It’s tempting to just toss all of your gear into a random pack and call it a day when you first start climbing. Additionally, any old pack will do in the beginning when your main destinations are gyms and roadside sport crags.

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However, the reality is that climbing is brutal on equipment; more damage will be done to your climbing bag than to virtually anything else you carry. This is because, both on the approach and throughout the ascent, your pack is the only item you use for the whole day. You’ll need something that is supportive, comfortable, and long-lasting whether you want to load it up with heavy gear and a climbing rope, haul it for kilometers, use it to scrape up chimneys, or just sling it from rock to rock as you wander around the crag. All three are the greatest climbing packs.


The capacity of climbing packs is often expressed in liters. In comparison, the typical high school student’s bag has a volume of around thirty liters, which is comparable to that of an all-day hiking rucksack. Lesser-sized packs are often preferable for fourth-class scrambles, quick alpine approaches, and on-route climbing. For activities requiring a lot of gear, such as winter climbing and mountaineering, you’ll need packs bigger than that.

Types of Climbing Packs

There are several unique pack styles available. Finding the ideal climbing pack for you may be started by being aware of the differences.


The typical volume of a gym bag is 25 to 35 liters. They are made to open simply, pack swiftly, and allow perspiring shoes and clothing to air. They’re not normally made for trekking, and they often have a simple interior structure.

The Crag Packs.

These 40- to 50-liter backpacks are made to hold everything you’ll need for an extended day of sport climbing. They are designed to transport supplies from the trailhead to your base at the crag, much like the trucks of climbing packs. Panel sections, lengthy zippers, and wide apertures make it simple to locate anything quickly. Crag packs are often comfortable for up to two miles, but not much beyond.

Multipitch Packs are available.

A multipitch bag is necessary if you need to carry food, water, first aid supplies, or other necessities up a route. These sleek summit packs are made to climb the route with you and typically have a capacity of 10 to 25 liters. They have little support and are lightweight. They can’t fit as much heavy gear inside for a lengthy trip, but it does make it possible for them to hug your back without being in the way. Durability varies: some are composed of gossamer fibers meant to reduce your burden on lengthy alpine climbs, while others are robust enough to drag behind you when shimmying up a chimney or off-width pitch. (Know the specifications of the materials before making a decision.)

The Haul Bags

Haul bags are precisely what their name suggests: A straightforward, robust, bucket-shaped pack that’s perfect for pulling heavy items up sheer rock walls with a rope. Although they are essential for big-wall and aid climbing, some sport climbers prefer the straightforward design of a 40- to 60-liter haul bag for carrying equipment to the crag.

Alpine and mountaineering packs for the winter

A larger pack is necessary if you anticipate encountering snow or ice, whether it is on summer glaciers or dead-of-winter ice flows. A typical winter or climbing pack has between 40 and 55 liters. They frequently include unique features for storing ice tools and crampons. To handle the accessories, most have a sturdy support system and a comfortable waist belt.

Packs for multiday mountaineering

The vast size of mountaineering packs—which range from 60 to 100 liters—allows them to hold enough of stuff for both overnight excursions and climbs. This implies that they also have robust suspension systems that are intended to be quite comfortable over extended distances and are capable of handling the largest loads. Cons: On difficult terrain, they are pricey, heavy, and difficult to maneuver.

A Bouldering Note

Don’t worry too much about a pack if bouldering is your primary activity; most boulderers use a little hiking backpack or summit pack to carry their equipment up between their crash pads.


Whatever type of climbing you undertake, having a pack that fits is essential. Climbing equipment is heavy, and if your pack is too small, it will dangle from your shoulders and cause aches and pains before you reach the wall.

Step 1 is to measure the length of your torso. This is the distance between the bottom of your spine, which is the location equally spaced between the tops of your hip bones, and your C7 vertebra, which is the bony bump at the base of your neck. Many climbing packs are one-size-fits-all, but you’ll probably need a model that comes in small, medium, and large sizes if your torso is longer or shorter than the 18 to 20-inch range. To be certain, go to the brand’s website’s size charts.

