CGR tests out the updated Roc 35 pack from Swedish company Haglöfs
An all-purpose mountain pack that is versatile enough to work well in almost every climbing challenge. A clean, minimalist design makes it an appreciated crag climbing backpack, while its ability to carry winter mountain gear qualifies ROC for all-season use.
I first reviewed the Haglöfs Roc 35 in June 2009 for UKC. At that time I concluded it is was… a great all mountain sack. It fits like a dream and swallows kit. It will fulfil all your requirements for a variety of mountain adventures and will last you years. Do all the fancy extras warrant the extra price tag and weight? No, it’s not the perfect sack and so the quest continues.
We recently were sent the updated version for 2013 so I was very keen to see what improvements they had made to what I have come to consider is a very good pack.
Firstly the pack is much lighter, it originally weighed in at 1.5kgs – the trusty CGR scales weighed it in at 1.35kg so much lighter and it felt it too. They have lighten the weigh by removing simplifying the lid zip, removing all steel items such as the ski retainers and replacing them with plastic ones.
The Haglöfs Roc 35 has retained all the great features of the original and the more I use it the more I like them: Originally I though the lid was over complicated – but I have come to like the extra little pocket at the back as I keep specific items in them that can be easily accessed such as sun and lip bloc, compass, glasses, etc. The main lid is still big enough for hat, gloves, buff, energy bars, etc. The inside lid had a key fob and was plenty big enough to store a camera, wallet and phone.
The lid was the floating style and could be adjusted by the very clever system of combining the lid and shoulder strap adjustment into one unit. This means that when the lid is removed for climbing there are no straps dangling around. A great design feature. Although I should add 2 points: the system is fiddly to operate in the field, especially with gloves on and the small loop that the straps thread though detached from the main body on the original pack but hopefully it has been reinforced in the updated version.
The lid is single closure with a large buckle and I was pleased that they had kept the system of tightening the lid from above, I have found this most useful. The strap can be tidied away with the Hypalon insert and the lid was reinforced with a moulded Delrin rod – an engineering plastic that is used for ski bindings and in the automotive industry.
The shoulder straps were a good fit for my medium frame. I was disheartened to see the branded loop gone – I liked this as I wear my watch/altimeter on the shoulder strap and I was delighted to see a much beefier one on the Haglöfs Roc Hard. The straps were easy to tighten and release and the shoulder. The sternum strap was on rails and was easy to adjust, it had an integrated emergency whistle.
The volume as just as big as the original and it swallowed plenty of kit, I have used it all winter with no problems getting everything in for a winter day. I used the original for my 6 day Stubai Glacier Tour and it was perfect – I easily had the smallest pack in the group and had plenty of clothing and other items. I never felt that I needed a bigger pack. It’s easily big enough for a trad day out and you could fit the kitchen sink in as well if you are sport climbing. Extra volume could be gained from the spindrift collar and it open and closed easily with the one handed system. It still looked as delicate as the original and I’m not sure how long it will last (as the original eventually broke).
The waist belt was exactly the same as the original and had a great tucking in feature that meant is was completely out the way for climbing in and made the pack feel streamlined. It felt great to climb with both for winter and rock climbing. It adjusted to be above my harness and I could access my leading rack easily. The waist bely was reinforced with Hypalon and had hip adjusters either side. Unfortunately still no ice clipper loops – which would be easy to put on and weigh next to nothing, so let’s hope they appear in future updates.
The pack came with a removable aluminium stay and HDPE (High Density Polythene) framesheet. I removed the stay and have kept the framesheet and this works well for me, I used the pack without the stay for the Subai tour and found it great. But, hey it’s removable so you can choose what best suits your frame. It still remains a good and comfortable carry even if it’s on all day – I’ll be trying it out backpacking this spring for expeditions and assessments.
The ice axe attachment was the sleeve type which I like, it worked well and the elasticated retainers worked well – the hook system did sometimes fill with snow and ice which made it more difficult but I just used them in the traditional way of looping over the toggle itself, which worked fine.
So, the Haglöfs Roc 35 is still a great all mountain pack, it’s bombroof construction and use features will serve you well for many mountain days and longer trips. There are lighter packs in the range but this really is a true all mountain pack. The updates are a good improvement and it will still last you for years. Is it the perfect pack… well no but it’s definitely getting closer!