Updated on February 1, 2022

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.


Quick Answer - The Best Ice Climbing Backpacks

  1. Osprey Mutant 52L
  2. Black Diamond Mission 55
  3. Arc’teryx Alpha FL 40
  4. Deuter AirContact Lite 50 + 10 SL
  5. Gregory Alpinisto 50
  6. The North Face Proprius 50
  7. Osprey Xenith 75


Comparison Table - Best Ice Climbing Backpacks

For the best experience turn your device horizontally
NameWeightVolumeLidAccessHydration System CompatiblePriceRatingReview
Osprey Mutant 52L 4.19 lbs52 LYes, AttachedTopYes$$4.3Read Review
Black Diamond Mission 553 lbs 14 oz50 LYes, RemovableTop, PanelYes$$$4.6Read Review
Arc’teryx Alpha FL 401 lb 7.7 oz40 LNo, Roll Top ClosureTopNo$$$4.6Read Review
Deuter AirContact Lite 50 + 10 SL4 lbs 15 oz men’s; 3 lbs 12 oz women’s55 - 60 LYes, RemovableTop, BottomYes$$4.5Read Review
Gregory Alpinisto 503 lbs 13 oz50 LYes, RemovableTop, SideYes$$4.3Read Review
The North Face Proprius 50 2 lbs 9 oz50 LYes, RemovableTopNo$$4.4Read Review
Osprey Xenith 755 lbs 2 oz75 LYes, removableTop, Side, BottomYes$$4.5Read Review
NameWeightVolumeLidAccessHydration System CompatiblePriceRatingReview
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

Osprey Mutant 52L

  • Access: Top
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 4.19 lbs
  • Volume: 52 L
  • Lid: Yes, Attached
  • 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
Osprey Mutant 52L


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

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


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.


Arc’teryx Alpha FL 40

  • Access: Top
  • Hydration System Compatible: No
  • Weight: 1 lb 7.7 oz
  • Volume: 40 L
  • Lid: No, Roll Top Closure
  • Reflective White Material Inside Pack To See Easily
  • Adjustable And Removable Sternum Strap
  • Flexible Back Panel For Ultimate Comfort
Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45


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.

Deuter AirContact Lite 50 + 10 SL

View Women's Version
  • Access: Top, Bottom
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 4 lbs 15 oz men’s; 3 lbs 12 oz women’s
  • Volume: 55 - 60 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable
  • 3D Air Mesh On Back Panel For Ventilation And Comfort
  • Removable Hip Belt
  • Removable Lid 10 L Lid


The German company Deuter knows winter well, and the Aircontact Lite 50 + 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

  • Access: Top, Side
  • Hydration System Compatible: Yes
  • Weight: 3 lbs 13 oz
  • Volume: 50 L
  • Lid: Yes, Removable
  • 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%
Gregory Alpinisto 50


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

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


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.

Osprey Xenith 75

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


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.





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.


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. 


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.


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.





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.  


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.


For more of our top climbing gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides:

Climbing Harnesses

Climbing Ropes


Climbing Helmets

Climbing Shoes

Approach Shoes

Belay Devices

Bouldering Crash Pads

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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