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Gone are the days when climbing comprised of swami belts, hobnailed boots, and weeks spent nailing pitons into swaths of stone. Current patterns in climbing rigging have advanced toward usefulness, execution, and insightful plan, and packs have taken action accordingly. In this article, we separate the top climbing rucksacks of 2019 into three classifications: ridge, supporter, and elevated. Every parity various requests, however these packs all offer an attention on association (regardless of whether inside or out) and by and large are lightweight and sturdy. For more foundation data, see our climbing knapsack examination table and purchasing exhortation beneath the picks. To finish your unit, see our articles on climbing shoes, tackles, and protective caps.

Best Overall Climbing Backpack
1. Osprey Mutant 38 ($170)
Category: Alpine
Weight: 2 lbs. 11 oz.
Capacities: 22, 38, 52L
What we like: Accommodates heavy loads well; extremely versatile.
What we don’t: Heavier than most alpine packs and the hipbelt is not removable.

To be completely forthright, we didn't think we'd ever observe an Osprey—a most loved among hikers and explorers—at the highest point of a climbing article, however we admit to being in the wrong. Their snow capped explicit Mutant is a very noteworthy climbing pack, consolidating class-driving solace with a variety of specialized highlights and an adjustable form. With a framesheet, cushioned hipbelt, and comfortable shoulder ties, the Mutant conveys and appropriates weight superior to anything other streamlined snow capped packs, even with burdens as much as 50 pounds. Furthermore, when you're prepared to climb, it effectively strips down to turn into a quick and-light climbing machine.

By and large, the Mutant is one of the most flexible packs on this rundown, thus agreeable and sturdy that we'd even prescribe it for the bank. It likewise has every one of the highlights we search for in a snow capped explicit pack, including ice apparatus connections, removable segments, ski-convey circles, and glove-accommodating zipper pulls. We do wish the Mutant's hipbelt was separable—it folds over the pack to avoid the method for a tackle, yet we lean toward the additional customization when conceivable. Furthermore, for an adherent pack or medium-term rig, look at the 22-liter and 52-liter forms of the Mutant.

Best Backpack for Cragging
2. Black Diamond Creek 50 ($210)
Category: Crag
Weight: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
Capacities: 20, 35, 50L
What we like: Easy to pack and ridiculously durable.
What we don’t: The cavernous compartment can feel like a black hole.

If you’re anything like the average climber, you most likely spend more time cragging than multi-pitching or schlepping into the mountains. While any old pack will get you to the crag, a workhorse like Black Diamond’s Creek 50 will make it less of a chore. With an upright base for simple loading and unloading, convenient pockets, full side-zip access to the main compartment, and the most durable fabric (1,200-denier polyester) of any pack on this list, it's ideal for day-in and day-out abuse.

The Creek 50 is one of the most rugged and well-built options out there, but unless you consistently carry a massive trad rack, you may find its 50-liter capacity to be excessive. Black Diamond also offers the Creek in a 35-liter build as well as an on-route 20-liter haul bag for those who want the same high quality without the volume. Or, consider their Crag 40: it’s a lightweight, streamlined version of the Creek: half the price, but also half the bag, in our opinion. All in all, duffel-style packs like the Patagonia Cragsmith below allow for easier access to your gear than these top-loaders, but when it comes to a crag pack that can swallow a triple rack, 70-meter rope, and even your winter puffy, it’s hard to beat the Creek 50.
See the Black Diamond Creek 50

Best Budget/Follower Pack
REI Co-op Flash 18L Climbing Backpack 23. REI Co-op Flash 18 ($40)
Category: Follower
Weight: 10 oz.
Capacities: 18, 22L
What we like: The lightest and least expensive follower pack.
What we don't: Thinner and less durable than the competition.

We know what you’re thinking: REI? A climbing pack? The answer is a resounding “yes.” In fact, the Flash 18 is the lightest and cheapest model on our list yet still manages to include a bunch of useful features. Like many other follower packs, the Flash 18 has a top draw cord that can be opened and closed one-handed, a backpanel that can be taken out and used as a sit pad, removable hip and sternum straps, and even daisy-chain attachment points and an ice axe loop. For $40 and just 10 ounces, that's a whole lot of pack.

