The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

How We Tested Climbing Packs

By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor
Tuesday October 15, 2019
Exploring South America's granite wonderland  Cochamo  with the Creek 20
Exploring South America's granite wonderland, Cochamo, with the Creek 20

We conducted the field testing for the rock climbing daypack review over a five month period across North America. From El Capitan to Devil's Tower, the Canadian Rockies to Cochamo, anytime we got more than a pitch off the ground a pack came along. It was annoying and tiresome work. (Ha!)

Weight


Testing each pack for weight was simple: we weighed them with our freshly calibrated scale. All removable parts were included when weighing.

Our trusty Weighmax 2822 hard at work.
Our trusty Weighmax 2822 hard at work.

Durability


When evaluating durability we don't go out of our way to destroy the packs but we definitely don't baby them. We took a thorough look at every part of each pack at the end of the test to see what was damaged. Any unusually burly treatment on-route was noted.

The Flash after a day of durability testing.
The Flash after a day of durability testing.

Climbing Utility


We started examining climbing utility by taking an inventory of each pack's feature set, noting what was present and what was missing. We also made a point of giving each pack to climbers who had never used it to see which features they would use and how.

Some climbers discovered the hydration tube shoulder sleeve on their own and some didn't.
Some climbers discovered the hydration tube shoulder sleeve on their own and some didn't.

Versatility


Versatility testing was easy. As active outdoors folk our testers use small packs all the time and our fleet of products went everywhere. From lift-served skiing to mountain biking to grad school to a trip to Mexico City for La Dia De Los Muertos, we examined their cross over usefulness.

This pack's style is a favorite for urban activities.
This pack's style is a favorite for urban activities.

Comfort


To test climbing comfort we were forced to bring OutdoorGearLab indoors. The local climbing gym gave us a controlled environment to fairly assess comfort and other attributes. We loaded each pack with 12 lbs of gear and let our testers take each pack for a spin. Opinions occasionally varied between different body types but by and large we were able to settle on similar scores.

Testing all of the rock climbing daypacks for climbing comfort at the Bend Rock Gym.
Testing all of the rock climbing daypacks for climbing comfort at the Bend Rock Gym.

The final published review is an amalgamation of our outdoor trips, indoor testing, and conversations with climbing friends and acquaintances. As always, to assure complete independence and objectivity, the gear tested was purchased by OutdoorGearLab in the retail marketplace.