Need a good backpack for climbing? We have ten options to show you, including both sport climbing backpacks and those for alpine climbing. So, whether you prefer to spend your afternoons on the rocks, or go on multi-day expeditions, we have lots of options to show you!
At A Glance: Best Climbing Backpacks
We’ve also included a short guide on how to choose the right backpack, in case you’re not entirely certain what you should go for. We’ll tell you what the most important features to look for are, how to tell the difference between a winter and a summer bag, and when you should be ready to compromise on certain features. Read on to find your ultimate backpack for climbing!
Most Versatile Alpine Climbing Backpack
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Best For Multi-Day Climbing Expeditions
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Best Alpine Climbing Backpack
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Best Budget Option
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Best Non-Restrictive Pack For Sport Climbing
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The Mutant 52 is a unisex climbing backpack with some excellent versatile features. It is designed for year-round use, which means that it is suitable for both winter and summer climbs.
However, I think it’s a bit better for colder weather since the back system is more about comfort and padding than about breathability. Which is okay – mountain summits aren’t exactly warm any time of the year.
This backpack has an interchangeable hip belt, which is pretty cool. You can take advantage of the full padding around your hips, or you could go for just the webbing straps. It’s even possible to remove the hip belt entirely so that nothing restricts your movement while climbing.
One thing that I love about the Mutant backpack is that it has all the external attachment points you could need. The side compression straps work for both hiking poles and for A-frame ski carrying, while the hip belt gear loops let you attach whatever you want to the bag, as long as you use a carabiner.
On top of that, the backpack also has a rope attachment point, as well as a helmet net that you can strap onto both the front and top of the bag.
The main compartment of this bag is top-loading, and it features a detachable top lid. I really like this, because it allows you to make the backpack smaller – very convenient if you want to use the bag for sports climbing, or just for some shorter adventures.
Also, with the removable top lid, hip belt, and even internal frame sheet, you can make this backpack lighter by 1.6 lbs – extremely useful for fast climbs and increased freedom of movement.
SEE ALSO: OSPREY MUTANT 38 BACKPACK REVIEW
The Denali pack by Gregory is another great option for alpine climbing. This large capacity backpack is made from 420D Nylon, which has an excellent tear, abrasion, and water resistance. It features an internal aluminum frame, as well as a top-loading main compartment with full-length side access.
The hip belt and harness are padded with LifeSpan EVA foam, which feels super comfortable against your body. And it has some extra benefits, like relieving pressure in the sensitive areas and eliminating hot spots. All in all, the Denali pack has a very comfortable system that hugs your body and ensures optimal load distribution, but without any super breathable features.
This backpack features an expedition hip belt, which is equipped with gear loops, sled attachment points, ice clipper spots, and zipper pockets. And since the bag has dedicated ice axe loops, as well as attachments for ski carry, I think it’s safe to say that this is an excellent backpack for winter expeditions.
In addition to the roomy main compartment, you can also fit quite a lot of stuff inside the floating top pocket. There are two separate compartments inside it, and you can actually convert it into a daypack – perfect for multi-day expeditions or camping trips!
The Denali backpack even has a dedicated avalanche safety pocket that’s roomy enough to fit a shovel and other vital items you’d need in order to survive. It is located on the front of the backpack with side zipper access, ensuring that you can open it up easily if you ever actually get buried by an avalanche.
Also, this Gregory backpack has pretty much all the external attachment points you could possibly need. With two rows of daisy chain webbing on the front panel, sleeping pad straps, and hiking pole loops, you will easily find a spot for every piece of gear you might need in your adventures.
The Trion Spine 50 is a great medium-sized backpack that works for both alpine and sports climbing. Even though it doesn’t have a very big internal capacity, this backpack can fit a lot of gear, thanks to the many different external attachment points.
This includes ice axe attachments, trekking pole carriers, rope fixing points, daisy chain loops, side ski attachments, and extra loops on the hip belt. There are enough spots for all the gear you might need on longer climbs, but the pack is still small enough that you could wear it when sport climbing or just hiking.
The main compartment of the pack is large, and it features front zipper access. There’s a large zippered pocket inside this compartment, and the flap is height adjustable, with internal and external pockets. Additionally, the Trion Spine 50 bag also features a large zippered pocket on the shoulder strap, which can easily fit your smartphone.
This Mammut backpack is very comfortable to wear. It features 2-layer EVA padding in the back, with breathable mesh for excellent ventilation. This is why this pack works for most seasons!
In addition to that, it is really easy to adjust the back system. You can change the height of the harness in one movement, so it should be pretty easy to make this backpack fit you just right.
