Hi all. Recommendations gratefully accepted for an all-round rucksac for summer (easy) multipitch and winter (grade III-IV) climbing. I've narrowed the choice down to Black Ice vs Alpine Attack vs AK47. Important for me are:
Minimum 45 litre capacity
Minimal weight without having to remove features/waistbelts/straps/accessories/lids to get the thing down to weight.
Stowable hipbelt = comfortable approach and easy access to harness on climb
Bomber technical (tiny hammer) ice axe and ski pole attachments
> I've used the Crux AK47 for a couple of years, in the Alps and Scottish mixed climbing. It's comfortable and bombproof.
Second that plus AK4747x is light without having to strip things.
But, you may have problems keeping tech axe with small hammer in the standard ice axe loops. I have Quarks and need to make sure the hammer is tensioned so it doesn't slip out. Alternativley put axe in side straps.
Black Ice - utterly dependable.Comfortable and very robust. Removable lid (has basic straps so it can be used as bumbag. Surprisingly useful for either stripping the bag further or just as a 'summit' bag for essentials). Hipbelt is totally removable with a basic webbing one hidden to replace it. Again useful for shedding weight depending on use. I believe the AK47 is similarly functional.
In reply to BnB: FWIW I'd say they are all too large for summer use and I'd prefer not to actually climb with any of them. I'd say something like the POD Alpine 30 or Blue Ice 30l Climbing Pack could be better, if not something even smaller/lighter like the Blue Ice Warthog 26.
That said for Winter use, 45litres is a reasonable size. You can certainly get away with smaller sacs but for longer walk-ins, a bigger sac tends to carry the weight better. The ones you have shortlisted are all decent sacs but none of the 3 stands out as being markedly better or worse than the other.
There are literally dozens of options on the market so you are pretty much spoiled for choice, but don't expect there to be any real consensus on here about which one to go for.
I replaced an old Black Ice with an Alpine 50 and I wouldn't go back, although the Alpine 50 is probably not as utterly indestructible and has a stupidly expensive SRP (I bought mine fairly cheap 2nd hand).
I'd probably look at the Osprey Mutant 38 (42litres in long back length) and BD Speed 40. I'd also be fairly keen to have a closer look at the Blue Ice Warthog 38 if I was focused on minimal weight. Finally, as a budget option there is the Berghuas Arete 45.
And that is without mentioning Macpac, Aiguille, Deuter, Arc'teryx, Grivel, Mammut ...
> I've used the Crux AK47 for a couple of years.. It's comfortable and bombproof.
Apart from the fact that mine is falling apart (and not from very heavy use I might add). Plus the floating lid on mine (I have the X version) doesn't sit very well and is, well, bloody annoying actually.
I had the previous version of the Black Ice which, though on the heavy side, was the dogs. Not sure how the new version stacks up.
AK47 lid is terrible. If you do buy one, get the X version. I also used to find the shoulder strap webbing was too narrow for the buckles and so they slipped and slackened. Although, this may have been sorted in newer versions.
Alpine Attack - main buckle is very difficult to use when the webbing is frozen (ie during winter climbing), I wont bore you with the technical detail as to why, but it was essentially a major pain in the neck.
Not used a Black Ice, I gather they're good.
Also consider Black Diamond's packs - which are very good.
In reply to BnB: I have an AK 57 - it is very comfortable to carry despite the thin padding on the waist belt. It climbs well and is tough. I wouldn't look back and would recommend it. However, based on your criteria it fails on stowable hipbelt (although I just clip mine out the way behind the bag) and hammer attachments (I just stick mine in the side pockets as my hammer has fallen out of the loops a few times). Other minor annoyances - I had to make my own gear loops (there are tie in points and it was easy to find cord but not so easy to find something to stiffen the cord - ended up cutting up a stethoscope sold in a fancy dress shop!), the lid doesn't sit well when the bag isn't full and the top strap runs through a velcro attachment that frays the strap.
For alpine rock routes I actually switched back last summer to my OMM Villain from some little Vaude 25-something lightweight thing. The Villain is slightly heavier, but I find a long, narrow weight distributed along my back disturbs me less than the same weight in a more compact bundle.
In reply to BnB: I'm into the 3rd year of my BLack Ice and she's also coming backpacking with me this weekend. Utterly awesome!
I use it for summer by stipping and pulling the straps in so its not at its full size (plus remove the lid).
Mines used for absolutley everything and have been contemplating getting a bag for wild camping but can't justify it because the Black Ice is the bollocks!
In reply to BnB: Try as many of them on as possible and buy whichever is most comfortable. Or if you're not handy for a good goear shop or shops then order a few over the net and send back the ones you don't like. They're all rucksacks and will hold stuff, after all, so I reckon fit is the most important thing. I loved the features, look and idea of the AK37 but it felt terrible when I tried it on with a bit of gear inside, so I went for the OMM Jirishanca instead -- not as good a pack in some ways, but at least it doesn't make every mile covered a pain.
Thanks for contributions everyone. And thanks for the suggestions for smaller packs. I already have an excellent lightweight 35 litre summer pack that proves a little bit of a squeeze for winter, so I'm only interested in 45+.
I'm leaning towards the Lowe Alpine Attack on the basis of current contributions. It has more advanced features (I love new features) than the POD, much less weight (I'm a 9st weakling trapped in a 12st body) and only one grumble has surfaced after a dayfull of comments. The POD scores on rugged longevity but this actually isn't a major criterion for me. I like to change my gear fairly regularly so don't mind a bit of wear (within reason).
Anyone else want to deter or disrail me before I take the plunge?
> Anyone else want to deter or disrail me before I take the plunge?
Not particularly, although the design doesn't really inspire me and the colour is rather boring. The only negative thing that stands out is that I'd don't like single buckle extendable lids. Also, I'm now a big fan of the roll-top closure on other sacs like the POD Alpine 40/50.
On the plus side, I did look at them in Tiso last year and my first impressions were all good especially in terms of value for money.
In reply to BnB: I have an Alpine Attack for my winter stuff and its great. I tend not to use it with the lid though, just find its better without it, especially once you have emptied it of all the gear when you start climbing. The ice axe attachment is fiddly to get used to but you get there eventually and its a pretty nifty design.
The material does look a bit flimsy and i'll see how well it gets on compared to my Ballistic 35l but everything i've heard about the durability of them is good.