Featuring a duffle bag design with a center zipper, the Patagonia Crag Daddy has what we find to be the most convenient crag pack design.
The Crag Daddy's versatility means it's great for either sport or trad climbing. Perfect for crags with both disciplines, like Smith Rock State Park, OR.
Weighing in at 2.5 lbs, the Patagonia Crag Daddy is more than 10 oz lighter the second lightest crag pack tested, the Metolius Crag Staion. This difference isn't huge, but over a lifespan of potentially hundreds of approaches it becomes more meaningful. We also really like this bag for when your schedule only allows a short climbing session. Loaded with only the bare essentials for a couple pitches you aren't slowed down by a needlessly heavy or bulky pack.
The internal framesheet consists of an aluminum frame with tensioned nylon mesh. The framesheet in our Crag Daddy held up well, however, we've seen similar designs fail in Patagonia Ascensionist bags after heavy use.
If there is one area we do worry about this pack, it's durability. The 630D Cordura nylon used for the body of this pack is tough but not as burly as the materials used on the other packs we tried. However, during four months of regular use our testers didn't put any accidental holes in this fabric. The bigger concern we see for the Crag Daddy, and duffle-style packs in general, is the center zipper. It is essential to closing the pack and under constant stress from shifting contents inside. Although this bag uses a sturdy YKK zipper, we can't imagine it lasting as long as the buckle closures on most classic top-loading backpacks. Additionally, we noticed the position of the compression straps on the Metolius Crag Station helps relieve tension on its center zipper while this pack's compression system actually increases the strain.
This pack is equipped with a strap on either side with another on top to restrain a load and keep it close to your body. When properly used, this prevents clutter inside a half-full bag from sliding around, decreasing the unpleasantness of lugging around heavy, metal climbing gear. Should you fill the 45 liter main compartment, the compression straps can also be used to clip on a coiled rope. When fully loaded, only the Metolius Crag Station is smaller.
We love center zip-style packs like this Patagonia Crag Daddy. They let you access your gear easily without having dump it all into the dirt.
This pack's utility is its greatest strength and the largest reason why it took home our Editors' Choice award. The center zipper gives you quick access to all of your gear at once and the duffle bag handles let you shuttle it easily between neighboring routes. For organization the main compartment contains a small pocket for car keys, nail clippers, and other miniature supplies. A larger zippered outer pocket is a nice spot for snacks, tape, or medium-sized items. Lower, there's room for a water bottle and guidebook in two big elastic pockets. Three straps on the top and sides can be used to compress the load or attach a rope or helmet.
If you manage to fill its large main compartment, the Patagonia Crag Daddy has a trio of straps on the outside to help secure a climbing rope.
The Crag Daddy has a large enough capacity (45L) to accommodate the gear needed for most sport or trad climbing days. Should you fill the main compartment, which is possible at a gear intensive crag like Indian Creek, there are multiple options for carrying extra stuff on the outside, including a pair of guidebook-size pockets and straps for buckling a rope or helmet. In a pinch, the pack itself can even be used as a rope bag. This combination of features helped it to tie with the Trango Crag Pack as the best in versatility.
One minor complaint was that heavy loads hang low in the Patagonia Crag Daddy. This 6'2" tester didn't like how the base of a this size large would sometimes stretch low enough to rub against his tail bone.
For comfort, this pack has a collection of qualities that we liked and loathed, which led to its mediocre rating. Our testers appreciated its padded back panel, hip, and shoulder straps--a quality missed in the Metolius competitor. Inside an internal framesheet of tensioned aluminum provides some rigidity. These features form a suspension system that is decent with most loads but starts to get insufficient when you decide to carry too much stuff (>50 lbs).
The Crag Daddy has features that are useful for all types of climbing. Its adjustable capacity lets it be slimmed down for a short sport climbing outing or overstuffed for a marathon trad day. This versatility makes it hard to chose a 'best application'. Instead we'll just say it works well for all single-pitch outings.
With a $179 price tag, this is the most expensive pack we tested. For many, this will be too much, but for dedicated climbers who crag regularly, the convenience and utility of this well-made center zipper pack are more than worth it.
When filled the Crag Daddy is pretty streamlined. Elastic external pockets on either side are a great place to stash a water bottle or guidebook.
All in all we really love this pack. It's big enough for almost any single-pitch application and its center zipper design proved to be our favorite. Although dedicated sport climbers might prefer the more compact and more durable Metolius Crag Station
, the Crag Daddy's balance of practical features and versatility helped it to earn our Editors' Choice award. Take care of the main zipper and we think it will keep you happy on the way to the crag for years to come.
Other Versions and Accessories
Patagonia makes the Crag Daddy in a few different colors and in sizes large or small. We tested the large. They also sell a smaller 35 liter pack for cragging, the Cragsmith.