CCW Valdez or Chernobyl?


Original Post
Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

I'm trying to decide between the CCW Valdez and Chernobyl packs... Would value advice from those that've used either or both

Use: primarily 1 day ice/rock cragging, mulitpitch, and alpine climbing in the Northeast. Possibility of single-night overnight trips, but not the primary use.

Wants:
1) pack that can comfortably carry 20-40 lb loads, without a lot of bells and whistles. What climbing with buddies, my pack is around 20-25 lbs. When climbing with my wife, I carry the rope and gear, my pack creeps up to around 40 lbs.

2) Pack that can be worn while leading on multipitch/alpine ice routes.

3) A minimalist pack without a lot of superfluous features. Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 was a consideration, but not sure how it'd carry 40 lbs.

My BD Speed 30, though a great pack that I can organize to carry 40 lbs of gear, isn't cutting it with 40 lbs loaded. Already showing significant signs of wear due to the hardware I load it with. Speed 40 is a though, but durability still a concern.

The Valdez, as pictured looks small to me, and I'm concerned that it will be a hassle to pack and not carry well at around 40 lbs. Conversely, the Chernobyl looks huge and I'm concerned that it will be too bulky to wear while leading and not function well with smaller 20-25 lb loads.

How does the Chernobyl climb?

How does the Chernobyl handle while being under-stuffed?

Is the Valdez really a 40 L (in the main compartment) pack?

How does the Valdez handle weight?

yukonjack · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

IMO, based on your description, go with the Chernobyl.
We have every flavor of the CCW packs in this house...big fan.

The Chernobyl has padded hipbelt with gear loops. The Valdez, has a 1.5 inch wide strap.
Once the pack starts to get "heavy" the padded hipbelt becomes critical to a good day if you've got any kind of approach or walking to do.

Torso length matters too. The Chernobyl gives you a couple options. If you're tall you might ask Randy if he can build one with a "long" back.

I'm 6'2 (6'6 with the afro) and have a longer torso. The Valdez belt step will ride higher on me than I prefer.

If you're in the alpine/mixed the ice tool attachments on the Chernobyl, while a bell/whistle, are kinda nice.

Both backs work fine with less than full loads, as the CCW packs are a bit narrower than other options and stay inside your shoulder/back profile if you're in a tight spot or bushwhacking to get someplace.

TCC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0
yukonjack wrote: I'm 6'2 (6'6 with the afro)
You truly define grace under pressure!

I've had a Valdez for almost 12 years and love it, I've used it for everything you mentioned. It does all those things well, however I wouldn't want to use it for loads over 20-25 lbs. In terms of volume, I would say the main compartment is smaller than 40L. Maybe 40L including the extension sleeve. I can fill the Valdez main compartment up, flip it upside down, and then shove it inside my BD Axis 33L. It's also much smaller sitting next to my Osprey Talon 44L. (There's no standard for determining pack volume so it varies by manufacturer.) Bottom line is you won't be gaining much versatility or comfort if you keep your Speed 30 and buy the Valdez, only more durability.

Regarding the Speed series packs, BD changed the material a few years ago and started using a 210d ripstop for most of the pack. They're lighter, but as you've discovered - not as durable as the old ones. If you like your Speed 30 but want more volume and durability, check out the BD Epic 45 or Mission 45 in addition to the Chernobyl.

You'll probably be happiest with a multi-pitch pack and then a separate pack for cragging.

Most important, I'd suggest evaluating what you own/bring and see if there is a way to cut your weight down.
RobC2 Cotter · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 15

I have them both. The Valdez is plenty big if you are an efficient packer, I took it up the Direct Supercouloir & it climbed fine. I have tool fittings that accommodate leashless tools. If you are a "big" packer you might prefer the Chernobyl which would be better for overnight trips. The workmanship on these packs far exceeds that of offshore manufactured packs they wear like iron & will outlive all other packs.

Maureen Maguire · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0

Call or email CCW and i bet they will make a custom for you. I have the Chernobyl for the same reasons you need. Perfect. Tough as nails. Use it for 2-3 overnights. No internal frame makes it way easier to climb and ski. There's plenty of stiffness to the back. Thanks CCW. Efficiency rules.

Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

I've already been in contact with Randy at CCW. He can make a Valdez with Chernobyl style ice tool carriers, and that's perfect. My main concern is are 1) can the 40L Valdez carry heavy on approach, if needed and 2) is the Chernobyl too monstrous to climb with

I know I can do a big pack for approach and small pack for ascent, but I'd prefer to go 1 pack.

My typical gear list for NH ice season is

Pair of XDream ice tools
Belay parka
2 L of H2O (can prob reduce to 1.5)
8 alpine draws
2 screamers
4 dyneema slings
1 Cordelette
12 BD ice screws and v thread stuff
70 M rope (only carried when I'm out w/wife, otherwise carried by partner)
Single trad rack (can be dropped once ice come in better)
3 lockers
Harness
Helmet
First aid kit (tiny REI kit)
Headlamp
4 pairs gloves (1 liner, 2 thin sets for leading, 1 pair kinco)
Food (2 PB&J)

Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0
Maureen Maguire wrote:Call or email CCW and i bet they will make a custom for you. I have the Chernobyl for the same reasons you need. Perfect. Tough as nails. Use it for 2-3 overnights. No internal frame makes it way easier to climb and ski. There's plenty of stiffness to the back. Thanks CCW. Efficiency rules.
Not planning on using this pack for O/Ns, if so, maybe 1 at max
yukonjack · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0
TCC wrote: You truly define grace under pressure!
Tierra Del Fuego.
alecentress · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I just picked up a Valdez, and am a huge fan. It's a bit smaller than I expected it to be, even though I'd seen the pictures online, but perfect size for one-day trips in my opinion. No science here, but I have a Patagonia Refugio 28L daypack and I would say the Valdez is about 1.5x capacity, which is 40l. But you'd have to have it packed all the way up, which I think it a pain.If you're just backpacking, I could see it for overnight trips, but it would be hard to fit all of your camping gear + rack + rope (if you had to carry all of that).

Agreed with above for the weight. I had 25 lbs in it this weekend, and that felt fine, but without a frame and with the pack height I think 40 lbs would be pushing it.

I also got mine with what Randy was calling a "hybrid" hip belt. It's padded, but more streamlined than the Chernobyl. I didn't get gear loops, but I'm sure you could if you want. I'm 5'8", and the hip belt sits above my harness loops, so no interference there.

Hope some of that helps.

Todd Anderson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0
Mike Lofgren wrote:I've already been in contact with Randy at CCW. He can make a Valdez with Chernobyl style ice tool carriers, and that's perfect. My main concern is are 1) can the 40L Valdez carry heavy on approach, if needed and 2) is the Chernobyl too monstrous to climb with I know I can do a big pack for approach and small pack for ascent, but I'd prefer to go 1 pack. My typical gear list for NH ice season is Pair of XDream ice tools Belay parka 2 L of H2O (can prob reduce to 1.5) 8 alpine draws 2 screamers 4 dyneema slings 1 Cordelette 12 BD ice screws and v thread stuff 70 M rope (only carried when I'm out w/wife, otherwise carried by partner) Single trad rack (can be dropped once ice come in better) 3 lockers Harness Helmet First aid kit (tiny REI kit) Headlamp 4 pairs gloves (1 liner, 2 thin sets for leading, 1 pair kinco) Food (2 PB&J)
I got a Valdez with Chernobyl-style tool carriers about a year ago. It could definitely handle this gear list and then some, and if you're not planning on any overnights and are mostly interested in day alpine climbs I think it's the best option.

For me the main drawback of the Valdez is the lack of padded hip belt; I have ended up using it for two- or three-day "climbs" (i.e. full-day approaches), and the webbing hipbelt really doesn't do much to take a load off your shoulders. It does play well with a harness, though.

A secondary drawback is the low volume, which can be a problem for cragging. I can fit a double rack of cams + draws + assorted rack supplements, 70m rope, shoes, chalk, harness, helmet, small puffy and some food on the inside, with no room to spare. If you like to take extra comforts to the crag and hate packing carefully, you're going to want something bigger.
Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 5

Heres some input!

I got a valdez when I was in the same market as you. I oped to get the universal ice tool holders and the hipbelt (not just webbing, but padded). With these changes it is awesome, and fit my need quite well! I would agree that 40L seems a bit on the generous side, but I have been able to use it on the sorts of trip I bought it for. If I can't fit my climbing and bivy gear in it, then I'm probably carrying to much shit anyways. The removable foam pad is clutch as well.

