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Mammut Neon Light 12 Review

Though it's one of the most comfortable small climbing packs, this bag isn't very abrasion-resistant
Mammut Neon Light 12
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $70 List | $69.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, light
Cons:  Small, flimsy, not versatile
Manufacturer:   Mammut
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 21, 2021
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Climbing Utility - 25% 7
  • Durability - 20% 3
  • Versatility - 20% 5
  • Weight - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Mammut Neon Light 12 is a small and comfortable climbing pack. It's the smallest pack in our review yet still offers a great hydration setup and a number of pockets. However, it's not very durable, and some of our testers had a problem with the low volume. If you know you don't carry much stuff but like to keep it organized and want to avoid having a heavy harness, this little bag could be the right choice. For the right kind of activity, when you just need that little bit of extra storage, the lightweight and low profile are appreciated.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Mammut Neon Light 12
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $69.95 at Amazon
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$80 List$69.95 at Amazon$59.95 at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Comfortable, lightSimple, great zippered pocket, streamlinedComfortable, easy to pack, great packing volumeSimple, sturdy, lightDurable, sleek, stylish
Cons Small, flimsy, not versatileLimited attachment points, easy to drop stuffHeavy, average durability, no emergency whistleNo emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into packUncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options
Bottom Line Though it's one of the most comfortable small climbing packs, this bag isn't very abrasion-resistantThough there are no extra features, this bag ticks all the boxes for multi-pitch climbingThis pack is great to climb with and easy to load, though it's not particularly lightThis is a great pack for multi-pitch rock climbs at a very fair priceThis classic is still going strong, though you cannot carry anything on the outside of the pack
Rating Categories Mammut Neon Light 12 The North Face Rout... Petzl Bug Black Diamond Rock... Black Diamond Bullet
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Climbing Utility (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (20%)
3.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (20%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
5.0
5.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Mammut Neon Light 12 The North Face Rout... Petzl Bug Black Diamond Rock... Black Diamond Bullet
Capacity 12L 16L 18L 15L 16L
Measured Weight 0.9 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.1 lbs 0.9 lbs 1.1 lbs
Padded back? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fabric Type 70D nylon 420D nylon 400D nylon 840D nylon 420D nylon, 1260D ballistic nylon
Whistle? Yes Yes No No Yes
Accessory Pockets? Two external zip, one internal zip One external zip One external zip, one external open, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip
Outside Carry Options? Daisy chains Daisy chains Top strap, one daisy chain Top strap doubles as rope strap No
Hip Belt Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes Yes, removable Yes, removable
Hydration System Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Key Clip? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Neon Light 12 is the smallest pack in our selection and among the lightest. Our testing team found it to be comfortable but occasionally frustratingly small.

Performance Comparison


We appreciated how slim this pack was on necky leads.
We appreciated how slim this pack was on necky leads.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Comfort


The Neon Light is among the more comfortable packs in our review. It's a fairly low volume pack, so the back length is correspondingly small. This lets it ride right in that sweet spot where it doesn't interfere with your chalk bag or your helmet. The pack also sports a nice taper from top to bottom. These two qualities, combined with the well-padded back panel, make this small pack big on comfort. Shorter climbers, in particular, might find a good fit here.

The tapered shape and medium back length contribute to the climbing...
The tapered shape and medium back length contribute to the climbing comfort of the Neon Light.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Climbing Utility


The Neon offers a pretty functional feature set. The hydration system has its own pocket and works well with all reservoirs, and the sternum strap buckle is also a whistle. The outside of the pack has a useful number of attachment points yet remains streamlined. The hip belt is removable (most hip belts in our review are), and there is a space to tuck it in when not needed.

For a bag this small, the Neon has a lot of pockets: there are three, not counting the hydration system pocket. An internal mesh pocket harbors the key clip and is big enough for your headlamp, phone, and a couple of bars. The two external pockets are a bit bigger, but they're hard to use when the pack is full. The outside external pocket has a 40cm shock cord loop that Mammut says is a leash for a camera. Our testers rarely carry dedicated cameras, and when they do, they're reluctant to put them in an unpadded pocket on the part of the pack that takes the most abuse. The Neon has no hauling-specific features, which makes sense given the small size — if you only have 12L of stuff with you, it's probably not that heavy.

We found these internal organization options totally unnecessary on...
We found these internal organization options totally unnecessary on a pack this size, but it's nice to know that they aren't for belaying.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Durability


The Neon Light 12 is not a very durable pack. This won't be a problem for multi-pitch climbers who can avoid wide cracks and hauling — two things many climbers are already trying to avoid. The light fabric can't handle much abrasion, and the main compartment zipper isn't protected by a flap. Our testers did some minor but noticeable damage hauling it about 40 feet.

This scuffing and minor damage is from hauling this pack for about...
This scuffing and minor damage is from hauling this pack for about 40 feet.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Versatility


While nobody wants to be carrying a giant backpack around a city, we found the Neon Light to be a bit smaller than we would like for urban applications. Only smaller laptops will fit inside, and visits to the farmers' market might be fruitless. It does, however, come in a number of colors to better suit your personal palette.

This bag has the attachment point style we prefer: enough to secure a couple of things to the outside using slings and draws for rigging. However, it lacks dedicated attachment points for snow and ice gear, and its small size cramps utility in that type of mountain situation. While it's small enough and light enough to not be burdensome inside a larger pack, other models weigh the same but provide more benefits.

We like these simple attachment point that make use of gear we're...
We like these simple attachment point that make use of gear we're already carrying. For reference, this rope is a 70m 9.6mm.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


The Neon Light 12 weighs in at 0.9 pounds (about 400 grams). It's among the lightest packs in our review. We think eliminating one of the external pockets would be a way to make it the lightest pack in the test without cutting functionality.

Weighing the Neon Light.
Weighing the Neon Light.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


Overall, we don't find the Neon to be a great value. For a similar price (or less), climbers can buy a pack that's lighter or more durable or has better features, or some combination of those three. However, if you only carry a few things when multi-pitch climbing and you don't want to carry them on your harness and you avoid chimneys and you're a smaller person (so the pack fits better than others) it could be a reasonable value.

Conclusion


Mammut's Neon Light 12 is a very small climbing pack. It does well at long face climbs or cracks smaller than offwidths. It's quite comfortable, and for climbers with shorter torsos, the fit could be great. It has a lot of pockets for such a small pack, so it's a good choice if you just want to keep a few things well organized.

A comfortable pack for long routes.
A comfortable pack for long routes.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Ian McEleney