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Mountain Hardwear Crimper Review

Mountain Hardwear Crimper
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Price:  $70 List
Pros:  Durable, multi-functional, streamlined
Cons:  Heavy, constrictive, expensive
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Oct 29, 2010
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Our Verdict

As of 2015, the MH Crimper is Discontinued
This was not our favorite pack so it is no surprise to use that it's now discontinued. See the reviews for our award winning packs the Editors' Choice Black Diamond Bullet and Best Buy REI Flash 18.

The Mountain Hardwear Crimper scored lowest overall of all the packs tested, by a long shot. It is a full four ounces (120 grams) heavier than its next closest competitor, the Petzl Bug, and it has a 5L less space. These two packs are the most comparable of the packs we tested: they both have padded backs, and are fully-featured, climbing specific packs, compete with a full external daisy chain. The Bug, however, has more innovative features designed specifically for climbing, so in a head to head, there is really no comparison; the Bug is a better pack. The only category in which it wins out over the Bug is in versatility, since the Crimper can function better as an around town pack, and would work better for short multi-pitch ice climbs.

If you are looking specifically for a pack that has a tool loop, the only other pack that has one is the REI Flash 18, and the Crimper is better equipped (you have to rig your own top attachment point on the Flash 18). An axe can also be rigged to the outside of the Cilo Gear 20L Worksack using its customizable straps (see photo on the Cilo Gear 20L Worksack review), and the pack itself is more appropriate for an alpine venture where an axe might be necessary. The weight of the Crimper seems to preclude it from any real alpine use. If you are doing mixed lines or alpine climbs where you will be taking tools off and on your pack often, consider going for a slightly larger, fully equipped 30L pack instead, with real tool loops instead of just a set of bungees.

The Crimper is nearly twice the weight of our Editors' Choice pick, the Black Diamond Bullet (13 ounces). It is certainly not twice the pack! Quite the opposite. It is also $20 more. The choice seems clear here.

Mountain Hardwear carried over the materials, workmanship, and features (not to mention its rock-solid lifetime guarantee), from its larger packs to this small offering. Unfortunately, they didnt get the recipe quite right. This pack is too heavy and beefy for a multi-pitch rock climbing pack, too small and too climbing oriented to excel as a hiking specific pack. Its hidden exterior pocket is innovative and a highlight, and some of the other features are useful, but none are good enough to redeem this pack. Look elsewhere.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The Mountain Hardwear Crimper is made from 840 High Tenacity Ballistic Nylon, and is built for abuse. Its rugged exterior is complimented by its large, bombproof zipper and beefy zipper pulls, and the external daisy chain is reinforced into a thick nylon strip.

The Crimper is also loaded with features. The best feature is its large external zip pocket, which holds a full-size guidebook and gives easy access to all your essentials. The pocket is cleverly hidden behind the reinforced daisy chain, another key feature that the Crimper shares only with the Petzl Bug. Two stretch nylon outside pockets hold water bottles or other small items. Two inside pockets, one security pocket (with key clip) and one soft and fleecy electronics or sunglass pocket, round out the options for storage. A small but appreciated feature is the hydration system tab, giving you multiple options on how to attach and hang your bladder inside the pack. The frame design is nearly the same as the designs used in Mountain Hardwears larger packs, and consequently the pack distributes heavy loads very effectively. Lastly, the pack has one fixed ice tool loop and a second removable tool loop, making it the only small pack on the market equipped to carry two tools.

If you choose to climb without a waistbelt, the belt can be doubled around behind the pack and clipped through the lower part of the daisy chain or tucked into the side stretch pockets.

The Crimper, due to its tool loop(s) and burly design, functions as a winter pack as well as summer, and would do as well on a multi-pitch ice line as it would on rock. The Crimper could also serve as an around-town bag for school or the gym, and it would give you the rugged, yes, Im a climber look.


The Crimper is heavy (690 g/24 oz), by far the heaviest pack tested. It is also bulky. The padding system is thick and stiff, a combination that simply is unnecessary and counter-productive on a pack of this size. The back padding prevents the bag from conforming to the contours of your back when doing anything but hiking with the pack straight against your back. If this were just a day-hiking pack, then this might be appreciated. But for a climbing pack it is definitely not.

A common theme on this pack is overkill. The padding, the plastic coated zipper pulls, the lined sunglass/electronics pocket, and the bungee tool holder/bottle opener; this is all overkill for a pack of its size and designated use. The internal pockets are fixed to the front of the packs main compartment, which makes them difficult to access when the pack is full. The ice-axe loops could be nice on occasion, but the times that a tool carry option is needed on such a small pack seem rare

The outside stretch pockets are nice for hiking or for around town use, but are inadequate on the rock, they just arent secure enough. They are also not durable when loaded, and any scraping against sharp rock would wear right through the thin nylon when stretched tight.

Best Application

This pack could work well as a hiking daypack, a school or gym bag, or for occasional rock and/or ice climbing.


This is the second most expensive backpack we tested, at $70. This is a lot of money to shell out for a pack that scores lower across the board than many $50-$60 packs.

Chris McNamara