Getting your pack size down below 35L?


Original Post
Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50

Watching video of Steve House pack up the Ascensionist 25L pack always makes we wonder how the hell I always have trouble fitting everything in a 35L pack, and usually reaching for the 45L version for a day out on the ice.

What size pack is everyone else using for winter cragging?

I would really like to go much lighter and smaller pack wise. Here is what I normally bring for a day where I will be doing single or multipitch routes.

(2) BD Viper tools
(1) pair Camp Bladerunner crampons + crampon bag
(1 or 2) pair BD Torque glove
(1) pair BD Enforcer glove
(6 - 12) Petzl laser ice screws
(1 - 2) BD ice screw rolls
(6 - 12) draws BD hoodwire & 10cm dogbone
(1) V-thread tool
(1 - 2) Mammut 240 cm Dynemma Cordalettes racked with BD Oz
(2 - 3) BD Oz Carabiners
(2) Camp HMS Locking Carabiners
(1) Petzl Spirit locking carabiner + 6mm nylon prusik
(1) DMM Pivot + (1) Mammut HMS Locking Carabiner
(1) Mammut Zephyr Alpine Harness + (2) DMM Vault ice clippers
(1 - 2) 1L Nalgene bottles
(1) First Aid kit
(1) Sam Splint
(1) ACR PLB
(1) Puffy down coat + compression sack
(1) headlamp
(1) BD Vapor helmet
(1) Beanie
(1) 70m 9.8mm rope
- Food or some sort

I feel like I have slimmed this down pretty decently, but maybe not?

Maybe hike in my harness and helmet? Throw stuff on the outside of my bag aside from tools?

Seth Kane · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 153

Rope on the outside and/or a lighter rope is the biggest change I see. I don't personally carry a PLB or sam splint and carry a very minimalist (tape, blood clotting gauze, pain killers) first aid kit, but that's more up to you.

I don't find reducing back size to be very useful unless you're going to climb in it, and even then I find a pack like HMG or cilogear that will carry well at 50L and 20L to be more useful then a smaller pack. If I'm not climbing in it, I'd much rather have a big pack that carries well then a small pack with a bunch of stuff swinging around on the outside.

snowhazed · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 275

+1 for a pack that carries well over a smaller pack. I take a 55L even when its half full.

doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 277

It's not too hard to fit in 3 screws, crampons, minimal rack, nano puff, a water bottle and a half rope (that looks like 50m max) into a 25L pack...

Shadrock · · Here and there. · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 268

Just out of curiosity: what's driving the urge to get a smaller pack? My two cents: I've been using 35L packs at the crag for a long time (including the Patty Ascensionist) and I have to say I'm getting pretty tired of always tinkering with them. My partners are amazed that I can get so much stuff in them, but it does take figuring out just the right way to pack. In hindsight, it seems a bit silly to be taking an ultralight alpine pack to the crag when I'm not planning on climbing in it and I'm now looking to get something big that carries nice and allows me to just toss stuff in. Not saying you shouldn't go light and small if you want to, but I did it kind of without thinking and it's only really meant that I have to spend more time packing at the end of the day than everybody else...

Alexander K · · The road · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 130

You can ditch the SAM splint and switch to some smaller/collapsible water bottles (Gatorade or smart water bottles work well). Other than that you'll need to carry a thinner rope or trim down your rack to pack like Steve House. I think House classically talked about packing his backpack then dumping it out and eliminating everything that wasn't absolutely necessary for the success of the climb. Doing so reduces your safety margin so maybe you will prefer a larger bag.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

The only time I carry the rack and the rope are days when I climb with my wife. Try splitting the rack and the rope between you and your partner. That should free up enough space to carry everything with a 35L pack.

I usually carry a 35L pack. If I bring my 50L it's because I'm bringing puffy pants, a thermos another set of tools or crampons etc..

Shepido · · CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 50
Shadrock wrote:Just out of curiosity: what's driving the urge to get a smaller pack?
I would probably like something I could carry up with me I think, especially on multi-pitch routes. Yesterday I wished I had brought up a pack for a puffy and some water while we were waiting at the anchor for another party to clear out at the start of pitch two. Things like belay gloves are bulky as hell and always irritate me stuffing them in my shell or danging off my harness. Instead I was just freezing but the thought of lugging a mostly empty 45L pack up the route on lead seemed just as annoying as having all kinds of crap hanging off my harness.