But despite its impressive weight and price, the Flash 18 does have its downsides, most notably in terms of durability. The 140-denier nylon construction pales in comparison to more rugged follower packs like the Patagonia Linked (940D) and Black Diamond Blitz (210D) below. It is not made to be hauled up routes, won’t last long in chimneys, and is bound to get ripped if you’re loading it down with your sharp climbing gear on the walk out. But for $40, you could have two or three Flash 18s for the cost of one of the competing models.
See the REI Co-op Flash 18

Best Backpack for Alpine Climbing
Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 Climbing Backpack4. Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 ($259)
Category: Alpine
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Capacities: 30, 45L
What we like: Minimalist yet durable, waterproof, and comfortable.
What we don’t: Expensive and a bit difficult to pack.

To create the ultralight Alpha FL, Arc’teryx merged the lidless, top-loading design of a follower pack with a rugged, medium-capacity bag. This pack is an alpinist’s dream: it’s streamlined, carries well, and is both waterproof and highly abrasion-resistant. The Alpha FL’s collar expands to accommodate a 45-liter load on the approach, and then compresses to a remarkable 33-liter shape that climbs like an extension of the body. Accessing the contents is a breeze—even with gloves on—and lash points, bungee attachments, and a top strap secure anything from skis and crampons to a rope and sleeping pad to the pack’s exterior.

Shaving weight usually comes with sacrifices, and the Alpha FL is no exception. Its slender shape can make packing bulky items a chore, the hipbelt isn’t padded, and you’ll have to add compression straps if you want to cinch down a light load from the sides. It’s worth noting that Hyperlite’s Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack below offers more resilient materials, but the Alpha FL’s shape and features are superior for fast-and-light missions. It definitely speaks volumes that you’re likely to see this pack more than any other on technical routes in big mountains.
See the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45

Best of the Rest
Patagonia Cragsmith 45L Climbing Backpack 25. Patagonia Cragsmith 45L ($199)
Category: Crag
Weight: 3 lbs. 7 oz.
Capacities: 32, 45L
What we like: Durable and allows for great organization.
What we don’t: Can be difficult to close with a full load.

Patagonia’s calls their newest iteration of a crag pack a “gear dumpster,” and we think that’s an appropriate designation. The Cragsmith’s U-shaped zipper allows easy access to the entire contents of the pack without exposing gear—or the pack’s suspension system—to dirt. It's also lined with a small layer of foam, which helps hold the structure to make loading and unloading easier. With 630-denier fabric, the Cragsmith is a strong and well-made daily workhorse that will protect your gear in most conditions.

For the right application, the Cragsmith is close to ideal: it’s comfortable, sleek, and even burly and protective enough to serve as a haul bag. But while the Cragsmith is one of our most durable options, it does come with its fair share of compromises. Compared to a top-loading pack like the BD Creek 50, Patagonia’s offering is simply not as convenient. You can’t haphazardly throw heaps of gear into the Cragsmith, and we’ve often seen friends struggle to seal up the top zip with a hefty load. But for sport climbing or when you’re splitting the rope and rack between two people, the Cragsmith is one of our favorite crag packs.
See the Patagonia Cragsmith 45L

6. Patagonia Linked 18L ($99)
Patagonia Linked Pack 18L Climbing BackpackCategory: Follower
Weight: 1 lb. 3.7 oz.
Capacities: 18, 28L
What we like: Extremely durable, comfortable, and easy to access.
What we don’t: Pricey for an 18-liter pack.

From hiking to technical climbing, Patagonia’s bags are synonymous with toughness and reliability (at a price). The Linked is a durable, thoughtfully designed, climbing-specific pack that performs just as well on your back as attached to the end of a haul line. The tapered build sits high and close to the body and is secured with comfortable shoulder straps, while the robust 940-denier nylon fabric and reinforced haul handles make it burly enough to drag up coarse rock. At the belay, the Linked hangs easily from the anchor by its two loops, allowing it to open wide and provide easy access without spilling your gear.

At 1 pound 3.7 ounces, the Linked is heavier than most other packs of similar capacities, and it doesn’t compress quite as well. But for a small yet burly haul bag, this is about as light as it gets. Our main gripe, however, is the $99 price tag, which is quite steep for an 18-liter pack. But as often is the case with Patagonia, you get what you pay for: the Linked offers premium construction, durability that may outlast two Flash 18s, and a climbing-specific design that makes it super capable on any route.
See the Patagonia Linked 18L

7. Metolius Crag Station ($129)
Metolius Crag Station Climbing BackpackCategory: Crag
Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
Capacities: 41L
What we like: Extremely durable; affordable.
What we don’t: Not as user-friendly as Patagonia’s Cragsmith.

