Hands-on Gear Review

Trango Crag Pack Review

Best Buy Award
Price:  $99 List | $74.21 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, big capacity, 3 external pockets, mini tarp included
Cons:  Difficult to access gear, delicate fabric
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 4
  • 5
Capacity (Liters):  48
Weight (Ounces):  54.0
Padded back?:  Yes
Manufacturer:   Trango

Our Verdict

When Trango named their new crag pack they ignored industry clich├ęs that favor foreign mountain ranges or deadly beasts. Instead they went with their own original name "Crag Pack". Yet this dull moniker wasn't a mistake because it exemplifies this packs greatest attribute: simplicity. Trango has essentially taken the reliable top-loading design of a classic backpacking pack, stripped off all the unnecessary junk, and marketed it to climbers at an unbeatable price. In our tests we found the result to be both comfortable and versatile, which is why it earned our Best Buy award. However, with savings comes sacrifice: its incorrectly named 'Titan' fabric is surprisingly delicate and its limited climbing specific features can be summarized as external pockets for guidebooks/shoes and a removable mini-tarp. Nevertheless we found this simple bag charming and functional and recommend it to anyone searching for the best deal.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jack Cramer

Last Updated:
Monday
December 21, 2015

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Tthe Trango Crag Pack gets the job done when headed out for a day climbing. We give it our Best Buy Award for its inexpensive simplicity.

Performance Comparison


A Trango Crag Pack basking atop fallen columns  Trout Creek  Oregon.
A Trango Crag Pack basking atop fallen columns, Trout Creek, Oregon.

Weight


Due to its Titan wrap fabric, the Trango Crack Pack weighs in at a hefty 3 lbs 6 oz. This makes it the second heaviest pack we tested, 11 ounces more than the Editors' Choice Patagonia Crag Daddy.

Durability


A flashlight inside this Trango Crag Pack illuminates the constellation of holes put in its base during regular use. Although the 'Titan Wrap' fabric may resemble a big wall haul bag  we don't think it's half as durable.
A flashlight inside this Trango Crag Pack illuminates the constellation of holes put in its base during regular use. Although the 'Titan Wrap' fabric may resemble a big wall haul bag, we don't think it's half as durable.
Although the Titan wrap material used to make this pack resembles the vinyl or polyurethane fabrics found on most big wall haul bags, we didn't find it to be nearly as durable. Our testers were able to create significant punctures by just dropping a full load from their shoulders to the ground. We generally think the buckle closure on most top-loading packs will last longer than the center zipper on a duffle bag-style pack. This pack is top-loading, however, instead of buckles it uses a single slide zipper to close. Thus its long-term durability becomes a question of the strength of this zipper.

Packed Size


Aside from three external pockets, the outside of the Trango Crag Pack is pretty streamlined. If packed efficiently, it can fit a large amount of gear into a relatively small area. A problem arises though, when it's not fully loaded. The straps it has do little to compress its size and the Titan wrap material holds it shape, which causes the load in a half-full pack to settle the bottom. Our testers didn't mind this too much but minimalist packers might prefer a smaller bag, like the Metolius Crag Station.

Climbing Utility


Getting to gear at the bottom of this pack is harder than with some of the other bags we tested. The 'quick access'  two-third length  side zipper isn't long enough to be useful.
Getting to gear at the bottom of this pack is harder than with some of the other bags we tested. The 'quick access', two-third length, side zipper isn't long enough to be useful.
As a backpack for carrying lots of the stuff, the Trango Crag Pack is pretty good and it also has a few features we liked specifically for cragging. The 48 liter capacity is enough for almost any cragging situation. Load lifters and a padded hip belt on the suspension prevent the weight from cutting into your shoulders. The elastic side pockets were useful for keeping a guidebook handy or preventing your climbing shoes from getting smushed in the main compartment. Also included is a mini-tarp to set your gear on, which is good because the 'quick access' side zipper isn't very functional. It's two-thirds length is too short, and the opening it creates is too small. To actually get an item out from the bottom of the pack you will have to unload most your gear. And that's where the mini-tarp comes in.

Versatility


This bag is big enough to hold unhealthily large amounts of gear. Here it carried a harness  quadruple rack  2 pairs of shoes  helmet  puffy  and accessories with room to spare.
This bag is big enough to hold unhealthily large amounts of gear. Here it carried a harness, quadruple rack, 2 pairs of shoes, helmet, puffy, and accessories with room to spare.
Along with the Patagonia Crag Daddy, this pack scored at the top of the field in versatility and that's largely because they share the same important quality: a capacity large enough to accommodate any type of climbing. It doesn't matter if you're clipping bolts shirtless in summer or jamming cracks in the dead of winter, with 48L of space this pack can fit the gear needed for pretty much all cragging objectives. One of our testers managed to stuff a 70m rope, quadruple rack, helmet, 2 pairs of shoes, 3L of water and puffy inside. Carrying all this junk did destroy his back but the Trango Crag Pack had room to spare.

Comfort


The suspension system on this pack is pretty bare-bones. There is some mesh padding on the back panel and shoulder and hip straps. Inside, a pair of flat aluminum stays provide rigidity. Some of our testers liked this simple design that keeps the load close to the body while others preferred the modern, molded shapes of Black Diamond Pipe Dream suspensions. Climbers that like to strut shirtless should be careful with the grey titan wrap fabric because it can get painfully hot in direct sunlight.

Best Applications


We like this pack mainly for trad climbers or people that enjoy a blend of all disciplines. Forty-eight liters is probably overkill for strictly warm-weather sport climbers, who would likely prefer the smaller, more durable Metolius Crag Station. However, if you like to place the occasional cam or multi-pitch with a second rope this bag can better handle the extra gear.

Value


At $99 this pack is a great deal. Its included mini-tarp  for keeping your rope or gear out of the dirt  only sweetens the deal.
At $99 this pack is a great deal. Its included mini-tarp, for keeping your rope or gear out of the dirt, only sweetens the deal.
This pack's biggest strength is its price, $99. This is the lowest price of any pack tested and it's hard to imagine a better deal for a cragging pack. We think this makes it a great for choice for beginners or occasional climbers that can't justify the cost of a premium bag. Avid or lifelong climbers are probably better off investing in a more durable pack that will last them longer.

Conclusion


The tall splitter columns of Trout Creek  OR require lots of fitness and gear. Thankfully  the Trango Crag Pack has room for the gear but did the author bring the fitness?
The tall splitter columns of Trout Creek, OR require lots of fitness and gear. Thankfully, the Trango Crag Pack has room for the gear but did the author bring the fitness?
The Trango Crag Pack combines a lot of nice features at a currently unbeatable price. Although it may not be as durable or fashionable as some of the other packs, for beginner climbers or anyone on a budget it is a more than great option.

Other Versions and Accessories


We tested the regular size which is available in green or blue. They also offer a 'short' version in orange or purple.
Jack Cramer

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Most recent review: December 21, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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