by Brad

March 2, 2021

Best Climbing Backpacks
Editor's Choice

PETZL Bug Climbing Backpack 18L

Overall Rating: 5/5

Top on my list of best climbing backpacks is this outstanding Petzl Bug climbing pack, offering fantastic performance at an affordable price. It features a rectangular shape with a robust foam panel.

Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15L

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The Rock Blitz pack by Black Diamond is incredible climbing backpack in terms of durability and functionality. It is a perfect combination of a well-fitting design and plenty of storage space. 

Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 20L

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

The main advantage of this climbing backpack is that it's waterproof. For this reason, I never had to worry about the gear inside my Mountain Hardwear backpack getting wet during the rain. 

As a climber, I value my gear, and what says value than the best climbing backpack? A climbing backpack carries all your equipment during the adventure, which is why it is vital to have a high-quality one. However, with the number of intimidating climbing backpacks in the market, how will you know the ideal climbing backpack for you?

I understand how essential the right backpack can be. The number of gear you require to carry can be intimidating during climbing, and the journey can be long and tedious. I have compiled a list of the 5 best climbing backpacks, followed by a detailed buying guide to give you a hand.

Here they are.

List of the 5 Best Climbing Backpacks

#1 PETZL Bug Climbing Backpack 18L

Top on my list of best climbing backpacks is this outstanding Petzl Bug climbing pack, offering fantastic performance at an affordable price. It features a rectangular shape with a robust foam panel, which provides an additional structure for it.

Quick Facts:

  • 18 liters capacity;
  • Reinforced top, bottom, and sides;
  • Weighs 18.5 ounces;
  • Closure: zip.

I also loved the extra padding on the straps, which makes it comfortable to carry - it is the best small climbing backpack I've ever used. There's a compression strap at the top, which is linked by two compression fasteners, and together they create a tremendous rope-carrying structure.

What's more, there is a small zip pocket and a chain to complete the set at the front. The PETZL Bug backpack has a compact build, and my 15-inch screen laptop fits well in it. This is a good choice if you need a climbing backpack to cope with your everyday duties.

While this amazing climbing backpack features extra-thick fabric on the top, bottom, and sides, most of the body has a thinner material. This is handy in reducing the backpack's weight, though it may reduce sturdiness.

When it comes to price, the PELTZ Bug is quite affordable, and it is worth buying if you're looking to buy a comfortable, flexible, and good-looking climbing backpack. It fit securely on my back due to its compact build, and the additional pockets on the exterior and interior are an incredible bonus.

Pros:

  • Good-looking;
  • Comfortable to carry;
  • Affordable;
  • Additional pockets.

Cons:

  • The thinner fabric may sacrifices durability with time.

#2 Black Diamond Rock Blitz Backpack 15L

The Rock Blitz pack by Black Diamond is incredible climbing backpack in terms of durability and functionality. It is a perfect combination of a well-fitting design and plenty of storage space. 

Quick Facts:

  • Capacity - 15 liters;
  • Weighs 14.4 ounces;
  • Made of 840D nylon material.

The blitz-style central opening is user-friendly, and the top strip can also be utilized as a rope-carry when it's stretched out.

With the EVA padding on the back panel and both shoulder straps, you can be sure to wear this amazing climbing backpack for long periods without getting exhausted.

Additionally, the belt and sternum strap are detachable, and you can remove them to reduce the weight of the bag or create more storage space. If you want to carry water, the Black Diamond Rock Blitz Backpack also exhibits a hose routing, making it among the most impressive packs I've used.

Pros:

  • Compact design;
  • The top strip can be utilized as a rope;
  • The padded back panels and shoulder straps allow for comfort;
  • The blitz-style opening and closing mechanism are user-friendly.

Cons:

  • Shoulder straps tend to fall out after using it several times.

#3 Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch Backpack 20L

The main advantage of this climbing backpack is that it's waterproof. For this reason, I never had to worry about the gear inside my Mountain Hardwear backpack getting wet during the rain. 

Quick Facts:

  • Capacity: 20 liters;
  • Drawstring & hook are the main closures; 
  • Weighs 27 ounces .

