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Gear Review: Patagonia Ascensionist 25L

In search for the perfect daypack…

I’ve been looking for a daypack that’s both packable (able to be folded and stuffed inside my bigger 65L bag) and light, without sacrificing support or comfort. I’ve cycled through a couple that just weren’t the right “fit.” Some were either too bulky (REI Stoke 29), or too light (REI UL 18 – this one actually tore at the seam). So, finding that balance has taken a while. It’s really all about preference – some people love a sturdier, more cushiony pack, even though it might be a little heavier on your shoulders.

The Ascencionist Pack only weighs 12.3 ounces, so the real weight will only come from what you put in it. When folded, it can be stashed into a smaller compartment in a bigger backpacking pack.

I went on a climbing trip to Great Falls last weekend, and here’s what I stuffed inside:

Fit these and lots more into the pack - about three other shirts, a pair of pants, a sweater, and a bag of food. It can sure hold a lot!

Fit these and lots more into the pack – about three other shirts, a pair of pants, a sweater, and a bag of food. It can sure hold a lot!

Comfort: The pack is meant for climbing and dayhikes. It’s not exclusive to one or the other –  it makes sense that the padding is pretty thin. But that doesn’t mean it’s a pain to carry. It’s quite comfy, especially if you’re wearing a few layers already. The shoulder straps fit snug, and it’s all adjustable. It has a chest strap and a waist strap that are minimal and small (they don’t get in the way). In all, the pack is fairly comfortable. Any worries about comfort on hikes will be outweighed by the other, better features of the pack, such as its accessibility.

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Accessibility: Probably the best feature of the Ascencionist is how easy it is to grab items (specifically, packing and re-packing are a breeze). There aren’t a bunch of compartments, just one big rucksack hole and a small zipper pocket on the top fly, which folds open like a cone when extended. The pack comes with daisy chains on both sides of the pack, and twice on its face (four sets total!) – this makes it great for clipping on carabiners with gear and looping through straps. Opening and closing the pack is all done through a drawstring system – no zippers. Sometimes zippers are a pain to close, especially with a stuffed pack. In this sense, the Ascencionist is very efficient, because the drawstring and hook are adjustable.

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Summary: The Ascencionist 25L is a light, minimal and versatile daypack. It’s design is efficient and logical – no unnecessary zippers and flaps that might have otherwise weighed it down. A great pack for the quick hike or a day at the crag.

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