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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.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/15/2011 09:36:46 MST Print View

Yup, Paul, CCW makes good mountaineering packs. Not the lightest but durable. My kind of pack. Only reason I didn't buy one is due to $$$ and went with the BD at the time. Guy I go climbing with has an Andinista that he has had for 20 years. Still going strong minus the polyurethane coating of course.

Given enough extra tie points on the outside one doesn't need a "pack" larger than 35L or so. Food/clothes can go in stuff sacks and tied on. Done that plenty though the hike in/out generally isn't nice as their frames are none existant.

Think my ultimate mountaineering "pack" would be a modular frame that one can add/subtract hibelt/tool loops/stays/framesheet/bag size. Essentially what I really want is a simple "frame" with a minimal bag for food/water/camera/emergency kit/clothes that extra bags or ropes/pro/tents get tied to.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lightweight Mountaineering Pack on 12/15/2011 10:06:53 MST Print View

I have always liked the Andinista, well the one with the crampon straps that is out of stock but it is far too big for purposes. I actually own the Guide pack for my one day routes in the spring when I still need 'pons, snowshoes, ice axe but not the bulky winter belay jacket etc. It also makes a pretty good overnight summer bivy bag too.

You are right, one doesn't really need such a big pack with so many lashing points. I like my 40L Valdez for one day winters and the 50L Chernobyl for multi-day routes.

I believe that Ciliogear's packs are at least semi-modular with removable frame sheet, strap set, bivy pad, crampon pocket, sternum belt, hip belt and the aluminum stay which is a neat concept-- but something I would never take advantage of which is why I opted for the simpler design of the CCW pack when I was in the market.

Avery S
hmm... on 12/17/2011 10:53:13 MST Print View

I really like the HMG porter (in theory) for trips where I can get away with 35-40 lbs of stuff, but I think I'm asking it to do way too much if it's going to replace my Gregory Makalu for all trips.

I think I might just keep the Gregory for huge load (60 lbs) trips and also get the HMG. I didn't think that was an option but maybe I can find the money somewhere. I also saw an HMG coupon mentioned on here that would help...

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: hmm... on 12/17/2011 11:49:58 MST Print View

The problems I see with the HMG:

-Roll top closure could be a royal pain trying to keep the spin-drift out.
-Lack of a place to secure a rope
-Can cuben really stand up to true mountaineering? Being hauled over talus, spiked by 'pons and the general abuse that these packs go through.
-The pack is fairly new-- there are not any reviews for it. How is the craftsmanship, will the seams withstand the pressure after a couple of years.

Personally, I would avoid the Porter like the plague until it has been tried and tested for a year or two under real life mountaineering conditions. I would stick with the Cilogear 60 that you adore-- built my mountaineers, for mountaineers and it has been tried, tested and passed for years and years. Not to mention that you will save $15 and KNOW you are getting quality that has been proven to last.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: hmm... on 12/17/2011 12:09:27 MST Print View

Padding is more than sufficient for the recommended loads. Nice wide belt. There are numeroud places to secure a rope as the Porter has two vertical daisy chains that have attachement points every inch or so. That is the point of this pack - modularity.

The fabric is thick - probably a 210d at least. Not as abrasian resistant as full spectra but more so than dyneema gridstop.

I can't see how the roll top would be an issue. Even Arcteryx has used this approach on their climbing packs.

Craftsmanship is excellent. Seams very tight. Comparable to my Mchale.

The Porter has been tested for many months independently.