Combining the carrying comfort of a backpack with the superior convenience of a duffel bag, Metolius’ Crag Station boasts one of the most unique designs on our list. It’s business as usual until you arrive at the crag, where the pack then lays flat and zips open wide, allowing for easier access to gear than any top-loading pack. Metolius also reinforced the sides of the Crag Station with Duathane—the same material used on their haul bags—to boost durability. But just to be clear, we wouldn’t advise hauling this bag as its front zip would be too difficult to access when hanging mid-wall.

What are the downsides of the Crag Station? To start, the suspension system only comes in one size, meaning it probably won’t fit those with particularly large or small builds. Further, its design doesn’t provide the access of the Patagonia Cragsmith’s U-shaped zipper, nor is it made with padding to provide a barrier between your back and sharp equipment. Finally, trad climbers might find the 41-liter Crag Station to be too small for all their gear. Overall, if you’re looking for a crag pack with easy access, we’d first recommend the more comfortable, convenient Patagonia Cragsmith. But for a bump in durability and a simple but practical design, the Crag Station is a steal at $129.
See the Metolius Crag Station

8. Black Diamond Blitz 20 ($80)
Black Diamond Blitz 20 Climbing BackpackCategory: Follower
Weight: 14 oz.
Capacities: 20, 28L
What we like: Alpine-centric: this bag is lightweight and stuffs down small.
What we don’t: We’ve experienced durability issues with other lightweight BD products.

The Black Diamond Blitz 20 is a follower pack made for the mountains. With ice tool pockets, a removable bivy pad and hipbelt, and a minimalistic design that easily stuffs away into a larger pack on the approach, it can handle serious alpine missions. The bag sports a tapered design that rides high on the back between the shoulders—tight to the body and out of the way of the harness—and the one-handed top closure doubles as a way to cinch down a half-full load (bummer: no compression straps).

Durability-wise, however, we have mixed feelings about Black Diamond packs. Our Creek 50 still is going strong after over four years of constant use, but other packs that prioritize weight-savings have been shredded after only one serious mission. We have these same concerns about the Blitz, which is why it’s not one of our top contenders. It’s worth noting that the Blitz utilizes the same 210-denier nylon as the Patagonia Ascensionist below, but it’s hard to let go of our firsthand experiences from the past.
See the Black Diamond Blitz 20

9. Exped Black Ice 45 ($179)
Exped Black Ice 45 climbing backpackCategory: Alpine
Weight: 1 lb. 12.9 oz.
Capacities: 30, 45, 55L
What we like: More capacity than the Arc’teryx Alpha FL for $70 less.
What we don’t: Recommended load limit of 33 pounds.

The Exped Black Ice goes head-to-head with our #4 pick, the Arc’teryx Alpha FL, featuring a similar waterproof build, roll-top closure, and highly streamlined design. Both have minimally padded suspension systems, a small zippered pocket on the front, and multiple lash points for securing gear on the outside of the pack. With 400-denier fabric, the Black Ice is just as robust as the Alpha FL, and we also appreciate the durability of the Exped’s partially metal hipbelt closure. Keep in mind that you pay a small weight penalty (6 ounces) with the Exped, but also get slightly more volume (as we mentioned above, the Alpha FL actually is a 33-liter pack with an extendable collar) and a few more options for external carry. But the biggest difference between the two packs is in price: at $179, the Black Ice is a full $70 cheaper than the Arc’teryx.

For all but the most weight-conscious of alpinists, the savings is well worth it. That said, for those who need a pack that climbs as an extension of the body, the Arc’teryx provides a smaller, more jet-pack-like fit. And keep in mind that both of these packs forgo organizational features and comfort for the sake of minimalism. In fact, the Exped is only rated to carry 33 pounds compared to the 50-pound load limit of the Osprey Mutant above. If you’re traveling fast and light this won’t be an issue, and you’ll be thankful for the streamlined build when wearing the Black Ice as a follower pack on technical terrain.
See the Exped Black Ice 45

10. Mountain Hardwear Crag Wagon 45 ($200)
Climbing Backpacks (Mountain Hardwear Crag Wagon 45) 2Category: Crag
Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
Capacities: 45, 60L
What we like: Feature set allows for great crag organization.
What we don’t: Cotton body fabric lacks durability and stains easily.

Mountain Hardwear is making a comeback in the climbing scene, and it shows in their functional and durable Crag Wagon. This thoughtfully-designed pack combines features from the Creek, Cragsmith, and Crag Station above, ultimately providing climbers with another quality option. Like the BD Creek, the Crag Wagon has a haul-bag design for easy top loading, but the front panel also opens to give you easy access to all your gear. A Kevlar base, internal gear loops, removeable rope tarp, and a large front pocket for quick gear retrieval round out the pack’s feature set, making the Crag Wagon one of the best-organized crag packs on our list.

