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Kiwi

Size matters?

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Oh man... so many options for backpacks. wtc.gif I wish volume was the end of it. Most packs seem pretty standardised. Anything I should look for in particular in a mountaineering pack besides an ice axe loop?

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Opinions will vary, but I think an alpine climbing pack should not have a frame that towers over your head, though an extension sleeve and a top flap that rises to accommodate an overloaded pack are a plus. I also think the old-style smaller and more flexible waist belt is preferable, though many people think they gotta have the more popular foam-filled self-standing waist belts; if you get one of these, it should at the very least be removable if you're going to use the pack for technical climbs. I've never noticed ultra-curved shoulder straps to be more comfortable than straight ones -- far more important is the distance between the attachment points at the shoulder and the distance between top and bottom attach points. Look for a single-compartment, top-loader, with minimal or no outside pockets. Extra long side constricting straps are handy for adding skis, sleeping pads or whatever, and bar tacked lash straps running up the back will provide plenty of lash points but, in my view, you should look for a pack with minimal wand pockets, shovel slots, rear pockets, side pockets, tool tubes, crampon patches, etc. I don't think aerodynamic back padding or multiple textures with special non-slip material on the waist part the pack are much of a plus, and an easily adjustable harness that allows you to quickly move the shoulder straps up and down is probably just a source of potential failure. After the first time you adjust your pack, you will probably never touch the adjustment again.

 

I'll admit that my pack looks like a yard-sale much or the time, and I'll acknowledge that lots of people think that those specific attachments for crampons, ice tools, snow shovel, or wands are essential, but I like to be able to lash things on as makes sense given the particular combination of toys that I have on a particular outing and, given that view, all the extra pockets and special use straps complicate rather than facilitate the attachment of skis, ice tools, ropes, sleeping pads, or odd things like the occasional lawn chair or a polaski, that pair of plastic mountaineering boots that you don't want to wear on the long approach hike, or maybe a coleman stove for a group kitchen. If your ice tools HAVE to go on the middle rear of your pack, and the skis HAVE to go on the sides, and the crampons HAVE to go on top, you may find it clumsy to add these odd items or that extra sleeping pad or the rope that you want to have accessible for that stream-crossing a mile from the trailhead.

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I personally have become a recent fan of that Lowe pack that is very minimal and kind of like a stuff sack. It has dual uses and unless you're carrying over you can just take a 'lil pack on the climb and leave the big f'er at camp.

 

On my last two alpine climbs we took one pack and the follower carried it. This sucks and I will do everything to avoid it in the future. I think both leader and follower should carry their own shoes, food, h20, etc. If there is a hard crux pitch then some of the leaders gear can be given to the follower for that pitch. My 2 cents...I think the whole route goes quicker if one person on the team is not weighted down and thrown off balance the entire time.

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Lowe Quark

 

Lowe also used to make a roll-top style summit pack that weighed next to nothing...but it was very small and was a true summit pack. basicaly a medium sized stuffsack with two straps.

 

I wouldn't call it an alpine climbing pack. It was very bare-bones...I don't think they're making it anymore. bigdrink.gif

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The guy at the Redmond REI tried selling me this:

 

681646.jpg

 

Looks kinda bulky with the front pockets. (4,300 cu in)

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Kiwi said:

The guy at the Redmond REI tried selling me...

 

Go to either Pro-Mountain sports or Feathered Friends right away. Don't go back to REI until you have tried on several packs and buy the one that fit's you best, I know from experience that there are some REI employees who don't know a hydration pack from a hiking boot.

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I use an Arcteryx Khamsin 50 - 3000 cubic inches - they don't make this particular pack anymore, but do make some similar. I find it has enough room for a three day technical climb with some careful packing and my sleeping pad and helmet on the outside.

 

The waste-belt is comfy, but a real pain when worn over a harness. I had some gear loops added to the waist belt when I had it in to repair a tear in the bag. I haven't had a chance to try them out yet.

 

I agree with CBS & Trask - the 4300 cu in is to much.

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4300 may not be way overboard for general mountaineering. There will be plenty of times when you will want to fill it up AND hang stuff all over the outside. The main thing is to try them on and to try to get one that fits you correctly, though standing in the store for five minutes is not the same as carrying it all day even if you load it up with sand bags. Also, be sure the pack isn't so wide that it interferes with moving your arms around, and be sure the frame stays won't prevent you from tipping your head back to look up with a helmet on.

 

Consider trying one on a demo basis if that is an option. I would agree that you are better off going to Pro Mountain Sports or Feathered Friends than REI for pack fitting advice and, if you are going to Vancouver, check out MEC. If you are willing to spend a little extra cash I would highly recommend McHale.

 

I am sure I'll be flamed for this but I'll add that for mountaineering, when you are carrying camping equipment, warm clothing, climbing gear, and food, the empty weight of a pack is not something to stress over. The main advantage of a simpler pack is just that -- it is simpler. Less stuff to catch on the brush that guards many Cascade climbs, less zippers and doo-dads that fail, and less in the way when you want to lash on things that don't fit the specific doo-dads. An extra one or two pounds in empty pack weight is well worth it if the pack is going to perform better and, with most of the loads you are going to carry, you won't notice the difference in weight but you WILL notice the difference in how different packs carry.

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Off_Route said:

IMO: Custom fitted in Seattle, 3,000 to 4,500 cu in.

McHale Alpine Packs

 

 

ditto! Dan's a wealth of info about pack fitting and materials if you take the time to talk with him about it.

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