Patagonia Ascensionist 30 Pack | Review
Patagonia's sleek lightweight, minimalist Ascensionist 30 alpine pack works well, but calls for careful loading to stay comfortable.
'The Ascensionist toes a careful line between sleek, light but tough minimalism, and having just enough function and versatility to suit lightweight climbers and mountaineers who are prepared to keep loads light'
Outdoors Magic: Light, but tough fabrics, reinforced foam base, versatile 'lid' system, choice of axe attachments, strippable foam pad, sleek profile, sideways lid opening.
Outdoors Tragic: No hydration sleeve if that worries you. Minimal support for heavier loads. Can 'barrel' if overloaded.
Outdoors Grabbit? The Ascensionist 30 is properly light at just 710g, but Patagonia has tweaked it for 2017 with tougher fabrics and a foam-reinforced base which adds durability and structure. It's a minimalist but versatile pack with a neat 'lid' system that can be tweaked to carry a rope. Waist belt is simple and light and there are both trad ice-axe loops and modern head-hole bar gizmos to suit your tools of choice. Structural daisy chains allow for ad lib additional shock cord storage. Not ideal for kitchen sinkers, but if you move light and don't mind a little walk-in discomfort - it can barrel if you overpack - it has everything you need in a sleek-profiled, climbing-friendly package. There's also a more load-friendly 40L version for those who want more support and load capacity.
Lightweight mountaineering pack / nylon/polyester Cordura® ripstop fabric 86% nylon/14% polyester with a polyurethane coating / asymmetrical spindrift collar with single-cord lid closure / fabric back with removable dense foam pad / single internal and external zipped pockets / fours stitched daisy chain rows / minimal waist belt / hydration tube outlet / asymmetric profile for elbow clearance / foam reinforced base
Full Review Below
Patagonia Ascensionist 30 Pack | Performance
The Ascensionist packs - there's also a larger, 40L version - have been redesigned for 2017, still light and minimal, but beefed up with tougher Cordura rip-stop fabric and a foam reinforced base to add structure and durability.
The 30L version weighs a real world 710g, but still feels reasonably robust and Patagonia has paid attention to details like stitching the daisy chains into main seams for security and extending the haul-loop top top a long way down to keep it firmly attached.
The back system is pretty stripped down. Just a snow-foiling fabric panel with a thin, removable foam pad for a little added comfort. It's fine with light-ish, carefully packed loads backed up by 'just so' shoulder straps, but you do need to pack carefully to avoid stuff poking into your back and be wary of overloading which can make the pack into an uncomfortable barrel-shaped object.
Pack profile is tall and slim for easy mountain use and it all stays nicely planted on your back when moving despite a minimal, narrow waist belt - detachable if you choose. We like the unusual wide top-opening which has a simple, cammed, two-cord mechanism. Pull the long one to cinch things securely closed, release with the shorter cord.
Our only slight doubt is how the mechanism might cope with Scottish freeze/thaw conditions and spindrift, but it's hard to tell in May... Speaking of winter, there are both traditional ice axe loops and head-locker type shock-corded mini-bars to allow the attachment of both traditional and adze-less modern ice tools, which is a thoughtful call. Top straps are Velcro, but you could always swap in shock-cord loops if you prefer.
Minimalism means no hydration reservoir sleeve - just slip it in with the foam pad - though there is a tube outlet if you want to use it. And no dedicated rope loop, though you can improvise by reconfiguring the detachable main closure webbing and relocating it using a daisy chain under the 'lid' and a higher anchor point, which works just fine.
Other daisy chains and attachment points on the front panel allow easy cut and paste ad lib gear attachment if you exceed the 30-litre main compartment capacity.
Let but not least, despite the minimal ethos, there are two handy zipped pockets. One hanging in the main compartment for secure stowage of small, valuable things. And a second on the 'lid'. The latter has neat side opening, which minimises the chance of stuff falling out in moments of carelessness - neat.
Patagonia Ascensionist 30 Pack | Verdict
We like the way that Patagonia has made the Ascensionist 30 light and minimal, but resisted the temptation to go in all guns blazing and leave functionality bleeding on the ground.
Which is to say that the pack is neat, sleek and very light, but still properly useable with a neat mix of simplicity and versatility. You do need to understand what you're getting yourself into. Overload the 30L pack and it'll barrel uncomfortably and careful packing is needed to avoid angular things poking into your back.
That said, you still get proper pockets, a neat, useable 'quasi lid' opening and a choice of ice-tool attachments with the scope to add more add-ons if you choose. The pack is slim and neat in use too and always feels secure and planted.
A good choice for the fast and light-heads.
See eu.patagonia.com and video below.