Also, this pack features patented Active Spine Technology, which provides extra support to the natural gait. Because of all those added features, you should be very comfortable with this backpack even when it is filled to capacity.
The only downside of this bag is the price point – it is expensive, but that’s expected from Mammut. They’re a pricey brand, but the quality and performance of their gear always justify the price.
The Bseash backpack is an interesting option, and I think you will love it if you’re on a tight budget. This pack retails for less than $40, which is a really good deal for a bag this size. It has a total capacity of 60 liters, with lots of different external attachment points for the bulkier gear. It’s not the most durable backpack out of the bunch, but I highly doubt you will find something better at this price point.
This is a really big backpack, so it is best for longer climbing expeditions. You will probably find it too restrictive for sports climbing, and you most likely don’t really need a bag this size. But if you’re going on an adventure that’s going to last two days minimum, the Bseash pack is the right option for you.
It even has straps for a sleeping pad at the top and a sleeping bag at the bottom, as well as a bungee cord on the front panel for stowing a spare layer of clothing or something bulky. The backpack has attachment points for hiking poles, but it doesn’t have a dedicated place for a rope. However, I’m sure you can improvise something with all the different buckles and compression straps.
Additionally, this is a pretty comfortable backpack to wear, especially for the price. It features thick padding in the backpanel, and it is covered entirely by breathable mesh for excellent ventilation. I like to call bags like these all-season backpacks because they’re equally comfortable whether you’re freezing or sweating bullets.
The hip belt is also padded and ventilated, and it features convenient zippered pockets for items you want to have easily accessible. On top of that, this pack features lots of different pockets and compartments, as well as MOLLE loops on the sides.
The main compartment is top-loading and very spacious, with an internal hydration sleeve. There’s also a dedicated sleeping bag compartment, shoe compartment as well as stretchy side pockets.
If you want a small and lightweight backpack for sports climbing, the Rock Blitz by Black Diamond is a great option. It’s not restrictive, the main compartment features a blitz-style opening for easy access mid-climb, and its top strap can be used for stowing a rope.
However, the backpack doesn’t have a lot of other external attachment points – there are some loops on the shoulder straps, but you can’t really use those for ice axes. You can use them for items you want to have easily accessible though, as long as you have a carabiner to attach them.
This backpack has a total capacity of 15 liters, which is enough for the essentials. It will not weigh you down, and you can access the items inside very easily, which is a huge plus. Apart from the main compartment, there is also a zippered pocket behind the backpanel. It’s easily accessible and large enough to hold a phone, wallet, guidebook, or even a camera.
The back system of the Rock Blitz is heavily padded, but it lacks breathable mesh. This means that the ventilation isn’t the best, so sweating could be an issue during really hot days. The back system is equipped with a sternum strap and a webbing hip belt, for the best load distribution.
Also, the sternum strap and hip belt are entirely removable, so it’s possible to make the backpack even lighter and less restrictive.
Another thing I have to point out is that this backpack doesn’t have stretchy side pockets. It is possible to put a hydration bladder inside and loop it on one of the straps so that you always have easy access to it. Or you could just attach one of the more rugged water bottles to one of the shoulder straps.
The Petzl Kliff pack is another great option for sports climbing. It’s a pretty small backpack and it won’t restrict your movement too much, which is great for the more difficult climbs. This bag is made from polyester, and it has good water resistance, especially with the hidden access to the main compartment.
This is one of the features I like the most about the Kliff pack – the opening of the main compartment is on the backpanel. You can easily get to it mid-climb, which is awesome. Also, this means that water will just slide down the body of the bag, and it can’t really get into the main compartment, so your stuff inside is guaranteed to stay dry.
There is one zippered pocket at the top of the bag, but that’s it in terms of external storage. It’s a pretty small pocket, so it’s great for the essential items you want to have more easily accessible. However, it’s important to note that this backpack doesn’t have any external attachment points or even side pockets, so you’re quite limited in terms of the amount of gear you can carry.
The Kliff backpack is made mostly from polyester, with aluminum hooks. It is a very durable backpack with a sleek exterior and easily accessible interior, which makes it perfect for sports climbing. In fact, this bag comes with a really large rope tarp (55” x 55”), for easy rope storage. The tarp can hold up to 100 meters of rope, and you can also fit some other climbing essentials inside it.
On top of that, it’s important to note that the backpack features padded and ergonomic shoulder straps. They are very comfortable, but they’re not too breathable – there’s no mesh on the back system, which makes sense since this part of the bag is the opening of the main compartment. But you should be aware of this, so you know what to expect during summer adventures.
