Friday, October 22, 2010

Back to Backpacks

Since this is where it all began, I thought I'd revisit the topic. As mentioned before, I've had a preference for small boutique makers like Cilo Gear ( and Cold Cold World ( having used them with success over the years as dedicated climbing packs. Recently I've been a bit more inclined to use packs which can offer more frame support during the carry part of my outings. While you can always strip it out, it's hard to beat a nice carry on the trail, even if it is more critical that you be able to lead UIAA V or vertical ice at a few key points. For those really technical outings, I suppose I still prefer the venerable Valdez I have from Cold Cold World, or a pre-production 30 L CiloGear Dyneema item I tried in the past few years. But I've been using a larger, if lightweight, pack from Black Diamond (, a 45 L Quantum, and a smaller 35 L one from Deuter ( The former is great, if a bit bottom worn (probably not the right sack for JTree, given the sandpaper granite;) the latter is more recent, but addresses the durability issue. The BD can be stripped clean, which is great when you use it for an overnight and then a climb. The Deuter I've only cragged with, but it has leashless tool holders and good ski slots, both of which I find handy. Ultimately I like them for the carry, which is very comfortable, probably a sign of my middle-aged decadence. However, they are the biz for now. For a perfect leader pack I'd have to point to one of the smaller BD packs, like the bullet or the beebee, the smaller CiloGear packs, and a very slick mini Arc'teryx which Jim Lawyer was sporting at Potter Mountain in the Adirondacks recently. Jim also carrys a pack/haul sack, by Metolius I think, which is probably key if your doing lots of hauling and are a bit indifferent to the carry issue.