Best Mountaineering Backpacks

man looking out to a mountain range
man looking out to a mountain range

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A backpack can make or break any mountaineering expedition, and if you’ve ever experienced breaking one, you know that this is one of the most important gear choices to make. Everything you need on a potentially dangerous scrambling, climbing, or hiking trip is relying upon the best mountaineering backpack for the job. To choose the best mountaineering backpack for your mountaineering adventures, you need to get up to speed on the top models currently available. 

The problem with finding the best mountaineering backpack is that choosing one depends largely on what adventures you’re taking it on. There are ones that are the best for climbing, skiing, mountaineering, or just for sitting at home. The right one for you is going to depend on your end goal and aspirations for where it will take you. 

Here, we will cover the top six choices for the best budget backpacking sleeping bag in 2023. These aren’t the only options out there, but we truly believe they are the best. 

PictureProductCostBrandRatingJump To
Osprey Mutant 38 BackpackOsprey Mutant 38$169.95Osprey5.00#1
Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45 - Best Lightweight for SpeedArc’teryx Alpha FL 45$259.00Arc'teryx4.93#2
Patagonia Ascensionist 35$179.00Patagonia4.87#3
Osprey Talon 33$140.00Osprey4.67#4
Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 25$140.00Mountain Hardwear4.65#5
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrunner Pack$310.00Hyperlite4.80#6

Buyers Guide

We understand the feeling of wanting to get out there immediately, but you should take the time to consider the points we’ve broken down below. To best understand how to sift through our top five choices though, we need to run through just a few areas that you want to look at before making the big purchase and starting climbing. Practicing patience and thoroughness is key, the mountains demand it. 

Weight

The gear you are going to be bringing on a mountaineering or climbing trip already weighs a lot. Being weighed down by a fat climbing rack is both satisfying and miserable, and you don’t want to add even more weight with a backpack for your rack. This is why most of the best backpacks for mountaineering are incredibly lightweight, but not all of them are. Some, like the Osprey Mutant, will strip down to a lighter weight when you need it to. If you count ounces, the Arc’teryx Alpha will be your best bet, but it may not have all the best features. 

Comfort

Every company has its own way of trying to give you the best comfort in a backpack. From Osprey’s AntiGravity tech to Mountain Hardwear’s Hardwave suspension, some backpacks just fit others better than they fit you. We recommend going to a climbing store near you and trying every backpack you are considering. This is truly the only way to best know what will feel good on your back. 

Volume

Sometimes you want to run up the mountain behind your house for a quick afternoon of climbing, and sometimes you want to go out there to stay for a while. Each backpack on our list offers a different volume and storage system. Some are simple with a small volume and single comaprtment, some have a huge volume and several different compartments for organization. If you are wanting something that can do it all, you will need a backpack that falls in the middle. Decide what kind of trip you want to go on and that will lead you to the right backpack. 

It’s also worth mentioning that several of these backpacks have relatives of different sizes and have larger or smaller volumes to offer. 

Adventure-proofness

Mountaineering tests your gear better than almost any other outdoor activity. It just gets beat up, and no matter if you are the best at caring for your gear, Mother Nature doesn’t care. Rain, snow, rocks and ice will all come at you while climbing a mountain. The best mountaineering backpack will have a durable and waterproof fabric that will stop it from ripping, and keep everything dry so you don’t end up in a wet sleeping bag at the end of the day. Below, we will review the best mountaineering backpacks that meet all of these criteria.

Best Mountaineering Packs

Osprey osprey osprey osprey osprey osprey.

1. Osprey Mutant 38 – Our Top Pick ($169.95)

Features:

  • Hip belt comfort and gear loops
  • Helmet carrier
  • Rope attachment system
  • Three-point haul system
  • Removable brain
  • Snowshed fabric
  • Dual tool locks with bungee tie-offs

 

Weight: 2 lbs. 11oz.

Capacity: 36 liters

Osprey Mutant 38 Review:

The Osprey Mutant 38 backpack has been the top choice for mountaineering enthusiasts ever since it came onto the market. Osprey has taken the feedback from users and fine-tuned their backpack systems from being overly-featured with straps going in every direction into a slim and high performing backpack that brings a huge amount of versatility with its capability to haul immense loads of gear while climbing.

This backpack goes from being capable of bringing enough gear for a full day climbing trip to a stripped down, lightweight summit backpack in no time at all. The hip belt gives you both comfort and utility, loaded with clips to keep gear close on hand. The great features this backpack brings makes it the best choice for a mountaineering backpack to trust enough to bring on all your future endeavors.

Arcteryx arcteryx arcteryx arcteryx arcteryx arcteryx.

2. Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45 – Best Lightweight for Speed ($259.00)

Features:

  • Waterproof Zips

  • Rolltop closure

  • Double ice axe loops

  • Six front lashing points

  • Advanced lightweight composite construction

Weight: 1 lb. 7.7 oz.

Capacity: 45 liters

Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45 Review:

Arc’teryx is the best for making gear that we all want, but struggle to afford. The Arc’teryx Alpha FL 45 backpack ends up not only being one of the best backpacks for mountaineering and climbing purposes, but also incredibly affordable. This backpack is immensely lightweight and durable with a strong framing system that optimizes weight distribution and support. 