The Neon Gear backpack by Mammut is a really good medium-capacity bag. It is great for sports climbs, but it could also work for some shorter Alpine climbs. In fact, this backpack is optimized for climbing, with a removable padded hip belt, an integrated rope bag, and lots of different attachment points.
An interesting feature of this backpack is that it has a lot of internal attachment points for gear – that’s rather unique. Most other bags put these attachment points on the exterior of the backpack so that you can carry even more stuff than fits inside the main compartment.
Also, it is important to note that the main compartment can be accessed from both the top and the back. The top lid features a full perimeter zipper, and there’s another zipper around the comfy backpanel. This is an excellent feature because it keeps your items safe, but ensures you can get to whatever you need quickly and easily.
The main compartment of this bag is quite spacious, and it features multiple pockets inside for easy organization. There’s even a dedicated shoe pocket on the internal part of the backpanel, which is pretty convenient.
And don’t worry – you won’t feel the shoes when you are wearing the backpack. The backpanel is padded with 3D EVA foam that has multiple air channels for airflow. This means that the pack has decent breathability of the backpanel and that it is perfectly suitable for summer adventures.
Actually, it’s more suitable for use in summer than in winter, since it doesn’t have ice axe loops or ski attachment points at all.
On top of all that, the Neon Gear 45 backpack also features daisy chain webbing on the front panel, a small zippered pocket at the very top, and some extra attachment points on the shoulder straps.
The Petzl Bug backpack is a great option for sports climbing. It is small and lightweight, with an ergonomic shape that fits snug against your back. The design of the backpack is very non-restrictive, for maximum mobility during climbing and other daily activities.
The backpack has an adjustable strap at the top, for securing a climbing rope. And there is daisy chain webbing on the front panel, so you can attach a decent amount of gear to the exterior of the bag. The front panel also features a small zippered pocket, which is perfect for items you want to keep easily accessible.
The Bug backpack has a very comfortable backpanel with thick padding everywhere. This is great because it means you will not feel the contents of the bag at all, but also because the stuff inside the backpack will stay protected from exterior elements.
This pack has a spacious main compartment with an internal sleeve that could work either for a hydration bladder or a laptop. Actually, that’s one of the main selling points of the Bug backpack – it is a good option whether you’re looking for an everyday bag or one for climbing, thanks to the many versatile features it boasts.
There are also side compression straps, which aren’t exactly necessary on such a small-capacity bag. But they’re certainly a welcome feature – not only do they let you tighten up the pack when it is not entirely full for optimal load stabilization, but they also allow you to attach some extra stuff to them.
The Arc’teryx Alpha pack is another great option for serious climbers. It features an entirely weather-resistant exterior with waterproof zippers and seam-sealed construction. This backpack even has an expandable capacity, so you will be able to adjust it to be just right for every different adventure.
That also means that it works for both sport climbing and alpine climbing, which is really great considering it’s a pricey backpack. The more use you can get out of it, the better value for money you’re getting.
The bag is made from ripstop nylon, which has excellent tear and abrasion resistance. This is great because you don’t have to worry about the bag getting ripped if you scratch it against a rock. It will stay in one piece, and everything inside it will stay perfectly safe.
In addition to that, the Alpha backpack features a very comfortable backpanel, with adjustable sternum and hip belt straps. There are no compression straps though, so the hip belt is the only thing you have for regulating load distribution – it’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.
There is a big bungee cord at the front panel though, which is great for storing the bulkier items. You can easily use it to attach ice axes to the front of the bag, put away a spare layer of clothing, or even to hold a sleeping pad – the bungee cord is very versatile, and it could work for a number of different things.
This is great because you don’t get many other external attachment points on the bag, which is why I wouldn’t recommend it for some really long expeditions.
The Alpha backpack is best for sports climbs, or short two-day alpine climbing adventures. It does have dedicated rope storage at the top, but this will restrict access to the main compartment somewhat since it features a drawstring roll-top closure.
The Crag 40 is an excellent cragging backpack, made from really durable materials. The body of the pack is actually made from nylon, which has great tear and abrasion resistance. This bag is also water-resistant, so you can use it even in harsh weather conditions.
The Black Diamond bag features a spacious top-loading main compartment with a drawstring closure. There’s also a zipper on the side that allows you to open up the pack like a duffel bag, for easy access to its contents from multiple sides. And there’s an extra zippered pocket on the front panel, which is convenient for storing smaller items you want easily accessible.
This pack has a pretty comfortable backpanel with thick padding and a wide hip belt for even load distribution. However, there’s no breathable mesh to speak of, so you might want to go with another bag if you want something with excellent ventilation.
