The Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 20 is a good small climbing pack made of a unique material - cotton. We think that the cotton and x-ripstop construction make this pack extra durable (though slightly heavier). It has all of the features we like in a small climbing pack, and a number of pockets for climbers who like organization. The pack has no external ice axe attachment points. This and the cotton fabric (cotton is very absorbent) make this pack a poor choice for alpine climbing or other pursuits where getting wet is likely. We think this is a good pack for desert climbers who occasionally need to haul.
Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 20 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, fully featured, ready to haul
Cons: Heavy, pricey
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 20 has a good collection of features and is made of a durable but unusual material, cotton. While cotton is a common fabric generally, we don't see it as much in the outdoor gear world, and certainly not in backpacks.
The Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 20 is a comfortable pack. It doesn't taper as much as some of the more comfortable competition, but the pack is deeper (it extends farther away from your back) than other models. Because of this it doesn't interfere with arm movement and doesn't short you on volume. The back panel and shoulder straps are appropriately padded.
The back length of this pack is a bit less than some other models, shorter climbers take note. Taller climbers will experience no conflicts with helmets or chalk bags.
The Multi-Pitch 20 has all of the features we like in a small climbing pack. The bladder of a hydration system rides in a pouch that's accessed from outside the pack. We wish the shoulder strap hose guides were a bit more stretchy. The exterior is streamlined, with only a few low-profile attachment points.
Often, top straps are very useful on the approach and descent, but just add another step to opening the pack while we're on route. In this case, the top strap disappears into the hydration pocket when not needed.
This pack has a lot of pockets. There's one eternal zippered pocket about the size of a guidebook. When the main compartment of the pack is full, this pocket could be hard to use. Inside this pocket is another zippered pocket (with a key clip) that could hold a phone, headlamp, or personal locator beacon. A third zippered pocket is built into the pack lid. For this pocket to be functional the main compartment of the pack must be fully open. Finally, a mesh side pocket for rock shoes or a small water bottle lives in the side of the pack for when it's needed. This can be a nice feature for giving climbers a bit more space when the pack is loaded up.
The pack has two haul points that can be clipped with one carabiner when the pack isn't fully loaded. The shoulder straps are also easily stowed in the hydration pocket, making this pack haul-friendly. The hip belt of the pack is attached with a simple girth hitch and is easily removed. The sternum strap buckle has a built-in emergency whistle.
The Multi-Pitch 20 is made with fabric that's pretty unique to our test - cotton. The main pack body is cotton canvas with an X-shaped ripstop grid. The bottom has some additional padding and is made of Kevlar. While we don't do any specific durability tests as part of this review, our testers suspect this pack will hold up well to abrasion.
This is not the worst looking pack for trips around town or to the farmer's market. The plentiful pockets offer organization for class. A small to medium laptop fits easily inside.
Not counting the second haul loop, there are 8 attachment points on the outside of the pack. These allow the use of quickdraws and slings that climbers are already carrying to be easily used to secure rope, big cams, or other bulky necessities to the outside.
The Multi-Pitch 20 is a bit heavier than the competition. This, in conjunction with the stiffer cotton fabric, make this pack a poor choice for stuffing into a larger pack to carry into the backcountry. This pack has no external ice axe attachment point. Also, cotton is absorbent and slow to dry fabric. This is not the bag to take into an alpine environment when snow or ice (or a lot of precipitation) will be encountered.
The Multi-Pitch 20 weighs 1.5 pounds (24 ounces, or 680 grams). This is on the heavier end of our review. The durable cotton canvas fabric and plentiful features are the benefit climbers get for that weight.
The Mountain Hardwear Multi-Pitch 20 is one of the pricier packs in our test. The cotton fabric also makes it less suitable for alpine applications. For climbers who need a 20L pack to be really versatile and want to take it into the mountains, it's not the greatest value. However, for climbers who are mostly in desert areas and want something durable, this pack is a good value.
We like the Multi-Pitch 20. It offers good durability and a number of useful climbing features. As always, the price of this durability is weight. The sturdy cotton fabric should be kept away from water. All of our testers liked the shape of this pack, but climbers with shorter torsos might especially appreciate the dimensions.
— Ian McEleney