Best Climbing Backpacks (2024 Update): Sport, Trad, and Beyond

Last Updated on: 23rd January 2024, 01:34 pm

I spent my whole first year climbing hauling my gear around in a backpacking backpack. To be honest, it worked pretty well — but eventually I got tired of carrying around all the extra bulk. Every climber eventually hits the point when it’s time to check a backpack off the climbing gear list. There’s tons of options out there, but if you’re looking to take advantage of Amazon Prime, it’ll limit the selection. But lucky for you we’ve curated a list of the best climbing backpacks available through Prime today, so you can take it to the crag tomorrow. 

What to look for in a climbing backpack

The ingredients for a great climbing backpack aren’t rocket science, but there are a few features you want to watch out for. What it really comes down to are: size, straps, pockets and zippers, and special features.

How to find the right size climbing backpack

Since your bag needs to be able to fit all of your gear, it’s no shock that size matters. But the amount of liters you need really depends on the type of climbing you’re doing and how much gear it requires. 

Trad climbers are going to need bigger bags because they need to travel with more gear to be prepared for different gear placements. Sport climbers need less because they only need QuickDraws, while boulders could get away with anything that fits shoes and a chalk bag. 

The size you need depends on your objectives. I’d suggest:

15 liters for bouldering 
30 liters for sport 
45 liters for trad

Straps of climbing backpacks

The best climbing backpacks will go wherever the climb takes you. Sometimes you’ll have to navigate up steep hillsides or drop down into gullies — I’ve even had to repel into certain crags. Not to mention if you go up a multi-pitch, sometimes your bag comes along. 

This is why it’s critical to have a bag that stays tight and moves with you. Shoulder and hips straps matter if you want your bag to feel part of you, and not hinder your days out. 

Perks of pockets and zippers

Pockets and zippers are less mission critical to bags, but they do make a difference. Having places where you can easily stash your valuables, place a water bottle, or attach a stick clip are small perks, but really nice. Digging around in your climbing bag or risking a piece of gear smashing your phone is a drag.

Zippers also factor into convince here. Climbing backpacks that only allow entry from the top mean that you have to take everything out to get to the stuff at the bottom. This can be cumbersome — it’s one of the reasons I stopped using my backpacking backpack. Man climbing backpacks unzip down the middle and completely separate the bag like a duffle. This makes packing and retrieving gear a breeze. 

Every bag is a little different, so you’ll want to assess your own priorities before making a call. 

image of climbing backpack with a duffle opening
Climbing backpack with full zip opening
image of climbing backpack with a stuff opening up top
Climbing backpack with top opening

Special features in climbing backpacks

Tons of bags come with unique perks. From rope tarps that fold out to hydration pouches for bladders, you’ll often find brands that offer unique features. Not all of them do, but it’s worth keeping your eye peeled for. 

The best climbing backpacks on prime

While there’s tons of options out there, we curated our top 3 picks. We focused on covering a variety of climbing needs, while still getting the right range of features we think every climber finds valuable.

Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15 Climbing Backpack

Best Value Backpack
BLACK DIAMOND Rock Blitz 15 Backpack For Rock Climbing and Hiking, Desert Sage
Pros:
  • Padded hip and shoulder straps
  • Hydration bladder sleeve
  • Brain pouch
Cons:
  • No external water bottle pouch
  • Only opens from top
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Anything bearing the Black Diamond name is synonymous with reliable gear, and this backpack lives up to that reputation. It earns high marks for its exceptional durability and fundamental functionality.

Pros:

  1. All-Day Comfort: Equipped with padded shoulder straps and a hip belt, this backpack ensures all-day comfort, even during extended approaches. Whether you’re embarking on a long trek or a challenging climb, the backpack’s ergonomic design keeps you comfortable throughout your journey.
  2. Secure and Efficient: A bonus feature is the additional chest strap, which secures your pack tightly to your body. This not only enhances stability but also ensures your energy remains focused on the climb, not the hike.
  3. Hydration Convenience: For multi-pitch adventures, the inclusion of a hydration pouch for a bladder is a standout advantage. This eliminates the hassle of fumbling with a water bottle, allowing you to stay hydrated effortlessly while on the move.
  4. Valuables and Gear Organization: The presence of a brain pouch simplifies the storage of valuable items and prevents the need to rummage for essentials like car keys after a long day of climbing. Additionally, this pouch can be utilized to secure a rope, freeing up valuable internal space within the bag.

Cons:

  1. Drawbacks to Consider: However, there are a few downsides worth noting. Firstly, the absence of an external water bottle pouch means that if you don’t use a bladder, your water bottle must occupy space within the main compartment, potentially limiting gear storage. Secondly, the lack of a duffle-style opening means that accessing items at the bottom of the bag may require digging through the layers of gear stacked on top.
  2. Size Consideration: In terms of size, it’s worth mentioning that this backpack may be considered a bit large and bulky for multi-pitch climbing. While this extra space could be beneficial for those embarking on long expeditions, it may be excessive for climbers with more modest gear requirements.

This backpack stands as a great choice from a reputable brand. Black Diamond’s commitment to quality is evident in its durability and user-friendly features.

