skis) Stuart, NW Buttress, May 2014, 2 nights/3 days, full winter/mixed conditions - Trion Light 28 Sahale-Buckner-TFT, 3 nights/4 days, July 2014, first party on the route for the season - Trion Light 28 (with skis, cached skis at Forbidden Exit Couloir, climbed TFT in ski boots with rock shoes as insurance [never used, except on WR of Forbidden]) Nooksack Tower-Price Glacier-Shuksan, 4 nights/5 days, August 2014, only party on Nooksack and Price in 2014, full rock and ice rack - Trion Light 28 It is possible, pack smartly ... The biggest pack that I own is an Arcteryx Silo 45 and I would never consider using it on any mountaineering objectives. I also have the Alpha FL 45, but would not use that with skis; this might be the best pack for what you are considering, unless you want to carry skis.
There were multiple people on the price in '14, and I did the TFT in june that year. the rangers don't give a fuck, dude.
And you're not mentioning what your partner carried. Although in general I agree with you, 5 days in a 45l is standard for the Cascade (everything but helmet inside).
sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

Four days on Rainier with a 42 liter pack was perfect.

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20

why do you think on a guided climb the suggestion is 65-70+ like this:

https://www.rmiguides.com/mt-rainier/4-day-summit-climb/equipment

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 958

Dave is spot on, downsize!

I do a 7-8 day trips into the Winds with a 50L:

-Personal climbing gear (harness, shoes, lid, chalk bag, belay device)
-Personal stuff (toiletries, coffee mug, bowl, spoon, 1st aid kit, one xtra pair socks, one extra shirt)
-Puffy jacket, shell, mid-layer fleece, hat, gloves
-Climbing pack (18l)
-Approach shoes
-Food (plan, plan, plan)
-Rack to 3
-70m rope
-sleeping bag, pad, 1/2 tent
-Folding camp chair (2 extra pounds, sooooo worth it)

Partner carries stove, water filter, 2nd set of cams to 4, slings, since I have the rope.

50l

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162
neils wrote:why do you think on a guided climb the suggestion is 65-70+ like this: rmiguides.com/mt-rainier/4-...
I haven't done a guided trip, so I can't say for sure. However, I assume it's because they have to bring up gumbies with way too much stuff and non-ultralight stuff.

That RMI recommendation is even more ridiculous when you consider that they stay in the hut, so you don't need a tent or sleeping pad!

Note that all the people giving you 40-50L pack recommendations are speaking from experience. I've done that at least 5 times this season, on climbs requiring a tent (or bivy), stove, rope, pro, and usually crampons and ice tools. I think that's more valuable advice than guide's recommendations.

I have found that 40L can be a tight squeeze, but 50L very reasonable.

I would caution that if you need 65 liters for a 2-3 day backpacking trip, you're going to have trouble squeezing overnight mountaineering kit into a 40-50L pack. I use my 50L for backpacking also, and it usually has pretty generous volume for a 2-night, 3-day trip.
Nat D · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 765

I have a Mountain Hardwear South Col 70L that is good for extended base camping expeditions where the pack is really only worn when walking, and the climbing is done with a climbing pack.. Zero complaints for this one. It's light for the volume.

I have the Osprey Variant 52L which has been great for major traverses (5+ nights) where I will do slightly more than walk with the pack on, but nothing too technical. Also is big enough for shorter but dead-of-winter trips where I need more room for puffy warm things and stove fuel.

I have the Arcteryx Alpha 45 which pretty much does anything big. Except maybe big, long, and extreme cold all together.

I have the Arcteryx Alpha 30 which does anything 2-5 days, mild to warm conditions.

I have the Patagonia Link 16 which can pull a 1 nighter where I am not really interested in a good night sleep, nor interested in eating well.

I might add a 22ish pack soon to increase my comfort options a little over the link 16.

If you want I can send you a really unnecessary but highly detailed packing planner I created so you can experiment around with packing lists and gear that will get your load down.

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20
Nat D wrote:I have a Mountain Hardwear South Col 70L that is good for extended base camping expeditions where the pack is really only worn when walking, and the climbing is done with a climbing pack.. Zero complaints for this one. It's light for the volume. I have the Osprey Variant 52L which has been great for major traverses (5+ nights) where I will do slightly more than walk with the pack on, but nothing too technical. Also is big enough for shorter but dead-of-winter trips where I need more room for puffy warm things and stove fuel. I have the Arcteryx Alpha 45 which pretty much does anything big. Except maybe big, long, and extreme cold all together. I have the Arcteryx Alpha 30 which does anything 2-5 days, mild to warm conditions. I have the Patagonia Link 16 which can pull a 1 nighter where I am not really interested in a good night sleep, nor interested in eating well. I might add a 22ish pack soon to increase my comfort options a little over the link 16. If you want I can send you a really unnecessary but highly detailed packing planner I created so you can experiment around with packing lists and gear that will get your load down.
thanks - I'd love the packing planner - i'm a dork - sounds like something I would find interesting - i'll send you a PM
Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

Take everything you "have to take" on your trip and pack it all as carefully as possible into something like a box. Measure the dimensions and find the cu inches. This assumes everything goes into and not outside of the pack. Take out "any" extras. It won't be exact but at least closer than a wild guess.
Consider how big you are - if you wear XL sized clothes you will need a bigger pack etc than those who wear size small. Which explains why I need a bigger pack than my climbing partner who weighs 50# less than I do. Consider buying lighter more packable gear and the cost to benefit. And my last two cents is never trade carrying comfort for anything on a trip where you'll be carrying that sucker for extended periods.

