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What do you look for in a small climbing pack?
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Aug 1, 2016
Hello,

After a few journeys into the alpine, I have determined I would like to get a small climbing pack. REI has an 18L and 20L flash series pack, I've seen some others from Arcteryx, BD, and MH. Ideally I'm looking for something that can carry my approach shoes, a rain jacket, my water bag, and a few snacks.

What do the denizens of MP prefer and or look for when choosing a small climbing pack? Ideally I don't want to spend more than $50, but I would consider a bump in price if it was worth it. I'm not looking for all the bells and whistles but a more practical, common sense type of product.

Thank You
Anthony O'Neill
From Northern CO
Joined Apr 28, 2014
12 points
Aug 1, 2016
Those REI packs are nice and cheap. Not particularly durable, but good enough. I've owned a few of the REI Flash 18 and they are just the right size for shoes, water, food, jacket and a few small items.

I also have the BD Speed 22, which is nice if you want to carry a rack in it, in addition to your personal gear.

Sounds like the REI Flash 18 is just what you're looking for.

rei.com/product/892074/rei-fla...
FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
284 points
Aug 1, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Myself & and a drinking horn.
I have come to dislike top loading access only backpacks. Although it is more of an issue for larger packs, I find the limited access to be a bit of an unnecessary PITA. My vote would be for something like the Deuter Speed Lite 20. Or a slightly bigger pack for versatility.

The annoyance of top-loading led to me modifying my Gregory recently.
Rock Climbing Photo: Gregory 35R zipper added
Gregory 35R zipper added

Rock Climbing Photo: Modded Gregory 35R
Modded Gregory 35R
D.Sweet
From Damascus, MD
Joined Nov 18, 2012
20 points
Aug 1, 2016
I use the REI Flash 18 as well and like it enough for what it costs.. It does what I need it to do, I can usually get both my partner and I's food, water, and rain jacket in there. If you're just carrying your stuff then you could fit shoes as well. Slogger
From Fairbanks, AK/Petersburg, AK
Joined Mar 24, 2015
9 points
Aug 1, 2016
What types of routes are you looking for? Will you be rappelling/walking off back to the base of the route or doing carry over?

I have a flash 18 and a BD speed 22. The speed 22 is great if it's a carry over and/or I need to bring pons/axe. The bar tacks on the flash don't instill enough confidence for me to climb a chimney with an axe hanging off. The shoulder straps have some padding and it is nicer for carry over routes. I just used it for the north ridge of Stuart and it carried comfortably, I was able to put the rope inside for the approach as well. The waist belt is a bit too minimalist though, it cut me w/o a shirt. I cut some pads off the waist of an old pack and slide them in place for the approach. I don't use a waist belt while climbing.

I use the flash if I need to bring more than a nalgene of water for a long route or very hot day. It's straps have no padding and it's less noticeable while climbing. If you want to carry a rope/rack to the route with it though that pack is a bit too minimal for me.
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Aug 1, 2016
MEC Alpinelite is a burlier, more technical option versus the Flash. Everything strips Ryan Marsters
Joined Jan 21, 2011
492 points
Aug 1, 2016
For multi-pitch rock climbs, I look for durability #1, because it's inevitable that the pack will be run through chimneys and all manner of abuse. Love my Mountain Hardware Hueco 20 for this. Tons of abuse and still going strong.

Alpine multi-pitch, I look for lightweight and ease of use. Single zipper top, no lids, good ice axe loops. Patagonia Ascentionist 25 or 35.
Ryan Hamilton
From Orem
Joined Aug 11, 2011
34 points
Aug 1, 2016
I'm wanting to use it for alpine routes in the RMNP. Stuff on the spearhead and eventually the diamond when my balls finally drop. Or for trips to the winds. Next spring i want to do some couloirs on some of CO's 14ers so being able to Suresh crampons and and ice ace would be nice.

Durabilty is the one concern i have about the flash series. But i also don't want anything that's gonna be to big, bulky, heavy etc that's why I'm looking for something 15L to 25L or so. I have a decent 40L for water, food, equipment and what not.

As far as chimneys I've considered girth hitching a pack to my belay loop when moving through chimneys. Does anyone else use such techniques?
Anthony O'Neill
From Northern CO
Joined Apr 28, 2014
12 points
Aug 1, 2016
Anthony O'Neill wrote:
I'm wanting to use it for alpine routes in the RMNP. Stuff on the spearhead and eventually the diamond when my balls finally drop. Or for trips to the winds. Next spring i want to do some couloirs on some of CO's 14ers so being able to Suresh crampons and and ice ace would be nice. Durabilty is the one concern i have about the flash series. But i also don't want anything that's gonna be to big, bulky, heavy etc that's why I'm looking for something 15L to 25L or so. I have a decent 40L for water, food, equipment and what not. As far as chimneys I've considered girth hitching a pack to my belay loop when moving through chimneys. Does anyone else use such techniques?