Price-wise, the Crag Wagon is similar to Patagonia and Black Diamond’s crag packs, but the Metolius Crag Station still leads the charge at a very affordable $129. But our biggest gripe with the Mountain Hardwear—and why we rank it here—is the mostly-cotton body fabric, which is overall less durable and more likely to stain (especially in the light blue and yellow colorways) than polyester or nylon. In addition, the accent fabric is a relatively thin 70 denier. In terms of capacity, we find the 45-liter version sufficient for most days of sport and trad climbing, although you might want the 60-liter version for gear-intensive crags like Indian Creek.
See the Mountain Hardwear Crag Wagon 45

11. Patagonia Ascensionist 40L ($179)
Patagonia Ascensionist climbing backpackCategory: Alpine
Weight: 2 lbs. 0.5 oz.
Capacities: 30, 40L
What we like: One-handed opening allows for easy access at the belay.
What we don’t: Doesn’t expand much to accommodate oversized loads.

The Patagonia Ascensionist is designed with both the approach and climb in mind, so it’s no surprise that it transitions almost seamlessly between the two. When loaded down on the hike, a rope strap and side compression straps allow you to attach additional gear. Once you reach the climb, slide the pads off the webbing hipbelt, cinch the bag down tight, and you’ve got yourself a lightweight climbing machine. On the way up, the Ascensionist allows the most convenient, one-handed access to its contents of any alpine pack we have listed.

With 210-denier fabric and a weight of just over 2 pounds, it’s evident why the Ascensionist ranks below the Arc’teryx Alpha FL. Not only is it less durable, but it's heavier too. And while Patagonia advertises that the collar expands to handle larger loads, we found its give quite limiting compared to the competition. Further, the Ascensionist doesn’t carry comfortably when loaded down and its unisex design failed to fit our female tester. But if you don’t need the fantastic climbability of the Alpha FL above or burly waterproofing of the Exped Black Ice below, the Ascensionist is a fine middle ground.
See the Patagonia Ascensionist 40L

12. Hyperlite Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack ($500)
Hyperlite Ice Pack 2400 Climbing Backpack 2Category: Alpine
Weight: 2 lbs. 2.1 oz.
Capacities: 40, 55, 70L
What we like: Lightweight and durable.
What we don’t: Expensive and the closure system isn’t user-friendly.

Dyneema is among the strongest fabrics in the world in terms of strength-to-weight ratio, resists moisture to an impressive degree, and is super lightweight. Suffice it to say, we generally trust packs that utilize this material. And the Dyneema 2400 (40-liter) Ice Pack is the most durable alpine option in our round-up, trumping even the Arc’teryx Alpha FL and Exped Black Ice above. It also compresses better than both with a roll-top that gathers excess fabric and side straps that cinch the load close to the back. To top it off, aluminum stays, firm foam padding, and a padded hipbelt allow it to carry more comfortably than a pack like the Alpha FL.

At $500, the Ice Pack is the most expensive model on this list by far, and it does have shortcomings. Most notably, the closure system is overly complicated, with strong Velcro and multiple straps adding to the inconvenience of a roll-top. Furthermore, Dyneema lacks breathability: with no panel between the fabric and the back, you’ll get sweaty in the summer heat (and have little buffer between you and your gear). For $310 cheaper, you can opt for the less durable 50D/150D hybrid 2400 Ice Pack, but we’d go for a more breathable and easily accessible option on this list if budget is the major concern.
See the Hyperlite Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack

13. Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 30 ($120)
Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 30 climbing backpackCategory: Follower
Weight: 1 lb. 9.6 oz.
Capacities: 20, 30L
What we like: Fully featured and durable follower pack.
What we don’t: Overbuilt for most purposes.

The Multi-Pitch 30’s name gives it away: this is a burly pack ideal for both carrying and hauling on-route. It prioritizes longevity and function over the minimalism of follower packs like the REI Flash 18, and is most similar to the Patagonia Linked above, with burly fabric, two haul points, shoulder straps that stuff into the backpanel, and a removable hipbelt. Overall, we find the Multi-Pitch to be great in use: the flat Kevlar bottom props the pack up for easy loading, while the top zip lets you retrieve gear at a belay without the risk of spilling the contents. And organizational options abound: the pack features a small exterior zip pocket, deployable mesh pocket, lash points, and interior gear loops.