Additionally, the Crag 40 doesn’t really have any external gear attachment points, apart from the top flap that doubles as a rope strap. Which is okay for cragging, but will be an issue if you wanted to use the backpack for multi-day climbing expeditions.
You will be able to fit quite a lot of gear inside the main compartment, considering it has a total capacity of 40 liters. And you won’t have any issues organizing your gear, thanks to the roomy pocket inside that’s perfect for the smaller essentials.
If you want to get a backpack for alpine climbing, it is important that it has lots of different external attachment points. This feature is not as important in sport climbing backpacks, since you don’t need nearly as much gear for those adventures – usually, a role is the bulkiest piece of equipment you’ll have, and all of the sport climbing packs featured here have dedicated storage for it.
However, it’s a completely different story with alpine climbing backpacks. These are big bags that have a large capacity, and the best ones will have a myriad of different attachment points. But in order to find the best one for you, you need to think about the items that you want to carry on the backpack.
So, look for things like ski carry attachments, MOLLE panels, daisy chain webbing, ice axe loops, trekking pole attachments, rope loops, and sleeping pad straps. These features make it a lot easier to pack for multi-day expeditions and allow you to use smaller backpacks than you normally would.
However, be sure that you have enough attachment points for the gear you like to carry – if you have no use for ski carry attachments, then you’re fine getting a backpack without them. But if you often go on multi-day expeditions, then you definitely need a pack with sleeping pad straps, and preferably a dedicated sleeping bag compartment.
It’s important that you get a backpack that suits the type of climbing you normally do. Sport climbing usually includes going out to a popular rock climbing area and returning home later that day. For those adventures, you don’t need a really big backpack – just something that can hold the essentials, preferably with some external attachment points.
Alpine climbing, on the other hand, usually includes reaching the mountain summit as the primary goal. These adventures can last for several days, and you need a lot of gear for them. This means that you will need a large-capacity backpack, with enough external attachment points for all the gear you might need.
That includes sleeping bags, sleeping pads, ropes, hiking poles, even ice axes, and crampons if we’re talking about winter climbs.
I did include some backpacks that are more versatile – these have quite a lot of external attachment points, as well as features that can work for both shorter and longer climbs. And if you want a backpack that can work for both, I’d recommend that you focus on getting the best alpine climbing backpack.
It’s much easier to deal with a bag that’s too big, than one that can’t even fit half the items you need for the ascent.
Another key difference between the best backpacks for climbing is the season they are intended for. Summer backpacks tend to be lightweight, with an emphasis on the excellent breathability of the materials, particularly the back system. These packs are designed to hold all your essentials and keep you as comfortable as possible even when it is really hot outside.
With winter backpacks, the emphasis is more on the toughness and waterproofing of the materials. Also, the gear you need for climbs is not the same for every season – while a sleeping bag is a must if you’re spending the night outdoors, you don’t really need ice picks if you’re going climbing in the middle of August.
Then again, that depends on where exactly you’re going – we’ve all encountered icy peaks even in the midst of summer.
You can also get backpacks that can be used throughout the year, but not without compromise. You’ll either end up with an airy and breathable pack, or something that’s waterproof and ultra-thick. If you want a year-round backpack, I think it’s better to go for something sturdier and more durable. In other words, it’s better to compromise on breathability, than on waterproofing and material ruggedness.
Not sure which of these climbing backpacks is just right for you? It’s okay – go with one of our top three picks, depending on what kind of climbing you’re into!
The best backpack for sports climbing is the Black Diamond Rock Blitz pack. It’s one of the smallest backpacks featured in this review, but also one of the lightest and least restrictive. The bag features a blitz-style opening of the main compartment, for easy access to your gear even during mid-climb.
It doesn’t have a lot of external attachment points, but it does have the one that counts the most – a sturdy compression strap for stowing the rope.
If you want a pack for alpine climbing, go with the Mammut Trion Spine 50. It is tough, durable, comfortable to wear and it features external attachment points for every single piece of gear you might need. The internal capacity of the bag is 50 liters, which should be enough even for climbing expeditions that last two or three days.
In case you’re looking for a versatile bag that can work for both sport and alpine climbing, I have to recommend the Osprey Mutant 52. It is waterproof, durable, comfortable, and very versatile, with a removable top lid that doubles as a daypack. And it has all the external attachment points you could need, from daisy chain webbing to ice axe loops.
Head over to Amazon to see the prices (and more photos) of all the awesome climbing backpacks in this review. And be sure to check out our related posts, for ideas on other great outdoor backpacks you might need!