/ NEW REVIEW: Crag Packs For Trad Climbers

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If you don't find the 'refugee-look' cool, get yourself a crag-pack. Mishi, Martin and Tomás swapping crags in Bohusl&au, 4 kbToby Archer reviews five 42-50 litre crag packs priced from 60 to 130: the Arc'teryx Miura 50, Black Diamond Demon Duffel, CAMP Rox Plus, Grivel Rocker and Mammut Neon Gear.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=3906
mullermn - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear:

Not that fussed about the rucksacks, but I like the look of your cam budget!
JoshOvki on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear:

Great review. But I am still struggling to see the point in these sacks.
jonnie3430 - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to JoshOvki:

He forgot the Ikea bag.
SCC - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
> (In reply to JoshOvki)
>
> He forgot the Ikea bag.

Or, like me, thinks it's useless for anything more than a 2 minute trip from the car boot to the climbing wall.

Each to their own and all that, but I've never actually seen anyone use one outside for any other purpose that a rope tarp/bucket (which it is probably quite good for).

Si
Mike Stretford - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to SCC: I did it once due to a mix up. As you can imagine it dramatically increases your chance of loosing kit and is a pain to carry.
In reply to JoshOvki:

> Great review. But I am still struggling to see the point in these sacks.

Don't know what type of climbing you mainly do Josh, but for me due to where I live as much as anything else, I guess 90% of my climbing these days is cragging where I don't carry a rucksack up the climb. So for me, by far the biggest job my rucksack does is carry all my gear from the car to the cliff, then keeps it all together as I move between climbs along the cliff. That's basically what these packs are all designed for, and they do it well.

Of course, some basic tough all-rounder rucksack and perhaps an IKEA bag, does this job pretty well too, so I'm not suggesting anyone NEEDS a crag pack. But if you do need a new pack and you realise that during an awful lot of your climbing days your pack just stays at the base of the route, well these are all worth considering. For me it then means I have light pack for the mountains that I won't wear out dragging it around local little cliffs.
In reply to jonnie3430:

> He forgot the Ikea bag.

IKEA bags were reviewed in a rope bag review: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=3625 :)

Actually I normally do have an IKEA bag with me. In particular in winter where I climb they invaluable for chucking all your stuff in as you empty your pack so that you don't loose stuff in the deep snow. A mate lost a new screw that way earlier this winter!
r0x0r.wolfo - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear: Hey Toby, can you answer a few questions? Do they still make the pali rope bag? And do you know anywhere that you can look at a muira in person, for sizing? They look awesome. Thanks.
gi - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear:
Is the metolius crag station going to be available in the UK?.. I've had a pretty good search and not found anywhere selling them online.

The arcteryx Miura 50 is pretty hard to get hold of too, I've only found one place selling them and they have them in black but I'd be keen for the orange.. Petty I know but if you are going to spend that much on a crag sack then it might as well be the colour you like!
I'm keen to get the Miura as i reckon it'd work pretty well as a travel bag as well..
jonnie3430 - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Wahey! In my advice for the uni club for packing gear too!: http://www.gumclub.co.uk/gear
JoshOvki on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I do mainly cragging too, being based in South Wales I don't have much other choice.

But I have a rucksack, that I use for carry everything to the crag and keeping everything organised. I don't worry about wear of it, as like you said it sits at the bottom of the crag. I don't seen the need for ANOTHER bag, seems rather gimmicky especially at the high prices of lots of them. I might see if I can get one on demo from a manufacturer to try out, but I really can't see me being transformed.
In reply to JoshOvki:
> I don't seen the need for ANOTHER bag, seems rather gimmicky especially at the high prices of lots of them.

Of course not - just a style of bag for folks to consider when they do need a new pack.
Robert Durran - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to JoshOvki:
> (In reply to UKC Gear)
>
> Great review. But I am still struggling to see the point in these sacks.

