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Climbing Backpack Buyer’s Guide

There are tons of essentials you need to take when climbing a favorite trial. Moreover, if you are on a multi-day trip, then having a lot of items such as clothes, flashlights, water bottles, and much more is necessary.

But how do you carry these items when climbing? The simple answer is with a climbing backpack. A climbing pack is specially designed for climbers as it is lightweight, durable, and has immense space to carry your stuff.

The problem comes when you plan to buy a climbing pack as there are multiple considerations to make, such as the volume, material, size, and type of bag.

To make things easier for you, we are here with a comprehensive climbing backpack buyer's guide that'll help you select the best pack that's comfortable and stores all your climbing gear.

In this guide, we have covered everything you should know before investing money in a climbing pack.

Why is it essential to have a good climbing backpack?

After knowing the extensive benefits of these, you will surely buy one. Check out what perks you will get with a good climbing backpack.

It’s comfortable

Carrying an uncomfortable backpack can ruin your journey and experience, and you cannot carry it straight for multiple hours in a row. A poorly designed and uncomfortable bag, you will see the significant drop in your efficiency, and it'll be challenging while climbing.

But a good climbing pack is comfortable to carry, so you don't feel the need not to take various breaks. Furthermore, a comfortable backpack will enhance your efficiency so you will enjoy climbing and that’s something you shouldn’t miss if you are climbing for the first time.

It’s spacious

The room or the volume of climbing packs is more than regular backpacks. There are multiple small and big pockets so you can carry more stuff like your traveling gear, cameras, GoPros, water bottles, and much more.

It’s lightweight

A good climbing pack will weigh less while offering more volume. Every ounce counts while climbing, so having a climbing pack will help you shed some weight you have to carry if you opt for a regular backpack.

It’s durable

Climbing means battling with rough and tough situations, crossing through puddles, and there are endless inevitable situations where you will appreciate the durability of a climbing pack. These are made using high-quality material that’s durable and can withstand wear and tear.

Important factors to consider while buying a climbing backpack

The factors listed below cover all the aspects of a climbing pack, including material, type, volume or capacity, weight, frame type, and much more.

All these factors will influence your experience with the pack, so you should take them into consideration if you don't want to buy the wrong backpack.

Why are you buying a climbing pack?

Why are you buying a climbing backpack? Do you need it for a multi-day trip, or you need one for a day out only. The choice will depend on why you are looking for a pack.

How long will the trip be?

If you want to make the most out of those holidays and want to explore the unexplored, then a bigger pack with more volume will be your choice. Small bags with less capacity are good for one or a two-day trip where you don't need to carry a lot of stuff.

Where are you planning to go?

If you are going to a place with extreme cold, then you need more layers of clothes to keep you warm, and the only way to carry your clothes is in your backpack. Similarly, going to a hot place requires less stuff and clothes so that a small bag can be a great choice.

Types of climbing backpacks

You should start by selecting the type of climbing pack so that you can delve further into selecting other factors such as the material, capacity, and much more. These packs are available in a multitude of types that are suitable for different purposes.

Crag packs

If you are looking for a regular climbing pack that helps you keep the climbing gear handy, then crag packs should be your choice. These bags are available in a range of capacities starting from 35 to 50 liters.

You can carry the stuff like ropes, bottles, climbing shoes, quickdraws, and other such things in the loops available on the pack. Climbing isn't easy at all, and having all your gear available at a hand's distance is essential, which is only possible with a crag pack.

Moreover, these are highly durable but a bit heavy. A crag pack is perfect for climbers that want to carry heavy gear with food and water bottler.


Haul bags

Haul bags are what you can pull up after climbing using a rope. By having a haul bag, you don't have to carry the bag while climbing, which can save you from carrying more weight. These are durable, and the most common materials used to manufacture the bags are vinyl and urethane.

Most haul bags have a bucket-like shape that makes them easy to pull. If you need a bag to carry more stuff, then go for haul bags. The strap attached to the bag is sturdy, so you can rest assured that it won't break while you are pulling the bag up.

Alpine packs

If you need an all-terrain pack that's suitable for snowy, rocky, and icy landscapes, then purchasing an alpine pack can be a good decision. These bags have adequate space to accommodate crampons and climbing tools. Furthermore, the dedicated place to keep the climbing gear won't damage the bag, and that's why these last longer.

The basic capacity available in these packs is around 35-50 liters, which is enough to accommodate the stuff. The best part about alpine packs is that these are lightweight, durable, and comfortable to carry.