We’re especially intrigued by the Multi-Pitch 30 for its size: at 30 liters, this pack can easily play double-duty as your approach or crag pack, in addition to being a follower pack. On the flip side, it’s not quite ideal for either: we find it overkill for most on-route applications (it’s also available in a 20-liter capacity) and too small for most approach/crag needs. The Multi-Pitch is heavy too: at 1 pound 9.6 ounces, it’s almost triple the weight of REI’s Flash 18. Overall, we still prefer the Patagonia Linked for its simpler and more durable drawstring closure and longer haul loops that easily meet together at the top of the pack.
See the Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 30

14. Arc’teryx Alpha AR 35 ($219)
Arc'teryx Alpha AR 35 climbing backpackCategory: Alpine
Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.
Capacities: 20, 35L
What we like: More comfort and convenient features than the Alpha FL.
What we don’t: Not as durable as the Osprey Mutant.

Cutting-edge alpinists across the world laud the Arc’teryx Alpha FL for its no-frills, lightweight build that climbs like an extension of the body. For climbing technical rock or ice with a 30-plus-liter pack, it simply doesn’t get much better. But the FL leaves a lot to be desired in terms of comfort, convenience, and capacity, and not all alpinists need that superb climbability. Enter the new Alpha AR 35, Arc’teryx’s “all-round” climbing backpack. With a larger feature set than the FL, including a padded hipbelt and framesheet, the AR is able to handle much heavier loads with ease. Further, the framesheet and lid are removable, giving the pack the versatility needed for both the approach and the climb.

The Arc’teryx Alpha AR is a significant one pound heavier than the FL and does not have a streamlined, torpedo-like shape that lends itself so well to technical climbing. In fact, it’s most similar to our chart-topping Osprey Mutant, both in versatility and comfort. Both packs clock in at similar weights and capacities, prioritize padded suspension systems for comfort on the approach, and can be stripped down for saving weight. But the Osprey is $50 cheaper and wins out in its ability to customize, and we find that its fabric holds up much better than that of the Arc’teryx. Take note: the AR also is available in both a 55-liter pack great for overnight missions (2 pounds 14 ounces; $249) and a 20-liter follower pack (1 pound 3 ounces; $129).
See the Arc'teryx Alpha AR 35

15. Trango Crag Pack 2.0 ($120)
Climbing Backpacks (Trango Crag Pack 2.0)Category: Crag
Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz.
Capacities: 45L
What we like: An affordable pack with convenient, crag-specific features.
What we don’t: Not as well made as the Black Diamond Creek 50.

For the everyday cragger in need of a high-capacity bag, the Trango Crag Pack 2.0 manages to cram a whole lot of features into a $120 package. A small removable tarp extends from the pack to keep your gear clean, a large external pocket fits a guidebook nicely, and an external mesh pouch can store sweaty climbing shoes. Further, the tapered, upright design—similar to that of the Black Diamond Creek 50—makes loading and unloading gear quick and painless. And with the 2019 upgrade, the Crag Pack got significantly more durable 1,000-denier fabric, and even features a handy micro-fiber pocket for your phone.

Unlike the Creek 50, Trango’s model uses a top zipper closure instead of a drawstring and buckle. In our opinion, this wasn’t the best choice: the durability and ease of use of a drawstring closure far surpasses the top zip. Furthermore, the zipper closure leaves the Crag Pack with no way of compressing down when only half full, which can leave a lot of empty and awkwardly-distributed space. But if you want a durable pack that can carry all your gear for way less than the $210 Creek 50, Trango’s Crag Pack 2.0 is a nice budget option.
See the Trango Crag Pack 2.0

16. Black Diamond Speed 40 ($180)
Black Diamond Speed 40 Climbing BackpackCategory: Alpine
Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.
Capacities: 22, 30, 40, 50L
What we like: Comfortable and has a protective crampon patch.
What we don’t: Durability issues and lacks internal organization.

Black Diamond’s Speed is a jack of all trades, but master of none. The good: it’s relatively affordable and comes with all the features you’ll need for rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and even skiing. In fact, we like the reinforced crampon patch and ice tool attachments better than most. And like many alpine packs, the Speed is made to comfortably carry a heavy load on the approach and then strip down (shedding almost a pound) for the climb.

