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Ice climbing season is almost upon us and it is time to start pulling things and taking inventory of your gear! While having all the appropriate gear is essential, it is also necessary to make sure you have a backpack that can handle all the demands you will place on it. But don’t be overwhelmed by all the choices out there, because our climbing experts at The Adventure Junkies have narrowed the field to bring you the ten best ice climbing backpacks, so you can get out and climb that ice before it starts to melt!

Whether you are just going out for a day of play or looking to stay a little longer, there is a backpack that will help you on your ice adventures. So no need to spend all that time searching the shops and the internet – this list  will help you find the right pack in less time. So you know you have a lot more time to sharpen those ice screws!

For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out the Best Climbing Backpacks.

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Quick Answer - The Best Ice Climbing Backpacks

  1. Mammut Trion Pro 50 + 7
  2. Osprey Mutant 52L
  3. Black Diamond Mission 55
  4. Patagonia Ascensionist 30
  5. Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45
  6. Osprey Xenith 75
  7. Deuter AirContact Lite 45 + 10 SL
  8. Gregory Alpinisto 50
  9. The North Face Proprius 50
  10. Lowe Alpine Manaslu 55:65

 

 

Comparison Table - Best Ice Climbing Backpacks

PictureNameWeightVolumeLidAccessHydration System CompatiblePriceRating
Mammut Trion Pro 50 + 73 lbs 11.9 oz50 LYes, Removable 7 LTop, Panel, BottomYes$$4.8
Osprey Mutant 52L 4.19 lbs52 LYes, AttachedTopYes$$4.3
Black Diamond Mission 553 lbs 14 oz50 LYes, RemovableTop, PanelYes$$$4.6
Patagonia Ascensionist PackPatagonia Ascensionist 301 lb 7.7 oz30 LNoTopNo$$4.4
Arc’teryx Alpha FL 451 lb 7.7 oz45 LNo, Roll Top ClosureTopNo$$$4.6
Osprey Xenith 75 PackOsprey Xenith 755 lbs 2 oz75 LYes, removableTop, Side, BottomYes$$4.5
Deuter AirContact Lite 45 + 10 SL4 lbs 15 oz men’s; 3 lbs 12 oz women’s55 LYes, RemovableTop, BottomYes$$4.5
Gregory Alpinisto 503 lbs 13 oz50 LYes, RemovableTop, SideYes$$4.3
The North Face Proprius 50 2 lbs 9 oz50 LYes, RemovableTopNo$$4.4
Lowe Alpine Manaslu 55:655 lbs 4 oz55+ 10 LYes, attachedTop, Front, BottomYes$$4.3
PictureNameWeightVolumeLidAccessHydration System CompatiblePriceRating

 

Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Backpacks for Ice Climbing

Mammut Trion Pro 50 + 7

Specs
  • Access: Top, Panel, Bottom
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 3 lbs 11.9 oz
  • Volume: 50 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable 7 L
Features
  • Removable 7 L Lid To Lighten Your Pack Or Carry Just A Small Daypack
  • Strap Under Lid To Secure Rope
  • External Water Bottle Pocket

BEST FOR: EASY ACCESS

The Trion Pro 50+7 pack is brought to you by none other than the Swiss company, Mammut. This is an ideal pack for ice climbers with access pockets in multiple points. The bottom zipper allows you to access larger items packed away first, without having to take everything out. And the side zipper pockets can hold smaller items like snacks. Water bottles or a thermos can be reached quickly when they’re stored in the external bottle pockets. This pack even has a small pocket on the hipbelt for those items like keys that you don’t want to misplace! 

The front zipper pocket opens wide enough to store your crampons. For carrying ice tools, there are ice pick tool panels on the bottom of the pack that the picks easily fit into with tabs on the side of the pack to secure the handles. If you need to lighten the load or reduce volume, the 7 L lid can be detached. Under the lid on the top access point, there is a cinch strap that can be used to secure a rope on top, so you won’t have to stuff it in your pack. This may not be the lightest pack on this list, but you will always be organized and able to get to anything, anywhere, at anytime with this pack.

