Reviews You Can Rely On

Petzl Bug Review

This pack is great to climb with and easy to load, though it's not particularly light
Petzl Bug
Photo: Petzl
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Price:  $70 List | $69.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable, easy to pack, great packing volume
Cons:  Heavy, average durability, no emergency whistle
Manufacturer:   Petzl
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 21, 2021
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Petzl Bug is a good daypack for rock climbing. It was the most comfortable pack in our test to wear while approaching, climbing, and descending, making it a great all-around contender. It's easy to pack for its volume, versatile, and does the best job carrying the rope on the outside of any pack in our review. However, it's relatively substantial in weight but not made of particularly durable materials. Some features are also missing or incomplete, but we still think this is a worthy choice, especially if it fits you well.

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Petzl Bug
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Pros Comfortable, easy to pack, great packing volumeSimple, great zippered pocket, streamlinedSimple, sturdy, lightComfortable, lightDurable, sleek, stylish
Cons Heavy, average durability, no emergency whistleLimited attachment points, easy to drop stuffNo emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into packSmall, flimsy, not versatileUncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options
Bottom Line This pack is great to climb with and easy to load, though it's not particularly lightThough there are no extra features, this bag ticks all the boxes for multi-pitch climbingThis is a great pack for multi-pitch rock climbs at a very fair priceThough it's one of the most comfortable small climbing packs, this bag isn't very abrasion-resistantThis classic is still going strong, though you cannot carry anything on the outside of the pack
Rating Categories Petzl Bug The North Face Rout... Black Diamond Rock... Mammut Neon Light 12 Black Diamond Bullet
Comfort (25%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Climbing Utility (25%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (20%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
3.0
7.0
Versatility (20%)
7.0
7.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Petzl Bug The North Face Rout... Black Diamond Rock... Mammut Neon Light 12 Black Diamond Bullet
Capacity 18L 16L 15L 12L 16L
Measured Weight 1.1 lbs 1.1 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.9 lbs 1.1 lbs
Padded back? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fabric Type 400D nylon 420D nylon 840D nylon 70D nylon 420D nylon, 1260D ballistic nylon
Whistle? No Yes No Yes Yes
Accessory Pockets? One external zip, one external open, one internal zip One external zip One external zip, one internal zip Two external zip, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip
Outside Carry Options? Top strap, one daisy chain Daisy chains Top strap doubles as rope strap Daisy chains No
Hip Belt Yes Yes, removable Yes, removable 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 Petzl Bug has been in our review for a long time; this is its second iteration. As with the first version, it's an all-around performer. It has almost all of the features we want and is the most comfortable contender in our lineup both when hiking and climbing.

Performance Comparison


The Bug in action on Yak Peak.
The Bug in action on Yak Peak.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Comfort


No climber prefers climbing with a pack on, so comfort is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting your pack. The basic rectangular shape and slightly curved shoulder straps of the Bug do not scream "ergonomic climbing comfort," but our testers did enjoy climbing with this pack on (as much as one can). Most of our testers feel that this pack rides in a great place on the back. It doesn't interfere unnecessarily with access to whatever is on the back of your harness, and we rarely found our helmets banging into the top of the bag while route-finding in steep terrain.

The Bug is also comfortable on the trail while hiking, and its padded back means bad packers are less likely to be punished with a cam lobe poking them in the back. This pack is in the middle of the group for weight, and we suspect one of the reasons why is extra padding in the back panel, which makes it more pleasant to wear. We're not complaining.

The back of the Bug is surprisingly comfortable despite not being...
The back of the Bug is surprisingly comfortable despite not being tapered.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Climbing Utility


The Bug has a reasonably solid feature set. It has one roomy exterior pocket, though it's hard to get into when the pack is full. The generous internal zippered pocket houses a key clip. This pack also has a unique feature: the topo pocket, which lives in the pack's back panel. Though it does hold an 8/12" x 11" piece of paper well, our testers found it more useful for stowing the shoulder straps when hauling. The sternum strap buckle also does not double as a whistle, so you might want to supplement that safety accessory on your own.