Reading these remarks makes me think that I'm likely not overpacking as I thought as I was. I either just need to be content climbing in a 35L pack half empty or splitting up the load with my climbing partners more, whom currently just show up with a harness/belay device/tools/jackets and not much else.
Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 483

In the pack:
(1) pair BD Enforcer glove
1.5L Nalgene bottle
(1) First Aid kit: whittle that shit down. I take ibuprofen, tape, and a quik clot. Benedryl in summer rock season. A few Thermarest patches if I'm staying overnight
(1) ACR PLB
(1) Puffy down coat
(1) headlamp
(1) Beanie
- Food or some sort
Small thermos of coffee with hot cocoa powder mixed in

Outside the pack:
(2) BD Viper tools
(1) pair Camp Bladerunner crampons
(1 or 2) pair BD Torque glove : one pair worn; the extra pair is inside your jacket
BD Vapor helmet: mine will usually go inside, but i have to prepack the dead space with other stuff like part of my jacket. make it the last thing strapped to the outside of the pack
70m 8.5mm Beal Opera or 7.3mm Beal Gully or 8.5mm Mammut Genesis =) Don't fall on ice

On the harness on the approach or as much as possible in the pack now that you have all that space:
(1) Mammut Zephyr Alpine Harness + (2) DMM Vault ice clippers
JSnare
(1 - 2) Mammut 240 cm Dynemma Cordalettes racked with BD Oz
(2 - 3) BD Oz Carabiners
(2) Camp HMS Locking Carabiners
(1) Petzl Spirit locking carabiner + 6mm nylon prusik
(1) DMM Pivot + (1) Mammut HMS Locking Carabiner
Tiny knife

Carried by your partner:
(6 - 12) Petzl laser ice screws
(6 - 12) draws BD hoodwire & 10cm dogbone
Rap line when needed: Edelrid Rap Line II, Esprit APER, Mammut Rappel Cord, or Petzl RAD ($$$)

Left at home:
(1 - 2) BD ice screw rolls
Crampon bag
1) Sam Splint (improvise)
Compression sack
70m 9.8mm rope

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
Shepido wrote: I would probably like something I could carry up with me I think, especially on multi-pitch routes. Yesterday I wished I had brought up a pack for a puffy and some water while we were waiting at the anchor for another party to clear out at the start of pitch two. Things like belay gloves are bulky as hell and always irritate me stuffing them in my shell or danging off my harness. Instead I was just freezing but the thought of lugging a mostly empty 45L pack up the route on lead seemed just as annoying as having all kinds of crap hanging off my harness. Reading these remarks makes me think that I'm likely not overpacking as I thought as I was. I either just need to be content climbing in a 35L pack half empty or splitting up the load with my climbing partners more, whom currently just show up with a harness/belay device/tools/jackets and not much else.
I stuff a Arcteryx 16L pack inside my helmet when I want a leader's pack. This doesn't work so well if we don't end up rapping back down.

Another thing to try is a micro puffy when it's warm enough outside. I have to put my Arcteryx Dually in a leaders pack but can clip my Sierra Designs Gnar lite or a Patagonia Down hoody to my harness. I can usually get away with a lighter belay jacket when it's sunny or above 25 out.
FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Big pack for cragging. Nothing on the outside of it.

Small pack for climbing with it.

Sometimes, both, if I am rapping back to the base of a multipitch climb.

Simple.

Lou Cerutti · · Carlsbad, California · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 214

I don't ice climb but if I find myself potentially wanting to carry a small pack on a long route I'll just pack it inside my larger pack. This works assuming you'll be hiking back around to the base to pick up your main pack . The REI flash pack gets down pretty small for this purpose as do many others.

MyFeetHurt · · Thornton, CO · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 140

It doesn't sound like you are being too excessive. Like others have said, your partners should be carrying more of the rack or rope. Next, ditch the crampon bag and find a way to put that on the outside of the pack where they are at the ready. They are pointy and wet anyways, not something you want inside. Rope goes on the outside if your pack is small. I carry a PLB/headlamp/painkillers as well. It takes a up a surprising amount of space but I refuse to ditch it so just accept it. Those changes alone are worth quite a few liters even though you are still taking the same basic stuff.

I've been using an HMG 55L ice pack, its full every time I ice climb, yet somehow I used it for the Kautz as well just fine. Once you are climbing there isn't much in it.

Edit: I just saw you are using a compression sack for a puffy, ditch that compression sack and let your jacket stuff around the other oddball shaped items instead adding to the number of incompressible beach balls in your pack. Plus you will save time when you use it/stash it.

Steven Kovalenko · · Calgary · Joined May 2014 · Points: 25

If I go cragging, I take a 55L pack so I can have tea and other nice things. It's cragging, weight not important. If I am walking into a multipitch, I take the 55L pack (even more important to ensure I have room for dry baselayers, socks on a long approach) and take a 26L North Face Verto (basically a stuff sack backpack) inside my 55L pack so I can carry down jacket, headlamp, snacks, water on a long climb.

If I'm going up-and-over in the alpine, then I'm concerned about really cutting weight and go for a small pack.

EDIT: Ditch the ice screw roll-up bags, and crampon bag if you're going up-and-over or alpine climbing. 'Poons go on the outside of the pack. Use the little orange or black screw caps if you need to cut weight. Don't bother with the grey plastic mesh screw thread side protector things. They are annoying, and I've never damaged the side of a screw thread to the point it wouldn't go in.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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