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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl Bug Review
Cons: Heavy, not versatile, no emergency whistle
The Petzl Bug and REI Co-op Flash 18 are the only climbing daypacks that returned from our 2010 review unchanged. Back then the Bug won a Top Pick award for its climbing specific features. Today, we still appreciate its functional design and multitude of external carrying options. However, the competition has caught up. At 20.3 oz, the Bug remains the heaviest pack in this review and lighter bags now surpass it in durability. Its utilitarian styling has also grown more dated with each passing year. This is still our favorite pack for big carry-over objectives where the ability to store gear on the outside is a blessing on the approach and descent. You can read on to learn the finer points of our analysis or check out the Editors' Choice winning Patagonia Linked Pack 16L or Best Buy receiving REI Co-op Flash 18 at their respective individual product pages.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Though this tried and true design has a lot of external carry options, we find this pack to be too heavy and a little dated in design.
The Bug's abundance of straps and buckles comes with a cost: weight. At 20.3 ounces it's the heaviest climbing backpack tested and 4.5 oz more than the Editors' Choice winning Patagonia Linked Pack 16L. Also neither the hip belt, back pad, or shoulder straps are easily removable so there's no way to trim the weight. Most users, though, are unlikely to suffer from an extra few ounces. We believe the utility gained from added features is often worth more than the potential weight savings.
Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20. The gray base is sewn of sturdier stuff, but still inferior to the bases on the the Patagonia Linked or Black Diamond Bullet. The zipper is a beefy YKK variant. Our biggest concern is the eight plastic buckles that compose the compression straps and hip belt. These are prone to cracking when stepped on or crushed against a rock. Fortunately, the failure of any one buckle doesn't undermine the utility of the entire bag.
The 18 liter capacity of this pack is contained inside a simple rectangular shape. Geometrically this is an efficient design but the multitude of compression straps and a daisy chain increase its practical packed size. The potential exists to snag these things in the depths of chimney or on branches on the approach or descent. When empty, this pack takes up more space than the other packs, making it a less viable option as a summit bag on overnight trips. All these deficiencies caused this pack to receive the lowest score in this category.
For most casual users a lot these of features will be unnecessary but they are what makes the Bug our testers' favorite pack for Grade V or VI, in-a-day, challenges.
This pack really shines in multi-pitch situations. It's small and maneuverable enough for near-your-limit gymnastics yet versatile and expandable enough to stuff for committing, in-a-day big walls. If you're truly searching for a pack that works for any rock climbing objective, then give this one strong consideration.
The Bug sells for $67.95 MSRP. This is about double the lowest-priced REI Co-op Flash, but in the neighborhood of the other packs we tested. Or if you like this bag, but you're on a budget, search for sales. The Bug has been around for a long time and on occasion we've seen it going for more than 30% off.
day backpack, laptop backpack, and hydration pack. In today's review we have the freedom to judge more strongly based on actual climbing utility but, unfortunately for the Bug, the competition has caught up in this respect. Despite a lot of great features, we can no longer get past its weight and bulk.
— Jack Cramer
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