Simple, light, and relatively inexpensive, the Patagonia Ascensionist is a solid alpine climbing pack. It's not our favorite, partially due to a few issues in its design; the "removable" hip belt can't be removed without cutting off some webbing and the sternum strap is unusually difficult to adjust. Our testers also wish the pack was made of a more durable fabric. However, the pack is fairly comfortable on the trail and on the route.
For a pack that costs a bit less, and that we feel is a better overall value, check out our Best Buy Award winning Black Diamond Speed 40. If simple, streamlined design is something you value in your mountaineering kit, click over to our review of the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45.
Patagonia replaced the 45-liter version with a new 40-liter model, pictured above. The latest iteration of the Ascensionist has more bells and whistles, including a hole for a hydration hose, a removable foam back panel, and new attachments for ice tools. It also has a new fabric, intended to increase durability. We changed our price-check links to the latest version of this product, so you can get your hands on the newest design. Read on below where we discuss these changes and more in detail.