$139.95 |www.mammut.com | five stars
THIS SPRING, MAMMUT LAUNCHED A NEW LINE of backpacks for alpine and rock climbing. The Neon 45 joins the rock fleet, and it’s one of the best “crag packs” I’ve used.
A cragging pack, by my definition, holds all of the essential items I need for a day of trad or sport climbing, keeps that stuff organized, and packs and unpacks easily and quickly.
The Neon 45 has a unique rectangular shape that, at first glance, looks clunky and goofy. The shape, however, is highly functional—first, in allowing the pack to stand upright. A rectangular top panel unzips on three sides and folds open away from you. This wide opening accounts for the easy packing and unpacking, especially with a rope bag, which you can squash right down in there. If you prefer to coil your rope, lash it to the outside of the top panel with an adjustable strap. Even with the rope attached to the top, the pack is still easy to open. (I’ve also used this strap to affix a down jacket.)
The second way to open the Neon 45 is to lay the pack down and unzip the back panel. This function makes it possible to access stuff at the very bottom of the pack without unpacking anything at all.
A mesh pouch on the inside back panel adds a functional storage compartment for climbing shoes, flip flops, knee pads or clothing. The top panel has two pockets—one on the outside (good for car keys, iPod, camera), and a mesh one inside for athletic tape, etc.
The 2-pound 12-ounce pack comes with a separate little sleeve for storing chalk bags and buckets. I never use it, though, since I don’t care if my climbing gear gets chalky. Maybe you’re different. That’s fine.
Initially, I was nervous about the thin, streamlined zippers breaking—if only because I know how fragile zippers are. Despite months of hard wear and tear, it hasn’t happened yet—but I try to open and close the pack with care. Bottom line, the Neon 45 has made getting to and moving around my favorite crags easier than any pack I’ve ever used.
• A “crag pack” that, due to its 45-liter rectangular shape, easily fits rope in rope bag, harness, shoes, full rack, three liters of water, food and jacket.
• Two unique and functional zipper-accessed entry points: Top panel for normal loading. Wide back panel makes it easy to access contents at the bottom of bag without unpacking everything.
• Basic webbing waist belt.
• Interior pouches make it easy to organize gear.