Despite its ample size, you will hardly feel it on your head. That's because, like And that's not all; it also features an incredible suspension system, among other handy features. It has a drawstring liner which creates additional room if you have a lot of gear to carry with you.

Also, this climbing backpack handles your luggage quite well. The compression straps allow for easy management, while the sides feature several gear loops. The Mountain Hardwear multi-pitch backpack has multiple attachment options, making it perfect for fitting all your items and climbing gear. 

On the other hand, this climbing backpack is quite heavy, with its weight standing at 27 ounces. For this reason, it doesn't offer much versatility - besides the spacious main pouch, it has a zip pocket and a hydration pouch. The waterproof feature makes this climbing backpack ideal for those who go climbing in wet or snowy surroundings.

Pros:

  • Waterproof;
  • Durable;
  • Awesome suspension system;
  • Quite spacious. 

Cons:

  • It is heavier than the other backpacks in this list.

#4 Black Diamond Equipment Blitz Backpack 20L

Black Diamond Equipment Blitz 20L Backpack is an excellent alpine climbing backpack. It dons an orderly and straightforward design. This, combined with the light material, keeps the weight low. 

Quick Facts:

  • Capacity: 20 liters;
  • Weighs 14 ounces;
  • Ice ax attachment option.

It has many features, like its compact design and one additional external attachment option for the Ice ax. The central opening is reliable and extremely user-friendly. It is made of a lightweight fabric that does not resist abrasion well. 

Additionally, this alpine climbing backpack only has one external attachment option for the Ice ax, making it hard to manage the gear that could get strapped on without creating the attachment points with the carabiners and strings by yourself.

On the other hand, this encourages you to pack as lightly as possible. This is the alpine backpack to carry with you when going on swift and light adventures.

Pros:

  • Lightweight;
  • Compact design;
  • The central opening is user-friendly;
  • Ideal for fast and light adventures.

Cons:

  • Less durable than its 20L competitors.

#5 Arc'teryx Alpha AR Backpack 20L

Arc'teryx Alpha AR is an excellent all-around climbing backpack. The AR stands for all-round. It's relatively snug, and it has most of the features I like in a small climbing backpack. 

Quick Facts:

  • Made of nylon material;
  • Capacity: 20 liters;
  • Weighs 1.2 pounds.

Besides, the fancy material used feels sturdier than nylon. However, the lid is not entirely functional. The best advantage of this climbing backpack is versatility, though it's also a weakness if you go rock climbing with it. 

Arc'teryx Alpha AR climbing backpack is mainly designed for alpine climbing. This alpine climbing backpack is somewhat comfortable to carry. The shoulder strips have reduced padding, though this is adequate considering its volume. 

It features a standard hydration structure accessory. It has a small zipped pocket that is quite spacious, allowing you to store extra gear. Besides, it has an exterior zippered pocket. However, I found that the shock-cord featured on the pack makes it more difficult to utilize this pocket fully. 

Pros:

  • Ideal for alpine climbing;
  • Spacious;
  • Extremely versatile;
  • Standard hydration system.

Cons:

  • Some features of this backpacks aren't well designed.

Climbing Bags FAQs

What is a rock climbing backpack? 

A rock-climbing backpack is a handy pack in overcoming carrying water, food, and the necessary tools while climbing.

These backpacks are more durable than hiking ones, more spacious than hydration bags, and more compact and ergonomic than the alpine climbing pack.

Why do you require a rock climbing backpack?

You need a rock-climbing backpack since it is an effective and comfortable way to carry all your gear and necessities while going on your adventure. When searching for a backpack to comfortably carry your tools, you require one that's reliable and easy to climb with.

For most climbers, the ideal rock-climbing backpack is one with a compact design to carry during climbs of multi-pitch adventures finished in a day.

 It has to have plenty of room to store necessities such as shoes, water, a phone, food, a headlamp, among others. Numerous rock-climbing backpacks will suitably hold your gear.

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What size backpack do I need?

There are several sizes of climbing backpacks, and the size you need depends on the gear you're carrying.

Here are the different backpack sizes:

1. Hydration packs

Hydration backpacks are for people who like long, climbing routes in unwavering weather. They are built to be more superior to rock climbing backpacks.

