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Last updated: May 15, 2021
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Climbing is always challenging. So, do you really want to climb with a backpack that is uncomfortable and doesn’t fit your needs? Absolutely not. That’s why we’ve set out to find the best climbing backpack. We’ve done the hard work, so you don’t have to! Stick with us to find our extensive reviews, as well as an in-depth buying guide.
What makes the best climbing backpack? Factors such as fabric, capacity, rain cover, dimensions, and weight are vital for security and longevity, but other factors are important too, such as comfort and usability. Here, we’ll look at all those crucial aspects so that you get exactly what you need to get the best climbing experience. We’ll start with a quick comparison table and then move to those reviews, a buying guide, and FAQs. Without further delay, let’s get started!
If you’re looking for the best mountaineering backpack with a huge capacity, this is going to be perfect for your needs. It has an epic 80-liter size but is still able to remain comfortable due to the thick padding and support system.
As you can imagine, with an 80-liter climbing backpack, it has all the pocket options you need with bottom access and a hydration compartment, among many other segments. The backpack allows you to organize everything you need for a long trip.
Another aspect that makes this the best climbing backpack is its fantastic build quality. The nylon used is very tough, and this backpack will see you through many different adventures. Adjustability is impressive here too.
There are many options to carry extra items with straps to ensure that everything remains tight and compact. With such a large backpack, you need it to excel in comfort and usability. This ticks all the right boxes and is perfect for any climber needing a high-capacity backpack. However, you can find it a bit difficult to carry if you are quite small because its belt can’t be adjusted for that.
If you wanted a compact climbing solution, then this would be an excellent option. At 16-liters, it’s an excellent climbing daypack. It may be a little too small for some, and therefore, you should double-check what you need to carry on your climbing adventure to see if it’s big enough.
Many people will love this for its sleek and slender design. It makes it great for demanding climbs, but it also gives great versatility to be used in many other settings. Despite the smaller size, it can still handle a lot of weight due to the tough materials used, build quality, and also the supportive straps.
The internal pockets are very well designed and allow simple and efficient storage of your items. It also has a hydration hose port, which is a useful addition. It has limited external pocket options, but many people will prefer that minimalistic outer design with no loose straps.
Osprey backpacks all seem to have two things in common, and they are extremely well made but also are quite expensive. This climbing gear backpack is stylish while being perfect for most climbing adventures with its innovative design.
The mountaineering backpack offers you supreme comfort with the heavily padded straps that are able to reduce discomfort while also allowing plenty of ventilation. In addition, the waist and sternum straps will be able to keep it firmly in place.
For many people, this is going to be the best mountaineering backpack out there. It offers plenty of attachment options while also having compression straps to keep everything tight while you’re on the move. The range of features is fantastic, and it includes a rope attachment and hydration sleeve. Many people love this model thanks to the build quality and materials used. It is also quite comfortable to use with gloves.
Mammut is a company that has made possibly the best rock climbing backpack. It has a minimalist exterior design. It does mean that there is no quick access to pockets, but many people love not having anything that can catch or get snagged.
It has been specifically designed for climbing with useful storage solutions and high build quality. The ventilation here is also fantastic, which is aided by the 3D EVA foam that will allow air to flow freely and prevent you from sweating.
The 45-liter capacity is very spacious, but the backpack also remains quite light. It has a solid frame that will give you comfort and stability during your outdoor adventures. The backpack makes it easy to access your rope as well as all your other essential gear.
There are those who love having a simple bag with no attachment points, whereas others want more options to be able to clip on extra gear. This backpack is excellent for adjustability, and the gear loops allow you to carry extra items.
Another impressive aspect of this model is the durability with the innovative 4-layered fabric. It will be able to cope with the stresses and strains of any mountaineering trip. It will also be comfortable with its ventilated back panel.
You get plenty of support with this backpack, and at 35-liters, you’re able to carry a lot of things without it being too heavy. While not having a rain cover, that material does have a high level of water resistance to keep everything dry in a rainstorm. Unfortunately, a few people didn’t like the straps with this model, while others we happy with their purchase.
PETZL has made a bag that comes in three bright colors that all look brilliant. It only has a capacity of 18-liters but has a row of compact accessory straps for extra gear. Its side compression straps are going to keep everything compact and secure.
The bag is able to support a lot of weight, and there is a foldable waistband that you can use when it gets too heavy. The backpack is excellent for climbing with a minimum bulk design and plenty of freedom when it comes to your movement.
The internal design will allow you to easily store your items, and there is also the option of having a hydration pocket. The minimal bulk design is going to be excellent, as this summit pack can carry all of your essential snacks and gear.
This is a contender for the best ice climbing backpack due to its epic features and loop system. There are eight adjustable straps to ensure you have perfect weight distribution.