What are the downsides of the Black Diamond Speed 40? Despite the denier rating (210D x 420D), which is similar to many other packs in this category, we’ve had a 22-liter Speed that developed holes in the collar after one pitch of hauling. Second, at 2.5 pounds, it’s certainly not our top choice for fast-and-light missions. Third, given the build and lack of a DWR finish, the fabric won't keep your gear dry in a rainstorm like other alpine packs. And perhaps worst of all, the Speed is lacking internal organization. If you remove the lid, you’re left with nothing in the way of pockets. Having said all that, it's a moderately-priced pack that may surprise you with its comfort.
Black Diamond Speed 40

Climbing Backpack Buying Advice
Types of Climbing Packs: Crag, Follower, Alpine
Fabric and Durability
Carrying Comfort
Closure Systems and Access
Pockets and Organization
Exterior Gear Attachment
Haul Loops
Hydration Compatibility
Streamlining Your Pack

Types of Climbing Packs
Whether you’re hiking five minutes to hang out at the crag for afternoon, taking 48 hours to ascend a towering granite spire in Patagonia, or free climbing at your limit with a day’s worth of supplies, the right pack can make all the difference. To help, we’ve broken down our favorite models into three categories: crag, follower, and alpine.

Crag Pack
In general, cragging often means walking between five and 20 minutes and posting up in one location for the entire day. You’ll not only need a pack that can carry all your gear and then some, but one that organizes it well too. Crag packs are designed with an emphasis on comfort, easy access, and durability. Some, like the Black Diamond Creek 50, have haul-bag-style bases for simple loading, while others like Metolius’ Crag Station are designed with unique back or front openings for access to all your gear at once. Look for organizational pockets, comfy suspension systems, and even crag-specific features like built-in rope tarps, gear loops, or guidebook compartments.
Climbing Backpacks (crag pack 2)
The Patagonia Cragsmith makes for great organization at the crag

Most crag packs carry 40 to 50 liters, so you can fit a double rack, your down jacket, and maybe even a couple of post-send beers. Ideally, you should be able to fit all of your day’s gear inside the bag. While carrying a rope and ice equipment on the outside of your alpine pack makes sense for mountain expeditions, there’s no reason to deal with that sort of inconvenience at the crag. Get a pack that can swallow all of your gear easily without needing to stuff all the nooks and crannies or dangle things on the outside. And if you don’t carry trad gear, you can likely get away with a lower-volume bag.

Follower Pack
Follower packs are designed to carry a day’s worth of supplies—water, food, sunscreen, extra layers, etc.—while accompanying you on a multi-pitch route. But buyer beware: “follower pack” sometimes can be a misnomer. Most parties will climb with one 16-to-30-liter pack (carried by the follower), although the leader often will carry a small pack as well on overnight or alpine routes. Others who are free climbing long routes at their limit might choose to haul their “follower” pack rather than climbing with a bigger load.
Climbing Backpacks (follower)
Climbing with a follower pack in the Black Canyon

Follower packs are identified by their small capacity—generally between 16 and 30 liters—and have features like easy-to-access exterior pockets, reinforced haul loops, streamlined webbing hipbelts (or no hipbelt at all), and one-handed top drawstrings for quick retrieval of gear at the belay. Some are made with a focus on low weight and packability, while others (like Patagonia’s Linked Pack or Mountain Hardwear’s Multi-Pitch) are made with high-denier fabrics for durability while scraping through chimneys or being dragged up thousands of feet of coarse granite.

Climbing Backpacks (Alpha FL 2)
The Arc'teryx Alpha FL is our top pick among alpine climbing backpacks
Alpine Pack
When it comes to alpine packs, the focus is less on comfortable suspension systems and organizational features and more on weight savings and versatility. Because an alpine pack needs to be useful for both hiking and climbing, most have the ability to streamline, including features like removable lids, hipbelts, and compression straps (for more, see our section on “Streamlining Your Pack”). Some also come with shock cords or accessory straps for securing crampons, ice axes, or other bulky gear to the outside so you can hike with a massive load and strip down to a tight pack for the climb.

Alpine packs range from 30 to 60 liters, and most climbers will err on the smaller side to avoid added ounces and poor weight distribution. In general, stay in the 30-liter range for a day trip, 45 liters for an overnight, and 60 liters for multi-night trips when you’re carrying many days worth of supplies into basecamp. And be sure to pay attention to load limits—they’re crucial for comfort on the trail. It’s surprisingly easy to overload an alpine pack with a rope, ice tools, crampons, and climbing helmet, but hiking with 40 pounds of gear in a pack that’s only designed to carry 30 soon will feel severely strenuous.