Osprey Mutant 52L

Specs
  • Access: Top
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 4.19 lbs
  • Volume: 52 L
  • Lid: Yes, Attached
Features
  • Removable Plastic Sheet On Back Panel For Extra Support With Heavy Loads
  • Helmet Carry On Top Of Lid
  • Gear Loops On Waist Belt For Carrying Extra Items

BEST FOR: WEEKEND ADVENTURES

The Osprey Mutant 52 is the mid-sized version of this model. There is also a larger and a smaller (38L) size of this pack, but for ice climbing, the mid-sized is just right. If you are going out for a longer day, this pack is not very heavy itself, so steeper approaches will not seem so daunting. And with ample volume inside this pack, if you want to stay out for more than a day, you’ll have space to pack for that. 

For added comfort, the back of the pack has a plastic sheet that can be removed and placed on the hip belt and lower back region to give more padding when your pack is loaded up. Furthermore, a removable piece of foam can be left inside the back panel to give your back more padding, and can be removed if you are trying to cut weight. The waist belt itself has gear loops if you need to climb with this pack on or access any gear prior to the actual ice climb. With multiple ways to strip this pack down and make it lighter, the Mutant lives up to its name and is highly versatile!

Black Diamond Mission 55

Specs
  • Access: Top, Panel
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 3 lbs 14 oz
  • Volume: 50 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable
Features
  • Removable Hip Belt
  • Front Crampon Pouch
  • Ice Tool Attachments

BEST FOR: ALL AROUND ICE CLIMBING

Black Diamond equipment is no stranger to the ice climbing scene, and that is proven with the Mission 50 backpack that provides you with all the features you need for a day on the ice. The pack is designed for carrying ice tools with the tabs on the front to secure the handles and the ice pick tip panels at the base of the front of the pack, so they will never fall off. 

Crampons are easily stored in the front zipper pouch, so they won’t get caught up on anything inside the pack and they can be accessed at a moment’s notice. The top and the bottom openings allow you to access gear from either above or below, taking the thinking out of packing a bit. At the 50L range, the pack is a perfect size for all your day trip needs or if even if you want to stay out a little longer.

Patagonia Ascensionist 30

Specs
  • Access: Top
  • Hydration System Compatible: No
  • Weight: 1 lb 7.7 oz
  • Volume: 30 L
  • Lid: No
Features
  • Two Daisy Chains Integrated On Pack For Extra Attachment Points
  • Spindrift Collar With Drawcord For Fast And Wide Opening
  • Ultralight
Patagonia Ascensionist Pack

BEST FOR: MINIMALISTS 

If you are looking to go fast and light, the Patagonia Ascensionist may be just what you are looking for. Weighing a mere 1 lb 7.7 oz, this pack is not bulky and will not slow you down. With ample storage space at 30L, you’ll have enough space for all the essentials, but not enough room to go crazy and pack your entire closet. 

For those things you need to access quickly that won’t quite fit into the pack, the front of the pack has two daisy chains on either side that all the extras can be attached to. While there is only one opening to this pack, it is a spindrift collar design, so the pack opens up nice and wide and can be easily closed with the large drawstring. But for all your smaller items that you don’t want to get lost in the pack, there is a small zip pocket on the top.

Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45

Specs
  • Access: Top
  • Hydration System Compatible: No
  • Weight: 1 lb 7.7 oz
  • Volume: 45 L
  • Lid: No, Roll Top Closure
Features
  • Reflective White Material Inside Pack To See Easily
  • Adjustable And Removable Sternum Strap
  • Flexible Back Panel For Ultimate Comfort

BEST FOR: CLIMBING WITH A PACK

The Alpha FL by Arc’teryx is a simple pack, with very few pockets and zippers, so it is not overly heavy or bulky and weighs the same as the lightweight Patagonia Ascentionist! The top is the main access point and is quickly opened and closed just by rolling. So if you do not fill the entire 45 liters, you can just roll the pack down smaller. 

Because the days are shorter during ice season, the reflective white material inside the pack will help you to see inside your pack during the early morning or late evening hours. Designed with a flexible back panel, this pack is comfortable enough that you can even climb with it, as it will mold to your back without creating any of those uncomfortable hot spots. While it is not the most durable pack, it is super light and doesn’t have a lot of spare straps to get hung up on things, so if you just want to head out for a quick day on the ice, you are all set.

