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Wild Things Guide Pack Review

Price:   $195 List
Pros:  Lightweight, simple, versatile
Cons:  Some features could be improved, less abrasion resistance than other packs
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Wild Things

Our Verdict

The Guide Pack from Wild Things is a very simple, lightweight pack. The old-fashioned ice tool attachments require workarounds for use with modern technical tools, and the 210 denier fabric is a little light-duty for rock climbing applications. The Guide Pack is a good choice for those looking for a 30L pack for day trips on ice and snow or very lightweight overnights.

The Wild Things Guide Pack can be ordered directly from Wild Things, but is otherwise difficult to find at major retailers; if you find this is the case, consider the Black Diamond Speed 40 for your adventure. It's available all over the place and we think it is an excellent deal.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ian McEleney
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 29, 2015

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Wild Things was an early pioneer of light and simple gear for alpine climbing. The company's ethos hasn't changed over the years, but unfortunately the pack designs haven't either. The Guide Pack has a no-nonsense design with some old-school touches. Our testers really like the overall simplicity of this pack and feel that this lets the pack adapt to many situations, though they do wish it was more abrasion resistant.

Performance Comparison


The Wild Things Guide Pack in action in The High Sierra. Our testers liked the way this pack carried while climbing.
The Wild Things Guide Pack in action in The High Sierra. Our testers liked the way this pack carried while climbing.

Weight-To-Volume Ratio


The Guide pack is the lightest pack in our test when stripped down. It has a weight-to-volume ratio of 19.8 g/L with the lid and foam pad and 22.9 g/L without. We often use the pack without the lid. The foam pad is easily removed for really light summit pushes. The Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 is the other really simple pack in our test and while its weight is comparable, it's slightly larger.

Durability


The Guide Pack is entirely made from VX-21 (210d Cordura laminated with Kevlar X-Pac). Wild Things uses a double layer on the front and bottom. While the VX fabric has high tensile strength and is very cut-resistant, it is fundamentally 210d, so the single layer used on the sides, especially near the bottom, showed some holes after only 11 days of use.

The 210 denier VX-21 fabric on the Guide Pack took some damage abrasion in our first 11 days of testing.
The 210 denier VX-21 fabric on the Guide Pack took some damage abrasion in our first 11 days of testing.

Versatility


This is a three-season small alpine pack, but we feel those seasons should probably be fall, winter, and spring. In our testing we took this pack rock climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing, and ski mountaineering. We like that we can remove the foam frame pad and put our own ground pad in that pocket, depending on its size and shape. The only thing that brings the versatility score down compared to other packs we reviewed in its size category is the abrasion resistance. We find this pack to be less appropriate for rock climbing than other packs in this review. Our testers thought this pack was most suitable for icy and snowy pursuits.

Will Dean resting in the Rab Xenon on a WA Cascade's ski traverse.  The Wild Things Guide Pack sits at his feet.
Will Dean resting in the Rab Xenon on a WA Cascade's ski traverse. The Wild Things Guide Pack sits at his feet.

Features


We like the simple feature set on this pack, but it has some drawbacks. The tool attachments are simple axe loops at the bottom for the head of the tool, and Velcro straps to secure the shaft. We found this attachment to work fine with mountaineering axes or ice tools with a prominent adze or hammer. However, with modern technical ice tools without an adze or hammer, the loops are annoying and some other rigging must be done. This dropped the features score compared to other packs in this review. We found the best thing to do is to pass the loops through the holes in the heads of your tools, then clip the loops together with a carabiner. While this system is slightly lighter than that found on the Black Diamond Speed 40 or Patagonia Ascensionist 40, those packs can accomodate a much wider variety of tools more easily and securely.

We really liked the way the velcro held the lid in place  even when it was loaded down with a liter of water and snacks. We wish the other packs in the test had velcro in this spot.
We really liked the way the velcro held the lid in place, even when it was loaded down with a liter of water and snacks. We wish the other packs in the test had velcro in this spot.

There are two compression straps on each side of the pack and two rope straps under the lid. We think the rope straps are redundant, as the side compression straps held an appropriately coiled rope just fine. The pack has a draw cord top closure with a small extension collar. We miss the one-handed cord lock found on competing packs. Crampons can be attached to the front with two simple nylon straps. There is a removable lid with two pockets.

The frame is a removable foam bivy pad. We really like this feature. Only one other pack in our test, the CiloGear 45L WorkSack, allowed us to remove all of the foam suspension parts. We are frustrated that the other packs don't let us do this.

Comfort


The Guide Pack is reasonably comfortable overall when kept within weight boundaries. It's hard to really load up a pack of this size anyhow, but our testers found loads over 30lbs to be pushing the comfort boundary on the approach because the hip belt isn't padded. When loaded down, we think it's best carried a bit lower on the body than a pack with a padded hip belt. Instead of the hip belt hugging our hip bones we let the bottom of the pack rest on top of our butt cheeks.

The Wild Things Guide Pack on an approach in The High Sierra.
The Wild Things Guide Pack on an approach in The High Sierra.

Best Applications


This is a good all-around small alpine pack — best for one day climbs or overnights if going light. Our testers thought this pack is most suitable for icy and snowy pursuits.

Value


The Guide Pack is a little expensive for what you get. Other packs in this review have a better feature set and/or durability for a lower price. Our Best Buy winner, the Black Diamond Speed 40 costs $30 less, has almost the same weight-to-volume ratio, and is more durable. If having a pack that is made in the USA is important to you, then you might be willing to pay a little more for this pack.

Conclusion


The Wild Things Guide Pack is a simple, light rucksack with an old fashioned feature set. Its relatively low abrasion resistance make it better suited for alpine activities with minimal contact with rock.

How to Get It


This pack is not widely available online. You can order it directly from Wild Things.
Ian McEleney

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Most recent review: November 29, 2015
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