Q:

What’s a good, durable backpack for rock scrambling?

I live in Las Vegas and I spend a lot of time rock scrambling at Red Rock Canyon and I need a durable backpack. It seems that most packs are designed with weight over durability in mind. Unfortunately, Red Rock Canyon presents many "tight" spots which tend to damage these lighter-weight materials when they inevitably "drag" on the sandstone. Any suggestions?
—Brian
Las Vegas, NV

Apr 2, 2010
Outside
Outside Magazine

The Precipice

A:

Yeah, that’s a tough one. You’ve noted that these days especially, pack makers are emphasizing light weight over super-durability. And that’s fine in most cases—today’s pack fabrics admirably combine toughness with fewer ounces. But they don’t do so well being sanded by Red Rock Canyon stone.

So what do to? A few gear makers such as Granite Gear still are banking on the notion that toughness matters. That aptly named company’s Precipice ($160) is a 2,800-cubic-inch day pack made with Cordura fabric that can withstand a metric ton of abuse. And it’s a comfortable, capacious pack that will easily haul the stuff you need.

Another tough pack is Gregory’s Z25 ($130). It’s smaller than the Granite Gear pack (1,500 cubic inches). But that can be a good thing when trying to squeeze through narrow spaces.

Otherwise, look for packs with the right design and material. Trim and sleek is good, such as both packs above. But also check the fabric specs. The magic number will look something like “210d twill." The “210d" refer to “210 denier," a measure of the thickness of the fibers used. Thinner fibers have higher numbers, “1000d," for instance. That higher number has its advantages—less weight and better water repellency, for instance—but a finer fiber also has less heft. So it resists abrasion less well.

Both the packs I mention are heftier than most fabrics. So check out some packs, ask about the fabric, buy a trim design, and you’ll be fine.

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