First Look: North Face Cinder 32 Crag Pack Review
Crag specific packs need to do two things in order for them to be successful: Haul all your stuff to and from the crag, and make it easy to do so. Recently I’ve had a chance to kick around Back of the Lake in Lake Louise with the North Face’s newest iteration, the Cinder 32. This bag is made of a really durable and dense 840 PU coated nylon, which means it can stand up to one hell of a lot of abuse before it starts to suffer. I like what I’ve seen so far: a dead simple bomb proof hauler with a few clever extras that can store what you need to for a full day out.
A loaded Cinder 32. There is no rope strap on top, but it has a flat lid and two straps on either side that do the trick.
The Cinder has a back panel system that definitely prioritized minimalism, but it works and is actually pretty comfy. Airflow isn’t great, but that is often the trade off for something that sticks close to your back for good climbing feel.
The back paneling system is just like the rest of the bag: simple and bomber.
One of the clever features that I do like about this bag is the haul loop sewn onto the face of the bag. Not only is it a nice addition to making the bag easier to carry and load in and out of vehicles, but it also makes a solid attachment point for either clipping gear, or for clipping the bag to something. This haul loop would also I imagine make it a kick ass carry on bag if you wanted to use it for air travel.
A reinforced haul loop is double sewn onto the bag.
In keeping with the “simple does it” theme of the bag, the waist belt is just a thin webbing strap. This does the job but certainly doesn’t make for the most comfortable system around. On the test model the waist belt was non removeable, although this may be changed for the final commercial release. If it isn’t that would be an oversight, but it is thin enough that you could simply clip it around the back without too much trouble. I’m of the opinion that all climbing specific packs should make their waist belts removeable, so I’m slightly bias and you have to take my opinion with a grain of salt on the topic.
A simple thick webbing strap and buckle forms the entirety of the waist belt system.
The thin lid holds cell phones, wallets, keys, but not much that would be thicker than that. There is a key loop inside the outer lid zipper pocket. One huge plus of the thin size is that it is easy to open while the bag is clipped to an anchor!
The lid opens easily even when the bag is clipped to an anchor.
The 32 Litre held everything I wanted for a day out Trad climbing at the Back of Lake Louise in cold, rainy weather. The picture below shows what all I hauled around in comfort. The helmet I clipped to the haul loop, and the rope I stuck on top of the bag. As you can see, it fits the essentials pretty handily. Two compression straps on either side helps snug it all down.
The 32 litres holds all you see here pretty handily. I also had a few power bars crammed into the bag, however those are not pictured because I ate them.
Overall I’m pretty impressed with this bag after having it out for a few days. I think it would also make a really good multipitch bag if you didn’t have a long approach because of it’s super durable fabric and idiot-proof simplicity.
The bag is available in 32, 40 and 55 litre versions. They retail for $119.00, $129.00 and $149.00 respectively. I likely wouldn’t want a bigger version than the 32 litre as that holds all my stuff just fine, but bigger versions come with padded hip belts and reinforced hauling loops, so they would be a great haul bag for bigger wall adventures if you were so inclined.
If you are looking for a new crag pack / hauler / travel bag, the price and durability definitely make it worth your consideration.