Best Climbing Packs: The Top 5 of 2017

Climbing PackRetail Price
Top Pick: Black Diamond Creek 50 Pack$$$
Best Value & Best Small Daypack: Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack$
Most Versatile & Best Medium-Sized Pack: Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry Backpack$$
Best Gym Bag: Metolius Gym Bag$
Best Haul Bag: Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag$$$
Climbing of any kind — be it bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing, or ice climbing — involves lots of gear.

Pounds upon pounds of gear.

Shoes and crash pads and harnesses and ropes and quickdraws… the list goes on.

When climbing outside, transporting all that gear is a real issue. You need a pack that is large enough to suit your needs and durable enough to keep your valuable gear safe. For this reason, here’s our list of the best climbing packs available today. All of these packs are designed to safely and securely carry your climbing gear in a variety of situations.

 

Top Pick: Black Diamond Creek 50 Pack

One of the best climbing packs available today As Black Diamond succinctly says it, the Creek 50 Pack is “ideal for gear-intensive cragging sessions.” If you need a pack that can carry your copious amounts of gear for whatever type of climbing you’re doing, this pack can be your go-to.

For sport climbing trips, the Creek 50 Pack can carry your food, water, climbing ropes, harnesses, quickdraws, multiple pairs of climbing shoes, and more. When you go trad climbing, you can lug your treasure trove of gear around in it. For multi-pitch days, it can be your repository for everything you bring. At the gym, even, you can use it as a bag for stashing all your equipment.

The Creek 50 Pack gets our top pick as the best climbing pack because it is durable, well-designed, and can carry everything you’d need for a day of climbing. This haul bag-inspired pack is large — 50 liters in volume — and sports a variety of useful features.

For example, the pack’s side zipper allows you to get to gear in the middle or bottom of your pack without pulling everything else out. The shoulder straps are padded and the waist belt is padded and removable. The pack stands up by itself which makes loading and unloading gear easy. The fabric is waterproof and comes with a rain cover so your gear, phone, wallet, and other items will stay dry even if you get caught in a storm.

This climbing pack is voluminous, but if you aren’t searching for a large climbing pack then consider our picks for the best small and medium-sized climbing packs, the Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack and Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry Backpack, respectively. Also, this pack will likely be too small for multi-day big wall climbs, so if you’re in need of a haul bag, look at the Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag.

 

Best Value & Best Small Daypack: Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack

Best climbing daypack While the Creek 50 Pack is our overall top pick, we also recognize that some of you are looking for a great climbing pack that isn’t 50 liters in volume, but rather a lightweight, smaller daypack that you can wear while climbing.

Enter the Bullet 16 Pack. This top small climbing pack was designed to be worn while you’re on the route, making it perfect for long, multi-pitch routes on rock or ice. It is large enough to carry a fair amount of gear and slim enough for chimneys.

At 16 liters in volume it is about one-third the size of the Creek 50 Pack and about one-third the cost. Filled up completely it can fit your water, snacks, harness, pocket items, climbing shoes, chalk bag, belay device, and maybe a few more small items. The 16-liter size also makes it good for lightweight travelling, day hikes, outdoor bouldering sessions, and sport climbing days where you aren’t hauling around much gear.

The pack comes with a water bladder hose port (no bladder, though), padded frame, padded straps, and removable waist belt. The padding helps the pack stay comfy even after hours of carrying it. For the size and quality of this pack we also think it is the best value climbing pack on this list. Although, as you could guess, it won’t work in all situations — specifically those days when you need lots of gear.

 

Most Versatile & Best Medium-Sized Pack: Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry Backpack

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 OutDry Backpack Was the Creek 50 Pack too big and the Bullet 16 Pack too small? If so, the Goldilocks climbing pack for you is the Scrambler 30 OutDry Backpack.

As you have probably guessed, the Scrambler 30 Backpack has 30 liters of space. This middle size is ideal for single-day sport climbing sessions where you don’t need lots of extra gear but rather are sticking to the basics — food, water, rope, harness, quickdraws, chalk bag, belay device, outer layers, a pair of shoes or two, and other small items.

