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|Top Pick: Metolius Crag Station|
|Best Value: Trango Crag Pack|
|Runner-Up: Patagonia Crag Daddy Pack 45L|
|Honorable Mention: Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack|
|Honorable Mention: DMM Flight|
It’s finally happened.
You’ve accumulated so much climbing gear that now you need a crag pack to carry it all with you when you go climbing.
Farewell, all that money I spent on all that gear. It was nice having you.
Crag packs are not only important for carrying your gear, though, but for keeping it clean and in good condition. They make your gear last longer and your money go further.
The issue, though, is the same as with many other pieces of climbing gear. How do you go about picking the right pack? The options are sometimes confusingly similar.
For that reason, I put together this guide to the best crag packs available today. I’ve included our top five picks plus brief reviews of each option. After reading this guide you’ll have a much better idea about which pack to get.
Top Pick: Metolius Crag Station
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I’m gonna start by assuming something about the majority of you reading this article…
You want your crag pack to be able to carry all your gear for a day of sport cragging. While there are obviously other uses for crag packs, I dove into the research with this as my guiding assumption.
If this rings true for you, then the Metolius Crag Station is, in our opinion, the best crag pack for your purposes.
The Crag Station is a simple take on a duffel-style crag pack. It has a fat zipper running down the center for easy access to your gear and easy packing and unpacking.
The Crag Station is about as durable as crag packs come and will handle well the wear and tear you throw at it. It’s easy to carry as a duffle bag from route to route or wear as a backpack during your approaches.
Another positive of this bag, one that helped it secure our Top Pick title, is that it retails for less than many of the other top crag packs on the market. It won’t break the bank.
The main downsides here are the 41 L volume which will leave some of you wanting more. For others, the pack’s simplicity might be a drawback. The Crag Station doesn’t have a few of the bells and whistles of some of the fancier bags, such as lots of internal loops and hooks, so you can’t organize your gear as well as with some other crag packs.
Despite these shortcomings, the Crag Station will be enough for most people in most situations.
This bag checks the boxes of carrying your gear, keeping it clean, and allowing you to access and pack it easily, all while retailing for a decent price and lasting for years. Top Pick material if I’ve ever seen it.
Best Value: Trango Crag Pack
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The Trango Crag Pack, at first glance, looks like a haul bag. It has the characteristic cylindrical shape and top-loading packing style.
However, it is a crag pack, and a good one at that. Plus, since it retails for a fair amount less than many of the other options on this list, it is, in our opinion, the best value crag pack on the market.
The Trango Crag Pack is best used for sport cragging. It’s a whopping 48 L so it can carry everything our Top Pick can and more. An 80m rope, lunch, water bottles, guidebooks, jackets, chalk bags… Everything.
This is a top-loading pack which is different from the duffel style of our Top Pick. You pack and unpack things from the top: first in, last out. The Trango Crag Pack does have a zipper running down the side, however, which you can use to snatch a piece of gear from any level.
Like a few other packs on this list, the Crag Pack comes with a tarp which you can use to keep your climbing rope and other gear dirt-free.
Runner-Up: Patagonia Crag Daddy Pack 45L
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It was a toss up between the Patagonia Crag Daddy and our Top Pick, the Metolius Crag Station. We eventually settled on the Metolius Crag station because of its more favorable price, but still wanted to include a review of the Patagonia Crag Daddy because it was a close second.
The Crag Daddy is another duffel-style crag pack with a long zipper running down the middle of the pack for super easy access. It has a good suspension system that keeps the pack comfortable on your back.
It’s easy to carry all the necessary gear for the day in this pack. Rope, shoes, harness, helmet, quickdraws, etc. There are outside mesh pockets big enough for your water bottle or a pair of smelly climbing shoes.
Another positive of the Crag Daddy is that it’s lightweight. If I had to speculate that probably is one reason why it’s the most expensive option on this list. It’s almost a pound lighter than some other options.
If you’re trying to shave ounces then this could be your crag pack. Or if you find it on sale, we say take it.
Honorable Mention: Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack
Another great crag pack at a great value. The Stone 42 Duffel Pack is the option on the list with the lowest retail price and performs as well as nearly any other pack out there.
This duffel-style pack opens down the middle so you can quickly access anything from any corner of your pack. It carries all the necessities for a day of sport climbing — a long rope, a couple pairs of climbing shoes, and other sport climbing necessities. There is even a removable tarp included.
The pack comes with padded straps which make longer approaches bearable, even if you’re lugging around 30+ pounds.
There is honestly little to find fault with in this bag. At 42 L it is near the minimum limit of being able to carry everything for a day of sport climbing, but it’s such a well-priced crag pack that you can’t even nitpick about that.
Honorable Mention: DMM Flight
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The DMM Flight is a well-rounded, backpack-style crag pack designed with sport climbing in mind.
The 45 L pack is an ideal size for a sport climbing crag session and is also designed to double as a rope bag. This means it can carry all your sport climbing gear plus your climbing rope. It comes with a removable rope tarp for this reason.
It is a little small for trad climbers, though. It probably won’t carry your entire trad rack if you’re geared out to the max.
The Flight is also a perfect size and shape for travel. It is the maximum size for carry-on luggage for “most airlines” according to DMM. Other crag packs aren’t designed to fit into the overhead compartments on airplanes.
The pack itself has a number of inside and outside pockets that make organization easy. It’s easy to move from one spot to another around the crag. You can simply throw your stuff in and pick the pack up briefcase-style to move to your next route.
How to Choose the Best Crag Pack for Your Needs
Still unsure which crag pack to get?
To get a better idea of what to buy, consider first what you will mostly be using your crag pack for. Gear-logged trad excursions, day-long sport cragging, or something else?
Now, with your answer in mind, consider the following criteria:
Simply put, you need a crag pack that can carry all your gear. So, ask yourself, how much gear will I be carrying?
It’s easy to determine the carrying capacity of a crag pack. Just look at how many liters it can carry. Or, for insight on how volume translates into gear, I recommend you re-read the above reviews where I’ve tried to list the items that each pack can hold comfortably.
Ease of Packing & Unpacking
During a normal cragging session you might pack and unpack your crag pack a number of times. For convenience sake, it helps to get a crag pack that you can pack and unpack easily.
Ease of packing and unpacking often comes down to the style of the bag. There are three main styles:
Now, all crag packs are intended to be easy to pack and unpack, but that isn’t always the case. Some are easier than others. Look at the zippers and access points that each crag pack has to determine if it’s well-suited for easy packing and unpacking.
Duffel-style crag packs tend to be the easiest to pack and unpack since they are designed to lie horizontally rather than stand up vertically. Backpack and top-loader crag packs tend to have zippers running the length of the pack, though, so you can access gear at any level.
How do you like to carry all the gear you take to the crag? Do you just throw it in your pack or take the time to carefully organize everything?
Your organization style could be a way to go about choosing your crag pack, though it isn’t too crucial in our opinion. Some crag packs make it easier to keep all your gear organized by adding lots of pockets and hooks on the inside and outside, while other packs take a more minimalist approach.
One of the main benefits of crag packs is how comfortable they make it to carry all your gear. A key part of this is a good suspension system.
The longer your approaches tend to be, the more important it is from a comfort standpoint to have a good suspension system. If you have mostly short approaches you don’t need to worry about comfort too much since the pack won’t be on your back for too long.
On longer approaches, on the other hand, you’ll appreciate a good suspension system that helps you carry the pack for longer with less discomfort.