Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

North Face Cobra 60 Backpack


Original Post
Josh Tannenbaum · · Tampa Bay, FL · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0

Has anyone here had any experience with the Cobra 60 pack? I found a pretty in depth review here (sectionhiker.com/the-north-…) but I haven't found much else in ways of first person encounters with this bag. I am looking into picking one up for a winter AAI course this december. I would love to hear form anybody who has owned one. How is the suspension system? Any big downfalls, etc. Cheers!

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

I bought one last December & returned it before I actually used it in the field.  I loaded it up with my ice kit and walked around the house.  It carried ok, good enough for crag use, which is why I bought it.  I hated the ice tool attachments as they were a pain in the ass to secure.  All the straps and buckets felt very cheap.  It didn't take much for almost every strap to loosen on its own to where I was having to re-cinch them back down; hence the cheap hardware.  I figured since it's part of their "Summit Series" it would have been made with quality parts, but apparently not.  I sent it back and replaced it with an Osprey Variant, which has been discontinued, unfortunately.  I'm sure you can probably find a Variant somewhere by Googling it.  For longer approaches here in the northeast, the Variant's super comfy & exactly what I was looking for.  If it helps, I'm 5'10" and 165 and the medium/large fit fine in TNF Cobra. 

Josh Tannenbaum · · Tampa Bay, FL · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0

Awesome input, thank you! I'm assuming you use the Variant 52? How do you feel about the size? Is your Variant large enough to carry most of your own gear without having to split it up too badly?

Matt S. · · Milwaukee, WI · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

I took mine to Ouray last winter and it worked well for ice cragging but it hasn't gone on any real adventures yet.  The ice tool attachments aren't the best but they work fine..  The rest of the pack seems like it would hold up to some abuse and the fit for the Med/Large fit my slim 6' 160lb frame really well.  It carries the weight better than a lot of other packs I tried on at the time, which is originally what sold me on it.

My biggest problem is that the capacity falls into either the too much or too little category, so it usually stays back at home.

Josh Tannenbaum · · Tampa Bay, FL · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0

Thanks Matt, my course list calls for a 60-80L bag which after doing a bit more research found a lot of people try and carry much smaller packs than I was considering. For a winter trip in the back country under a week (1-4 days probably) would you carry something smaller? What pack are you currently using for that type of application?

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I got the BD mission 75 for winter application...after winter gear is packed up for overnighting I don't know how you guys don't require 75L or more....overnighting not cragging

jaredj · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 165

When I think about big packs and their application, the very first question I ask is : "will I have to do technical lead climbing while actually wearing this pack?"  

If the answer is yes, then I look at a climbing pack.  If not, then just look at whatever is big and comfortable enough to get to your camp / base of your climbing.    

I think way too many people buy stripped down alpine packs when in reality they're not doing stripped down alpine stuff.  These packs are fine and all, but they're optimized around carrying bivy gear up the Harvard Route.  I find them far less than ideal at carrying loads 40+ lbs long distances (and, let's be real, if you're filling up a 60-80L pack and carrying the rope,  you're gonna get to that weight).  
Steve House is fine making that tradeoff, but most weekend warriors doing weekend warrior stuff don't actually need to.   I think that if you need more than 40L-ish of capacity, then you shouldn't be looking at a "climbing-oriented" pack at all, and instead something that is comfortable and can carry a couple of ice axes.

"Becoming an old man" rant over.  

Matt S. · · Milwaukee, WI · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

I agree with above.  But I really like the Osprey Mutant series packs if you'll be climbing in it.  They're climbing specific but with a little extra padding compared to a few others I had tried on.  I have the 38L that I've done a good amount of climbing with.

If you're buying it for a class they'll probably want you to take a ton of stuff just in case.  Not to mention you wont be moving very far on any given day because it'll be more about skills than slogging so the extra weight wont be the end of the world.

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0
jaredj wrote: When I think about big packs and their application, the very first question I ask is : "will I have to do technical lead climbing while actually wearing this pack?"  

If the answer is yes, then I look at a climbing pack.  If not, then just look at whatever is big and comfortable enough to get to your camp / base of your climbing.    

I think way too many people buy stripped down alpine packs when in reality they're not doing stripped down alpine stuff.  These packs are fine and all, but they're optimized around carrying bivy gear up the Harvard Route.  I find them far less than ideal at carrying loads 40+ lbs long distances (and, let's be real, if you're filling up a 60-80L pack and carrying the rope,  you're gonna get to that weight).  
Steve House is fine making that tradeoff, but most weekend warriors doing weekend warrior stuff don't actually need to.   I think that if you need more than 40L-ish of capacity, then you shouldn't be looking at a "climbing-oriented" pack at all, and instead something that is comfortable and can carry a couple of ice axes.

"Becoming an old man" rant over.  

Very good point. I usually take a large comfy backpacking pack(70L) with everything in it including rack and rope usually and multipitch pack

Micah Hoover · · Portland, OR · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I have it and actually used it on one of AAIs winter excursions.  I have mixed feelings, but until I get a good deal on a cilo or HMG I'll probably end up keeping it.  I actually think it carries the weight pretty well, the most I've ever packed in it was 6 days with a 2 man 4 season tent.  Lots of padding on the waist and internal frame is burly.  I do like being able to strip it down for a summit pack, it actually does this pretty well.

The downsides - The waist straps do loosen up and need readjusting.  The iceaxe carry leaves something to be desired, but also protects the picks well.  The crampon carry on the outside is... oddly shaped.  Too big for crampons, too small for a shovel.  The top lid has some unnecessary elastic around the edge I find annoying.

If you get a good deal on one, it's not a bad option.  But there's better packs on the market, though most of my gripes are personal preference.  MH South Col is a strong competitor for around the same price point and used ones are everywhere in the PNW.

Josh Tannenbaum · · Tampa Bay, FL · Joined Jun 2018 · Points: 0

That makes a lot of sense, thanks Jared. Anything in particular you would recommend for a non technical pack?  

Micah, those are two other packs I was seriously considering (the south col and cilo 60 worksack) In retrospect which would you lean towards? I like the idea of being able to strip the cobra down to a summit pack, good to hear it fairs well in that aspect. Thanks!

AlpineIce · · Upstate, NY · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 255
Josh Tannenbaum wrote: Awesome input, thank you! I'm assuming you use the Variant 52? How do you feel about the size? Is your Variant large enough to carry most of your own gear without having to split it up too badly?

Yes, I have the Variant 52 for cragging & hauling gear & it's plenty of capacity, for me.  I would give the new Mutant 52 a hard look if I was in the market for a winter, climbing-orientated pack.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Climbing Gear Discussion
Post a Reply to "North Face Cobra 60 Backpack"

Log In to Reply