Osprey Xenith 75

Specs
  • Access: Top, Side, Bottom
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 5 lbs 2 oz
  • Volume: 75 L
  • Lid: Yes, removable
Features
  • Removable Sleeping Pad Straps
  • Hydration Sleeve In Pack
  • Cushioned Hip Belt And Shoulder Straps
Osprey Xenith 75 Pack

BEST FOR: MULTI-DAY TRIPS

Another great pack by Osprey, the Xenith is a 75-liter pack that is great for when you want to go ice climbing for more than just a few hours. With a volume of 75 L, you have plenty of room if you want to stay a few days, but with an overall weight of 5 lbs 2 oz, the pack is light enough to not add a bunch of weight with a full pack. With access points on the top, bottom, and side, you don’t have to worry about strategically packing because you will be able to get to whatever you need from multiple locations on this pack. 

The easy attachment straps on the outside of the pack are ideal for a sleeping pad that you don’t want taking up all the space in your pack. These straps can further be removed when not in use so they won’t snag on anything either. And because it is a larger pack, Osprey makes sure it is comfortable with a custom-moldable, anatomically contoured hip belt and shoulder strap, giving you both cushion and firmness.

Deuter AirContact Lite 45 + 10 SL


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Access: Top, Bottom
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 4 lbs 15 oz men’s; 3 lbs 12 oz women’s
  • Volume: 55 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable
Features
  • 3D Air Mesh On Back Panel For Ventilation And Comfort
  • Removable Hip Belt
  • Removable Lid 10 L Lid

BEST FOR: BREATHABILITY

The German company Deuter knows winter well, and the Aircontact Lite 45 + 10L pack has all you need for ice climbing. The back panel is designed with 3D Air Mesh (hence the name “Aircontact”) that will always allow for proper ventilation. This means your pack won’t give you a sweaty, cold back so you won’t have to worry about catching a chill while you climb.

As in the name,  the “Lite” comes from the light weight of the pack. If you want to climb with this pack, the hip belt is easily removed and stored, so it won’t impede with your harness and gear. Furthermore, you can remove the lid to make climbing with the pack easier, and it also cuts down on weight and volume by 10 L and about a pound! Designed for comfort, the back, shoulder straps, and hip belt are all ergonomically designed to mold to your torso for the best and most comfortable fit.

Gregory Alpinisto 50

Specs
  • Access: Top, Side
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 3 lbs 13 oz
  • Volume: 50 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable
Features
  • Crampon Compartment So You Don’t Have To Store Your Crampons Inside The Pack
  • Removable Bivy Pad For Emergency Overnights On The Mountain
  • Removable Straps Cut Weight up to 35%

BEST FOR: COMFORT

Gregory is a leading brand in the world of backpacks and they spare no exception with the Alpinisto 50. A good mid-sized pack that will prepare you for your ice climbing days with ample room for all your gear, but light enough at 3 lbs 13 oz that long approaches won’t become unbearable. And just because it’s light, that doesn’t mean it lacks in durability because it is certainly burly enough to carry everything you need. 

The front of the pack has attachment straps for ice tools and the front compartment is perfect for storing your crampons in. If you need to stop and make a bivy for the night or if the weather turns bad, the Alpinisto has a removable bivy pad, so you will have a dry place to sit or a warm place to sleep. To further cut down on weight, a number of features such as straps can be removed from the pack, so you can go further and faster, reducing weight up to 35%!

The North Face Proprius 50

Specs
  • Access: Top
  • Hydration System Compatible: No
  • Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz
  • Volume: 50 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable
Features
  • Made With FastDry Material For Wet Weather
  • Contains Three Water Bottle Pockets
  • Trekking Pole Loops

BEST FOR: WET DAYS

The North Face comes to the ice climbing scene with the Proprius 50 L pack. Made with quick drying material, if you are out seeking adventure on a wet day, this pack won’t act as a sponge, but instead will keep all your belongings dry. While this pack is not hydration compatible inside, there are three water bottle pockets on the outside, so you can still have plenty of room for your water and thermos. 

