How We Tested Climbing Packs

By:
Jack Cramer
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday

Testing all of the rock climbing daypacks for climbing comfort at the Bend Rock Gym.
Testing all of the rock climbing daypacks for climbing comfort at the Bend Rock Gym.

We conducted the field testing for the rock climbing daypack review over a five month period across the American West. From El Capitan to Devil's Tower, anytime we got more than a pitch off the ground a pack came along. It was annoying and tiresome work. (Ha!) We learned that climbing with a pack on is uncomfortable and we don't actually multi-pitch climbing as much as we thought. Half-way through the process we'd tried all the packs a few times, but evaluation was difficult because each experience had been on a different route with a different size load.

From left to right  the Petzl Bug  Black Diamond Bullet  Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20  REI Flash 18  Patagonia Linked 16L.
From left to right, the Petzl Bug, Black Diamond Bullet, Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20, REI Flash 18, Patagonia Linked 16L.

In order to level the playing field we were forced to bring OutdoorGearLab indoors. The local climbing gym gave us a controlled environment to fairly assess comfort and other attributes. We loaded each pack with 12 lbs of gear and let our testers take each pack for a spin. Opinions occasionally varied between different body types but by and large we were able to settle on similar scores. The final published review is an amalgamation of our outdoor trips, indoor testing, and conversations with climbing friends and acquaintances. We hope you find our thoughts worthwhile and insightful.

Testing rock climbing daypacks is trickier than you'd think...
Testing rock climbing daypacks is trickier than you'd think...

As always, to assure complete independence and objectivity, the gear tested was purchased by OutdoorGearLab in the retail marketplace.
 

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