Hi, I'm looking to buy a new climbing rucksack around 40-50 litres. Criteria are:
Deuter Guide Rucksacks fit the bill nicely. Mine worked very well up until someone dropped a 2m tall flake on it and chopped through the one of the shoulder straps (I did manage to repair it, however wound up buying a Blue Ice Rucksack which fits my needs better).
Personally I would ditch the full length zip if you want it to last! I've still use my Lowe Apline and Macpac both are 25/30 years old and have only replaced the string and toggle.
Zips these days only seem to last a year!
I just went looking for the same thing and ended up buying the Mountain Hardwear Crag Wagon 45 (they also do a 55). Very impressed with it and wouldn't really change a thing. It was the Outside video review that convinced me: youtube.com/watch?v=_dCRFpeEkoM&
The whole thing feels very beefy and indestructible, including the zips. I always used to be of the same opinion as petegunn above, that extensive zips were a bad idea, but I reckon maybe times have moved on. The zip on my Osprey Mutant has held up really well for years now. That's just for closing the top, but it actually gets a lot more abuse than the Crag Wagon zip when trying to pack it really tightly and then force the zip closed. Whereas with the Crag Wagon, you would mostly load from the top with the zip already closed. So very little reason to be trying to force the zip closed under pressure, which always feels like the thing most likely to damage a zip. Yes, it would be a tricky repair if the zip did fail. But it doesn't feel likely and the convenience of being able to easily access everything in any order is really nice.
If you could do without the zip, Aiguille Alpine do cracking, bombproof climbing rucksacks.
Is the 45L big enough to just stuff all your kit in regardless or do you need to “pack it”. Considering a “crag bag” instead of a lightweight alpine pack but was thinking I’d need a 50+L bag to get the “stuff and forget” -ability but the crag wagon next size up is 60L and that feels a bit DofE for a day trip to the crag!
I guess the answer's a little different for everyone depending on how much stuff you take. But I tend to have a "take it all just in case" mindset and find it pretty spacious. I'm in the habit of packing my ropes in a rope bag and then putting that in the bag, which uses up a lot of space, and then I do have to pack a bit to fit a generous rack in on top. But that's with two triple-rated 60m half ropes packed inefficiently (the triple rating seemed a good idea at the time but with hindsight I'm less certain, they're quite fat and heavy). If I'm splitting the ropes with a partner, strapping one over the top or even just using smaller ropes, there's ample room to just chuck everything in without any care. And it still carries alright because it holds its shape well.
I have a much older version of this pack (mine is probably 15 years old now) which I regularly find myself coming back to purely for ease of access and I tend to over-pack! It's robust enough for me, has a full length zip and decent pockets & compression straps. One slight caveat is that I don't use it for bigger days out or ones that involve a long walk-in as it could be a touch more comfortable. I always go to my Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack on such occasions.
Not really anything you are looking for.... But I have been using the BD speed for the last few months and really loving it. Not a lot to say about it, its just one big hole, the lid can be removed, but if left on its really big and really easy to get things in and out of.
> Zips these days only seem to last a year!
I've found that simply isn't true - my main crag pack is the Arcteryx from this review https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/rucksacks/medium/crag_packs_for_trad_climbers-3906 I was reviewing the packs the previous year, so it must now by 11 years old. I use it a lot and the zips still work as new. My mate Tony has the Grivel pack from that review and has taken it all over the world, as well as cragging trips locally - so has possibly used it even more than I've used the Arcteryx, and it's still working fine.
Of smaller gauge zips on lighter packs, my main small daypack is this one https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/rucksacks/medium/lowe_alpine_aeon_27_pack-11254 and the zip is still fine after over four years of use. Somewhere I have a 27-ish year old zip-up KIMM sack, that got used a huge amount until recent years, from lightweight backpacking to going to Lidl to get the shopping. At some point I lined the base with duck tape because it was wearing through, but the zip still works fine.
I used to be sceptical about zip-closing packs but in decades of using them I've never had a zip fail on a pack.
I have one of these: https://www.backpacker.com/gear-item/gear-guide-2009-millet-peuterey-50-review/, which has held up very well.
Looks like the current version is this: https://www.alpinetrek.co.uk/millet-peuterey-integrale-35-10-mountaineering-backpack/
BD creek 50
Ortovox traverse 40
Arcteryx Muira 50 (if they still make it???)
Crag wagon as mentioned above
lowe alpine rogue 48
I love zip open packs! I definitely tend towards the clamshell over a single straight zip. I still have a 20year old Lowe alpine with a massive zip opening, the zip is still bomber.
That's interesting - looks basically the same as the one I reviewed a decade ago in the review I linked above. Unfortunately I don't know how that one is now doing - I gave it to an Italian mate in Helsinki when we both lived there, and he's back in Italy and I'm back in the UK so don't know if the pack is still in regular use! I liked it when I used it though.
Still on zips - I've recently reviewed two medium sized all round mountain packs, but both that have big zips down the side, from Lowe and Salewa. Not full on crag packs, but work well because of the big zips.
If you wanted a pack that you could winter climb with, but could also work well as a crag pack at Stanage or Dancing Ledge, either would do a good job. Both were nice packs but I preferred the Salewa personally.
Thanks very much everyone, I'll have a look.