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Lightweight Mountaineering Pack
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Avery S
Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/14/2011 13:11:47 MST Print View

I'm relatively new to BPL, and I'm less interested in getting my backpacking load under 20 lbs than I am getting my mountaineering load under 40 lbs. I currently use a Gregory Makalu Pro (69 L, 5 lb. 9 oz, minimalist but burly load hauler) and have carried up to 65 lbs in it. It's a great pack, but I'm not thrilled with the weight and I won't need it if I can get my load under 45 or 40 lbs. I've done a ton of searching for a new pack and so far I have the following on my list:

Cilogear 60 L worksack (4 lb, 3 oz)
Black Diamond Speed 55 (3 lb, 5 oz)
HMG porter (2 lb, 0 oz with stays)

I'm worried about the durability of the BD and HMG packs, and the weight of the Cilogear. I've looked at a lot of other bags and counted most out for one reason or another.

The bag I want would be 55-65 Liter, 3ish pounds, under $300, minimalist, durable, and carry 45 lbs without maiming me. Am I missing any standouts?

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Crux on 12/14/2011 13:17:52 MST Print View

Have a look at CRUX in the UK.

Herb Tassin
(mfxdmx) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/14/2011 14:45:39 MST Print View

Hi Avery,

If you're interested in selling that Makalu Pro, send me a PM. I might be interested.

Best regards,


rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 12/14/2011 15:10:44 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:01:17 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Arcteryx Nozone 35/55/75 on 12/14/2011 15:27:13 MST Print View

did i miss something ... but there seems to be no ice axe loops on those new dead bird ...

now granted you dont NEED one ... but they are convenient for axe and tools ... and they dont weight much at all

Avery S
Re: Arcteryx Nozone 35/55/75 on 12/14/2011 15:28:47 MST Print View

Not bad. Found a weight of 1400 g for the Nozone 55 here:

Avery S
Re: Re: Arcteryx Nozone 35/55/75 on 12/14/2011 15:30:42 MST Print View

I think you stick the pick between layers of fabric so that it goes under the "NOZONE 55" lettering. And then there might be a strap high up the red daisy chain for the shaft...

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 12/14/2011 15:37:32 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:02:32 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Ice axe loops on 12/14/2011 15:45:25 MST Print View

interesting ...

i saw something similar on the altra and i remember not being terribly impressed

often the side straps are used for other gear, which i personally dont like to loosen whenever taking off the axe ... but thats just me

Avery S
Re: Re: Ice axe loops on 12/14/2011 15:48:57 MST Print View

I see it now...

The upper side compression strap is stitched to the body of the bag at one point. The shaft goes up through the loop (right of stitching in image) and then the pick goes sideways into fabric holder and is clipped with buckle.

That wouldn't work for technical tools though... I guess those would have to be strapped to the daisy chain.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 12/14/2011 16:13:58 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:07:24 MDT.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/14/2011 16:21:23 MST Print View

My go to pack:

-55-65L (Check)
-3ish pounds (Check)
-<$300 (Check)
-Minimalist (Check)
-Durable (Check)
-45lb load (Check)

Randy also offers custom designs such as added daisy chains, rope strap, helmet strap and he will even remove items that you do not need.

I have had my pack for years-- in fact mine is still the old design with the tool "tubes" as opposed to the more traditional ax "loops"-- and it is still going strong. The pack is most certainly bomber and can stand up to abuse. FWIW, I also own the Valdez and wouldn't hesitate to purchase a new one when they they finally die.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
GoLite Odyssey on 12/14/2011 18:15:22 MST Print View

I really like this pack. Very minimalist, the few pockets and straps that it has seem to be in the right places and right size to hold all of my stuff. My only complaint is that it doesn't really hold an ice axe that tight to the pack. Not the lightest but I think it has a great weight to durability compromise.

3lb 8oz

Edited by earn_my_turns on 12/14/2011 18:16:22 MST.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/14/2011 21:22:08 MST Print View

Durability as you pointed out is very key IMO for a mountaineering pack. I have used essentially ripstop nylon stuff sack summit bags and they get shredded darned quick and I quit using them as they began to resemble throw away garbage bags with shoulder straps attached.

The BD Speed 55 doesn't really have proper external attachment points. The old BD Shadow 55 is good. BD now makes a 60L pack equivalent to the old Shadow 55 that I have used for the last 10 years but I believe its even heavier.

Have several friends with Cilogear packs and they love them.

If you have the money get a McHale Backpack, it frees up your arms so that you can climb more efficiently with a pack on as the straps aren't bearing down on your shoulders. They squeeze down as well for summit day. I am currently saving my pennies for such a pack. Dyneema rules in mountaineering.