The point is to convince us we need something we don't actually need (assuming we already have an old tatty semi-retired rucksack to chuck our stuff in), so that we part with our money so that the manufacturers make a profit. ie just another marketing gimmick, presumably aimed at the same people who buy special indoor belaying shoes.

In reply to gi:

> Is the metolius crag station going to be available in the UK?.. I've had a pretty good search and not found anywhere selling them online.

I did the reviewing last year so about a year ago we asked Metolius if they wanted the crag station reviewed, but at that time there were none in the UK. But I heard from Sarah Gear-Ed today that Metolius' people in the UK think in a week or two they should have them. I've never used one, but they have a lot of fans.

> The arcteryx Miura 50 is pretty hard to get hold of too, I've only found one place selling them and they have them in black but I'd be keen for the orange.. Petty I know but if you are going to spend that much on a crag sack then it might as well be the colour you like!

Yep - its always annoying when you think you know what you want but can't get the right colour. My orange one did look grubby quickly though, so that's one thing in favour of the black!

> I'm keen to get the Miura as i reckon it'd work pretty well as a travel bag as well..

The harness doesn't pack away and the zips might make you slightly more susceptible to pick pockets but otherwise its a tough and comfy pack - and I think bigger than it claims.

In reply to Robert Durran: Don't be silly Robert. No one is being marched at gunpoint into a shop and made to buy one. It's a bit a bit like saying 29ers or Cyclocross bikes are marketing gimmicks - they're not if that's what you want in your next bike.
a lakeland climber on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> ie just another marketing gimmick, presumably aimed at the same people who buy special indoor belaying shoes

+1

ALC
r0x0r.wolfo - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear: I guess the manufacturer sent you the orange one you reviewed. Hypothetically, could you just order one off amazon in dollars if you wanted one that badly?
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:
> Do they still make the pali rope bag?

Don't know - its not on the website so maybe not? They are/were rather pricey so maybe didn't sell too well? Don't know, but google shows some places where you can still buy them from.

> And do you know anywhere that you can look at a muira in person, for sizing? They look awesome. Thanks.

Again going purely on a quick google, it looks like these folks http://theoutdoorgearshop.co.uk/index.html might be the only place that has them currently. If it helps I'm just under 5'10" and the regular back fits me well. Mates who are taller than me and about the same height but much slimmer in build both used it as well and all seemed to find it comfy.

Robert Durran - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Robert Durran) Don't be silly Robert. No one is being marched at gunpoint into a shop and made to buy one. It's a bit a bit like saying 29ers or Cyclocross bikes are marketing gimmicks - they're not if that's what you want in your next bike.

Of course no one is being forced to buy one at gunpoint. People buy all sorrts of unnecessary crap without having a gun pointed at them!

If you didn't own a rucksack and almost entirely did single pitch climbing, then you might buy one (though, for people without more money than sense, a 15 rucksack like mine from tescos will do about as well). However, most people will have an old sack knocking about (maybe the same one they take to the wall) which will be absolutely fine for the job. (Actually, I'm almways amazed at the number of people at the wall with expensive shiny new rucksacks presumably aimed at the fast 'n light superalpine market).

In reply to Robert Durran:
> (Actually, I'm almways amazed at the number of people at the wall with expensive shiny new rucksacks presumably aimed at the fast 'n light superalpine market).

Well exactly. What percentage of people at Stanage have a pack with them with ice axe loops on it? So, actually large numbers of UK climbers buy packs that are designed for mountaineering and then never use them for that. Rather they use them for schlepping their stuff to rock climbing crags where the pack sits at the bottom all day. All a crag-pack are is an acceptance by some designers that some people don't want or need ice axe loops! And the more simple designs, the BD Demon Duffel for example, can be cheaper than 'alpine' oriented packs that many of us have.

