Blue Ice Squirrel 22L Rucksack | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Blue Ice Squirrel 22L Rucksack | Review

Lightweight, durable and with a bunch of handy features, could Blue Ice’s Squirrel be the perfect climbing pack?

Why We Chose The Blue Ice Squirrel 22L: Lightweight design, technical details, high functionality

Blue Ice, if you’re not familiar with them, is a company that lives and breathes climbing. They’re  in fact based in Chamonix, right at the foot of Mont Blanc, and have been there for 10 years, producing a range of climbing equipment, but most notably, making some very good packs. In the words of our staff writer Jordan, who spent a year living out in the chocolate box alpine town, ‘these are the people to go to for minimalist, tough and streamlined packs that only carry the essentials’. Last year we featured their big, 45L capacity Blue Ice Warthog in our Outdoor 100, this time round we’ve chosen their small but mighty Squirrel 22L.

Who Is Blue Ice The Squirrel 22L For?

As the above paragraph has already alluded to, this is a pack that’s specifically made for climbers – those who need something to get their kit to the crag or even to get their kit up it. There’s no reason why it won’t serve any hillwalkers as an all-purpose day hiking backpack either. We wouldn’t even write it off as a trail running pack.

A sliding sternum strap allows for quick and easy adjustment on the fly. Photo: Mike Brindley

Materials And Construction

The crucial thing about this pack is its weight, at just 507g it’s a seriously light pack. The main material they’ve gone for here is a 210 denier Duramax, one of the most durable fabrics on the market, and there’s a high tenacity ripstop nylon weave as well. In other words, it’s seriously tough stuff. You’re going to be pretty unlikely to find you’re able to tear this, even if there was a flailing ice axe involved. As for water resistance, it’ll be able to see off light to medium heavy rain, but it’s not fully waterproof and there’s no seam taping, so it won’t be able to prevent ingress in anything too heavy or sustained.

“This opens up nice and wide to allow you to see right into the pack.”

The back system is very simple. It involves a semi-stiff, semi-padded foam back panel which has zoned holes cut into it to allow airflow. Coming into contact with your back there’s a light and thin fabric nylon. As for the harness, that’s fairly simple as well. It features ergonomically shaped straps that are wide enough for comfort, have inch-thick foam padding and also use a mesh lining for airflow. The sliding sternum strap and the basic hipbelt (a webbing strap) are both removable.


Access to the main compartment is via a bucket-style lid. This opens up nice and wide to allow you to see right into the pack and there’s a slim storm flap to slow any water ingress. Inside you’ll find a clip and two handy webbing straps for hanging gear. There’s also a sleeve for a hydration bladder.

The bucket style lid opens right up making for easy access to your kit. Photo: Mike Brindley
All the right details are there for attaching your technical kit. Photo: Mike Brindley
Details like the hip strap can be removed when you want to really lighten your load. Photo: Mike Brindley

Across the front of the pack you have multiple options for attaching or strapping gear, including a useful rope strap on the lid. A touch we really like is the detachable helmet holder. This hooks nicely onto two four solid bits of plastic coated webbing, Most of these loops, straps, handles and hoops all have bar tack stitching, so they’ll be able to handle heavy strain.

As for pockets, you have one zipped one over the lid that’s big enough to handle, um, let’s say 3 500ml cans of Stella Artois. It also has a handy key clip in it. Then you have a stretch mesh pocket on either side, each big enough for a Nalgene Widemouth-sized water bottle.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic

“This is a great pack. It’s super lightweight, super durable and it has a surprising amount of features to it as well. I think most climbers out there would really like it.

“I’ve found it to be comfortable to wear, even with heavy loads. Just out of curiosity, I tried it out with my ultralight camping set up and it managed the kit and the weight well. It’s actually a bit like an Osprey day pack, the Skarab in particular, but without the heavy fabric. It’s just about as packable as bags can get as well – the ideal option for stashing into the base of your duffel bag on those longer journeys.

The back system is a simple mesh with embedded padding. Photo: Mike Brindley

“I was impressed with the durability of the fabric and its stitching. Even the mesh side pockets seem pretty tough – tough  enough that I was even able to stash a pair of crampons in them without noticing any scuffing or snagging.

“£80? Not too bad a price either.”

Blue Ice Squirrel 22L

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