Gear Review: Patagonia Ascensionist Pack – 45L
Size: S/M or L/XL
Volume: 25L, 35L, 45L
Weight: 1020 grams
Summary: The Patagonia Ascensionist Pack is a well-designed, minimalist, technical pack that has been tried and tested in the mountains. It’s lightweight simplicity makes it darn near the perfect pack for almost any mountain adventure.
If you’re looking for a well-designed, minimalist, technical pack to use in the mountains the Patagonia Ascensionist series is ideal for you. Patagonia’s technical alpine packs are designed to be in the mountains. The Ascensionist series is lightweight, water resistant, minimalistic, functional, simple, and comfortable. It’s darn near the perfect pack. My backcountry partners who have the same pack also agree.
Like most things from Patagonia, this technical backpack is well designed. It’s been tried and tested by Patagonia Ambassadors like Steve House and it works well. The Patagonia Ascensionist series comes in three sizes 25 L for $99, 35 L for $149, and 45 L for $179. Each pack comes in two sizes: S/M (25.5″ x 13″ x 10″) or L/XL (27″ x 13″ x 10.5″).
I’m 6’2″, 190 pounds and have a L/XL 45 L pack in Andes Blue. I love it. I picked up a 45L Patagonia Ascensionist pack for ski mountaineering, mountaineering, climbing, hiking, and other activities. It’s the right size for me to carry every thing I need for a day or a weekend. I have yet to overstuff the 45L pack, although I’m sure it’s possible. Plus, it also cinches down small for summer day hikes, which makes this thing super versatile.
Let’s take a closer look at the Patagonia Ascensionist Pack – 45L:
The Ascensionist Pack lacks the bells and whistles that other pack manufacturers offer. There are no extra pockets, no hydration systems, no key clips, no removable lid, and no hip pockets. The pack is about as simple as it comes. It’s a glorified stuff sack with only one access point. This means it weighs practically nothing – saving you time and energy when heading out on a backcountry adventure.
The pack is made out of nylon ripstop that is abrasion resistant and lightweight. It looks and feels thin and delicate, but it can take a beating. It’s almost too good to be true. There are two different varieties of ripstop on the pack so that the parts of the pack that take the full force of abuse are more durable. Plus, the material is relatively waterproof. I’d trust it in snow and hail, but would avoid sitting around during downpours.
Inside the pack is a removable aluminum and mesh frame. The frame is rigid, yet flexible – offering good rotational flexibility. This means it moves with you, not against you. The frame gives the pack structure when carry heavy loads, but can slip out for a lightweight alpine start. In the video at the bottom of the post, Steve House recommends stuffing in a sleeping pad in instead of the frame.
Decide if you want the frame in or out and then start stuffing your things into the pack. You can stuff whatever you need into this pack – rope, rack, crampons, jackets, food, stove, sleeping bag, helmet, etc. Just put the things you need last at the bottom because there are no side zips or easy access points besides the top. I find that the pack seems to carry more volume than you’d expect.
Once stuffed full, a big yellow flap with a drawcord cinches down to seal out the elements. There’s still room for important things like helmets though as an asymmetrical spindrift collar will cinch shut to keep the foul weather out of your pack too. It’s a unique design, but works well. Add your helmet in last to help keep out the elements as the spindrift collar seals around it – pretty cool. This one handed closure seals the only access point. It’s a simple design as the drawcord cinches both the collar and the lid. Cinch it down and close up the pack and you’re ready to go.
The only additional pocket is on the top lid of the pack. It’s not a huge pocket, but fits maps, snacks, PLBs, and cameras. It has a front to back zip which is nice because things are less likely to fall out. An adjustable strap holds the lid in place when you’re on the go.
The exterior of the Patagonia Ascensionist allows for lots of options to lash, strap, and basically gypsy wagon your things to the outside. You’ll find:
- Compression Straps – Two straps on each side of the pack allow you to collapse the pack’s size when you aren’t carrying too much. This keeps it closer to your back and more compact.