Your argument otherwise is basically "in my day we all used our mothers' washing lines for ropes" which is fine, but everyone can play at that game. Isn't all climbing gear a frivolous luxury for over indulged first worlders? But people can choose to spend their disposable income exactly how they see fit - for many the marginal utility gain in getting a swish crag pack won't outweigh the opportunity cost in beer not drunk (or whatever), but for some it will. Leave them to unzip all those zips in peace. :)
JoshOvki on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:

If you where putting your own disposable income on one of the bags (at full price) which one would you personally go for?
JamieSparkes - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear: Decathlon sell their own version of the grivel one ( it might even be the same model rebranded) in 35 and 50 litre versions at 35 and 50 with rope bag. great bags, expecially for flying as they are the exact size to fit in the hand luggage boxes. :)
bigbobbyking - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I understand the gap in the market, but not at that price. For 60 I could buy the lower end of the 'alpine pack' market. So why would I buy twice when I can buy one rugged pack that will do everything. That's my thinking anyway.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 16 Apr 2012
Thanks Toby you're review was great and I've been looking for a cragging sack for a while and it was really nice reading some compact miniviews to open my eyes to the more rockclimbing specific bags.

I totally agree with you Robert Durran, they are not necessary. But sometimes we just want a toy, or a nice new leather jacket that costs 200 quid. For many climbers, climbing is there weekend activity, and aren't bothered about luxury shoes or dinner jackets or whatever.

A cool ass climbing sack does catch a girls or guys attention sometimes, not just for functionality but form, that lust for the shiny and unnecessary akin to a new, slightly-quicker-than-average car or the dresses that catches a woman's eye.

If you're skint, get a bag from Tesco, if you've got money to spend without starving your kids and want a flash bag to replace your beaten up one, (with flash for climbers being more about it's feature list or being the most light weight thing in that class than looks) then reviews of such products are useful. We know we're indulging ourselves but we're not looking at getting the most expensive thing, just paying a bit of a premium for whatever attributes we don't really need but want.
In reply to bigbobbyking:
> For 60 I could buy the lower end of the 'alpine pack' market.

Can you? I always used to think that for 60 quid you could get a decent 40-50 litre all-round mountain pack, but most seem to be going for around 100 these days. Lots of people like the the Berghaus Arete - is that still around 60? They always seemed good value.

I used a Lowe Snowpeak 50 for well over a decade just like you suggest. In some ways it was an amazing pack - the material and sewing was just indestructible - a real credit to the company. BUT it was a jack of all trades, master of none. The shoulder straps were a bit restrictive when doing harder ice and mixed wearing it, when using it as a crag pack, the neck was a bit narrow making finding things in the bottom a hassle, it's side straps didn't carry skis easily etc. These things area always a bit of a compromise. But that's fine if you accept that and of course that's the best value for money approach!

In reply to JoshOvki:

> If you where putting your own disposable income on one of the bags (at full price) which one would you personally go for?

As I already have an 'alpine pack', probably the Demon Duffel just because it's got a very reasonably price + you can use it as a travel bag/sports bag etc as well as for cragging. I have though been using the Miura year round as my ice climbing is also 'cragging' - never climb with a bag on, and in winter I often carry a lot of gear - all the climbing gear, plus warm clothes, thermos flasks etc. It doesn't actually have ice tool loops but I just stuff mine under the front straps. So for me, I probably could have justified the cost of that one for the use I'm getting out of it.

Actually, I did buy this one years back: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=865 and its still going strong after four years of at least weekly use. They are great and pretty cheap, and someone is bringing SNAP gear into the UK again, so I hope they bring in those bags again.

In reply to JamieSparkes: Yeah - seen them. They look good value as all the Decathlon/Simond stuff tends to be. The yellow Grivel material is super tough - like those TNF duffel bags I think - but beyond that I imagine performance of the Decathlon ones is probably similar.
Robert Durran - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> Well exactly. What percentage of people at Stanage have a pack with them with ice axe loops on it?

Probably because they use the same sack for everything or because it is an old retired sack.

> So, actually large numbers of UK climbers buy packs that are designed for mountaineering and then never use them for that.

They have the ice axe loops to make them versatile, not becauise they are specifically for alpine climbing.