When it comes to gear you’re carrying on your back, weight matters. That said, it's much more of a concern when you’re climbing 2,000 feet of 5.10 in a day compared to a five-minute walk to the crag. Because of this, crag packs sacrifice a bit of weight-saving for organizational features, comfort, and durability, while follower and alpine packs shave off heavy fabrics, pockets, and cushy suspension systems to be fast and light. As always, be aware that there are sacrifices when shaving weight. If minimizing ounces is not your top priority, you should consider the slightly heavier, more durable, and more comfortable options.
Climbing Backpacks (follower)
On a long day of hiking and climbing, every ounce counts

In general, our three categories above provide general guidelines for capacities: follower packs are about 16 to 30 liters, crag packs are in the 40-to-50-liter range, and alpine packs anywhere from 30 liters for a day mission to 60 liters for a week. It’s important to think about what you intend to stuff inside—a pack that’s too small won’t fit your necessary gear, but a half-empty pack is a waste of material and likely won’t evenly distribute your load. We’d rather err on the side of too large for a crag pack, but prefer our alpine packs to be fully stuffed, even with gear attached to the outside. This is one reason we really like Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45—it’s a 33-liter pack with the ability to fit 45 when the need arises.

Fabric and Durability
Durability always is a consideration when it comes to outdoor gear, but it matters even more when it comes to items that are constantly dragged across rock and dropped on uneven surfaces. While some climbing packs are designed with an emphasis on durability, others sacrifice a bombproof exterior to shave weight. The materials used to construct any given pack will help you determine if it suits your purposes: the 140-denier nylon of the REI Flash 18, for example, makes it a clear choice for a lightweight bag, but it will shred quickly when hauled up rough rock. The Patagonia Linked Pack, on the other hand, is made of burly 940-denier nylon, which is perfect for hauling but almost 10 ounces heavier (and far less compressible) than the Flash.

Because rock climbing generally is a fair-weather activity, most of the packs here are not made to be highly water-resistant or waterproof. Those who climb in the mountains, however, might find value in a more protective pack. Arc’teryx’s Alpha FL and the Hyperlite Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack, for example, are made with waterproof or highly water-resistant materials.

Conveying Comfort

The three sorts of packs will likewise regularly fluctuate altogether as far as conveying solace. Generally, paying little respect to the pack, you'll need your heap to lay for the most part on your hips instead of your shoulders. Bank packs regularly have completely cushioned hip belts, agreeable shoulder lashes, and a comfortable backpanel that ought to have the option to deal with a full burden effortlessly. You can pull off included mass and weight when you're just climbing short separations, and will likely find that your heap really feels lighter with the meaty suspension. There's actually no explanation not to bluff in solace.

Climbing Backpacks (Smith)

Completely included ridge packs are incredible for short approaches

Then again, numerous high and adherent packs will renounce cushioning—on the hipbelt and backpanel specifically—for a progressively streamlined and lighter structure. Some keep up a more elevated level of solace than others: the Osprey Mutant 38, for instance, has a cushioned hipbelt and shoulder ties, while the Arc'teryx Alpha FL includes only a basic webbing hipbelt. As far as moving with a pack on, numerous climbers want to have their little supporter pack sit high on their back and off the beaten path of their saddle as opposed to swinging low around their midsection. The majority of the snow capped and supporter packs we highlight have movable ties to oblige distinctive body types and conveying inclinations.

Conclusion Systems and Access

A pack's conclusion framework is an extraordinary method to distinguish where it exceeds expectations. Does it have a one-given drawstring? It must be made for quick and-light tries when recovering things from your pack should be fast and simple. A U-molded zip board on the back? Sounds like excellent association at the precipice. A removable top with drawstring underneath? We're figuring this would make an extraordinary pack to load up for the methodology and after that strip down for streamlined lightweight suitcase course.

Climbing Backpacks (rivulet 50)

The Black Diamond Creek 50 is anything but difficult to stack and empty

We see the most variety in access with regards to ridge packs, and this is nothing unexpected to us. As we've referenced above, accommodation is the name of the game at the bluff. Packs like the Patagonia Cragsmith, Black Diamond Creek 50, and Metolius Crag Station are on the whole like voyaging bags, intended to give simple and sorted out access to your apparatus. Then again, we'd discover no requirement for the comfort of a duffel-style pack in the snow capped. Truth be told, dangling from a grapple, we'd presumably spill all our apparatus attempting to open it.