Richard Fischel
i keep reposting this on 12/18/2011 12:45:02 MST Print View

because the same/simiar question keeps coming up -

everything below fits in a cilogear 40l pack -

wm antelope long (no stuff/compression sack. just stuffed into the bottom of the pack), wild things event hardshell and belay jacket, spare gloves, 4+1 days of food, petzl ecrin helmet, spare pair of socks, integral designs full event overbag, 2X liter nalgenes, bd lighthouse tent, lightweight balaclava, neoprene face mask, bd alpine bod harness rigged for typical glacier travel, g12 crampons (in crampon pocket), petzl summit ice axe (in ice axe holder), wild things wind pants and outdoor research neoplume pants. there was room in the lid for a pair of goggles, snacks for the day and a head lamp. i carry the tent so my partner has the stove, pot, and first aid kit. if i ditched the climbing related gear i could fit a cook set. i could have saved room in the bag by hanging my helmet off the back. yes, the pack has no water bottle pockets, but i can easily add one or two by attaching chalk bag(s) that i found in the bargain bin for $2.50 each or insulated water bottle parkas. while i would add/leave things out, this would be pretty indicative of my load-out when i anticipate temperatures below 0*f.

what's in your 40l

40l packed

if i was going with a -20*+ bag or planning on being out for more than 4 or 5 days i'd think about the 60l.

the hmg looks interesting, but i haven't seen any indication that it's been adopted by the mountaineering community like the cilo's, ccw's or wild thing packs.

Paul Hope
(PaulHope) - F
Re: i keep reposting this on 12/18/2011 13:50:00 MST Print View

Nice list Richard and not too dissimilar to my own. I think this is what Brian and I were touching on, that you really don't need such a huge pack, even for 4 day trips if you have your gear dialed in.

How do you like your Cilogear 40? Any gripes?

I was looking at handing down my Valdez to my brother in law and was contemplating picking up either another Valdez or spending the extra $100 for 40L Worksack in the New Year-- any thoughts or would you go with something else entirely now that your the the 40L WS?

Richard Fischel
paul - someday when i need to replace the 40l it will be on 12/18/2011 20:04:16 MST Print View

with a 45l. when i got the 40l i was transitioning from a bigger pack with lots of pockets. i was a little reluctant to go with a pack as spartan as the cilogear worksack so i went with the 40l that has the zipper in the pack body. the zipper gives you limited access into the pack and my reptilian brain thought this was important. going with this option also eliminated the internal compression strap. i quickly came to the realization that i did not need the zipper (i think i've used it twice) and that my packing style adapted to best utilize and take advantage of what the 40l had to offer (like no stuff sack for the sleeping bag and other items that can fill space). the 45l uses slightly lighter material than the 40l or 40b (40b, no zipper) is a little more stripped-out (no crampon pocket) and has slightly more volume. my suggestion is to give graham a call at cilogear and he can walk you through the best options. he's not shy in helping you to pick a pack and he loves to talk.

i'm a big fan of everything wild things (as you can tell from my gear list) and would love to own their guide pack which is near perfect for me, but i'm getting older and as the pack size and weight carrying increases i need the frame-sheet and aluminum stay that cilo incorporates. i just can't/don't want to hump a fully loaded alpine pack that only has a folded bivy-pad for a suspension. i've spent an hour or two tweaking the bend in the frame-sheet and adjusting the waist belt up-and-down and it's now a custom pack that's fit to me. for slightly more weight than a wild things or ccw pack the carry is much more comfortable. that being said, when i need to i can strip the worksack down to its lean and mean bare-bones and have a fully functional pack that weighs under 2 lbs.

now if i can only figure out how to become a cilogear sponsored athlete cause i truly jones for the white-stuff graham is pushing (insert wink here).

Daniel Yaris
(danielY) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: "Minimalist" on 02/06/2012 22:55:57 MST Print View

I second either east coast CCW or west coast cilogear! Good old made in USA packs

I own the CCW valdez, chernoble, and choas

and the cilo 30L, 40B NWD, and 60L

I got to meet the owner of cilo as they made my 30l pack.

