OR Summer 2015: Backpacks

Keeping it in alphabetical order this time… nothing revolutionary, but some cool updates.

Arc’teryx is updating their Cierzo lineup for 2016. New, tougher fabrics should be more tear and abrasion resistant while retaining the packs’ light weight (375g for the 18L, 550g for the 28L). A large, glove-friendly top closure system cinches tight over the opening, and looks like it will seal out most snow from entering the pack. A lightweight ‘SwiftCord’ compression system is custom-configurable, and the excess cord gets stored in a dedicated pouch in the front pocket. The packs now definitely feel tougher, and look much more streamlined and purposeful.

Arcteryx-Cierzo-2016-002Minimalist ice axe tabs secure ice tools with the proven aluminum-tab-through-head method.

Arcteryx-Cierzo-2016-003The new closure system localizes the opening off to the side, and with less stuff inside, it looks like it will protect/cover most of the opening, too.

Arcteryx-Cierzo-2016-004Redesigned shoulder straps for increased comfort. I like the look of the wrap-around padding.

Arcteryx-Cierzo-2016-005The 18L will make for a great summit, or leader, pack.


Black Diamond is adding a 35L and 20L to their Creek series of packs. With a haul-bag inspired design, the packs feature tough, waterproof fabrics andhuge, durable zippers for side access. I really like the looks of the 20, and its tough fabric should make for a great leader pack, especially when you might be hauling it.

Black-Diamond-Creek-001The Creek 35 and and the Creek 20.

Black-Diamond-Creek-002Check out the massive side-zipper on the Creek 35.

Black-Diamond-Speed-Zip-001The BD Speed Zip 33 and 24 look like great, lightweight packs. My only concern is the main zipper opening (I don’t trust zippers on packs.)

Black-Diamond-Speed-Zip-002Love the look of these, though… nice and sleek.

Black-Diamond-Speed-Zip-003The Speed Zip 24 doesn’t have a frame to keep weight down — 540g claimed weight.

Osprey-Shuttle-Wheeled-DuffelThe Osprey Shuttle duffels come in 130L and 100L sizes, and aren’t technically new but they sure impressed with a ton of thoughtful features like extra pockets on the underside (typically a dead space), protective plastic guards on the side and super-long compression straps and multiple attachment points. They’re pretty light, too: 4kg for the 130L, and 3.7kg for the 100L. They’re not inexpensive ($320 & $290 respectively) but with typical Osprey construction they’re sure to last for dozens of years of gear-intensive trips.

Gregory-GoalZero-packs-001Gregory has partnered up with GoalZero and will be offering their Baltoro series with a built-in zip-away solar charger on the top lid. Just the thing for extended backpacking trips?

Gregory-GoalZero-packs-002The solar panel does not appear to be removable…

Crux-AX-001The Crux AX series will be a more price-conscious line with the same attentive design as their AK packs, but without the welded construction and Kevlar fabrics.

Crux-AX-002The AK-37 I reviewed is one of the best-carrying packs I’ve ever used. The suspension system and straps on the AX look identical.

Petzl-Bug-2016Petzl is updating their Bug leader pack with more pockets, redesigned shoulder straps and new fabrics. Looks great!

Check out our other OR reports: Footwear, Hardware and Clothing & Randoms

17 thoughts on “OR Summer 2015: Backpacks

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks again for all the write-ups, Raf! I look forward to reading your gear reviews from the OR shows. It’s evident you put a lot of time and thought into your work. The high def photos top it all off. Thanks again, we appreciate it!

    • Raf says:

      Thanks Chris! You’ve been along for the ride from the beginning, or close to, and I really appreciate getting your feedback. Every time this stuff proves to be more work than I think it will be, but knowing it’s useful to someone out there makes it all worthwhile. Stay tuned – more stuff coming!

  2. Rui says:

    Thanks Raf for these show reports.
    Are you aware of any update to the Arc’teryx Alpha FL line of packs? Thinking of picking one up.

    • Raf says:

      No major changes, mostly new colours. From the Arc workbook “Shoulder strap and sternum strap have been revised for a better fit. Top rope strap buckle is now anchored on the back panel for easier use.” So, very minor changes, I’d say get one, they’re fantastic packs!

  3. Chris says:

    Raf, I know you touched on this from the Winter OR show in January, but I’m wondering if you had any field use with the Mammut Trion Felsturm 22 alpine pack?

    I REALLY like the sound of this pack and when it goes on sale here in the US, I really want to pull the trigger. Any thoughts on that as a leader or multi-pitch pack?

    Also, Mammut’s Helmet-Holder … Is that going to be available this winter or is that going to be a Spring ’16 release?

    Yeah man, I found your blog back when you started after being a fan of Cold Thistle. Dane doesn’t write much anymore and it’s difficult to find actual field use reviews from a reliable source on the equipment I trust and love. I’m one the biggest gear-a-holics you’ll ever meet east of the Mississippi 🙂

    Thanks again man for all your hard work & dedication! It doesn’t go unnoticed!

    • Raf says:

      Thanks Chris – great feedback to have for sure!

      I have not tried the Felsturm, but I’ll put it on the list. It does looks like a cool leader pack.

      The Helmet Holder is a S16 release, so unfortunately won’t be out until at least February.

  4. Gabe says:

    Hey Raf,

    My biggest complaints about the cierzo was the fact that there wasn’t a rope catch, and that there isn’t a camelback attachment inside. I care less about the camelback stuff, but does the new pack have a strap on top for a rope?

    • Raf says:

      Yes, there is now a rope catch – if you look at the third photo down, click it to open the full-size and zoom in, you’ll see a roll of strap by the opening. I think there’s enough rope strap for two ropes now!

      Don’t remember about the internal bladder sleeve – I’ll check and post.

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  8. Travis says:

    Raf, have you taken a look at the BD Axis 24, looks a lot like the speed zip 24. I bought the axis 24 and love it so far. Was using the ascnesionist 24/25 before, but it was not the most versatile. The axis is pretty well rounded. Can you take a look at it and let me know what is going to be different next year?

      • Travis says:

        I’m an idiot. The axis 24 looks like it is becoming the speedzip 24. From your pictures it looks like they have lightened it up a bit—thinner hip belt, less back padding etc.

  9. Sean says:

    This post is the only place on the entire internet I’ve found mention of the new BD Creek 35L and 20L packs. Do you have any further information about those tucked away anywhere? Given the reputation of the Creek 50L, I’d love to keep an eye out for the 35L. Thanks!

    • Raf says:

      Everything I know is from the workbook. The 35 and 20 will be made of the same materials as the current 50. The 35 will also have a full-length side zipper.


      Creek 50 – S/M & M/L – 48L & 50L – 2004g
      Creek 35 – S/M & M/L – 33L & 35L – 1660g
      Creek 20 – one size – 20L – 650g

      No info on prices at this time, though. They’ll come in any colour you like as long as it’s black.

      Hope this helps! As with other SS16 items, they should be in stores around April.

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