3.5/5 | Overall Rating
The Patagonia Ascensionist 30 is a minimalistic, lightweight daypack that’s best used for 1 or 2 day ascents. It has all the functionality that you’ll need, but pretty much nothing more than that, which makes sense seeing as though it’s built with just a single purpose: ascents.
Its lightweight and ergonomic design make it ideal for climbing, hiking or scrambling, and it’s durable enough to get you through any activity you’ll need it for.
So, if you’re looking for a larger ascent pack (and have a lot of money to spend), then this pack should suit your needs.
There are a few things to like about this pack, most notably the lightweight design that manages to pack an impressive 30L capacity. If speed-hiking or climbing is your thing, the thin, tubular design makes for easy manoeuvrability, and even if the pack is loaded up fairly heavily, it won’t shift your centre of gravity too much. You generally won’t be carrying too much gear on your final ascent, but if you are, the lightly padded hipbelt does a decent job of carrying your load.
Where this pack really falls short, however, is its excessive price tag for what it is. It isn’t a very versatile pack at all, as it only has 2 exterior pockets, its top-loading, isn’t very well ventilated and the lack of compression straps causes the pack to become unshapen when overloaded. It isn’t even hydration compatible, something that seems essential in most daypacks these days.
This is the main shortcoming the Ascensionist 30 faces: it’s more expensive than most of its competitors, but it just doesn’t offer nearly as much. It does well enough to serve its very specific purpose, but outside of that it really struggles to keep up with other daypacks, especially at that price point.
At 30L, the Patagonia Ascensionist is more than large enough to carry all of the essentials you’ll need for a day’s ascent, or any other day activity for that matter. We wouldn’t recommend a pack this large for most day purposes, as it’s just a bit big to really be versatile with regards to daily use in an urban environment. 30L is also a bit of an awkward amount, because it’s too small for use over more than one night, but it’s also too big to be comfortable for shorter, faster day activities.
As for the weight of the pack, at only 700g the Ascensionist 30 is easily one of the lightest 30L daypacks that we’ve seen. If you’re worried about keeping your pack as light as possible, then this pack will be good for you, but if you’re not too bothered by weight then rather go for a slightly heavier large pack that has a lot more functionality, like the Osprey Stratos 36 or Osprey Talon 33.
This is definitely not one of the strongest categories for the Ascensionist 30, especially at the price. As soon as you overload this pack at all, it loses its shape and causes a shift in your centre of balance, making it much more difficult to balance while climbing in dodgy conditions. What’s more is that the back panel doesn’t have much padding at all, so any hard gear in your pack might poke into your back if you don’t pack it smartly.
The same goes for the ventilation. The back panel design, or lack thereof, barely allows any airflow, so this pack definitely won’t be the best for sweaty people. The shoulder straps are fairly breathable, but still aren’t exactly great.
Like we said earlier, this pack has pretty much all the functionality you’ll need for a day’s ascension. 4 rows of exterior daisy chains provide lashing options for a rope, helmet and pad; while ice tools can be attached via an integrated buckle and tool pocket.
It only has 2 exterior pockets, so organisation on-the-go isn’t one of the strong points of the Ascensionist 30. On top of that, it’s top loading, which makes it even more difficult to organise the gear you’ll be carrying. As we mentioned earlier, this pack isn’t hydration compatible. This is probably because they wanted to keep the weight down as much as possible, but it would have been a nice addition. A pack that’s designed for ascents where you might be climbing using both hands, it would be nice to be able to drink easily from a hose without needing to use your hands.
We had no issues with the design of the Ascensionist 30 (other than that lack of hydration compatibility). While it’s not front-loading, it makes sense when you’re designing a lightweight pack for it to be top-loading. The secondary collar that straps over the top of the opening to the main compartment keeps the gear inside the pack well protected from the elements, so you shouldn’t need to worry about snow or rain getting into your pack.
On top of that, Patagonia used a CORDURA 86% nylon/14% polyurethane-coated polyester material design. It sheds snow and water better than most other materials we’ve tested, and it held up extremely well to all the tests we threw at it. It will definitely hold up to all the abuse an extremely rough ascent could throw at you, so don’t worry about that.
The pack is well built and designed pretty well overall, but we just don’t see the Ascensionist 30 being worth it; especially if you compare it to some of the other top daypacks in the same price range.
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