Rope bags

Rope bags are generally tarps transformed into backpacks to carry your climbing ropes while protecting them from sharp and pointed objects. You can have a rope bag with some other backpack as well as it is suitable for carrying the ropes and similar gear.

These bags have ample space to store ropes. Moreover, you can easily access the rope whenever required without having to struggle.

Summit packs

Summit packs are small and compact, so having one of these won't hinder your climbing movements. You can even call it the smallest climbing backpack as these are available in 10 and 20 liters capacity as well.

You can carry your climbing gear such as ropes, quickdraws, bottles, and food with the backpack, and it has a dual-layer for added protection. The best thing about a summit pack is that you can store it in a bigger bag for the ease of traveling with it.

Gym bags

Gym bags are versatile, and you can take them to the gym after your office. The commuter or messenger-style bags have good space to accommodate climbing gear, and you can use it to carry your towel or shaker as well when going to the gym.

These bags are small as compared to rope, and crag packs but a bit bigger then summit packs.

Backpack frame type

Climbing packs of small and medium sizes are available with or without a frame. But bigger packs usually come with a frame for added support while carrying the gear. Check out whether you should buy a pack with a frame or a frameless one should be your choice.

Packs with an external frame

You will only see a few backpacks with an external frame as these are not so popular these days. These packs are suitable for carrying heavy loads like toting a kayak or carrying a load of meat (which the hunters commonly do).

Packs with an internal frame

Internal frame packs are most common among hikers and climbers. These allow you to carry fairly decent loads and are perfect for multi-day trips. You will see a range of options available when selecting the size of a pack with an internal frame.

Furthermore, manufacturers are offering different technologies with these packs, such as a suspension system that distributes the weight of the load evenly. You won't feel that one side is heavier than the other.

The frame can be made using different materials like metal or any other durable and robust material, including fiberglass. With these climbing packs, you can carry around 25 to 30 pounds without much difficulty.

Frameless packs

If you need a climbing pack that's lightweight and lets you hike fast, then go for frameless packs. Generally, these have less carrying capacity as there is no frame to support the heavy load.


The material of the backpack decides its durability and weight. Some materials are durable, but these can make the pack considerably heavy, so you should select the material wisely.

The common materials used to manufacture climbing packs are rip-stop nylon, Cordura nylon, nylon, and polyester. Choose the material you think will be ideal for your needs and come right under your budget.

Polyester climbing packs are affordable, whereas, for nylon and other highly durable materials, you have to shell out more money.


Check how heavy the bag is to determine that it doesn't make your back start paining when climbing. Climbing with a heavy load is daunting and requires a lot of strength. If you don't want to feel exhausted, then have a look at the climbing pack's weight.

Most manufacturers make lightweight packs so you can carry more weight. Look for branded packs that are made using nylon and its substitutes as these are lighter than polyester packs.


The capacity of the pack depends on how much stuff you want to carry. If you need a pack to accommodate a lot of items for a multi-day trip, then go for a bigger capacity such as 30-50 liters.

On the other hand, if you need a pack for a short trip, then a 15-20 liters pack will be enough. Bigger packs are ideal for carrying blankets, food supplies, and other things you may need on a multi-day trip.

Carrying comfort

Comfort should be on the top places of your list when choosing a climbing pack since it's something you cannot compromise. Most packs come with adjustable straps and waist belts, and you can adjust them as per your requirements.

Also, check the padding in the straps and make sure to go for a lightweight option so you can comfortably climb with the backpack.


You will not use the climbing pack for carrying clothes and food only. The pack should be durable enough to carry climbing gear such as belay tools, and quickdraws. Moreover, some climbing trials may need you to carry nuts and cams.

The fabric of the pack should be sturdy and durable so that it doesn’t wear out due to pointed objects. Nylon is a durable material that improves the overall sturdiness of the climbing backpack.

Pack access

Pack access means how easily you can take out or put in the items or tools in it. There are two types available when selecting the pack access.

Top load packs

Top load packs are what you see in everyday life. The high-priority items remain at the top while the less used items go at the bottom place of the pack. These backpacks are light in weight, and you can organize the stuff easily as per your requirements.

However, when it comes to ease of access, top-load packs aren't that good as you have to empty the entire pack to access the items packed in the bottom.

Panel access packs

With panel access packs, you can easily access every item, whether it is packed at the top or the bottom. These climbing backpacks come with multiple zippers so you can organize the items for the ease of access.