I would get a 40L pack I have used a 30l for over night mountaineering stuff such as MT jefferson and the 40B NWD for 3 day stuff on Mt rainier. I think I would only need more for a really long trip. I love my NWD pack though! I got a good deal on it though. I have to say though that I love my 30L pack and plan on using it for summer Rainier climbs. I get lighter every trip

Sieto van der Heide

Locale: The Netherlands
MLD Super Exodus on 02/28/2012 15:03:17 MST Print View

While MLD isn't known for it's pack to be used mountaineering, I've been using the MLD Super Exodus for almost 2 year for that. MLD doesn't offer the 'Super' version any more on the website, but maybe they can still make one. The Super differs from the regular in that it's made completely from Dyneema X (no mesh). This makes the pack very durable.
My modified version (I made a light frame for it) weighs 850 grams / 30 oz, and can carry 15 kg / 33 lbs in relative comfort. I've used it for overnight mountaineering trips, carrying a mountaineering gear, cooking gear, a -20c / -5 f sleepingbag etc.

whitenoise .
(whitenoise) - F
Cilogear on 03/15/2012 22:24:27 MDT Print View

I also have a Cilogear 30L and 45L. Truly amazing minimalist yet durable packs. For lightweight multiday mountaineering, you should be able to fit everything in a 40-45L Cilo. Extension collar adds 20 liters, plus you have the lid. Trying to get things down so I can fit it all in my 30L, but it may take a bit of effort. :)

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 03/16/2012 06:46:41 MDT Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 17:43:14 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Arc'Teryx Nozone 35 on 03/16/2012 12:03:23 MDT Print View

I looked at the nozones at mec, would have been more impressed if the 35 had a full hipbelt instead of just a webbing one

Matt Allen
(zeroforhire) - MLife
Cilo on 03/30/2012 10:32:30 MDT Print View

+1 for Cilogear. The 60l can do everything well. Expands to around 90L for expeditions and compresses to somewhere aroud 35l for peak bagging.

I also have a pod sac black ice. Similar to the cilo, but looks to be a little more durable.

Ryan S

Locale: Mid Atlantic
CiloGear on 04/23/2012 15:59:47 MDT Print View

Another +1 for the CiloGear worksacks. I have the 60L pack, and have used it on a few trips now. It is quite large, but strips down weight and size wise, pretty well. But overall it's a little too large for my most frequent uses. For a week long trip I think it is great, but for a weekend trip, I think I would rather have the 40L and have been considering purchasing it as well. Very few issues: I had part of the buckle for an ice tool attachment break, but it broke during baggage check at some point (with tools attached). I just tied a knot behind the buckle for the time being. Another issue, the framesheet rises up pretty high, so on the occasion that I've forgot to remove it while climbing lower angle ice, it would inhibit head movement when I would try to look up. Just leave it behind when you strip it for a summit pack, or chop it shorter.

Kai Larson
(KaiLarson) - F
Hyperlite on 04/23/2012 22:33:35 MDT Print View

40 pounds is a pretty heavy load for mountaineering. 30 pounds is as much as I'd consider carrying for climbing, even on a multi-day trip.

My current favorite lightweight mountaineering pack is the Hyperlite Ice pack.

Better suspension than the Cilo Gear packs, and lighter than the Cilo Gear packs.

About 40 liters.

Edited by KaiLarson on 04/23/2012 22:36:01 MDT.

Richard Fischel
Re: Hyperlite on 04/24/2012 03:29:30 MDT Print View

What makes the suspenion on the hyperlite better? It looks like a well thought out pack, but i prefer a pack with an expansion/spindrift collar for volume versatility and a removable lid with pockets for storage/access options.

Kai Larson
(KaiLarson) - F
Re: Re: Hyperlite on 04/25/2012 13:07:32 MDT Print View

The Cilo gear suspension gives you 4 choices.

Choice 1: Nothing. Light and flexible, but no weight transfer. Difficult to get weight off of your shoulders.

Choice 2: Foam pad. Somewhat better than nothing, but foam doesn't have much longitudinal strength. It bends quite easily, so weight transfer is modest at best. With very careful packing and compression, you can use the load to make up for this weakness, but it's not an ideal solution.