The pack’s size also makes it good for other activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, and travelling. Although the Bullet 16 Pack mentioned above is also good for some of these scenarios, the Scrambler 30 Backpack has about twice as much space and therefore lets you carry a more reasonable amount of stuff. We have named the Scrambler 30 Backpack the most versatile option on the list for this reason.

One of the crowning features of the Scrambler 30 Backpack is its waterproof outer layer. This backpack is weather-resistant to the max. It can keep your things dry in a downpour if properly closed. It also comes with a hydration sleeve (again, no bladder, though), a rope strap, and padded shoulder straps.

 

Best Gym Bag: Metolius Gym Bag

Metolius Gym Bag Even a visit to the climbing gym can necessitate bringing along lots of gear. Warm-up shoes, performance shoes, harness, belay device, carabiner, water bottle, climbing tape, protein bar, brush, chalk bag, chalk, and so on.

It can be annoying carrying or keeping track of all this gear. The Metolius Gym Bag is a cheap, lightweight, and spacious bag (15 oz, and 28-liter capacity) into which you can throw all your climbing gear when heading to the gym.

The aptly named Gym Bag has a messenger-style carrying strap and two handles for easy pick up. It is easy to use and simply designed with no superfluous bells and whistles. It simply has one large pocket for all your gear and a small side pocket for your wallet, phone, keys, and other small items.

 

Best Haul Bag: Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag

The best haul bag Finally, I couldn’t write an article about the best climbing packs without including the best haul bag. The Half Dome Haul Bag is an ideal size for climbers who will be spending 1-3 days on the wall. It is BIG (125-liter capacity) but not so huge that it’s difficult to find something at the bottom of the pack.

This haul bag is a great size for those trips lasting at most a few days such as a grade V or VI wall. However, it isn’t the biggest of the big so it might actually be a little small for huge walls or multi-day climbs when you need inordinate amounts of gear (the Metolius El Cap Haul Bag, at 157 L, is the largest in the Metolius line-up and would be the best haul bag for these scenarios). On the other hand, it is too large if you’re looking to carry gear for a single day of climbing. For that we recommend our top pick, the Creek 50 Pack.

The Half Dome Haul Bag is made out of incredibly durable Durathane and is near impossible to tear or puncture. It is waterproof and — did we mention? — has A LOT of space. It also has some inside gear loops, zippered pouches, and a drain hole. Besides these, there aren’t many superfluous features on this haul bag. It simply does what it is intended to do — safely and securely carry your gear and keep it dry.

 

How to Choose the Best Climbing Pack for You

Appropriate Size

Size is the first thing you should consider when purchasing a climbing pack. Ask yourself: how much gear do I need to carry? If you simply need a pack the size of a regular backpack then you’ll need a small daypack such as the Bullet 16 Pack.

If you are carrying a fair amount of gear for sport climbing then a larger pack such as the Scrambler 30 Backpack or Creek 50 Pack will suit your needs. If you need to carry a trad rack or gear for a multi-pitch climb or any other “gear intensive cragging session” then the Creek 50 Pack is the ideal size. Finally, if you’ll be spending multiple days on the wall then you need a haul bag, such as the Half Dome Haul Bag.

Waterproof?

Many climbers don’t put themselves in the situation to be climbing outside while it’s raining, and therefore likely could do without a waterproof climbing pack.

However, if you’ll be in a scenario where your climbing pack could get wet (e.g. wading across rivers, camping for multiple days, spending multiple days on the wall) then it’s important to have a waterproof pack that can keep your gear dry. Luckily, lots of climbing packs are now waterproof to some degree, but it pays to investigate further should you need this feature.

Comfy Enough

Approaches can be long and arduous or short and pleasant. Sometimes your climbing pack might be on your back for 30 minutes and other times you might carry your pack up the wall with you.

Depending on your scenario, you’ll want a pack that stays comfortable no matter how long you have it on your back. Ask yourself how comfortable you need your pack to be and then purchase one that fits your needs. Padded shoulder straps and back padding are features that make heavy packs less of a pain to carry.


Photo Credit: Black Diamond, Mountain Hardwear, Metolius, Tomas Sobek