Best Overall Rock Climbing Daypack
Patagonia Linked Pack 16L
No emergency whistle
This pack led from the beginning and never looked back. It is far and away our favorite climbing backpack and receives the first place score in three out of six evaluation criteria. We particularly like its low weight, functionality, comfort, and versatility. It is the only pack with legitimate haul loops and a sleek design with enough external carrying potential. Even its weaknesses were only slight. The durability of its 630-denier body is a concern but is bolstered by polyurethane and DWR coatings. Packed size is another category where it didn't come in first, however, we can't complain much about its compact shape or sleek exterior. Potential improvements include an emergency whistle and removable elastic cords for the attachment points on the sides. Nevertheless, the Patagonia Linked Pack 16L
is still a huge improvement over previous options and we're happy to give it our Editors' Choice Award.
Read full review: Patagonia Linked Pack 16L
Best for Budget-Minded
REI Co-op Flash 18
Limited climbing utility
New Version Available!
The latest version of this affordable pack is the REI Co-op Flash 18. The updates, which are covered fully in the individual review, include changes to the shoulder straps, a thicker, single daisy chain, and a new nylon carry handle/hauling loop. Overall, this pack remains similar to its predecessor, and without a price change, it's still our budget pick.
The only pack in this selection not explicitly designed for rock climbing is the REI Co-op Flash 18. This could be one reason why it's so much less expensive (for some reason gear marketed for life-threatening activities is always pricier). We chose to add the Flash to this review because it's a popular choice among many climbers we know. The reasons why are simple: it's light and cheap. For a lot of applications, it's also equally functional compared to the higher-priced options. The Flash's greatest weakness is durability. Its 140-denier nylon will get shredded rubbing over coarse rock. For 40 bucks, however, it won't cost you too much to replace a bag destroyed by abrasion when climbing and hauling.
Read full review: REI Co-op Flash 18