Choice 3: Frame sheet. The frame sheet provides excellent weight transfer. However, it weighs over a pound. Also, the stiff plastic inhibits the pack from flexing with your back and conforming to your back as you climb. So, you get weight transfer, but at the expense of weight and climbing performance.

Choice 4: New Klymit inflatable pad. I have one, but haven't tested it yet. No idea how well it will work. It might be great. It might not.

Compare this with the frame in the Hyperlite. The frame consists of a very light and thin pad that is there solely for comfort, not for load support. The pad is thin and flexible, so it doesn't keep the pack from conforming to your back and twisting and flexing when you twist and flex. This padding is coupled with two thin aluminum stays. They provide excellent longitudinal support, which allows for great weight transfer to the hipbelt. However, because there are just two stays, and not a big stiff plastic sheet, the frame doesn't keep the pack from moving, flexing, and twisting along with your body. It's just a better design. It's lighter, more comfortable, and interferes less with your body's movements and balance.

I have a Cilo Gear pack. I like it when used with just the pad. However, I really don't like the frame sheet. I think that using the frame sheet gives up too much in terms of weight and climbing performance. As a result, when used in my preferred configuration, load carrying performance is somewhat compromised. The Hyperlight carries loads well, and climbs well, and is lighter. As a result, my Cilo is getting less use, and the Hyperlite more.

I agree with you on the removable lid/expansion issues. The ideal pack would be a Cilo Gear pack with a Hyperlite frame. The Hyperlite is also a little on the small side. It's a "small" 39 liters, while the Cilo is a "large" 45 liters. You have to really pare things down to the minimum to fit a multi-day winter climbing load into the Hyperlite.

Edited by KaiLarson on 04/25/2012 13:11:27 MDT.

Richard Fischel
Re: Re: Re: Hyperlite on 04/25/2012 16:11:35 MDT Print View

part of what the frame sheet does for the cilo is to prevent the pack from tacoing when you've cranked-down on the internal and other compression straps. as far as comfort with the frame sheet in, I've bent it to the point that it fits into my lower back and follows the curve of my spine pretty well. I find this more comfortable than having a straight pack against my back. with the pad in place it's pretty comfortable. I think my next experiment will be to take a hole saw to the frame sheet in an attempt to lower its weight without compromising its rigidity (too much). the klymit frame sheet looks pretty interesting. if I do a little too much drilling on my frame sheet one of the inflatable's might be in order.

Avery S
Update on 04/25/2012 17:00:29 MDT Print View

I haven't bought a pack yet, but I'm currently leaning heavily towards the Cold Cold World Valdez. Looks like it does what I want and is inexpensive. If I commit to the Valdez, I'll start looking into some custom options ("modern" tool attachment, crampon pocket, potentially lighter fabric). My torso is 18" (I think), so the 16-20 inch range should suit me.

Funny how now that it's Spring I want a 40 liter pack instead of 50 liters... I would still be looking at CCW if I wanted a 50 liter (Chernobyl).

Number two on the list is the new Arcteryx Nozone. My buddy just ordered the 35 liter version and I'm excited to check it out.

When I recently moved I carried some stuff in the Gregory Makalu. As soon as I put it on I remembered why I love it and I knew I would never sell it. So. Comfortable.

Christopher Chupka

Locale: NTX
CCW on 04/26/2012 17:23:12 MDT Print View

Randy@CCW will make you a pack out of the Dyneema blend if you want. He would prolly make one out of any reasonable fabric began get a hold of or you can provide.

Ryan S

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Cold Thistle on 05/03/2012 10:19:08 MDT Print View

Dane at Cold Thistle just did a multi-part post on climbing packs that may be informative as you make your decision:

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

Avery S
Cold Thistle on 05/03/2012 12:10:23 MDT Print View

I flippin' love Cold Thistle.