The back is well-ventilated on both the back and shoulders, which will help to keep you cool at all times. While it has perfect ventilation, the backpack also gives you plenty of padding so that you can wear it all day with the minimum of strain.
One negative aspect here is the lack of an internal frame, which does compromise its stability. However, this can also be seen as a benefit because it reduces its weight. Still, the durability here is impressive, and it also has excellent waterproofing. The material used has fantastic water resistance, but also it comes with a rain cover to keep your contents protected.
To get the best crag pack, you need to look for high usability and also incredible durability. This crag pack offers it all and is made from high-quality regular nylon. Additionally, it has thick ballistic nylon parts that’ll give high strength to any weaker area.
The pack is perfect for carrying rope along with all of your other gear. It does have a lack of pocket options, but that’s not unusual with this type of backpack. A huge advantage is that it’s exceptionally easy to carry. This is not just about the shoulder straps but also the wide handles.
The wide zipper access allows you to easily get your gear even when you’re wearing gloves or have cold hands. It’s a backpack that has been designed to cope with the harsh environments that climbing forces you to meet, and the results that this model shows are excellent.
This 75-liter backpack from High Sierra is going to be perfect for those long and challenging climbing trips. Added to that, it has a design that is highly stylish but also one that will allow you to easily store your items for quick access.
The durability that we get here isn’t quite as high as we see with other models, but it’s still made from rip-stop material. For such a huge backpack, it also has a low weight. The level of support that you get helps to make it very easy to carry.
Stability is always essential when carrying a large backpack, and you get that here with its adjustable aluminum frame bars. The compression straps are going to keep everything tight and secure, while the rain cover will keep everything dry.
Rip-stop polyester is seen as a good material for a backpack as it has good abrasion resistance while also being quite light. The build quality we see here isn’t the highest, but it’s still a good choice for casual climbers.
The internal zippered divider is a good feature as it allows for organized storage. The ventilation of the backpack is also great with airflow channels that will prevent you from overheating. Thanks to the contoured frame, it makes it easy to carry and ensures a high comfort level. Moreover, it will help to give it better stability.
A lot of compression straps are offered for excellent weight distribution while also giving you plenty of attachment options. It’s a good choice for anyone looking for a 55-liter backpack for their climbing adventures.
What makes it special?
External attachment options
Wide pocket options
High comfort level
What cons did we find?
Lower build quality
Things to Consider
With so many different types of backpack available, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. In our buying guide, we’ll go through all the information you need to make an informed decision. To do that, we’ll answer all the frequently asked questions while also going through the key features in detail. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge you need on what makes the best climbing backpack.
Things to consider before purchasing a climbing backpack
The first thing to consider is what type of climbing you’ll be doing. Cragging, mountaineering, or heading up a summit all have different requirements. Once you are focusing on the right type of bag, then you can look at other areas such as durability, weight, and pocket options. As we go through each section, it’s a great idea to make a note of how relevant each feature is to you.
Types of packs
It’s vital you get the right pack for you, depending on the type of climbing you’ll be doing. Here, we take an overview of the different types.
Crag – this model, such as the Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack, is perfect for outdoor rock climbing. They are designed to take your climbing gear to the crag and need to have great durability as it will likely get scraped against the rocks.
Alpine/Mountaineering – These packs are large and able to carry a lot of items. They will usually have outer attachment points such as loops to be able to carry essentials tools and gear. Also, they are usually top-loaded and can be medium-sized for regular climbing adventures or much larger for longer trips in the wilderness.
Summit – Generally quite small, summit packs are intended to carry snacks, water, and perhaps clothing. This is on the assumption that your climbing gear will be attached to harness loops. They should be durable and shouldn’t hinder your movement.
Gym – These are for climbing gyms with separate compartments for climbing gear, and they are generally designed for those who go climbing after work.
There is a wide variety of different fabrics used for climbing backpacks, but one feature they all need in common is durability.
Climbing backpacks are going to need to cope with a lot, including the abrasions and sharp surfaces that they will encounter. Therefore, durable material is a must for them.
A lot of fabrics can be made using the rip-stop, which will give them reinforcement. Quite often, these are made from nylon, but other materials can be used, such as the polyester that we can see in the Loowoko Hiking Backpack.
When the descriptions say that the backpack is waterproof, that doesn’t mean that you can submerge it in water, it just means that the material is water-resistant, but water can still get in via seams and zippers. The Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 35 Backpack is an example of a pack that has excellent water resistance.
If you wanted to have a greater level of protection from the elements, then it’s best to get a rain cover, which will hide any areas where rainwater may get in. The High Sierra Appalachian 75 Backpack has an excellent rain cover that will keep all of your contents dry.