Despite the slim, sleek look of this pack, it still has a side pocket designed to store your crampons in. And there are attachment points and ice tool pick holders on the front of the pack to hold your tools in place. If your approach is long and steep, this pack is even designed with trekking pole loops on the front where you can easily store them out of the way when not in use.

Lowe Alpine Manaslu 55:65

Specs
  • Access: Top, Front, Bottom
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 5 lbs 4 oz
  • Volume: 55+ 10 L
  • Lid: Yes, attached
Features
  • Hydration Sleeve So You Can Carry Plenty Of Water
  • Numerous Pockets for Organization
  • Raincover

BEST FOR: ORGANIZATION

A lesser known brand that is making a name for itself in the world of ice is Lowe with the Alpine Manaslu. This 55 L pack gives you lots of storage, and if you really need to organize everything in the pack, you can do that too. The pack is equipped with numerous pockets for optimal organization of all of your gear and layers, and everything can be accessed from the top, front, or bottom of the pack. With all these pockets, the total carrying capacity is increased by 10 L!

The straps on the shoulders and hips  are made comfortable with extra padding. And even if you get caught in the rain, you don’t have to worry about water seeping through all the zippers, as this pack comes with an integrated raincover.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING ICE CLIMBING BACKPACKS

COST

Spending a little extra money when buying a backpack can also buy some extra seasons with that pack, so you are not always buying a new one every season. Having a high quality pack also means you don’t have the added worry of something breaking or failing while you are out climbing. The more features a pack has, the likelier it is that it will cost a bit more. So make sure you are aware of what your needs are before you purchase a new pack, making sure the pack you choose will carry everything you need efficiently. Don’t choose one that has a bunch of features you will never use because doing so will not only add weight to your back, but will also increase the cost of the pack.

 FIT

Like anything else you wear, packs come in different sizes including small, medium, large, and even extra large. Some packs may have an option of a custom fit, which is always a bonus. Having a pack that fits well is as important as anything else, since once you load it, the weight distribution will change, and the last thing you need to worry about is being uncomfortable or in pain from an ill fitting pack that is putting weight on parts of the body it should not be. So make sure you get a proper fitting prior to committing to a pack. 

ACCESS

Having a pack with a single point of access is not going to be ideal in the ice climbing world where you are either taking out or shoving layers into the pack. Finding a pack that has multiple points of entry is a good way to go and there are options out there with bottom, side, or other entry points that make your life much easier when trying to get your belay parka out of the bottom of you pack or that headlamp you threw in the middle of the pack. And this way too, you do not have to take everything out, risk getting it wet, and then have to make everything fit back in while you are out at the crag.

WEIGHT

The weight of your pack overall is something to consider since once you fill it up, the number on the scale is going to increase. If you have a long day or trip ahead of you, having a pack that is already tipping the scales while empty might become problematic. Consider what you will be carrying in your pack (screws, tools, crampons, etc.) and then, figure out how much your pack should weigh.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

LID

The lid is a storage area on the top of the pack that factors into the overall volume of the pack. When you need to add and shed layers or access snacks, a lid is ideal for easy access and for items you know you are going to need frequently. Some lids have zipper access from the top, others from the bottom, and some from both. Certain packs also have lids that can detach, decreasing weight, but also allowing you to climb more freely without limiting the range of motion in your neck.  

HYDRATION SYSTEM

Like a daypack or running pack, many ice climbing packs can also include a hydration system, allowing you to carry a bladder of water similar to a Camelback system. While this might not be the most important feature if you are just doing a day trip, if your approach is long and you want water on-the-go, it can be helpful.

READ MORE

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About The Author

Born in Maryland, Lindsay Rohrbaugh is an avid rock-alpine climber and mountaineer. An urban wildlife biologist by trade, she is also a travel writer and student of Integrative Medicine. When not in school or conducting field work on bats and turtles in Washington, DC, she is out climbing rocks and peaks or scaling high points across the globe. She’s hiked the Lares Trek in Peru and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and climbed various routes in Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. She has even tried her skills at deep water soloing! Her weekends are often spent with her husband in their newly self-built cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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