Gear Review: Patagonia Ascensionist 35

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in Gear Review & Blog | 0 comments

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Now this something that I have been waiting to buy and to review. As a geek of Patagonia stuff, when they came out with technical hard goods (for the first time!), I got quite excited. I knew the Tetons would be an excellent proving ground for such a pack, and I’ve used it almost exclusively ever since I bought it. The pack comes in three sizes, 25L, 35L, and 45L. The 25 has a very different construction than the bigger two, so this review is for the 35, and could have similar pros and cons as the 45L.

Construction:
The pack is made from a 210-denier nylon double ripstop and a 400-denier nylon ripstop that is treated with a polyurethane coating and a DWR finish. What all that nonsense means is that they built this pack to be super durable and something that will stand up to weather, rough granite, and dirt and mud.
The outside of the pack is a simple design, with mostly just some daisy chains and a sleeve for ice axe(s) instead of the traditional loops hanging down. The waistbelt has a sliding pad that also has some gear loops on it to keep things in handy on a climb. The waist belt is even removable, and you can
do so very quickly and efficiently.

The “lid” is a brand new design in packs. From videos I’ve seen about the pack, Patagonia recruited their entire alpine climbing team to help design this. Steve House talks about the lid design, in that it is quicker, more efficient, and streamlined than conventional lid designs. It is basically a double asymmetrical pull-string closure. The bottom one opens out wide and closes towards the wearers back, while the top lid opens high and wide, allowing you to stuff anything into the pack, and then closes forward to keep weather out. See pictures. There is also a top zipper compartment that is oriented differently as well. Having the vertical zip, it allows you to always be able to reach in and grab anything in there, as opposed to releasing a lid in order to reach whats tucked away. Simple, but genius.

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Performance:

I have worn this thing climbing, scrambling, and hiking. Loaded up to the max and fairly empty. It has performed exceptionally at everything I’ve put it through. It climbs very very well and really moves with the user. The inside back panel can be removed really easily, and put back easily, which is something alpine pack makers have not figured out how to do yet. When removed, you can really move well with a balanced load still. I have worn this pack with waist belt removed on a 10 hour rock climb, and was comfortable the entire time. I even climbed one of the most terrifying pitches of alpine rock with it on…granted I was more focused on climbing than what my pack was doing, but I think that being able to forget it’s there is a pretty amazing quality.

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Cons:

I do have a few complaints about the pack. Some are nit-picky, some are straight up perplexing. First off, the waist straps seem to routinely slip and make themselves just loose enough to not really do anything to help me carry a heavy pack. I’ve continually tightened them on both sides of the strap, and might have found a good middle ground for layers and just a shirt on, but that is still in the testing phase.
Second. No hydration port, sleeve, or anything for that matter. This pack is designed very simply. So simply that there isn’t much thought for where water goes. Seeing who designed the pack, I’m sure it wasn’t and oversight, I just think they know something us mere mortals don’t know. My first attempt to put a Platypus blatter and drinking tube, was just awkward and ended up with it just being stuffed into the pack completely. My solution was to buy a 2L Platypus water bag that you drink out of directly. the nice thing about a bag as opposed to a bottle, is that it morphs to wherever you pack it. It’s been working out nicely.

Conclusion:
Overall, Patagonia nailed it with this one. a simple, lightweight backpack that handles the mountains beautifully. It’ll hold everything you need it to and more. It’s blown me away that I’ve been able to fit a rope, essentials, and even a few extras in it. It holds a lot of stuff! The price is attractive as well. The 35L is $150 which is pretty competitive for other packs in its class.

A very well thought out, and well executed pack. Well done Patagonia.

Buy it here , Patagonia.com $149

Reviewed by Ryan, who deeply misses Old Goat Crew out here.

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