Another choice if you’re smaller than normal would be to check out women’s packs, which often fit torso lengths that are shorter.


Materials matter in a sport that abuses equipment. These are a few of the most typical materials found in climbing packs.

Nylon and Polyester are both acceptable.

The majority of packets contain some polyester or nylon. These two materials function similarly most of the time, yet polyester is frequently more weather resistant and nylon absorbs a little water when wet. Both are excellent choices for packs used in tough climbing.


The slight grid design on ripstop textiles makes them easier to spot. The grid, which is a latticework of stronger fibers woven into the fabric at regular intervals, helps to stop tears from growing bigger and boosts tear resistance, but it cannot halt punctures. Ripstop is an excellent method of increasing durability without increasing weight.

Spectra, DCF, and Dyneema

Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is the material used to make Spectra, Dyneema, and Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). This is a premium fabric class that is inherently UV-resistant, waterproof, and lightweight. Packs constructed of UHMWPE are typically white since the material is difficult to color. The main drawback is that they are frequently pricey.

PU Coatings & DWR

Weather-resistant fabrics are made of polyurethane (PU) and durable water repellents (DWR). What’s the difference? Over time, the chemical coating known as DWR will wear off. PU is a layer of material that has a longer-lasting, stronger binding. Keep in mind that unless a pack has taped seams to prevent water from seeping in through the stitching, it isn’t fully waterproof.


Okay, so denier isn’t really a material, but it plays a significant role in how durable a pack is. The weight of the yarn used to make a cloth is measured in Denier. Fabrics with a higher denier rating are often heavier and tougher. Consider nylon with 100 denier. Although it won’t withstand much scraping, 600-denier nylon will feel incredibly light on your back during quick summit pushes; yet, it will be heavier and far more resistant to abrasions and punctures.


Because packs with fewer bells and whistles are less likely to snag on objects when climbing, most climbers favor simpler packs. But, there are a few essential components that have the power to create or ruin your experience.

Hipbelt: This might be a basic belt made of webbing or a padded item. It is essential for comfort during lengthier approaches as it evenly distributes weight on the hips. But for multi-pitch climbing, watch out for large hipbelts and hipbelt pockets, since they might catch and interfere with a harness.

Easy-access pockets: For on-the-go necessities like food, sunscreen, and first aid, look for zippered bags on the top, sides, or rear of the pack. Make it your goal to have one.

A viable substitute for water bottle pockets is the reservoir sleeve, a broad pouch that rests against the inside of the back panel and houses a hydration bladder for on-the-go drinking.

pockets for water bottles. These classic side pockets work well for packs used for mountaineering and scrambling, but they are not as useful for multi-pitch packs. Water bottles have a tendency to fall out of everything, and mesh pockets catch on rocks and rip.

Top-lid: This flap covers the top of the pack and occasionally holds a bag with a zipper. useful for keeping everything organized, but may add bulk.

A mesh sling called a helmet carry is used to secure a helmet to the rear of a backpack. Although it might be difficult to put on and take off, it frees up room inside the pack.

Storm flap: A broad sleeve that encircles the pack’s mouth and is intended to keep precipitation out. Overpackers benefit from increased capacity, but it might make finding stuff when traveling challenging.

The genuine test of a waterproof pack is its sealed seams. Seams that are taped prevent water from seeping in, although the cost is usually higher.

A rope-carry strap is a webbing strip fastened to the top of a pack with a hook or clasp to allow securing a rope. essential for technically challenging descents and clumsy approaches.

A toggle and bungee combination is typically used as an ice-axe attachment to fasten an ice-axe to the rear of a pack. An essential item for alpinists, mountaineers, ice climbers, and winter climbers.

An exterior bag with a burly fabric lining is called a crampon pouch. Prevents damp equipment and piercing puffy clothes caused by snow-covered crampons.

The snow-shedding rear panel is made of firm foam or has unique contouring that prevents snow from adhering to the pack’s back when it is laid down. Perfect for keeping dry during the winter.