Best Climbing/Alpine Backpack?


Original Post
Kat Hessen · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

O' most knowledgeable forum folks:

I went for my first alpine adventure last weekend (East Face on Mt Whitney), and discovered to my chagrin that my fancy pants snob-girl Osprey Stratos 36 pack is by no means a perfect fit when climbing is involved. The hip belt ends up covering my harness while climbing, which caused some impressive chafes in delicate places, as well as some (additional) whining during the 11 miles of hiking back to the car after climbing.

Here's the pickle (dill-flavored if that's your preference): 

I'm tall (5'10) with a long torso (for a woman), but small across the hips and shoulders. Think petite woman, just awkwardly stretched. Most alpine style packs don't come in women's sizes, meaning the belt and the shoulder straps are often way too large. 

I need a somewhat comfy/sturdy hip belt to take some of the weight off my shoulders (water, food, gear, rope etc. to be carried both while hiking and climbing for 20+ hrs at a time).

I love lightweight packs, but for climbing up offwidths and chimneys I noticed that a durable fabric is very much a must!

I really, really prefer having a couple of pockets either on the outside or inside, for ease of access. Sunscreen, trash bag, camera, wag bag storage, etc. Loops for ice tools and stuff like that make me hum like a nicely tuned V-twin engine. 

I also don't think spending more than $200 on a pack can be justified in any nation or on any continent. 

So, if you can get past the offputting idea of indulging someone who is clearly a spoiled and entitled consumer raised in the naughties-- any advice, tips, experiences? What do you good people out there on MP climb and hike with?

jgfox · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5

Oh there is a lot to be said on this topic.  I would go to the Cold Thistle blog run by Dane and read into alpine pack sizing first to get a feel of what to look for when trying them on.

Recommendations: it sounds like despite having a long torso you are using packs too big.  I don't have a long torso and I can get away with using the Wild Things Guide pack and the Arc'Teryx FL series packs. You can get the Guide pack for under $200, I got mine for free because they made a mistake on my order.  The Arc'Teryx FLs you can snag when they do a seasonal clearance.  Patagonia packs are ok, but I wouldn't use them when I have alternatives like I mentioned.

I can't stand the Black Diamond packs, I sized to a size Small in them but they are too snug for me, so for packs I look for an 18" back despite being an alleged 17.5".  Also avoid alpine packs that look like they carry heavy loads comfortably (Mountain Hardwear, Gregory), they defeat the purpose of an alpine pack, and you'll hate them when climbing in them.

jgfox · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5

You are going to be hard pressed in finding an alpine pack that is under $200 and is bomber to survive multiple chimneys in abrasive conditions.  You also can try Cold Cold World and see if you can get a custom Ozone.  The guy that runs CCW is pretty reasonable price-wise for what he offers.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Cilogear 3030 is my pack of choice. I have the W/NW Dyneema version, but the regular is nearly as beefy. You can substitute a women's fit for any of his packs, I believe. Give them a call. 

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 200

BD Speed 30

CCW Chernobyl (my new favorite; mine is ski mountaineering oriented but works for alpine)


DCarey · · Missoula · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 15

The Arcteryx Alpha FL 30L is the best alpine pack I have ever owned. I use it primarily for long ice/alpine routes. Its big enough for me to get everything i need in it for an overnight climb, but small enough so that I only take the essential items. It is made out of bomber material. I threw it down a mountain it is still going strong. I cant say enough good things about it. 

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 246

I love the Mammut Trion Pro. The zip back is super useful and it can carry weight very nicely. 

From your description, you may like the BD packs. I find the too slender for my robustly sexy broad shoulders. 

Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10
Chris C. wrote:

I love the Mammut Trion Pro. The zip back is super useful and it can carry weight very nicely. 

Too bad, this one just sold a few hours ago: https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/113278999/price-drop-mammut-trion-pro-50l-pack

Kat Hessen · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Thank you guys, this is all really helpful. I put up eBay alerts for many of the packs mentioned, and hopefully I can score the right pack without spending a fortune. Chimneys here I come!  

Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10
Kat Hessen wrote:

Thank you guys, this is all really helpful. I put up eBay alerts for many of the packs mentioned, and hopefully I can score the right pack without spending a fortune. Chimneys here I come!  

Let us know what you end up with and how you end up liking it.

Za ch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

I have FL30 and I wish it was hydration compatible and side compression straps        

   

Any backpack like FL30, but is hydration compatible, has side compression, and isn't Cilogear. I want to try it on me before buying, so sadly, Cilogear is out.

The closest I could find was Ortovox Trad 35, except it doesn't expand (I like my backpack to be really small when I'm climbing and really big during approach) or isn't as burly (I'm assuming N400-AC mean 400 denier?)

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205
Za ch wrote:

I have FL30 and I wish it was hydration compatible and side compression straps        

   

Any backpack like FL30, but is hydration compatible, has side compression, and isn't Cilogear. I want to try it on me before buying, so sadly, Cilogear is out.

The closest I could find was Ortovox Trad 35, except it doesn't expand (I like my backpack to be really small when I'm climbing and really big during approach) or isn't as burly (I'm assuming N400-AC mean 400 denier?)

You can add compression straps and use the bungee on the back of it to cinch it down, making it hydration compatible defeats the who dry bag thing but could easily be done with a Stanley knife.

Beean · · Canmore, AB · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

The BD Cirque bags are amazing. You'll appreciate the skimo features too once you realise that skiing is so much better than climbing.

The fabric seems to be quite tough, mine has managed to look as new after heavy use this winter. 

Chase D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 195

I also like Arc'teryx packs. I've tried Osprey, Black Diamond, Mammut and a few other brands but I always go back to Arc'teryx for the outstanding quality. I have the Altra 35 day pack, Altra 65 multi-day pack, and Miura 45 crag pack. 

Just remember that you get what you pay for. These packs are easily $200+ but that translates to comfort and efficiency during the long hours you will be wearing it. In my opinion a pack is a critical piece of gear that you can't afford to cut corners or buy cheap. Just my $0.02

Brandon.Phillips · · Alabama · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

I like the patagonia linked pack for actual climbing.  You can fit 2 liters of water + shoes + extra layers + food.  It has actual haul loops as well and is low profile.  When I can swing it, I approach with a 30 - 35 liter pack, stash it near the base and climb with a smaller one.

Johnathan Donn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

I wish Alpha FL30 had side attachment points  like FL45 or better yet, buckles with detachable straps.

Also, dedicated sleeve for foam pad, so I can either remove it or put a hydration bladder.

These 2 things will make Alpha FL30 the perfect climbing backpack for me.

I guess I'm basically describing Cilogear 30L worksack.

AlpineIce · · Upstate, NY · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 255

I know you don't want to spend more than $200, but you can get a custom pack built from scratch for around $300.

Alpine Luddites out of Ouray, Colorado.  Hand made in 'merica, but so is CiloGear and Cold Cold World.  It appears Alpine Luddites allows you to customize your pack 10x more than either CiloGear or Cold Cold World does. Hope this helps!

john campbell · · Ouray,CO · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

Hi Kat,

I'm the owner of Alpine Luddites. I custom fit packs to female climbers regularly. On my packs we can custom fit the harness length(back length), belt size, Shoulder Strap Width, length and spacing.  For climbing with a harness on I sometimes either fit the pack longer, so it doesn't catch on the top edge of your harness, as harnesses become thinner this less of an issue, or cut them shorter so the ride above your harness. shorter packs don't hike as well. This is all included in the price of any of my packs.

 I can also build a pack for you out of Ballistics nylon, which is ideal for the seirras. While Dyneema fabrics are tough and strong for their weight, Ballistics and Cordura fabrics are much more durable, esspecially for lots of alpine rock use. They also save you some money as they cost less.

Feel free to contact me directly if you want more specifics.

JC

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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