You need a capacity that is going to match the type of climbing that you’ll be doing. For mountaineering trips lasting days, the MOUNTAINTOP Hiking Backpack would be fantastic at around 80-liters. It enables you to carry everything you need comfortably.
For those needing to pack a lot lighter, the PETZL Bug Climbing Pack with 18-liter capacity is perfect for a day out and can carry all your food and water. These bags are perfect for those essential supplies, and they will allow you to climb freely.
For a lot of people, dimensions aren’t going to be that important. All of these backpacks give you plenty of support without being too wide or bulky. If you are planning a trip, then space can be in short supply and knowing how large a bag is can be useful.
This is especially important when it comes to air travel. If you want to be able to use your bag as a carry on, then it’s important to check its dimensions and the specifications that an airline will allow. You don’t want to be left with any nasty fees at the airport.
When you’re climbing, every ounce counts. Backpacks need to find a balance between having a high level of durability and keeping the weight down. The MOUNTAINTOP 80L Hiking Backpack is an example of a backpack that does this quite well as it weighs just under 5lbs, which is good for such a large backpack.
Other backpacks are smaller and weigh a lot less, such as the PETZL Bug Climbing Pack, which is just over a pound at 18oz.
While the weight of the backpack is important, it’s also a good idea to try and pack the lightweight gear to keep the overall weight down.
Smaller backpacks aren’t going to need a huge level of adjustability as they are going to be lighter and naturally less bulky. When you start looking at backpacks with a higher capacity, having adjustability options become more important.
There are two types of adjustability, as can be seen with the High Sierra Appalachian 75 Backpack. Not only do you want the carrying straps to be adjustable, but it’s also useful to have compression straps. This helps to keep the center of gravity close to you and makes it easier to have even weight distribution.
Breathability and back support
When climbing, you want to have as few distractions as possible. This includes on overheating and sweating from a restrictive backpack. The Loowoko Hiking Backpack has excellent ventilation that allows air to flow freely and keep you cool.
Back support is also important, especially with larger backpacks. It’s useful to have a sternum and strap to take some weight off your back to prevent strain. On a high-capacity backpack, you also want to have an internal frame for support and stability.
Before buying your climbing backpack, you want to make a note of its pocket options and how you’re going to be able to access your gear. If you need to be able to quickly grab items, then you won’t want them to be hidden at the bottom of the backpack.
The majority of larger bags are top-loading, whereas others may have different types of closure systems. You also need to think about the profile of the bag. If you plan on dragging it up a crag, then you won’t want anything that can get caught and snag.
There is a range of fantastic backpack options depending on your budget. However, it is not always true that an expensive product will show excellent results. Many things depend on the manufacturer, build quality and materials used.
If that’s still a little too much for you, then there is a range of brilliant backpacks around $50, such as the Black Diamond Bullet 16 Backpack. This is still a high-quality option with a lot of impressive features that make climbing very easy.
Ideally, you should clean your backpack after every trip you do. Leaving dirt and moisture in there can ruin the fabric and lead to other problems such as mildew. Thankfully, cleaning them is a fairly simple process. All you need to do is wipe down your bag it warm soapy water and a washcloth or sponge. For stubborn stains and hard to reach places such as zips, a soft brush (such as toothbrush) can be used. Once you’ve washed your backpack, make sure to air dry it, and only store it away when it’s completely dried. Unless the instructions specifically state it (which is unlikely), never wash your bag in a machine or dry it in a dryer.
There aren’t many more frustrating things than taking a new bag on a trip and finding that it fails on your first climb. We’ve made sure that all the backpacks that we have looked at here have an excellent level of build quality. The answer to the question is going to depend on how often it is used. Even for a seasoned climber, a backpack should last for a couple of years. There is a lot more to durability than just the material as you also want to look for high-quality stitching and the reinforcement of weaker areas.
That is going to depend on the type of pack that you can buy. A high-capacity backpack is great for hiking, trekking, fishing, and camping, as well as mountaineering. Due to their size, you can also simply use them as luggage on vacation. Smaller backpacks can be a little more dynamic, allowing to use them as a gym bag, taking it to work, or simply on a day out. While these backpacks specialize in being great climbing models, they can also be used for a variety of other activities to really get your money worth.
In this guide, we have carefully selected 10 brilliant backpacks. We found the MOUNTAINTOP 80L Hiking Backpack to be our highest-rated model. We loved the design that makes it both comfortable carry and simple to organize your gear.
While those three options are fantastic, you would be happy with any of the 10 backpacks on this list. It’s important that you get the best climbing backpack that suits you and the type of climbing that you want to do. Once you do, then you’ll be able to take your climbing experience to the next level.