Petzl KLIFF 36L Rope Bag

Best for Sport Climbers
Petzl KLIFF Rope Bag - 36-Liter Rope Bag for Sport Climbing With Removable Tarp - Red
$68.95
Pros:
  • Removable Rope Tarp
  • Duffle Open
  • Padded Shoulder Straps
  • Zippered Pockets
Cons:
  • No Hip Strap
  • No External Water Pouch
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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 12:26 pm GMT

This backpack not only earns its place as a top pick on online marketplaces but also shines as one of the standout climbing backpacks available today. It excels by striking a balance between fundamental features and enticing perks, all while remaining budget-friendly.

Pros:

  1. Convenient Removable Rope Tarp: Among its standout attributes, the removable rope tarp steals the spotlight. Climbers well-acquainted with the perils of a grimy rope understand the value of a proper tarp. What sets the Petzl KLIFF apart is that it includes this essential accessory with the backpack itself. The added convenience of the rope tarp neatly folding and traveling with the bag ensures your climbing rope remains clean and protected.
  2. Smart Hidden Zipper Design: Another noteworthy feature is the discreetly positioned zipper on the back. Running lengthwise across the bag, this zipper grants you swift access to the full 36 liters of storage space without the hassle of removing items one by one. It’s a thoughtful design element that simplifies your climbing gear organization.

Cons:

  1. No external water bottle pouch: However, it’s crucial to acknowledge a couple of significant downsides. Similar to the Black Diamond Blitz 15, the Petzl KLIFF lacks an external water bottle pouch. This omission forces climbers to allocate precious internal space for hydration, potentially limiting gear storage.
  2. Missing Hip Strap: Another notable limitation is the absence of a hip strap. During extended approaches, this can result in a less comfortable hike, particularly if you’re prone to discomfort in the shoulders and lower back. The lack of adjustability in this area could pose an issue for some climbers.

Despite these drawbacks, the Petzl KLIFF remains a formidable choice. Petzl’s reputation in the world of rock climbing instills confidence in the product. It offers a compelling package that caters to the needs of climbers, particularly those on a budget, making it a reliable addition to your climbing gear arsenal.

Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffle Pack

Best for Trad Climbers
Black Diamond Equipment Stone 42 Duffel - Azul
$148.47
Pros:
  • 42 Liters of Storage
  • Removable Rope Tarp
  • Hydration Bladder
  • Duffle Opening
Cons:
  • No External Water Bottle Pouch
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 09:37 am GMT

When it comes to climbing backpacks, the Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack stands out as a solid option. The 42 liters is ideal for trad climbers to pack all their gear around, but is great for sport climbers that have a lot of stuff to tote around. It offers a combination of features that make it a worthy choice for those who need ample space for gear and equipment.

Pros:

  1. Ample Gear Storage: One of the standout features of the Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack is its generous 42-liter capacity. This spacious interior is perfect for trad climbers who need to carry a variety of gear, from cams and nuts to slings and ropes. You’ll appreciate the roomy interior when packing for those multi-pitch adventures.
  2. Comfortable Design: The lightweight framesheet with a foam backpanel provides the necessary comfort for long treks to your climbing destination. Whether you’re hiking to the crag or navigating rugged terrain, the Stone 42 ensures you can carry your gear comfortably.
  3. Versatile Carrying Options: The tuck-away padded shoulder straps and webbing hip belt offer flexibility in how you carry the pack. You can switch between backpack mode and duffel mode, making it easy to transport your climbing essentials.
  4. Internal Organization: The inclusion of two internal zippered organizer pockets is a thoughtful addition. These pockets help keep your smaller items, such as carabiners, quickdraws, and climbing shoes, neatly organized and easily accessible.
  5. Full-Length Zipper Access: The full-length zipper access is a game-changer. You won’t need to dig through your gear or remove items one by one to access what you need. This feature simplifies packing and unpacking, saving you valuable time at the crag.
  6. Rope Tarp Included: Similar to the Petzl KLIFF, the Stone 42 Duffel Pack comes with a removable 1.2 x 1.5 M rope tarp. This handy addition ensures that your climbing rope stays clean and organized while you’re on the move.

Cons:

  1. No External Water Bottle Pouch: A minor downside to this backpack is the absence of an external water bottle pouch. Climbers who like to have quick access to hydration will need to make do with internal storage or consider using a hydration bladder.
  2. Bulky for Sport Climbing: While the Stone 42 Duffel Pack excels in providing ample space for trad climbing gear, it may feel bulkier than necessary for sport climbing adventures where you require fewer items. If you primarily engage in sport climbing, you might find this pack a bit oversized for your needs.

The Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffel Pack is a reliable companion for trad climbers who value spaciousness and organization. Its thoughtful design and comfortable carrying options make it a strong contender for those who embark on all day adventures.

Conclusion: Best climbing backpacks

When it comes to selecting the ideal climbing backpack, it’s essential to prioritize your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re seeking ample gear storage, comfort for long approaches, or specialized features like hydration compatibility, there’s a backpack that fits your climbing style. Brands like Black Diamond and Petzl offer reliable options to consider. Remember to weigh the pros and cons carefully to make the best choice for your climbing adventures. Happy climbing!

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