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14er Fun's
Backpacks Review and

Backpacks have sure come along way. Back in the day the material was made out of leather, the frames were made of metal and they had no padded back panel. Boy, have times changed. The packs that are available today are made of new high tech material, lightweight and durable and with thermo formed back panels. You can choose a 1 pound light weight CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack with room enough for 70oz of water, keys, ID and an energy bar. You can also strap a light jacket to the shock cords on the back of this pack. Or you can go with a 7 pounds 12 ounces Arc’teryx Bora 95 heavy duty pack with a volume that is 6040 cubic inches (room enough for the kitchen sink). Then there is every pack imaginable in between.

What you have to decide before choosing a pack is what your needs are. Oh and by the way…you don’t need to carry a load like the one in the picture to climb Colorado’s 14ers. We would like to share a couple of recommendations that may help you in your choosing of a backpack.

For a brief summary of all backpacks reviewed, scroll down to the bottom of this page.


Lightweight packs (day packs)

Debby has climbed over twenty 14ers with the CamelBak HAWG Hydration Pack and loves everything about it. It weighs about 2 lbs., holds 100 ounces of water and offers 916 oz. of cargo capacity. She loves the secure fit as she’s both climbed 5.9 rock with this pack and strapped skis to it and never felt off balance. She loves the side zip pockets for the little things she likes to grab quickly. It has a small outer pocket with a divider and the main compartment. Everything that she wants and probably will need fits into or on this pack.

The North Face Megamouth Hydration Pack has become very popular in the light weight category. It has a 100 oz. Nalgene bladder, 1100 cubic inches of cargo space, an internal organizer and with all that weighs in at a minimalist 1 lb. 2 oz. A great day pack with a large main compartment and multiple pockets that holds everything you need and a little more. Don’t forget about the exterior mesh pocket for those quick access items. The perforated back panel and mesh shoulder harness will keep you comfortable cool and dry. The North Face is a leader in backpack design and this pack is awesome.

Jeff uses the CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack for just about all single day non-technical climbs. With a whopping 1495 cubic inches of cargo space, it can hold crampons, 2 ice axes, a light climbing rope, alpine harness, shovel, probe and thermos of hot tea. It feels comfortable and stable when carrying skis as well, yet still weighs in at only 2 lbs. It's hard to go wrong with Camelbak's technical hydration packs.

Medium Size Backpacks

Black Diamond Speed Backpack comes in 2 sizes: 1709 cubic inches and 2014 cubic inches, each weighing in at just a tad over two pounds. These packs are super light and very durable. It's a perfect pack for a day of rock climbing. You can get a full rack, harness, shoes, ropes and all gear in this pack without a problem. This pack has a secure comfortable fit something that’s important when you are carrying a little heaver lode. Black Diamond is a name you can trust.

The Arc'teryx Needle 35 Backpack comes in 3 sizes:

{Short}     2014 cu in, 3 lbs 1 oz
{Regular}  2135 cu in, 3 lbs 2 oz
{Tall}        2258 cu in, 3 lbs 5 oz

This is a great backpack for those days you have a little extra gear to carry up the mountain. A great fit with its thermoformed panel that fits comfortable against your back. This pack has 2 external daisy chains and 2 ice axe holders. This stream line pack is also hydration compatible. Arc’teryx is state of the art.

The North Face Skareb 40 Backpack comes in 3 sizes:

{Small} 2150 cu in, 2 lbs 3 oz
{Medium} 2450 cu in, 2 lbs 10 oz
{Large} 2750 cu in, 2 lbs 15 oz

This pack is great for your slightly longer days or even for a summertime ultra-light overnighter. It has a rain cover in the left zip pocket to keep your gear dry. It has a gear loop for your ice axe. This pack has a molded E-VAP back panel for a comfortable and secure fit. This pack can hold a heap. So load it up and enjoy your trip. For those longer mountaineering adventures you are going to need to carry the gear that you count on.

Multi Day Backpacks

The North Face Catalyst 75 Backpack comes in 3 sizes:

{Small} 4300 cu in, 6 lbs
{Medium} 4600 cu in, 6 lbs 6 oz
{Large} 4900 cu in, 6 lbs 12 oz

It can take what ever you throw at it. Its rugged design will keep all of your gear secure and protected. Its molded E-Vap back panel will give you a comfortable fit and the miles will fly by. An elegant pack, designed with stability and efficiency in mind.

The Women's Marmot Diva 55 Backpack has 3400 cu in. of cargo capacity and weighs 4 lbs 14 oz. For you girls who like to take everything and a little more, this pack is for you. This pack will hold anything your heart desires to help you enjoy your wilderness adventures. This pack is made for a women’s body so it’s comfortable and has a secure fit. This pack is also hydration compatible. So be comfortable and have everything you need for a good night's sleep and as well as fun all day.

The Arc'teryx Bora 95 Backpack comes in 3 sizes:

{Short} 5250 cu in, 7 lbs 1 oz
{Regular} 5550 cu in, 7 lbs 6 oz
{Tall} 6040 cu in, 7 lbs 12 oz

This is the big daddy of them all. This pack will have no problem handling your biggest loads. Besides the kitchen sink, you can throw in the Sunday New York Times. This pack stays secure on your back and with the new thermoformed air channel back panel you’ll stay comfortable on your longest and heaviest days. It has a hydration pocket for the bladder of your choice. You need to check this pack out. People are raving about it.

Here is a brief specification summary of the packs reviewed:

CamelBak HAWG Hydration Pack   -  100 oz bladder, 1 size, 916 cu in, 2 lbs
The North Face Megamouth Hydration Pack   - 100 oz bladder, 1 size, 1100 cu in, 1 lb 20z
CamelBak Rim Runner Hydration Pack   - 100 oz bladder, 1 size, 1450 cu in, 2 lbs

Black Diamond Speed Backpack   -  no bladder, 2 sizes, 1709-2014 cu in, 2 lbs 5 oz
Arc'teryx Needle 35 Backpack   -  hydration compatible, 3 sizes, 2014-2258 cu in, 3 lbs 1 oz - 3 lbs 5 oz
The North Face Skareb 40 Backpack   -  no bladder, 2 sizes, 2150-2750 cu in, 2 lbs 3 oz - 2 lbs 15 oz

The North Face Catalyst 75 Backpack   -  hydration compatible, 3 sizes, 4300-4900 cu in, 3 lbs 1 oz - 3 lbs 5 oz
Marmot Diva 55 Backpack   -  hydration compatible, 1 size, 3400 cu in, 4 lb 14z
Arc'teryx Bora 95 Backpack   - hydration compatible, 3 sizes, 5250-6040 cu in, 7 lbs 1 oz - 7 lbs 12 oz

Don't forget to check out Sierra Trading Post
for excellent bargains on packs and all quality gear.

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