Gear Review: Patagonia Linked Pack 16L Climbing Pack
Patagonia Linked Pack 16L
$79, 16L/976 c.i., 1 lb. 4 oz.
On multi-pitch rock climbs, trad or sport, we unfortunately have to carry stuff on our backs—water, a bit of food, some extra layers. If we had the power to shape-shift objects, we’d make a pack large enough to hold our gear while hiking, then shrink it down for climbing. Short of that, though, the best option is a compact, lightweight, tough pack. Using Patagonia’s Linked Pack 16L on a trad route up Slickrock, a 1,200-foot cliff outside McCall, Idaho, including approach and descent hikes, convinced me this just may be the ideal little pack for such missions. Here’s why.
A multi-pitch climbing pack has to be efficiently designed, and the Linked Pack is intentionally very minimalist to keep it light even while employing very durable (read: heavier) fabrics. A top-loader with a drawcord closure, it has a 20-inch-long top strap (the pack’s only compression) that holds a rope and allows overloading the main compartment—ideal for multi-pitch routes with an approach hike that’s not longer than your tolerance for carrying an overloaded pack.
I carried it with about 35 pounds inside or attached to the outside on the Slickrock approach and descent hikes, which took more than an hour each. That’s definitely more weight than a pack this small and light is designed to carry, and it felt top-heavy with a 70-meter rope under the top strap; the moderately breathable, padded, mesh shoulder straps pulled against my shoulders a bit, and the thin, removable webbing waist belt doesn’t provide any support, merely helping to keep the pack from shifting. But the point of a climbing pack like this is to have something you can overload for the hike, a good tradeoff for the convenience of not wearing a larger pack on the climb (or having to retrieve it from the cliff base afterward). With its slim profile and low volume, the Linked Pack was hardly noticeable with about 12 pounds inside (water, approach shoes, DSLR, clothes) while I led six of Slickrock’s eight pitches. I have an 18-inch torso and the Linked Pack 16L comes in one, non-adjustable size, meaning very tall or short people may find the fit too small or big for them.
The main compartment has adequate volume to swallow half the climbing rack, two liters of water, a light wind shell and middle layer, a handful of energy bars, and my DSLR camera; I strapped our rope onto the top and clipped my rock shoes to the daisy chains on the pack front. This pack isn’t big enough for alpine routes (and it lacks tool attachments) or bringing enough clothes for colder temps. On the climb itself, with a smaller load, the pack was slightly underfilled but the top strap compressed the contents well enough to prevent any shifting.
With 630-denier nylon fabric in the body and a 940-denier ballistic nylon base, both treated with a highly water-resistant polyurethane coating, the pack is built for hard use—from scraping up a chimney to lowering down a cliff—and will shed all but the heaviest rain. Clipping the two burly, reinforced haul straps on top helps ensure the main compartment stays closed when hauling or lowering the pack. For its size, the pack has a spacious zippered outside pocket that holds smaller items like snacks, a headlamp, gloves, hat. There’s an internal hydration sleeve and a port, and even convenient daisy chains on the shoulder straps for temporarily clipping gear.
The Patagonia Linked Pack 16L’s smart design and tough construction make it an ideal, light pack for multi-pitch rock climbs.
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See all of my reviews of daypacks I like and my six favorite hiking daypacks, all of my reviews of climbing gear, including “Gear Review: A Complete Rock Climbing Kit for Climbers With a Real Life,” plus my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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