I've been surprised by "Award Winning" climbing sack designs that seem to vanish quickly without being seen on the hill much. Their blurbs and initial reviews are usually persuasive, but then they aren't to be found a year or so later. Examples are Lowe Alpine's Ascent Superlight 30 (a "Product of the Year", though that turned out to be ironically prophetic of the product's lifespan) ; Montane's Ultra Alpine 38+5; even Blue Ice's 2019 Warthogs (the current relacements being totally different animals).
Is this just misjudgement by manufacturers and reviewers or the fickleness of retail marketing pressure and fashion in a market I'd have hoped would major in function over hype. Bags with straps on them shouldn't be too hard to optimise, should they?
Just shows what a load of bollocks the whole thing is. Simple, lightweight, well made packs never seem to go out of fashion. All the bells and whistles always end up getting cut off because they are a pain in the ass.
The ultra alpine seemed to hang about for a while - probably too niche for the price point?
I was looking at one earlier ( Montae Ultra) and wondering why the Arcteryx FL40 has been so much more widely taken up. They seem to be design solutions for the same niche requirements with the FL having the waterproof fabric that nominally might suit the UK better than the Ultra's upper cordura. Personally I'd lean towards the Ultra's capacity and attachment solutions.
Anyone got real life experience of some of these sacks (not limited to the 3 I mentioned in the OP but any "short lived - much hyped" designs)? Lowe Alpine seem to have gone crazy with almost annual replacements of their whole climbing range rather increemntal developments of some other companies.
I thought the Montane Ultra was a copy of a Golight Jam 38+5L, only difference being more useful, wrap around compression straps.
I have an old Jam now (13 years old), awesome pack, harder wearing than you would imagine. Replaced it with a Patagonia Ascentionist last season. Both sacks are showing a similar amount of holes and wear!
The problem is that that actual user group for hardcore, dialed-in, products is VERY small. The masses want bland shit with lots of zippers. I feel like a lot of these products are like "lost leaders". Products that showcase a company's ability to make gear for the hardcore but don't actually make very much money. They bring the masses, however, who buy the rest of the product line.
That's partly what puzzles me... I'd expect the dialled-in products should then stick around longer term with less need for a constant "development" cycle and its associated costs and frustrations. The higher volume mass market can then pander to whatever's in vogue this season.
Maybe pitching everything as though it's technical and hard core is part of the problem -we're still talking about bags after all.
I just climb, no mountaineering etc. I've bought 2 rucksacks in maybe 10 years.
Theres no profit in my market, even though I want real features and real performance.
Where is the money? For the manufacturers and shops that sell these items?
Well, sounds like you've been good for two sales...
My point wasn't about sales volume directly but more about why some products that are considered worthy of awards and accolades don't manage to establish themselves in the marketplace or even retain a place in the manufacturer's catalogue. I suspect the awarding bodies are often just wrong in their evaluations of a product's real merits.
The Montane is a very flawed product too... no back system, just fabric. Would be a pain (literally) to pack quickly.
To Stu the Postie: Which Ascentionist do you have 1st gen or 2nd? I really like my 2nd Gen Ascentionist 40, and use it all the time for work and play. Seems pretty durable to me. Shame the smaller version doesn’t have a wider hipbelt. And double shame they’ve both been replaced by inferior products.
I also don’t understand the current obsession with lidless packs. The ME Tupilak 30 would be perfect with the lid of the ME Ogre/Patagonia Ascentionist. The internal floating zipped bag that they use for a lidis about as much use a chocolate teapot!
Anyone used a Built to Send?
> ... And double shame they’ve both been replaced by inferior products.
> ...I also don’t understand the current obsession with lidless packs.
My take on lidless packs is that they're the wrong response to head/helmet clearance. I try to avoid packs where the back of the pack extends above (or much above) the shoulder strap connection as it usually spells trouble. If the goal was weight reduction a simple flap lid would be far more effective than the complex drawstring liner extension shenanigans we see.
> The Montane is a very flawed product too... no back system, just fabric. Would be a pain (literally) to pack quickly.
Not for people who actually want the lightest possible at a sacrifice of discomfort.
As Dr.S mentioned, most packs like this are too much of a niche for general population. Your regular hillgoer isn't obsessed about lack of features, which is essentially what companies are marketing.
How many hill runners, fastpackers or other weirdos do you typically see? Much less than people wearing jeans on hills for sure!
You are then left with few American brands that have more established ultralight culture that doesn't necessarily work for UK use, but there's not much demand from customers nor supply from manufacturers. Such a shame.
what demand there is probably as much fashion as anything else - you have to do a huge amount of mileage (unless regularly hauling it in which case wrong tool for the job) to genuinely wear out even minimalist/light fabric packs - and the tougher fabrics can survive decades eg got an original crux ak47 which has a few tears in the light cowl fabric and a lid zip that doesn’t fully open but is still perfectly serviceable for the basic job of carrying stuff after prob 10+ years of use.
Don't underestimate the role of the buyers of the large "multiple" stores. They will buy in what they know they can shift. Usually, that's equipment that appeals to the masses. So you end up with situation that many stores don't stock the specialist bags with no bells and whistles that you want. So you are forced to buy others. Buyers know they sell them, and order more.
For me it's one of the big reasons I would choose to support independent retailers, and consider direct sales. Using a Built to Send X0 at the moment.
Yeah, I think you're right. I still fall for the notion of a new sack that looks like it will put right whatever niggles me about my current sack, but whenever I try one I revert to my old faithful that still works as the best compromise.
With most 'new' designs I can spot what would annoy me up front, but manufacturer's still manage to surprise!
Hahaha, I totally agree! Some years ago Vaude won a design award for their seamless welded pack. Yes it was an interesting concept, but mine lasted a couple of trips before the welded seams began to fail. After a couple more trips out, it had holes all over the place. Easily the worst outdoor product I've ever used.
My Ascentionist is 2nd, 30L, the one with foam on base, toggles to slip through axe heads.
My second time out, one of the metal axe toggles broke after a slip on icy path. I replaced it with a piece of Lego, perfect.
The body has umpteen holes from carrying winter gear, even had to re stitch drawcord tunnel after it pulled through! I've nearly lost lid fastening strap twice, keeps falling out from small loop on body.
This is the first Patagonia product I have been genuinely disappointed with. Looks good but in use is rubbish.
Those Built to Send look good! My only reservation would be the shoulder strap width as I've found I really don't like much bulk around my collar bones.
Agreed. And the funny detachable strap is used too connect the body to the lid on the new one is infuriating. It is asking to get lost/dropped/lost.
That montane ultra pack was a nice idea, but to be honest for the sake of 50-100g worth of foam sewn in to firm it up, provide some padding on the back and some structure to the empty bag it really was a useless product. It didn't even have a sleeve where you could stuff your own bit of foam. Wanted to love it, but thought it was crap.
One of my favourite packs is a 20 year old berghaus munro, that my dad had in the mob.
Aiguille sacs last forever
So do troll Trolltind sacs, been trying to destroy mine since 1986 and it’s still like new.
> So do troll Trolltind sacs, been trying to destroy mine since 1986 and it’s still like new.
Don't know those... got a link?
I do still have my original 1980 Karrimor Hot Ice 30 in blue KS100e - not quite "as new" but fully functional and still competitively light, and my older ('79) Jaguar V in blue cotton duck, patched and stitched but still used whenever 80litres are needed.
Sorry, Troll went out of business about 15 years ago.
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