My brother has used a ULA P2 now called catlyst? and it has performed so-so. It is not durable enough on the bottom though and has no crampon attachment point so you must have someone else carry the pons.

If you can find an old kelty white cloud grab it. Made from Dyneema.

You can go lighter like the HMG porter, but will pay dearly on the approach as their frames, stink.

I have never been inclined to any dead bird or osprey product.

You might want to look at European packs though they generally do not have 55L size as Europeans all go climbing from huts so they don't have to carry a tent/bivy/heavy BBag/cooking gear as they hop from hut to hut and eat what is provided there.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/14/2011 21:57:13 MST Print View

I didn't realise we all hopped from hut-to-hut carrying tiny sacks - that's where I went wrong back in the day :-)

As above - Crux packs are light and tough - I have an RK30, AK37, and AK47.

Prolite gear used to sell them in the US?

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/14/2011 21:59:08 MST Print View

"I have never been inclined to any dead bird or osprey product"

I don't know, one of my climbing partners has an Osprey Variant 37 and it is a well designed pack complete with tool holders, crampon pocket etc and I used to own an Osprey Exposure that I liked a lot

For the OP, Osprey also offer a larger version of the Variant but at 52L it is slightly below your 55L limit-- but it is certainly worth looking at IMHO.

As for Arcteryx packs-- they are mostly designed with skiiers and boarders in mind and not so much mountaineering; the packs are also pretty pricey for what you get.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/15/2011 06:29:23 MST Print View

That pack is no diff than the BD speed 55L. Has the same problem. No external attachment points. Its great for hauling up a cliff face, but rather poor in getting your gear to base camp.

Good luck getting pons/climbing gear/a weeks worth of food in/on said pack, don't forget the camera. No way in heck will that happen. The OP is not looking for a summit/overnight pack which should be more like 30L anyways without a framesheet etc. Never really understood why someone would buy a 50L pack with no external attachment points. Its just an oversized climbing pack IMO.

To each their own.

PS. Bet 45lbs crushes said pack frame. That and it has no effective hip belt.

Edited by footeab on 12/15/2011 06:30:39 MST.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: Re: Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/15/2011 07:37:56 MST Print View


Never looked at the larger Variant, but you would have no issues packing the following:

-Crampons (dedicated crampon pocket)
-Snow shovel blade (crampon pocket)
-Snow shovel handle (right side compression)
-Probe (right side compression)
-Tent (ridge side compression)
-Snowshoes (left-side compression)
-Helmet (under lid or 'binered to the haul system or compression straps)
-Ice axe or tools (axe loops)

That leaves 53L to fit everything else inside. FWIW, my Chernobyl is 50L and I have managed comfortably for a 4 day winter trip and that included a rope and a small trad rack. I guess it really depends on how well you have your gear dialed in. Heck, my climbing partner carries all of the above (minus tent) on his 37L Variant since it is all standard winter gear regardless of if you are doing one day or multi-day routes.

I would imagine you could fit everything on the Speed 55 just the same that I outlined above since they are pretty similar in design even down to the 'pon pocket except you would need to keep the blade attached to the handle. However the one added feature of this pack that I like is the rope strap. In fact, I wish I had gotten Randy to add one to both of my CCW packs.

However, you do make a valid point-- could either of these packs handle a 45lb load? I have no idea, I would say go to a store a load them up and see how they handle-- fit and comfort is pretty individual.

Edited by PaulHope on 12/15/2011 07:49:40 MST.

Avery S
"Minimalist" on 12/15/2011 08:54:46 MST Print View

I guess I didn't describe what "minimalist" means to me. I do need some way of attaching crampons/shovel/snowshoes to the outside of the pack. As long as there are some daisy chains and at least 2 side compression straps on the bag, that should suffice. The BD Speed 55 looks like it has little recessed loops to thread cord through for crampon attachment, but this is definitely inferior to simply daisy chains.

My Makalu is really exactly what I want, I just can't get over how heavy it is. It is unnecessarily overbuilt in many areas.

Good suggestions though! I didn't know about the new Arc'teryx bag or Crux in general.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: "Minimalist" on 12/15/2011 09:12:09 MST Print View


If I was in the same market as you then I would go with either:

-Ciligear Worksack 60:

-CCW Chaos:

They both have a stripped down design, have two compression straps, crampons attachments and ways to lash the rest of your gear via daisy chains. Also, as I mentioned before Randy at CCW will customize any of his packs-- you want an extra daisy chain or you want it in a different location? No problem.

You won't find too many people with anything negative to say about these packs.

Edited by PaulHope on 12/15/2011 09:49:38 MST.