With the recent Cold Thistle theme being centred around climbing packs I thought I’d put in a word or to as well.
Last year and the year before my climbing pack was the Black Diamond RPM 26. It was more or less the ideal Chamonix climbing pack and served me well on many good days out from big north faces to sunny rock climbing and hauling 25litres of water on training runs. Its simple clean design, low weight and smart features where a real winner. The material is good, tough enough to withstand granite chimneys (cheese graters) without being too heavy. With two side pockets and a small lid pocket stashing gloves and snacks is easy and with a simple yet effective draw cord compression on the front shedding a layer is easy to. It was however difficult to carry a rope on the outside (necessary if your packing bivy stuff) and the zip top closure was slightly worrying. I never had any problems but when the teeth start to sit funny it’s pretty scary to think it could burst open at any time landing you in deep trouble.
I have recently replaced the BD with a Blue Ice Warthog 26. 26 litres seems to me to be the perfect size for a climbing pack out here in Chamonix. If you need anything bigger you’re either doing something wrong or something very hard! The only time I needed a bag bigger last year was on my failed attempt on the Desmaison/Gouseault with would have required two bivi’s on the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses.
I much prefer the lid system on the Warthog which makes carrying a rope a breeze with the separate strap and the helmet carrier is a great idea to, something that the RPM was missing . The Ice ace loops are simple but work really well. I have even jerry rigged the Rope carrying strap combined with a ski strap through the lower Ice Axe loop to make a rudimentary but effective ski carrying system. It worked fine with my 108 waisted ski’s and held the ski’s in the perfect cross carry position for bootpacking.
The material on the Warthog is tougher and a lot more durable so it should last longer than my RPM and also would take the odd hauling session if required. The removable light waist belt is good to (the same as the RPM). I never climb with a waist belt but it is good to have one for those long slogs up to the bottom of the Jorasses.
The quality of Warthog is superb too. It’s still going strong after half a season of use and abuse without any signs of wear. I’m looking forward to giving it as much use and seeing how it fairs!