> Your argument otherwise is basically "in my day we all used our mothers' washing lines for ropes"

No it's not; modern ropes are a major functional imporovement on a washing line, but these "crag packs" are a gimmick.

> Isn't all climbing gear a frivolous luxury for over indulged first worlders?

Climbing is a frivulous luxury but not some gear; once you are actually falling off or at -30 degrees, your rope or your duvet jacket certainly isn't. These "crag packs" are.

> But people can choose to spend their disposable income exactly how they see fit.

Of course - more fool them!
Simon Davis - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA: I've just bought one these style bags. This one from Decathlon http://www.decathlon.co.uk/40l-rope-bag-id_8172864.html

40Litre 49.99

Undo one zip and I can see all of my climbing kit without having to empty the entire contents of the bag on the floor. I no longer have to spend 10mins rummaging in the bottom of my sack to find that chalk bag. Previously if the rope sack was packed at the bottom of the bag everything else had to come out first.

I no longer have to empty the contents of the sack all over the crag floor every time I get to the crag. I no longer need to repack and unpack everytime I move around the crag to another climb.

When I'm packing for a day I can easily do a quick last minute check of the contents without having to unpack.

Same applies when packing at the end of the day. At a busy crag there's often kit all over the floor....is that my gri gri on the floor? Sure I packed it. Quick zip...yes it is!

Most traditional style packs are designed to be carried up a climb. For most of my climbing the pack sits on the floor. These type of bags are actually designed with the requirements the modern crag climber in mind.

I think we'll see a lot more of these sacks once people catch on to how useful they are.

In reply to Simon Davis:

> I think we'll see a lot more of these sacks once people catch on to how useful they are.

Exactly, and don't let old grumps like Robert tell you otherwise! ;)

How do you find the capacity in your Decathlon one? Can you stuff a good trad rack in there? That was the main thing I was thinking about in this review - as many of the crag packs do seem a bit more designed with sport climbers in mind and obviously that is a limitation for UK climbers.
Ramblin dave - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
Kind of see your point.

I'd probably get one of the cheap ones if I didn't do anything else that needed a 40ish litre pack (ie if I didn't do any winter walking) cos they do look a bit better for cragging than an all purpose rucksack.

I'd half consider getting one because my existing 40ish litre pack is an unnecessarily technical lightweight thing which could do without the extra abuse, but it does seem pretty silly getting one pack to make up for the deliberate shortcomings of another.

I don't own an old rucksack because I've only had one previous one of that sort of size, and kept patching it until it finally became properly untenable.
Robert Durran - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> Exactly, and don't let old grumps like Robert tell you otherwise! ;)

I'm not an old grump; just the voice of reason.
Monk - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> Probably because they use the same sack for everything or because it is an old retired sack.
>
> [...]
>
> They have the ice axe loops to make them versatile, not becauise they are specifically for alpine climbing.
>


I think that something you are forgetting is that not all climbers are mountaineers or alpinists. Why do those people want an all-purpose sack?

To be honest, I am currently using a cheap Vango rucksack that I used in the Scouts 20 years ago (it just won't die!) but not many people would be happy to be seen in public with it. I have used crag bags (a Beal one) and they are really good at what they do - i'd definitely buy one.

Ramblin dave - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Monk: Although to be fair a lot of climbers are also gear addicts and would buy different trousers for different rock types if someone suggested it to them...
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> and would buy different trousers for different rock types if someone suggested it to them...

I've never thought of that...! Have you got any suggestions for rather crystalline and sharp granite? ;)
Robert Durran - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Monk:
> I think that something you are forgetting is that not all climbers are mountaineers or alpinists. Why do those people want an all-purpose sack?

As I said earlier, you might indeed reasonably consider one of these sacks if single pitch cragging was all you ever did.
Robert Durran - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Monk) Although to be fair a lot of climbers are also gear addicts and would buy different trousers for different rock types if someone suggested it to them...

.....which is only a small step further than the marketing of bouldering specific trousers.

