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Patagonia Ascensionist: New vs Old Model

Original Post
Kalli Schumacher · · Chanhasssen, MN · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 1

Alright.  I was skeptical.  I had and loved my old model Ascensionist 45L and it went everywhere with me.  When the frame broke, I was really, really bummed, but it's pleasantly surprised me.  I've seen multiple people on here specifically looking for the old model, so I thought I'd add my thoughts having extensively used both.  

The changes as I understand them: durability of material, downsizing 5L, changing the ice tool attachments, changing the frame and frame slot, making the chest clip adjustable, slight changes to waist belt, removing the rain cover, changes to the main closure mechanisms, and adding a cheese pocket.

Durability 10/10: good change! The material was prone to snagging under as much abuse as I put it through.  My pack had multiple holes in it, both in the main part and the bottom.  They have reinforced the bottom with foam on the new ones and the new material seems to be a much higher denier fabric.  It probably costs some weight, though I think the pack is still lighter than the original.

Downsizing 5L: This I was super skeptical of. I already was hard pressed to fit all my stuff into my old pack.  They’re definitely slim packs.  But let’s put it this way.  I’ve been able to carry probably 50+ pounds of gear in this pack.  My partner and I packed eight days of food, ice gear, glacier gear, and rock gear, into 2 40L packs (mine the Ascensionist, his another pack that I think is slightly bigger). Mine personally had: tent fly and poles, sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping pad, half our food, 4 oz fuel canister, harness, all my layers/clothes, inflatable sleeping pad, some miscellaneous toiletries, and a helmet inside the pack AND a rope, a snow picket, a MSR fuel bottle, a pair of steel crampons, a foam sleeping pad, and a pair of mountaineering boots on the outside.  So you have to be a bit careful of how you pack and may end up packing more than you want to on the outside, but space can be finagled.

Ice tool attachments: this is a net neutral for me.  I don’t mind them, but it’s much harder to remove your tool when the packs on your back.  They probably removed some weight here though.  The key to the pick straps is to secure the pick before you secure the shaft, otherwise they’re not quite flexible enough.  I do like that the shaft velcro is removable, but I would just lose them.  But if you don’t need them you can just remove them.

Frame and Frame slot 10/10: great job. The old packs frame was seriously flawed.  This probably not only saves weight, but it makes for a great bivy sleeping pad (not actually kidding, it insulates well).  I haven’t removed it yet, but it definitely won’t have the same problems as the old pack did with the frame slot just ripping.

Chest clip adjustability 10/10: good job.  I point blank couldn’t move mine on my last pack so it was just really awkwardly placed on my chest (ladies you feel me here…). Good job. It’s now actually adjustable.

Waist belt: from what I can tell, the differences are the little foam things slide on the actual straps and the gear loops are not covered in the little plastic things.  I like both changes.  It’s nice to be able to a) adjust the padding to cover your hip bones exactly and b) be able to move the gear loops to where you want them.  When I’m ice/glacier climbing I’ve been actually racking on the gear loops and it’s been great.  I can adjust them to fit over and around my cliperdoodles (otherwise known as ice clippers) and I can easily get our light ice racks onto them.  I also like the lack of the plastic.  It might hurt durability a bit, but I can imagine it’ll be less bulky when I don’t need the loops.

Rain cover: one of my only down sides. I really liked the rain cover when I was over-filling the pack.  To be fair, while cragging I never used it.  But the point of this pack is to be an alpinist’s friend, and when I was playing alpinist I really liked the rain cover.  I’ve compensated with packing my tarp or rain fly on top to play the same part.  But it’d be nice to just have as it had a little cinch.

Closing mechanisms: Alright this is petty.  The old pack closure was on the pack itself, the new has the closure on the hood. It’s just taking some getting used to to pull on the right thing. Not actually a problem but irritating and a seemingly useless change. The cord often gets caught on ice axes/other stuff on the pack and can be irritating.
What is an actual problem is the main strap.  I would often lift my packed pack by that strap.  If you pull on the new one, it doesn’t actually stay cinched, which I find really irritating.  It should stay closed until you pull on the buckle itself.  

Cheese pocket: Ok its not actually a cheese pocket.  But it’s a small, zippered pocked on the inside of the pack near the top.  It’s a convenience when the packs not super full and incidentally fits a half pound block of cheese really nicely.  It’s a nice little addition.

General Thoughts: 

This pack is an incredibly versatile piece of gear.  It expands to fit our shit for eight days of hard climbing and then cinches up pretty small when I’m just putting a set of quick draws and some shoes in it.  I really like the addition of the daisy chains on the front of the pack.  I can loop cord through that and cinch things down on it.

Don’t be discouraged by the hood. I was really skeptical about the hood at first.  Albeit it doesn’t fit as much as a traditional hood will.  But for what I’m assuming is weight savings reasons its nice.  When it’s not full, it cinches down really nicely and does clip around a rope if you want it to.  

Comfort wise this pack’s great.  Pack it well, and it’ll carry very comfortably.  Again, I think our packs were 50+ pounds and I had relatively little issues. The only downside is the torso length is long for me and the frame extends a bit too far up from the shoulders to be comfortable all day climbing.  But that is less the pack and more of a me thing I believe.

Overall, I’m really happy with my new pack.  I never thought it’d live up to the old Ascensionist (I thought I was going to be super disappointed with the new one) but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  Superb pack for everything from cragging to week long glacier expeditions.

Sam Cieply · · Venice, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 25

You could just send the old one to Patagucci for repair and then you’d have both! They fixed a hole that a rat chewed in mine, took two months, but worth the wait.

Kalli Schumacher · · Chanhasssen, MN · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 1

I was in the middle of a seven week road trip and the frame broke so I had to either give it up or deal with the busted pack for the remainder of the trip... was unfortunate. 

CDev · · Denver, CO · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

Great review. I had the 35L and loved it until the frame broke... traded it for a new 40L. I really do think the new frame is much less comfortable on my back. The daisy sewn into the top is actually really convenient for organizing gear -- a small detail but one of my favorite improvements.

Alejandro Alpine · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 10 days ago · Points: 0

Bomber review, I got the new one in orange and I love it! 

Nick B · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 61

I just bought one a few weeks ago and your review is spot on.  I love the pack

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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