The Bug has all the standard hydration system features, except for a loop or clip to secure the top of a hydration reservoir. We missed this simple feature. Our testers found that full 2 - 3 liter reservoirs could flop around (unbalancing the pack) or even fold over (compromising water flow).

Without a clip or loop to secure the top of a hydration bladder, it...
Without a clip or loop to secure the top of a hydration bladder, it can flop around or get squished and cut off water flow.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Although this bag lacks dual haul loops, the main haul point can be backed up using the top loop of the outer daisy chain. It's inconvenient, yet possible, to tuck the shoulder straps into the back panel pocket to streamline hauling as well. The hip belt has its own dedicated slot in the back panel to disappear into. Though the Bug doesn't have the streamlined exterior of some of the other packs, the only place it could get hung up is on the compression straps. However, we feel that those straps add more in utility than they detract as possible catch points.

The 18 liter capacity of this pack is contained inside a simple rectangular shape which makes packing reasonably easy. We found it less challenging than expected to retrieve something packed away in the bottom. Like the other bags we tested, it works fine on straightforward, half-day, multi-pitch routes. However, it also has enough capacity to accommodate longer days or carry-over objectives.

Durability


Petzl doesn't list the denier of the nylon in the Bug, but the fabric on its body feels comparable to the 400 denier material on other packs. It is reinforced with additional fabric on the bottom and sides. We liked this reinforcement on the sides and wish it continued to the front of the pack.

The main external zipper is middling size, and we like that it's covered by a flap of fabric. The top strap of the pack is secured with a sturdy metal hook. The two side compression straps are closed with plastic side-squeeze buckles any climber would be familiar with. Though they're plastic, we didn't have any issues with their durability, and the failure of one of these buckles would not undermine the utility of the pack as a whole. We think the Bug is durable enough to have a long life, though it's not the most durable pack in our review.

We like that the number 8 zipper is protected by a flap.
We like that the number 8 zipper is protected by a flap.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Versatility


While there are no fashion experts on our testing team, we didn't feel that the Bug screamed "climbing nerd" and were happy to use it around town. It's also more than capable of toting around a laptop, and the internal volume is enough for a light grocery run. The rope handling top strap is complemented by the compression straps, offering the best rope containment solution of any pack in our test. That and the ease of packing make this a great choice for carry-over routes. Between those straps and the daisy chain, attaching gear to the outside of this pack is fairly straightforward.

Functionally this pack has a few deficiencies in versatility. For carrying inside an overnight bag for use as a summit-only pack, it's heavier and bulkier than some other options and would not be our first choice. Attaching a single mountaineering axe to the outside of the pack requires some rigging with the single daisy chain, and connecting a pair of ice tools is trickier. The buckles aren't particularly glove-friendly, another limiting factor in the potential alpine career of the Bug.

On the approach with half the rack, helmet, and a 70m rope.
On the approach with half the rack, helmet, and a 70m rope.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


The Petzl Bug tips the scales at 18 ounces (510 grams). This puts it about in the middle of our group of packs. While we wish the hip belt was removable, it does tuck away into its own pocket when not needed.

The fabrics on the Bug are also in the middle of the pack when it comes to weight (and durability), so our testers suspect that it's the well-padded back panel that has it looking plumper than some of the competition. We believe the comfort gained here is worth more than the potential weight savings.

The weigh-in.
The weigh-in.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


This pack is a lot cheaper than some and in the neighborhood of most of the models we tested. It is a good value for any rock climb longer than one pitch. For most climbers, sustained chimneying or hauling are rare, and so the typical climber shouldn't be too concerned about the longevity of the Bug as it relates to value.

Conclusion


The Petzl Bug is a great climbing pack with a reasonable feature set. It's also the most comfortable pack we tested, both for climbing and hiking. We really like the three outside straps for carrying a rope securely, and it carries other gear well, too, making it a bag we reached for on carry-over routes. The generous internal zippered pocket is a tester favorite. Its relatively high weight isn't offset by any benefits in durability, but instead by comfort.

When climbing with the Bug our testers rarely noticed they had it on.
When climbing with the Bug our testers rarely noticed they had it on.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Ian McEleney