Pockets and Organization

Once more, we'll make a differentiation here among ridge and snow capped/supporter packs. At the precipice, we'll happily pay the cost in weight and mass for pockets of various sizes and one of a kind stacking and access. Among top-stacking packs, duffel-style sacks, and full U-molded boards, it's commonly close to home inclination. Some bluff packs accompany worked in rigging coverings, and others have inward circles for sorting out your apparatus. Since the methodology is shorter, you don't generally need pockets on your hipbelt like you may need on an elevated pack (we think the Patagonia Cragsmith's plan is pointless excess in this regard).

Climbing Backpacks (basic)

Most snow capped or devotee packs are top-stacking with one little pocket

With regards to long methodologies or moving with a pack on, climbers are eager to make a wide range of penances in the method for association shave weight and mass. Most elevated or devotee packs have only one little zippered pocket, inside or out. It may appear to be too little to ever be valuable, yet it's definitely not. Having brisk access to your headlamp or a bar is vastly improved than diving around in the profundities of a 40-liter pack at the belay. So, be careful about zippered pockets on the body of the pack, similar to that of the Patagonia Ascensionist, Arc'teryx Alpha FL, or Black Diamond Blitz. These pockets are very hard to get to while the pack is stacked and tightened down.

Outside Gear Attachment

Joining rigging to the outside of a pack can rapidly go from sorted out to totally clamorous, so be cautious what (and where) you connect. By and large, snow capped climbers will convey an over-burden pack on the methodology so that once outfit, climbing shoes, head protector, rope, rack, and draws have been expelled, the sack isn't clumsy and larger than usual on the ascension. Most snow capped explicit packs accompany daisy chains, rope ties, extra lashes, and ice device connections for this very reason. Numerous supporter packs likewise have different rigging connection focuses, which is helpful in case you're moving in Squamish and strolling off the summit of the Chief with all your apparatus. It's our sentiment that once on-course, try not to move with a store of apparatus dangling from your pack.

Climbing Backpacks (Patagonia 2)

Drawing nearer in the North Cascades with a 30L Patagonia Ascensionist | photograph: Austin Siadak

As far as bluff packs, we emphatically prescribe discovering one that can suit the majority of your rigging in within compartment. Having the option to toss everything into a pack permits quicker stacking and an increasingly agreeable convey. In any case, if you have to hang a slogan or #6 cam all things considered, most precipice packs accompany a couple of outside connection focuses.

Take Loops

In case you're pulling your pack up an ascension or balancing it from the grapple at a belay, you'll need to ensure that it has a solid connection point. Many climbing-explicit packs are made with fortified take circles for this very reason. The Patagonia Linked Pack outflanks the remainder of our top picks in this division, with huge handles that effectively meet over the substance of the pack, giving two separate purposes of connection for included security. On the off chance that a pack simply has one take circle—particularly if it's not fortified for pulling (like that of the REI Flash 18)— we suggest circling a carabiner through both the take circle and a shoulder lash. Two of contact—or in climber talk, "repetition"— is the standard with regards to security in the vertical domain.

Hydration Compatibility

We don't make reference to hydration similarity much in this article, and we have our reasons. For one, craggers likely won't have to have water in a hurry during their short drive to the precipice. Further, with regards to adherent packs, we don't prescribe moving with a hydration repository's cylinder hanging out of your pack. It can get scraped on the stone or hinder you while you're going after the following hold. What's more, concerning alpinists, most climbers we know decide not to burden their pack the methodology with liters of water, rather appending a little .5-liter jug to the outside of their pack with a carabiner and topping off close to the trail for the duration of the day.

All things considered, there unquestionably are times when it's decent to have consistent access to water by means of a hydration supply. Truth be told, most snow capped and adherent packs in this article are hydration-perfect, except for only a couple. What's more, bank packs are an alternate story—none on our rundown have a committed spot for a repository.

Streamlining Your Pack

Numerous climbers—particularly those headed into the mountains or up a long multi-pitch course—will need a pack with the capacity to shed unneeded weight and mass. The vast majority of the elevated packs here have highlights like removable ties, tops, hipbelts, framesheets, stays, and the sky is the limit from there. These segments enable a pack to convey more rigging on the methodology, and after that strip down to no frills for the trip. Basically, you'll need your high pack to resemble an adherent pack when you take it on-course: webbing hipbelt, no top, and just a light backpanel/bivy cushion for suspension. It won't just climb better, yet in addition will be a lot lighter. Amazingly, a pack like Osprey's Mutant 38 can go from gauging 2 pounds 11 ounces when completely included to 1 pound 13 ounces when stripped.

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