Based on this, I'm psyched with it! Honestly you wont go wrong either way, Randy makes a bitchin pack.

Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Is the padded hip belt on the Chernobyl removable? Chernobyl too big and clunky to wear while climbing?

divnamite · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 90
Mike Lofgren wrote:Is the padded hip belt on the Chernobyl removable? Chernobyl too big and clunky to wear while climbing?
Hip Belt is not removable, Randy can probably customize it for you. One thing I don't see people mention is the pack comes with shoulder straps that pull up instead of down. You can ask Randy to change that.

If you are climbing with 40LB, no pack is gonna climb well. But Chernobyl compress down well so if you only have a few things, it'll be fine.
Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0
divnamite wrote: Hip Belt is not removable, Randy can probably customize it for you. One thing I don't see people mention is the pack comes with shoulder straps that pull up instead of down. You can ask Randy to change that. If you are climbing with 40LB, no pack is gonna climb well. But Chernobyl compress down well so if you only have a few things, it'll be fine.
Good to know.

40 lb is only the max approach weight, climbing weight is 15lbs
Hank · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0

Sorry to revive an old thread, but I'm currently in the same boat as OP trying to decide between the Valdez and Chernobyl with the same expected uses. Mike, did you end up buying a pack? If so, which one and why? How has it worked for you so far, and, specifically if you got the Chernobyl, how does it climb? Thanks!

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 115

I own an Ozone and a Chernobyl.

Ozone is as steamlined as you can get with no clutter, great for small day trips.

Chernobyl is really nice for more load. The extendable lid has proven useful on many occasions.

You can ask Randy to leave things off, like ski slots, daisy chains, ice axe loops, but I would recommend leaving them unless you are really sure you don't want them. If you plan to ski or iceclimb, I'd say leave all features as is... Randy dialed the pack in.

He can do some customization, so don't be afraid to ask.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 150

Love my valdez, can fit plenty in it, has a large extension collar to expand beyond 40L, and the way the hood is constructed you can fit it perfectly on the overstuffed extension. I have used the 40L pack for trips as long as 3 nights (shared haul of stove, ropes, etc). That being said, it will start killing your shoulders if you're hauling heavy weight for miles upon miles. It climbs like a dream but be aware there is no real internal frame system.

For one day/night cragging and multipitch it really rules. For longer alpine expeditions not so much. No buyers remorse from me.

Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 9,663

I think my Valdez is good for one day, not multi-day.

Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0
Hank wrote:Sorry to revive an old thread, but I'm currently in the same boat as OP trying to decide between the Valdez and Chernobyl with the same expected uses. Mike, did you end up buying a pack? If so, which one and why? How has it worked for you so far, and, specifically if you got the Chernobyl, how does it climb? Thanks!
I bought a Chernobyl in a size small (making it about 43-45 liters), and if memory serves me correctly, had Randy install the beefier shoulder straps of the large to better carry heavy. I was in between sizes based on my center back length and ordering small was the correct decision.

I've used the pack mainly for ice cragging but climbed with it on Mt. Willard in NH this last weekend, mainly WI3 alpine climbing. For that, I stuffed the lid in the main compartment and clipped the hip belt around the front of the pack. In this configuration, cinched down, the back takes on the footprint of a 25-30 liter pack and climbs surprisingly well.

The slightly larger size of the Chernobyl compared to the Valdez eliminated some of the sacrifice and calculus in organizing and packing. I really like that. Most of what I do is single day cragging and the pack is awesome for that. The added size means that I can easily use the Chernobyl for overnight trips too. Perfect. I hoped that the Chernobyl, would be serviceable or better to climb with, and it is.

I've seen the Valdez out in action and it's a noticeably smaller (narrower) pack. NH guides seem to love it. For me, too small to be my go to pack for both ice cragging and single day alpine climbing. I'm not efficient enough to pack the Valdez for an overnight without lashing gear to the outside, which I dislike doing.

For me, the Chernobyl was absolutely the right choice. Far and away the best pack I've ever owned. I'll prob end up with an ozone at some point as a more alpine focused pack, but have no concerns bringing my Chernobyl up WI3-4.
Mike Lofgren · · Brighton · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

I guess if I could say the one thing that I really like about my Chernobyl, it's that packing it is a breeze. I don't have to make any sacrifices on what I carry and it carries heavy loads very well.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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