They are smaller than the other types of climbing backpacks, and they exhibit a narrower build that makes them easier to climb with. On the other hand, these advantages come with drawbacks. Typically, they are not spacious enough for shoes or additional layers. 

Besides, they are less durable. Still, I prefer hydration packs during the sunny, tedious routes when I need water but don't want the inconvenience that comes with a full-fledged climbing backpack.

2. Rock climbing backpack

The rock climbing backpacks are small, mostly with a capacity of 12 to 24 liters, and they are constructed to sit high on your back so it won't hinder a harness.

Moreover, they are more durable than the standard backpack, mostly made using fabric that will easily resist abrasion. Most rock climbing backpacks feature detachable parts which allow you to customize them depending on your needs. 

Additionally, the best rock climbing backpacks also feature reinforced anchor points for intermittent hauling. Hiking backpacks can be suitable for the climber who infrequently climbs longer routes though you will have to sacrifice durability. 

3. Mini Haul packs

This is another suitable option for handling strenuous routes. It could be the best backpack to go for on difficult-to-climb routes. A mini haul backpack has a carrying capacity enough for a day's worth of tools, which is quite impressive.

Besides, if you utilize a capture pulley and a tagline, it becomes easier. Additionally, I like this type of backpack since it is spacious enough to keep the aid gear packed until you require it.

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4. Mountaineering and alpine packs 

When the slope becomes steeper and the temperatures drop, climbers have to wear additional gear to stay comfortable. Climbing with an alpine backpack is more suitable for this situation and because an alpine terrain makes carrying it more convenient.

Alpine climbing backpacks can be lighter since abrasion is not an issue in snowy surroundings. They usually have a bigger construction to accommodate the heavier insulating layers.

Out of the five climbing backpacks I've reviewed here, the Black Diamond Blitz 20 and the Arc'teryx AR 20 are constructed purposely for alpine climbing.

What consider when buying a rock climbing backpack?

Capacity

This climbing pack's size you buy mostly significantly depends on the type of climbing you partake in. When it comes to rock climbing-specific daypack, you require one with a capacity of 16 to 20 liters which is more than enough to carry layers, snacks, or food and water.

Sport vs. Trad

For rock climbers, go for a durable backpack that is extremely abrasion-resistant. Rock climbing involves bolted routes, and it requires a tougher bag like our top pick PELTZ Backpack 18.

Streamlined or Junk show

Ensure you go for a rock climbing backpack that has several options for attaching a rope, a water bottle, as well as other necessities. Also, ensure that the tools attached to it are not dangling around. Make sure you pack most of your rock climbing necessities inside the backpack.

However, you can carry the rope on the outside since most rock climbing backpacks will not have enough space to accommodate it, depending on the number of tools you're carrying.

Consider the number of times you will require strapping gear on the outside and look at every pack's available attachment points.

Climbing Backpack Features 

Haul points 

The Mountain Hardwear 20 features two durable loops designed for rock climbing. On the other hand, the single-haul loop could also be efficient for most rock climbers. You can also create additional haul points utilizing other attachment options or the shoulder straps, a rope, and a bit of creativity.

Hip belts 

Choose a rock climbing backpack with at least one removable hip belt. Also, you can go for one with a permanently attached hip belt.

Emergency whistles 

Rock climbing daypacks should have a safety whistle. They are compact and light and can come in handy as a signaling device in times of emergency.

Fit 

While this is crucial for any rock climbing backpack, it is relatively difficult to explain in theory. After choosing the rock climbing-specific backpack you need, check if it fits. Your backpack must fit your back length. The lower part of the backpack is supposed to be above the hips.

Conclusion

Hopefully, my guide will help you find the right climbing backpack to help make your adventure more comfortable. The PETZL Bug Climbing Backpack 18L is durable, versatile, and good-looking.

Additionally, it is spacious and durable enough to resist abrasion during your adventure, which is why it is our top pick! Besides, if you need a climbing backpack that will cope with your everyday duties, it is the perfect fit.

Our #1 Product Recommendation in the Best Climbing Backpacks Category

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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