I generally just clip my PAS to my pack through chimneys, but they still get really beat up. That's why I look for a very durable pack for rock chimneys.
Ryan Hamilton
From Orem
Joined Aug 11, 2011
34 points
Aug 1, 2016
Anthony O'Neill wrote:
Next spring i want to do some couloirs on some of CO's 14ers so being able to Suresh crampons and and ice ace would be nice. Durabilty is the one concern i have about the flash series. But i also don't want anything that's gonna be to big, bulky, heavy etc that's why I'm looking for something 15L to 25L or so. I have a decent 40L for water, food, equipment and what not. As far as chimneys I've considered girth hitching a pack to my belay loop when moving through chimneys. Does anyone else use such techniques?


If you want to carry pointy stuff I wouldn't suggest the flash than. Any of the lighter small packs with a proper carry for ice tools would be a better choice. Upside on the newer style of carry with a clip for the head is that you unclip with one hand behind your back and get the axe off w/o dropping your pack.

On chimneys I girth the pack with a double length sling and clip it to my belay loop. I only plan to get 1-2 summers out of my alpine packs and only buy something I get at cost. Most of these alpine day packs are 210 denier fabric now, even 400D isn't that durable though.

If you want durability you'll have to sacrifice a tad bit of weight. coldcoldworldpacks.com/ozone.h...
Nick Drake
From Newcastle, WA
Joined Jan 20, 2015
393 points
Aug 1, 2016
Anthony O'Neill wrote:
As far as chimneys I've considered girth hitching a pack to my belay loop when moving through chimneys. Does anyone else use such techniques?


Yes. I have a double-length runner girth-hitched to my pack when I know a chimney is coming up. Put it on at the belay station.
FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Joined Nov 19, 2009
284 points
Aug 1, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Berlin
Cilogear 20L worksack Jay Eggleston
From Denver
Joined Feb 5, 2003
18,388 points
Aug 1, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
Anthony O'Neill wrote:
Ideally I'm looking for something that can carry my approach shoes, a rain jacket, my water bag, and a few snacks.


BD Bullet has been the standard for such purposes for a long time. It's burly and is just the right size.
doligo
Joined Sep 26, 2008
412 points
Aug 1, 2016
The old-style speed 22 is a rad little pack, but I've never had good luck with durability from BD packs. I use it sport climbing a lot, and I can cram a rack for a day of cragging at lumpy in it along with a 3-liter bladder and a rope.

Looks like the redesign resolved a lot of little problems with the first generation, but the overall durability issue remains.
Petsfed
From Laramie, WY
Joined Mar 12, 2002
1,231 points
Aug 1, 2016
Here's the MEC. Remove-able hip belt, chest belt, brain, crampon attachments, and pad. Non-flimsy tool/ax holders, light weight, reinforced bottom, reasonable price, and carries rope or rack and essentials well (I use one of my layers or a hat for back padding).

Good for alpine climbing, general peak bagging, multipitch, and snow/mixed/ice coulies.

Rock Climbing Photo: MEC
MEC
Ryan Marsters
Joined Jan 21, 2011
492 points
Aug 1, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: El Classico V0
I think a 20 liter pack would serve you well. The flash packs are awesome and the price is right, but they won't hold up to much abuse. I really like lightweight packs, but I think the flash could use a little more structure and rigidity.

If you only want 1 versatile pack, go for something in the 20 liter range, and haul it through harder stuff. Maybe 24 liters for crampons/ ice axe.

outdoorgearlab.com/Climbing-Ba...
Brandon.Phillips
From Alabama
Joined May 13, 2011
67 points
Aug 1, 2016
Thanks to everyone for their input. I think I'm even more confused. Nah, but I have a lot more things to consider now. Especially looking forward to next spring when I start kicking up those couloirs. And thanks for the link to outdoorgearlab.com I totally forgot about that site. Anthony O'Neill
From Northern CO
Joined Apr 28, 2014
12 points
Aug 1, 2016
I have one for sale here: mountainproject.com/v/fs-packs...

I used it a lot in the Tetons (perfect for Irene's arete or some such) and for long routes in Red Rocks. The side zipper allows you to shrink it down for climbing, then throw the rack inside for the descent so it doesn't get in your way.

My knees aren't good enough to do those kinds of routes any more, oh well.
Rock Climbing Photo: Lowe Alpine Attack 20
Lowe Alpine Attack 20
lynne wolfe
Joined Jan 22, 2008
25 points


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