Just one words sums up his great cragging pack – vast!
I can remember the first dedicated sport climbing pack I ever bought. It was a pack made by the new kid on the block 5.10. It had all the features you needed for sport climbing: a dedicated rope bag, gear lops for quick draws and figure 8 descenders (GriGris hadn’t been invented then) and two dedicated pockets for shoes – 5.10 Anastazi’s of course! For 1990, it was a revelation and cost me a small fortune. Since then I’ve used and reviewed a few dedicated packs for cragging and my favourite has been the Patagonia Crag Daddy 45, which I’ve been using for the last couple of years – even better I’ve had a red one which was pretty hard to get hold of. At 45L the Crag Daddy was the larger of the two packs that Patagonia designed for cragging with the Cragsmith the smaller 35L pack.
When Patagonia offered the new, completely redesigned Cragsmith 45 for review I jumped at the chance to see if the newer pack was better than the Crag Daddy and I’ve not been disappointed. First thing I noticed is the new Cragsmith 45L feels way bigger than the Crag Daddy even though they both have the same capacity. When I got my Crag Daddy I removed the wired frame to make the pack feel a little more streamlined, you can’t do that with the Cragsmith as there is no wired frame. So, the pack has a big feel to it due to the foam supporting inserts. That means the pack is freestanding however which is handy for packing or accessing items such as drinks bottles or butties when using pack acts as a toploader.
Talking of which, the Patagonia Cragsmith has three zip openings, the top zip opens the lid pocket which is massive – I just can’t seem to fill it! I keep shades, finger tape, belay glasses, reading glasses, bug spray, mosi net (you really need one for extended belays at Kilnsey Crag!). There is also an internal zipped pocket big enough for a wallet, phone, watch and other smaller items including a key clip. There is also a zipped mesh pocket on the hip belt for other items you might need on the move (such as your phone). All these are a great improvement on the Crag Daddy as I found the security pocket too small and the outer zipped pocket narrow. The middle zip turns the Cragsmith 45 into a standard top loader which was great for stuffing last minute items such as jackets and helmets, etc. The final, larger zip completely opens the back of the pack to access the the main body in all it’s glory. This is a great feature as it always keeps the carry system clean (whereas the Crag Daddy opened from the front and the main body is truly enormous.
The Crag Daddy had a clever way of carrying a rope with a clip at the top of the pack, it even worked with a rope bag. However, there is no need for that with the newer Cragsmith; it was easily big enough to put a rope bag holding a 70m rope as well as everything else needed for a day out, including 17 quick draws, harness, chalkbag, 2 pairs of shoes, finger repair kit, jackets and food and still room for more. You would need to get everything in though as it would be tricky to carry rope on the lid (although it could work if you fold it over and trap it in the side compression straps. The interior is clean except for a gear loop at each side for keeping quick draws to hand and a large pocket on the side that opens up (which is the carry system side and becomes the lid when opened) which you keep shoes in or a hydration bladder if you use one. There is a clip for clipping a baldder to help keep it in place and a hose clip on one of the shoulder straps; so if you use a bladder it will stay in place when the back is opened up. The inside of the pack has a nice neon green interior to keep it looking fresh and modern.
Just like the Crag Daddy the Patagonia Cragsmith 45 has two large mesh pockets on either side. I like to keep belay gloves and hats in one side and use the other for carrying a clipstick, the compression straps are handy for keeping a clipstick in place as well as compressing the sides if you need to. The carry system is very good and comfortable over a reasonable distance. There is a hip belt with a zipped pocket, shoulder straps and a sternum strap for keeping the pack tight for longer distances. As I said earlier there is no need for a wired frame as the back has plenty of stiffness from the foam. I found the pack comfortable to carry even though it’s heavier than the Crag Daddy and feels bulkier on my back.
So far, I’ve talked about using the Cragsmith 45 for sport climbing (and that has been my main use this summer as I’ve been doing a lot of sport climbing) but I have used it for trad climbing and it as worked well. I have been able to carry a full trad rack and a 60m 8mm rope as well as shoes, harness, chalkbag, helmet and clothing for a day out. Now, I’m not going to be using the Cragsmith 45 for a mountain day out (I use my Ascentionst 30 for that) but it will be fine for Gritstone outcrops, Limestone and other outcrop type cragging. If you still feel the Cragsmith 45 is too big for your needs then there is the Cragsmith 32.
In conclusion, the Patagonia Cragsmith 45 is great improvement on the Crag Daddy 45, and although it’s the same capacity it feels bigger. I like the way the foam gives it stiffness and it stands upright when loading it. It has a clean look yet has enough features to make it useful for a full day out.