Dave Deming · · Grand Junction CO · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 25

Personally, I enjoyed using my Aether 70 on Rainier, but it wasn't being used for anything technical and we deliberately overpacked some things. In the view of better to have it and not need it, we brought a lot more food than we actually needed, but it was nice to have. And having a rest day at 11k', was nice to sit and watch the world go by. Found out, after the trip, that the only thing I brought and didn't use was the hardshell layers, which I would not have wanted to go without. With experience and doing it again, I might have cut down on some things, but all in all, I was happy with how we did.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478

I do think people are all focusing on the PNW objectives in summer here. Neils you also said Whitney in winter, for that you might want a larger pack in 50 range since you would want the warmer sleeping bag and more layers. I would use a larger pack in winter.

For summer in the PNW get a thinner sleeping bag. That 0 degree bag is taking up way too much room and you don't need it. Wear your layers inside it and you can get away with a 30 degree summer bag in the shoulder seasons here. I'm very happy with my feathered friends vireo for spring and fall (legs get a little too warm in July). Quilts like their flickr bag or zpacks are another great option.

For the PNW objectives I agree with Dave on pack size, I've done many 2-3 day routs with a BD speed 40 w/o the dome (everything in the bag, helmet and rope included). For car to car routes I use a speed 22, again with everything in the bag.

A big question though before you go and start paring down your load, is how much experience do you have backpacking? Do you know what you can get away w/o bringing yet?

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478

Another thing on packing, don't allow any dead space.

Also consider throwing your tent body and sleeping bag in a compression sack, that can reduce volume of both greatly. Throw the tent in a garbage sack to keep condensation that hasn't dried separate from your bag.

Pack clothes in loosely to take up dead space.

If you are bringing bigger fuel canisters pack the day 2 snacks inside your stove body.

Do not put food in bags/stuff sacks, you can spread it out more to take up less room.

Keep the rope/rack up high, around the middle of your shoulder blades. You can access it easier and it will carry better.

Get the pons in on top of the rope, being right by the top of your shoulder blades they carry better (if using aluminum that's not much of a concern.

A water bottle fits well in a helmet.

A puffy/windshirt can also fit in the helmet or around it.

neils · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 20
Nick Drake wrote:I do think people are all focusing on the PNW objectives in summer here. Neils you also said Whitney in winter, for that you might want a larger pack in 50 range since you would want the warmer sleeping bag and more layers. I would use a larger pack in winter. For summer in the PNW get a thinner sleeping bag. That 0 degree bag is taking up way too much room and you don't need it. Wear your layers inside it and you can get away with a 30 degree summer bag in the shoulder seasons here. I'm very happy with my feathered friends vireo for spring and fall (legs get a little too warm in July). Quilts like their flickr bag or zpacks are another great option. For the PNW objectives I agree with Dave on pack size, I've done many 2-3 day routs with a BD speed 40 w/o the dome (everything in the bag, helmet and rope included). For car to car routes I use a speed 22, again with everything in the bag. A big question though before you go and start paring down your load, is how much experience do you have backpacking? Do you know what you can get away w/o bringing yet?
thanks - I am a pretty experienced backpacker in the North East - ADK, NH, and Catskills in all 4 seasons. I have the 0 degree bag as well as a 15 and a 35, all down. Big Agnes UL 3 season tents and an i-tent for 4 season. Neo air mattress. I am reasonably lightweight and modern but not ultra lightweight.

I guess not that this conversation is hashing out I was more asking for cold weather and/or winter conditions as well as using a non climbing pack for climbing and the acceptability of that.

So if I were going to change the conversation slightly away from cold weather considerations - what about using an Osprey Talon 33 or Kestrel 45 for a PNW summer route...as opposed to a 30-40 liter climbing pack (Cilo, Arteryx, etc, etc) Sounds like for cold weather winter whitney (a trip I already have planned) I'll want something a little larger - I tested some stuff out with my 65L and it fits - tent, gear, stove, etc...but it is a little tight. I packed it for full winter.
Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 162
Nick Drake wrote:Neils you also said Whitney in winter, for that you might want a larger pack in 50 range since you would want the warmer sleeping bag and more layers. I would use a larger pack in winter.
Depends so much on the route though. Do you need 70m of rope and a full rack? Short rope and light rack? No rope and no rack? 50L is plenty for winter backpacking, maybe insufficient for winter multi-day technical climbing.

Neils, something like that Talon 33 might be totally fine, it depends on what you're after. For me, that wouldn't be big enough for a technical overnight outing, especially if I need to bring crampons, rope, and other stuff you might put on the outside of a mountaineering pack.

Note that Cilo and Arctery'x, while awesome sources, are probably the two most expensive packs you can buy. I've been super happy with my stuff from BD and MEC, and I suspect they were less than half the price. The Patagonia Ascensionist series looks good too, the 45 is probably a great option for the type of route most people are bringing up here.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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