Climbing nowadays means bringing along a lot of gear, especially if you’re embarking on a several-day trip to challenge a remote and unknown wall. You will need to keep a large amount of equipment close to you at any time, and you’ll find yourself in need of one of the best climbing backpacks available. Anyone who has tried it will tell you, a normal backpack or a hiking pack just won’t do, you need something that is built for the job.
Only the best rock climbing backpacks, like the ones we have compiled in this article, can give that combination of lightweight portability, ease of use, and comfort that you need while on the wall. Just like your harness, the climbing backpack you bring with you will soon become an extension of your own body and will give you all the freedom of movement you need while holding your precious equipment close to you. Join us as we take a look at the best climbing backpacks you can buy, so you can head out with the confidence of having the perfect tools for the job.
How To Choose A Climbing Backpack – Buying Guide
Comfort And Fit
The comfort of your climbing backpack and the way it fits on your back may well be the most important features to look out for when purchasing a bag. Most models come with adjustable straps as well as waist belts or chest straps, so you can customize the feel and distribute the weight well for the wall. Be sure to try moving around in a fully loaded backpack before heading anywhere near a rock wall, and return the bag if anything doesn’t feel right.
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Stability goes hand in hand with comfort when it comes to choosing a bag. How you place the items inside it will also influence the feel of the bag, but having straps to tighten or loosen is a feature that we recommend if you are planning a longer trip. Your goal will be to have a bag that not only snugly fits on your back but doesn’t sway around or get caught in anything while you move. In short, be sure to check for a simple design and well-placed straps when making your decision
Storage And Size
Depending on the type of climbing you plan to do, you’ll need backpacks with different capacities. Crag packs tend to be larger since they need to house more gear, whereas follower packs are usually smaller. Choose carefully before you set out since a backpack that is only half full can prove to be very annoying and potentially dangerous to carry on the walls. It might be better to stuff a smaller pack to its limit, rather than leaving too much space for the back to sit partially loaded. The size of the pack needs to be proportionate to your own body, allowing you to move freely without causing unbalance.
Most backpacks are made from nylon, but you need to check the number alongside it to get an idea of its strength. The higher the number, the more durable the material. A tough bag is needed for climbing since it often comes in contact with sharp rock faces. The best you can find is ballistic nylon, giving you excellent durability while keeping the weight very low.
When climbing, every ounce matters, and this is why most alpine backpacks look very simple from the outside, without many outside pockets. Because they are designed for a specific job, they are modeled to best suit the requirements of such a job. Crag packs, on the other hand, feature many more pockets and storage compartments since they can afford to be heavier. They don’t need to be brought up the wall, just up to it, generally. Nevertheless, saving weight should never come at the expense of safety, so it might be best to carry a little more on your shoulders if it can save your life.
The most widely used material you will find in climbing backpacks is nylon, and with good reason. It keeps the weight low while providing very good durability and toughness, features that are needed in all pieces of climbing apparel. The thicker the nylon, the stronger the bag, so that’s what you need to be on the lookout for if you want strength and reliability. On the other hand, if you prefer speed and agility, you can afford to find a bag with thinner nylon.
We strongly recommend that you choose a backpack that comes with sternum straps and a waist belt for your adventures in the mountains. These extra straps may seem to get in the way at first, but once you understand how they distribute the bag’s weight evenly across your back, you won’t want to be without them. Your joints and back will thank you if you take your time to choose your backpack carefully.
Closure Systems and Access
If you’re considering buying a crag pack, then you’ll enjoy a bit more freedom in your choice of closing systems. Since they don’t endure as much as alpine backpacks you can even afford to bring one shaped like a duffel bag. If you’re climbing, however, you need to stick to bags that have a streamlined top opening. This will prevent your gear from falling out should you decide to open your backpack while hanging.
Exterior Gear Attachment
Attaching your gear to the outside of your backpack can prove hazardous sometimes since an excess of equipment will start swinging around and possibly alter your balance, or get caught on outcroppings. If you take an alpine pack with you you should find plenty of space, but be sure to attach only items that you will then be wearing, to not have to climb with gear loose and hanging from your bag. For a crag pack, it’s better if all your gear fits inside it, even though some options are available if you want to clip it on the outside.
Pockets and Organization
Crag packs feature the most options for organization and can come with a variety of internal or side pockets so you can neatly organize your gear. Alpine or follower backpacks usually do away with too many pockets, since their goal is to be simple to use and quick to access. Keep this distinction in mind so you won’t be surprised when perusing through climbing backpack reviews.
The use of hydration bladders is mostly a matter of personal choice. Some climbers don’t want to hinder themselves with excess weight or fear that the bladder might get ruptured. Others enjoy having easy access to some water at all times, so most climbing backpacks will have room to accommodate one, and whichever one you choose you will probably find one.
Q: What is a Crag Pack?
A crag pack is a backpack designed to carry all the needed gear to the base of the wall. The pack then stays next to the person who is holding the belay, and will usually be bigger and less streamlined than other kinds of climbing backpacks.
Q: Why Do I Need a Climbing Backpack?
A climbing backpack is a fundamental tool to have for anyone who ventures in the mountains to carry the gear needed to climb, as well as other items such as food, water, and extra clothing. No serious climber will ever leave without one.
Q: What Are The Different Types Of Climbing Backpacks?
Climbing backpacks can be divided into crag, follower, or alpine backpacks. Crag packs keep all the gear needed for the climb, acting as a portable home for all the equipment, and are larger and more padded. Follower packs are designed to be used on a multi-pitch route and carry a day of supplies, so they have a smaller capacity (i.e. they’re used by the follower, the person cleaning the route). Alpine packs need to withstand both hiking and climbing, are a little larger than follower packs, and can be used for longer trips into bigger alpine terrain.
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A good climbing backpack is one of the most important pieces of equipment that a climber can have on the wall. In our reviews, we have presented the best options on the market, the ones that combine strength with a lightweight build and ease of use. Follow our guide to make the best decision and find yourself an exceptional ally for those rewarding days on the rocks.
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