The Climbing Club

Best Alpine Climbing Pack
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Author:  Jonathan Toner [ Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:55 am ]
Post subject:  Best Alpine Climbing Pack

So I'm kinda sick of my ghetto climbing pack I ordered off of Sierra Trading Post a while ago. This last climbing trip it had my shoulders in agony, while Evan said something like, "Wow, my pack feels like it's floating behind me!" So I'd like a new pack. Specifically, I'd like something that can carry 5 days of food and technical gear, is reasonably comfortable, climbs well, weighs little, and can take a beating. Therefore, I call upon the collective wisdom of CCers, what is the most ideal climbing pack?

Author:  Michelle H [ Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

Brian & I have been replacing most of our fleet of packs with Cilogear WorkSacks. They come in 30, 45, and 60 L, though I find you can get more stuff in them than most other packs with the same advertised volume. The 30 L is good for alpine day trips, and is big enough for a rope, small rack, harness, rock shoes, water, lunch & snacks, helmet, and puffy jacket on the inside. The 45 L fits the above, plus a sleeping bag, bivy sack, a few extra clothes, and stove, though I admit that I never carry that much, since Brian can carry way more than me. If my 45L is completely full, I'm at risk of tipping over, so I don't have any experience with the 60L.

They have both a removable rigid frame (which I've never once used), and a shorty foam pad that can be used as a softer frame and as a very small groundpad for unplanned bivies. The pack is quite light (sorry, I'm too lazy to go weight it) without the rigid frame. You can remove any exterior straps or the "brain", if you don't plan on using them, to make it even lighter. The flip side of this is that the shoulders and hip belt are padded, but not super cushy. What I like most is that it fits narrow shoulders (I use a size Small), but that might not be a bonus for everyone. They're very adjustable, so spend some time to get it right when you try one on.

Our packs have gone through a few years of brush bashing and getting scraped up chimneys, and as far as I know, nothing has broken on them yet, and they don't have any holes.

Author:  Obadiah Reid [ Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

I second the Work Sack recommendation. I've had the 60L for almost 4 years now, and use it for trips from weekends to 10-day expeditions (Pickets Traverse, Mt. Kenya). I don't use any of the provided frame material, however. I cut down a Z-rest so that it fits in the frame pocket, which I find to be both more comfortable and more versatile than the stock equipment (The Z-rest is a better emergency pad).

That said, after only 4 years, my pack is nearly done in. The crampon pocket blew out on the Dorado Needle trip, and there are big tears in the upper fabric near the draw-string closure. However, Grace has a new version, and it looks like they have beefed up the fabric in the places where mine has failed.

Author:  Charlie Hagedorn [ Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

I used a 60L for everything from 2008-2011, at which time I declared it to be thrashed. Like Obadiah, when I got a 45L for my dad, most of the failure points had been addressed.

I'm using a 30:30 GS now for everything (alpine and ski trips to 3+ days), and it works great; a couple of cuts from A-framing skis and a few threads loose here and there after a year's heavy use.

If you go the Cilogear route, I'd recommend the 45L for your stated goal of 5 day trips. If you pack big, the 60 will be easier to fill, but the 45's constraints will make you faster. Others may disagree.

The Cilogear packs aren't for everyone, particularly the d-clip system, but they're pretty burly, light, and reconfigurable. My climbing partner uses a mixture of Cilogear and Osprey packs and likes both. Some days, she likes the less-fiddly nature of other packs.

I'd been looking hard at Cold Cold World packs before I bought my current pack.

Best alpine daypack? REI Flash 18. Super cheap, doesn't suck.

Author:  Jonathan Toner [ Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

I ended up getting the 45L Cilogear work sack. I've heard a lot of good things about it from a lot of people. We'll see how it is when I can use like 6 months.

Author:  Heather Whitney [ Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

Yes, please share your verdict after you've had a chance to use it! I'm curious, too!

Author:  Jonathan Toner [ Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

The verdict is that this is a pretty sweet pack. Just went on an overnight trip with it, and it was very comfortable, even fully loaded. Normally, I'd get bruises and chaffed on my shoulders and hips and some back pain, especially from the load I was carrying. But after this trip my shoulders and hips feel fine and there is no back pain. Also, I did some skiing with it fully loaded, and it worked great, not too awkward, and easy to tighten up on the back. So great pack, and highly recommended.

Author:  Charlie Hagedorn [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack


Author:  Valerie Wall [ Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Best Alpine Climbing Pack

Hey, if anyone is trying to pick one of these up for a less $, here is a used pack (older model). It sounds like areas that normally see some wear and tear have been replaced, so is likely in good condition. ... ost1096944

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