I'm also contemplating an attempt this weekend at sewing my own pack... We'll see.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alchemist on 12/12/2012 20:56:22 MST Print View

The EB First Ascent Alchemist goes from 44 liters to 55 liters in a very clever way.

It has a lot of features including a integrated bivy pad, extremely durable material and construction and great stability.

4 lbs with the bivy pad, 3.4 lbs without.

If I had not already spent a bundle modifying a pack for backcountry skiing THIS is the pack I would get.

Like other First Ascent geat this pack's design is tested and tweaked by professional guides. I have not seen any First Ascent gear that is not top notch in comparison the the best in the industry.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alchemist on 01/09/2013 17:04:36 MST Print View

I have an Alchemist. I've been using it mostly as a commuter pack, because the same clever setup that enables it to expand to a 55L pack also happens to work really nicely for carrying a tripod while still keeping the top closed. I can pack everything I need to shoot a short film with sync sound, including a 3-point light kit and a 15" shotgun mike in this thing and carry it around town on my bike.

My only concern is that in spite of using it in mild situations, i.e. no mountaineering or even backpacking (I used my McHale for the Mount Rainier summit trip and the week in the Glacier Peak Wilderness), the haul loop came off on one side and there's a small gap in a seam where the stitching is coming loose.

I'm hoping that this isn't an endemic problem, because other than the two spots where the stitching is coming apart, I think it's a great pack, especially for the price. The fabrics themselves are quite burly, so I'm going to pay Eddie Bauer a visit soon and see about an exchange.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
PODsacs Crag Sac? on 01/14/2013 16:26:09 MST Print View

I've been curious about the PODsacs Crag Sac for a while, but since I've been unable to find a US retailer and I'm not willing to deal with an international shipping return, I'm hesitant to purchase one.

Can anyone offer a review for the Crag Sac? How well does it carry? Does it climb easy? How about some pictures of it on so I can see how it rides? Thanks in advance.

PODsacs Crag Sac

Crag Sac

Tough all round climbing pack offers ultimate durability and reliable comfort for everyday cragging through to Alpine climbing and Scottish winter mountaineering. The simple design makes this a favourite of outdoor centres and group use.

•Articulated back harness with top tension straps
• Back system comprised of removable internal frame-sheet with single alloy stave (also removable) for support
• Sternum strap for stability and comfort
• Side compression straps stabilise loads
• Top grab handle
• 2 ice axe/ walking/ ski pole loops
• External wand pockets constructed from ultra-tough Leno mesh
• Front bungee cord arrangement
• Drawcord closure with removable hood, featuring external and internal zipped pockets
• Load bearing cushioned waist belt with tension straps for stability
• Seams triple stitched and bound
• Bar tacked stress points
• Medium harness length

Size 1: 40L (+10L)
Size 2: 43L (+10L)
Size 3: 47L (+10L)

1.48kg, Stripped 1kg (size 2)

1000D Cordura®

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
Bd, cow on 01/25/2013 22:00:27 MST Print View

Just get the Cold Cold World. Make up your dream pack and Randy will sew it. I have that Gregory pack. Randy could sew a Chaos pack with the same strap and daisy configuration as your Makalu, giving you exactly what you want. If you need a frame, the Cilo frames will fit inside a CCW pack.

My fiancé has a BD mission 50. The fabric is plenty tough, and from handling the Speed in store, that looks tough enough too. Don't sell your Gregory. That's a nice pack to keep around. It sounds like you are carrying a pretty huge load— maybe if you said more about your objectives we could give better information. If you're carrying skis, for instance, that's going to make a difference.

Edited by elliott.will on 01/25/2013 22:11:18 MST.

Will Elliott
(elliott.will) - F

Locale: Juneau, AK
Gear on 01/25/2013 22:17:13 MST Print View

You mentioned getting your gear down to 40 lbs. What are you carrying presently? A 8mm rope, BD couloir harness, Grivel Matrix Light tools, etc, will drop the pounds and allow you to bring a pack you don't hate climbing in.