MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR SPLITTER PACK
Overview - The Splitter Pack is part of Mountain Hardware's climbing specific line of packs. The Splitter Pack is the biggest with the other packs being the Hueco 20/28/35 series of packs. The Splitter Pack features a full zip opening and many climbing specific features like internal gear loops, a rope tarp and pockets for shoes and harness to keep gear organized. I have the 2010 model and it's my go-to trad climbing pack. It fits a 60m rope, harness, shoes, chalk bag, 12 quick/alpine draws, belay devices, 2 anchors, doubles of cams and stoppers with the helmet strapped to the outside of the pack.
- Wide panel opening – The pack can fully zip open and lay flat for easy access to gear
- Burly material - The pack features 840 denier ballistic nylon on the body and 400 denier nylon on the bottom making this pack extremely durable.
- Suspension - When this pack is fully loaded, it's easily 40 pounds but still carries well. The padding is sufficient in the shoulder straps and hip belt and both are easily adjustable
- Gear Loops - This is one of the few packs on the market with internal gear loops which are great for hanging cams and other pro. Generally, I rack my cams, hexes and stoppers to the gear loops. My quick draws, alpine draws and belay devices are bundled separately. I also have mesh bags for my spare locking carabiners, runners, webbing and cordelette that I use for anchors.
- Rope tarp - Since this pack comes with a rope tarp, I often carry just my rope and leave the rope bag at home
- Internal organization pockets - My version has two internal pockets; one is sized perfectly for a chalk bag and the other fits my climbing shoes. There's also a zippered mesh pocket with a key clip and second zippered mesh pocket.
- Internal compresion panel - keeps heavy gear in place against the pack panel
- Front Pocket - The front pocket is low profile but large; about as big as the front of the pack.
- Side Stretch Pockets - good sized pockets on each side that are big enough to hold Nalgene sized water bottles
- Tool Attachment - There's one ice axe loop and two bungee tool attachments that double as bottle openers.
- Zipper pulls - Big zipper pulls which are great for tired fingers
- Top pocket - My version has the top pocket on the inside of the pack which means you have to open the main compartment to get to that pocket. The new version has the top pocket on the exterior making it easier to access
- Capacity - My version is 35L which fits my trad gear with little room to spare. The latest version is 40L so there should be a more room for extra layers and snacks
Conclusion - This pack falls into the "cragging" style of climbing pack with multiple features for organization and accessibility. The other side of the spectrum is the minimalist (alpine) pack which is lighter and only has a main compartment. With that said, I think this is the best trad climbing pack on the market but there are some other notable packs like the Arc'teryx Muira 35/45, Patagonia's new Cragsmith pack and the Mammut Neon Gear 45. The Miura has full zipper access and gear loops with three external zip pockets. The pack is ultra-streamlined but doesn't have side pockets to easily store a water bottle. Both the Craigsmith and Neon Gear packs have a panel zip on the back of the pack but again no side pockets. I'm a big fan of side pockets since let's face it, how many climbers do you see with a hydration bladder... not many... Instead, everyone has a Nalgene bottle covered with stickers and duct tape so having a side pocket gives you a place to put your bulky water bottle without taking space in the main compartment.
Recommended uses - Great for sport and trad climbing. The full panel zip works well for traveling also.
Current Model - The current model is 40L and has an external top zippered pocket which is easier to access than the internal top pocket in my pack. There are also gear loops on the hip belt and a stowable rope strap. However, it only has one large internal gear loop.