With waterproof zippers, the Alpha will keep your gear dry even when caught in the brutal storms mountains can hit us with. It stays lightweight by only including the best and most necessary features for mountaineering like ice axe loops and front lashing points. With this backpack, you’ll hardly know you have it on but be secure in its ability to take the best care of your gear. 

A red backpack with grey straps.

3. Patagonia Ascensionist 35 – Best in the Middle ($179.00)

Features:

  • Side straps
  • Slimmed down hip belt
  • Removable framesheet for lightweight switch
  • Tall spindrift collar helps pack expand
  • Internal hanging pockets increase organization

 

Weight: 1 lb. 15.4 oz.

Capacity: 35 liters

Patagonia Ascensionist 35 Review:

The Patagonia Ascensionist offers a great middle-ground in between the Alpha and the Mutant. It brings a lot of features to the table, but isn’t overloaded. This mountaineering backpack will comfortably carry a massive load during your ascent, but is incredibly lightweight when you move into climbing.

This is the best option for when you are wanting a backpack that can do it all. It is the jack of all trades, but the master of none. It will do best on general mountaineering trips where you need something durable and reliable, but moderately lightweight so you don’t need a specialized every time you transition into a new activity. This backpack can be that for you in every arena.

Osprey osprey osprey osprey osprey osprey.

4. Osprey Talon 33 ($140.00)

Features:

  • Top loader access to main compartment
  • Fixed top lid with zippered stash pocket; zippered mesh pocket found under lid
  • Large stretch-mesh front panel pocket; side stretch-mesh pockets; stretch-mesh harness stash pocket; 2 zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole attachment; dual ice-tool loops with bungee tie-offs
  • Lower InsideOut compression/carry straps
  • External hydration sleeve (hydration reservoir sold separately)

 

Weight: 1 lb. 14.4 oz.

Capacity: 31 liters

Osprey Talon 33 Review:

This 33 liter pack is perfect for when you want a streamlined pack to throw on for a quick overnighter or need to bring a lot along on a day trip. The top loading main compartment also utilizes a fixed brain that has a zippered stash pocket and a mesh one underneath in the subconscious.

Dual ice-tool loops with bungee tie offs and stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachments make for simple and easy connection for all of the hiking and mountaineering accessories. This is compatible for hydration bladder with an external sleeve.

I’ve seen this pack bursting at its seams with more than enough for a week’s trip throughout Europe while climbing and trekking mountains. It can be packed to the brim and still sit comfortably on the back without any trouble.

The mountain hardwear backpack in blue and black.

5. Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 25 – Best for the Short Haul ($140.00)

Features:

  • Outdry technology makes the compartment watertight
  • Hardwave suspension for best comfort
  • Hydration sleeve and side pockets
  • Stowable webbing belt for added stability
  • Top zippered pockets
  • Forward Access Gear Loop makes gear easily reachable

Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.

Capacity: 25 liters

Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 25 Review:

If volume isn’t on your list of necessities and you are looking for a backpack to accompany you on day climbing trips the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 25 is it. It is the best backpacking to add on to a longer mountaineering trip with a higher volume pack, or to keep at home and grab for any day trip to the mountains. It is a low volume backpack that still keeps everything safe with its Outdry technology. When truly loading it, unleash the stowable webbing belt to add stability and best utilize all of the features.

With an easily accessible hydration sleeve, this backpack was made for tough adventures. Two side pockets and a top zipper make accessibility easy on this backpack and is a great companion on a ski, climbing, or short mountaineering trip. Hardwave suspension is going to make the load feel comfortable on your back and give you the best experience.

A white backpack with mesh straps on the back.

6. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider Pack ($310.00)

Features:

  • 3 External Mesh Pockets
  • Roll top closure
  • Side compression straps
  • Tightly woven Dyneema main compartment
  • Removable contoured aluminum stays
  • Hardline with Dyneema hip belt
  • Loop for ice axe
  • 4 exterior triglide buckles for Hyperlite Mountain Gear accessories

 

Weight: 2 lbs. 0.3 oz.

Capacity: 40 liters

Hyperlite Mountain Windrunner Pack Review:

Straight out of Biddeford, Maine, Hyperlite Mountain Gear makes equipment that will take you anywhere without swamping you down with weight. These packs are solidly known throughout the outdoors community for being incredibly lightweight, water resistant, and compact. They managed to get a load of features in the Windrunner without adding much weight at all.

The main compartment is made of tightly woven Dyneema to give it a strong sense of durability and waterproofness. The roll top closure pairs with side compression straps, helping turn this backpack into a waterproof compression bag that won’t take up too much space even when fully loaded.

All of these features come together to make an incredible backpack that can best be utilized on longer weekend trips or just a short overnight. There’s no doubt in the quality of the gear here, and anyone you talk to that’s owned a Hyperlite pack will tell you it’s far worth the price.

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A person hiking with a backpack in the mountains.
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