/ New Zealand - rucksack
I have been advised to get something c.75 litres even though we will be using huts. I am looking at the Macpac Ascent but don't know how good/tough Macpacs are. Otherwise any thoughts on Lowe Alpine or other brands?
Additionally, would a 75l pack be suitable for future supported climbs on some of the bigger mountains such as Gash II?
it seems like every old-school climber in NZ carried a Macpac Ascent. it's the standard down there for sure. I don't know your experience level, but I would not recommend getting anything over 60L - especially if you are staying in huts. Kiwis seem to carry all sorts of crazy shit into the hills (like loaves of bread in hard cases). I can say for certain that climbing with a 75L pack is pretty stupid. I've tried it and it's a pain in the ass. my standard pack for all my multi-day climbing is about 50L. For a climb like the NW or SW ridge of Aspiring, I can't possibly imagine what you'd fill a 75 L pack with. If you had plans for something that required a multi-day walk in and then a multiday walk out, maybe 75L would be needed.
It doesn't really matter what brand of pack you get (as long as it's a high quality one) - make a list of the features you want - and then go look for a pack that closest matches your ideals. Macpac is pretty burly and old school - I'd look at the 60L offerings from lowe alpine, osprey, black diamond, the north face, gregory, deuter, podsac, etc... I know many people don't like the current made-in-china Macpac offerings.
If you need help picking features that you want - Marc Twight's Extreme Alpinism has a good list.
You're going to end up needing lots of packs if you want to do lots of different types of climbing. But it's hard to go wrong with something in the 60L range - it's big enough to support multi-day endevours, yet small enough that it's practical to actually climb with.
hope that helps.
Agreed with everything Graham says.
You can see some of the packs available at one of the main Christchurch shops:
Macpac have their own stores now. I have a few of their packs and they are OK, even the newer China-made ones.
As ever, depends what you will do and what fits you. If you use huts, as most do, especially in winter, then you don't need to lug a tent, mat or pots up high, so you just need a midsize pack. If you helo in and out you can get away with a large-ish technical day pack for the climbing and take your food in another bag or box. But if you want to walk in to a remote backcountry peak, then you will need the full swag of gear and a big pack.
The only things maybe to consider for NZ over US or EU packs is that they are fairly rain resistant and, if you think you might go bushbashing off track en route to peaks, fairly durable.
Iconic Kiwi packs are at: http://www.cactusclimbing.co.nz/index.php/virtuemart-mainmenu-162?page=shop.browse&category_id=7...
Macpac has fairly regular promotions which often involve reduced Glissades, Ascent, Pursuits etc at better than usual prices but the timing may not be great for you. The Cactus packs are probably the kiwi equivalent of old Pod sacks - strong, heavy, and a certain reluctance to embrace fashion. Very well made but not lightweight. Pretty cool though and I never saw another in the UK - the Deepwinter is probably the badger for your needs.
Kathmandu will have half price sales every month but I've never had much faith in their packs.
A 'good' west coast trip could potentially destroy a super lightweight pack quite well. In NZ I'd go for a slightly smaller and more durable pack than would be needed for expeditions at altitude.
I started off in NZ and with an 85l pack (Macpac). Then moved to an Ascent because it was lighterweight for climbing !!! But pretty soon after (10-12 years ago) along with many other kiwi friends, moved to a Pursuit (55l or so). Now I go much smaller. But the Pursuit is now my "large" pack for many days only. Gear is much smaller and more specialized than it used to be. So you can get by with less carrying capacity. Those bigger packs are no fun really.
While you shouldn't buy any gear in NZ as it is way more expensive than anywhere else, you ought to buy a pack-liner. All outdoor shops will carry them - a bright yellow or orange super thick trashbag - just a few dollars and will keep your stuff from getting soaked in the inevitable rainstorms you'll be walking in. A pack cover will most likely get trashed on the the approach - the south island especially has some quite nasty vegetation.
Another Kiwi company worth looking into (other than Cactus) is Twin Needle ( http://www.twinneedle.co.nz/sackbuilder-about.html ) if you really wanted to buy a kiwi-made pack. Based in CCh, they are supposed to make really solid stuff and semi-custom packs. Bloody expensive though.
Even if you don't buy a rucksac in NZ, do go visit Cactus and buy one of their pod wallets!
Outdoor gear in the shops in NZ is really expensive but this company imports and sells directly from online, and they send gear out so you can look at it before you buy it:
I haven't used their packs but they are light and a good price. I love my sleeping bag and tools that I got from them.
It's run by two Kiwi guys, one is a climber the other is a skier/adventure racer. I found their service friendly and their knowledge far superior to that of young uni students working in the gear stores.
Will fit gear from c.45l up to 65l due to the roll top & floating lid.
Ascents and Pursuits 30% off, 40%-50% off down bags, etc.
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