"The Outcast is branded as being 'the ultimate sport climbing backpack', but I'd go one step further and say that it could be the ultimate cragging pack" says Rob Greenwood.
I genuinely thought the 'carrying the rope above the shoulder straps' was a marketing photo fail when I first saw it. Does it really work well? What if you like the pack close to your back (it being full of trad gear and you have uneven terrain)?
It certainly worked better than I thought it would, but if I could fit the rope in the pack then that was my preference. Generally speaking I - probably much like you - don't like having stuff stuck to the outside of my pack.
Somewhat counterintuitively it tended to be sport climbing where I carried the rope separately, because a chunky single rope tends to take up a lot of space - hence I'd either carry it as per the picture (with a tarp for the crag) or within a separate rope bag.
For trad, despite having much more kit you tend to share it between two people, plus the ropes are a lot more slender. As a result I pretty much always packed my ropes inside, not least because the approaches tended to me much longer and more involved than whenever I was out sport climbing.
Hope that answers your question.
Thanks. Looks like you could drape a rope over the top of the pack itself and fasten it to the top handle and side straps? But you're right, if I was sport climbing, I'd have a shoulder rope bag. I guess I'd be interested in this pack for short-haul trips, with this as main hand luggage -- size-wise it looks like it should be ok as long as it squishes a bit width-ways.
So it's a DMM Flight without the helmet carry and extra rope carry straps, but with a clipstick holder?
There's quite a lot of extra refinement to the design beyond that, which are quite apparent once you've got your hands on one.
In terms of what's missing, you're quite right - the helmet carry is one and the grab handles are another. It is also slightly larger, which could (in reference to Mark's question) present something of a problem when using it as carry-on luggage whilst flying (which is something I meant to cover within the review).
In terms of what's added the clipstick holder and extra rope carrying straps are fairly minor league compared to the big change, which is essentially the structure of the bag and its back system, which is leagues ahead of the Flight in terms of its sophistication. The Outcast is a much more proficient load carrier than the Flight as a result of this, making it more appropriate for trad, as well as sport, and generally having bigger days out.
Finally, it may or may not surprise you to hear that the same person designed both bags - hence more than a passing resemblance
Many moons ago back when the world was young and I reviewed some crag packs, we found that with the Grivel Rocker which is superficially quite a similar design to the this one, that sometime you just had clip your helmet to the "suitcase handle" strap on it. Slightly annoying if it bounced around but not the end of the world. see the photo on here https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/rucksacks/medium/crag_packs_for_trad_climbers-3906
I suppose they called it a sport climbing pack in the sense most people would be able to fit their rope inside along with other bits and bobs you need for sport climbing?
I’ll have to admit when I read the review, I, like kos, wondered if you’d never seen the flight. It would be great if you could elaborate on the sophistication differences?
im also curious about the size difference you reference, isn’t one 44l and the other 45l?
i love my flight and the ability to throw in the kitchen sink, I’ve always been impressed by how well it carries. If this had improvements over the flight it would be great to hear more on them?
We tend to focus on the product at hand within the individual product reviews, hence not mentioning the Flight. Most of this is to avoid opening up a minefield, as it requires the reviewer to have used each and every other product within the category, which isn't always possible. That said, I'm always happy to answer such questions within follow-up on the thread - especially when I have used the alternative in question.
I have used, abused and destroyed a Flight back when they were first released by DMM, so have a good idea of how it performs. Much like the Outcast, I used my Flight for both sport and trad, with it taking a particular beating as my pack of choice for a month long trip to Arapiles/Grampians a few years back.
When it comes to what the Flight has and the Outcast hasn't the basics are, as mentioned above, grab handles and a helmet carry system. I'd certainly have preferred it if these had been featured on the Outcast, but they're not. Clearly Lowe Alpine have their reasons for this, and I'm sure they'd be interesting to hear, but whether or not we ever find out is another matter altogether.
To look at it the other way round, what does the Outcast have that the Flight doesn't? There are two major benefits in my eyes, the first being the back system and the second being the pack's overall durability. The back system on the Outcast has actually got some degree of support to it, which makes carrying slightly heavier loads that bit more comfortable. The Flight is much floppier in comparison and I know that I had issues with stitching unpicking on the shoulder straps as a result of the weight I was carrying.
When it comes to durability, the materials used throughout the Outcast are just a cut above those used on the Flight. By the time I retired my Flight it was totally battered and utterly threadbare. I couldn't see the same happening with the Outcast.
There's a number of other differences, all of which are covered in the review. See if you can get into a shop to try one out, as it'd be interesting to get your thoughts.
I am one of the designers at Lowe Alpine who worked on this new range and thought it might be helpful to elaborate a bit more regarding the helmet carry and why we have not used a conventional, stretchy helmet carry system.
So you can carry a helmet on the front of the pack by threading the upper side compression straps through the straps on a helmet.
The reason we chose to use this system is durability. The stretch mesh or stretch fabric typically used on helmet carry systems is, by its nature, is not very durable. If permanently left attached to the front of the pack it can quickly become damaged from the general abuse that these kinds of packs receive when kicking around at the base of a crag all day. This can potentially result in it tearing and not being able to carry a helmet at all. It is possible to avoid this by stashing it away once you have got to the crag but in reality this can be fiddly and annoying to do every time you arrive and leave.
Yes, the downside to our system is that the helmet can bounce when walking which I appreciate some will find annoying however as you are rarely moving at great speed with these packs we felt this was a worthy compromise for a much more durable system.
I hope this sufficiently answers your questions. Thanks for your interest and feedback, we always really appreciate it and find it really useful. Thanks also to Rob and the UKC team for such a great and detailed review
Thanks for elaborating Rob!
i am also suffering some stitching issues with the flight so I can relate and several of my 20 year old Lowe bags refuse to die so I can imagine there is a ruggedness to the Outcast.
cant say I’d miss the helmet stretchy fabric thing so maybe if the flight continues to wear the outcast will be a worthy replacement.
Wales will soon start re-opening to outdoor activities, but fear in local communities persists, and it will not be business as usual. What can climbers and walkers do to ensure they're not part of the problem? Snowdonia resident Mark Reeves looks...