JoshOvki on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:

I had a pair of bouldering specific trousers, Rab Boulder Pant. Had them less than a year but there is now a massive hole in the backside from sitting at the top of crags belaying :(
Northern Climber on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to JoshOvki:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> I had a pair of bouldering specific trousers, Rab Boulder Pant. Had them less than a year but there is now a massive hole in the backside from sitting at the top of crags belaying :(


Did you forget to sit on your mattress when belaying?
victim of mathematics - on 16 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> I'm not an old grump; just the voice of reason.

That's exactly what an old grump would say!
jonnie3430 - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to r0x0r.wolfo:

> with flash for climbers being more about it's feature list or being the most light weight thing in that class than looks.

While I thought that as I was getting into climbing, I am now a firm believer that "flash for climbers," is more about making hard climbs look easy, preferably with the most worn kit you can find. Shiney, super lightweight kit is usually a sign of a beginner or someone who would be better losing a few pounds rather than spending it on light kit.

Applying that to this thread would suggest that the ideal is an old alpine rucksac, a school gym bag or ikea bag...
In reply to jonnie3430:
> a school gym bag

Sports bags work great as they have a nice long zip on them making finding stuff in the bag a breeze. The only thing is with just a shoulder stap they can be a bit uncomfortable and swing around a lot whilst hiking in on rough approaches. What would be great would be something like a sports holdall but with rucksack straps as well! What kind of bag might be like that...? :-)

jonnie3430 - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:

But anyone going cragging these days knows that it's fashionable to have a bouldering mat too, so having a shoulder strap on your gym bag would work well to balance the shoulder strap of your mat on the other side. Maybe a bouldering mat with a zip around the edge and rucsac straps is what you are looking for?
Al Randall on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to UKC Gear: Surely more choice can only be a good thing? I have different sacs for different situations. One for ice climbing. One very lightweight one for alpine. A panel opening sac for cragging and a small sac that sits high on the back for big routes as well as a couple of rope bags. The trouble with the rope bags is that they can be a pain to carry over rough ground unless that is all you are carrying but on the other hand they are not good at carrying everything you might need.

When I first saw the Pali/Muira50 combination I thought it would be a the only pack I would ever need but the lack of ice axe holders on the Muira is a big failing IMO.

Al
tom_in_edinburgh - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to JoshOvki)
> [...]
>
> ie just another marketing gimmick, presumably aimed at the same people who buy special indoor belaying shoes.

Belaying shoes now that's a brilliant idea! Are they like Japanese commuter train shoes with mirrors on the front?

In reply to Al Randall:
> (In reply to UKC Gear) Surely more choice can only be a good thing?

One would think so, like I said before no one is being forced to buy anything.

> When I first saw the Pali/Muira50 combination I thought it would be a the only pack I would ever need but the lack of ice axe holders on the Muira is a big failing IMO.

I wouldn't use the Miura in Scotland for example - its too big and hefty for that even when empty. But I've used it a lot this winter for ice climbing here in Finland when it stays at the bottom of the ice falls. The straps on it hold ice tools fine or you can even just put them inside - easily done with the drawbridge system.
Mike Stretford - on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA: I've been looking at the Decathlon bags to uprgrade my duke of edinbrugh vango rucksack I'm currently using.

Poeple are arguing for the sake of it. These bags are perfect for those of us who just rockclimb. We don't need the functionality more 'flash' bags give, such as ice axe straps. The 'flash' thing would be to spend more money on something we don't need. Gym bags and Ikea bags are rubbish, I've tried them. The get in the way on scrambble approaches and you loose stuff.
HeMa on 17 Apr 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> [...]
>
> I've never thought of that...! Have you got any suggestions for rather crystalline and sharp granite? ;)

Lots of keprotex on the knees... so prolly something akin to Montura Vertigo 2 or Light... my pick was Light.
In reply to HeMa:
> so prolly something akin to Montura Vertigo 2 or Light... my pick was Light.

Gear whore. :-) What's wrong with some old jeans?


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