In a nutshell, if you don't want the hassles of emptying the entire pack to search for items, then go for a panel access pack.

Closure systems

The closure system is another essential factor to check after the pack access. You will see u-shaped zippers in most packs as these make it easier for you to access the items stored in the backpack while keeping the items safe. Also, check the drawstring as packs with dual drawstrings are ideal, and you can open it with both hands. The closure system of the pack will prevent your climbing tools and other items from falling out, so make sure to choose a reliable option.


While climbing stability is indispensable as an unstable pack can create difficulties. Check the space available in the pack to store the items to make sure that you can arrange the items for ultimate stability.

Also, look for the position of the straps and waist belt to ensure that the bag is highly stable, and it won't create any issues when you are out with your climbing gear.

Number of pockets

Generally, crag packs have most pockets, and you can easily organize your climbing gear since these packs have a lot of space to offer.

More pockets mean you can carry more stuff in the backpack. However, it can be challenging to remember what pocket you should open to get the food supply since many of them are available in the pack.

While checking the number of pockets, check the pocket-type as well.

Shovel pockets

These are the flaps stitched to the front of the backpack along with a buckle. You can accommodate a snow shovel in the pocket or the map, or some lightweight items like your jacket.

Elastic pockets

Elastic pockets are what you see in a regular backpack to carry bottles. The pockets lie flat when not in use to let you make the most of the space available in the backpack.

These pockets are good to hold items with the backpack like the tent poles, bottles, and other objects.

Hipbelt pockets

Hipbelt pockets are perfect if you want to access the items without removing the pack. These are available near your hip so you can open the zip to access the items while moving or climbing.

Exterior gear attachment

Be extra careful while choosing the pack with an exterior gear attachment, as the gear will swing if you don’t have a stable bag. Generally, alpine climbers use these attachments since they have a lot of items to carry.

Exterior gear attachment will be beneficial for carrying helmets, ropes, and other such items.

Haul loops

If you want a backpack that you can haul depending on the situations and the trail, then look for haul loops. These loops are available in haul packs, but you have to look for them in other climbing packs. Pack bags with haul loops are highly versatile, and you can haul it if the pack has more weight than you can carry on your back while climbing.

Water resistance

Climbing packs are usually not fully waterproof as you won't be climbing in the rains. Still, it would be great to have a pack that resists water from entering and spoiling your items. This is your personal choice since waterproof packs are expensive.

The best way is carrying a rain cover so you can keep the bag dry whenever it rains.

Hydration reservoir

The choice of a hydration reservoir depends on why you need a climbing pack. Usually, climbers stay away from packs with reservoirs since these can be onerous, and carrying a separate bottle using a carabiner seems a viable option.

Backpack fit

The reason why we have listed the fit, in the end, is to help you in making an easy buying decision. Once you have selected a suitable pack based on your requirements, then it'd be better to look for the size you should buy.

Check the size of the pack according to your torso's length. Some climbing packs come with adjustable suspension so that you can adjust the height of the backpack.

Checking the fitting is essential to ensure that the backpack remains stable, and you can have a food experience with it.

FAQs: Best Climbing Backpacks

Q: Is a 50 liters backpack enough for a 5-day trip?

A: It depends on how much stuff you want to carry with you and the area you are planning to visit. In cold areas, you need more clothes, and that will acquire more space in the pack, so a 50 liters backpack will be great.

On the other hand, if you want to go to a hot area, then go with 30-40 liters backpack capacity only.

Q: Are backpacks with hydration reservoirs good for climbing?

A: By having a backpack with a hydration reservoir, you have to carry more weight. Moreover, the hydration chamber will occupy some space so you will get less volume. We suggest using a separate bottle to carry water and go for a pack without a hydration reservoir, if possible.

Q: How much does a good climbing pack cost?

A: The cost of the climbing pack depends on various factors such as size, type, material, and brand. You can get some excellent backpacks at affordable rates by researching and looking for recommendations.

Q: Are these packs women-friendly?

A: You will find some climbing packs on the market that are specially designed for women as their body structure is different from men. You can filter some climbing packs to find out the best pack for women.


With this climbing backpack buyer's guide, you can buy the best pack for the money. Compare different packs on the basis of the factors listed in this article and then go for the one that fulfills your requirements.

Having a good climbing pack is essential as it carries all the items you need. Always look for backpacks made by prominent and trusted brands to get quality. Lastly, before you press the buy now button to order the backpack, do check the size chart, as some manufacturers may offer different sizes. / - © Copyright 2020