- Removable Hip Belt – A padded hip belt sits on your waist with a standard buckle. The padding can be removed, leaving a simple and lightweight webbing that cuts weight on fast and light ascents.
- Gear Loops – Each side of the hip belt features a gear loop to clip extra draws or carabiners when necessary.
- Haul Loop – A heavy duty haul loop between the shoulder straps means you can hang the pack from a belay and haul it up when needed.
- Shoulder Straps – Two padded shoulder straps feature load lifters to keep the pack properly adjusted.
- Sternum Strap – The sternum strap can move up or down depending on your body size. The additional loops are the perfect size for a Voile Strap that carries my bear spray – always a good thing to have within grasp.
- Daisy Chains – Two sets of daisy chains run down the front and side panels of the pack where you can lash on crampons or additional gear.
- Ice Tool Pockets – Two clips allow you safely store your ice tools and axes in protected pockets when not in use. The pocket is designed to drain so any melting ice, snow, or water that collects on your tools doesn’t slow you down.
Overall the pack is pretty snazzy. For the size and weight, it carries comfortably and efficiently. The Ascensionist pack weighs next to nothing – that’s a huge bonus and makes a difference in the mountains!
I really wanted the Patagonia Ascensionist pack to be perfect, but there is some room for improvement. I typically ski tour with my Mystery Ranch Blackjack avalanche airbag pack. It’s heavy, so I wanted the Patagonia Ascensionist pack to be my go-to pack for light and fast, spring ski mountaineering missions (along with other adventures).
After using and abusing the pack in Montana’s couloirs and summits this spring, I’ve been disappointed with it’s performance as a ski pack. It’s not abundantly clear how to attach skis. I tried A-Frame carries and my ski edges left a slight rip in the ripstop material in two places. It hasn’t spread because of the quality of the material, but it’s annoying. I’ve also tried to carry skis in the I-carry formation by utilizing Voile straps as attachment points. The daisy chains seemed weak and the skis wobbled excessivley during boot packs and approaches. I think a simple ski strap coming out from the shoulder and another near the ice axe pocket would would offer a more secure and obvious diagonal ski carry option.
Based on my experiences I do not recommend the Patagonia Ascensionist pack for any ski related adventures where carrying skis on the pack is necessary. This is not what the pack was designed to do, so it’s not really a valid complaint. I do recommend the Ascensionist pack for alpine climbing, rock climbing, hiking, basic ski touring, and almost all other activities.
I’ve used and abused the Patagonia Ascensionist 45L Pack. When used for the right activities, it is the perfect pack. I just sometimes feel silly when everything I’m wearing or using has a Patagonia logo. That says something pretty great about this company.
Find The Best Price On Patagonia Ascensionist Pack – 45L:
Official Specs From Patagonia:
- Lightweight, bomber, tear- and abrasion-resistant nylon ripstop
- Asymmetrical spindrift collar opens wide for easy packing; drawcord simultaneously cinches collar and closes lid for a secure seal; additional spindrift collar deploys to protect your gear when you’ve overstuffed your pack
- Aluminum-stay frame with tensioned mesh center gives pack structure and helps to support heavy loads, but can be removed for lightweight pursuits
- Padded hip belt can be removed to create a simple webbing hip belt
- Center sheath ice-axe carry system accommodates a wide assortment of axes
- Daisy chains on front and side panels provide lashing options; compression straps on sides help manage different size loads; zippered pocket on lid provides easy access to small items
- Available in two sizes: small/medium and large/extra large
- Body: 6.25-oz 210-denier 100% nylon semi-dull double ripstop and 6.05-oz 400-denier 100% nylon ripstop.
- Lining: 1.8-oz 40-denier 100% nylon double-ripstop with a polyurethane coating and silicone finish and 200-denier 100% polyester
- 1020 g (35.98 oz)
- Made in the Philippines.
Watch Steve House, Patagonia Alpine Ambassador, describe how to pack the Patagonia Ascensionist Pack:
Watch the Patagonia design crew as they design the first of Patagonia’s Technical Alpine Packs:
Additional Photos of the Patagonia Ascensionist 45L Pack: