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Patagonia Ascensionist Climbing Pack 40L

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4.11 /5

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Patagonia Ascensionist Climbing Pack 40L

True To Size
July 9, 2020

Pack of a lifetime-40L literally the ULTIMATE pack.

Short review:40L Fit: 510 175lbs, 9/10 Durability: 9/10. Durability per weight10/10. Frequency of use:6 days a week every week for the past 3.5years. Looking for an allarounder? Look no further. Long Review: I am 175, and 510. Its ergonomical, and structurally sound, Light weight, and durability allows you to grow as an individual. It challenges yo... Read Moreu to be creative and forces you to think in ways you never have before. Everything works as its suppose to. Any dislike, tear, noperceived function, rope wont hold, wasnt durable enough would be due to manufacture or user error. So I have been using this pack for the past 3.5 years while living in WY, CO, CA, and HI, and this is what it has gone through. Over 2 million miles of airline travel(200+flights As a carry-on and occasionally checked) to 30 different countries of all climates.I Lived out of my van for 2 of the years so this backpack was literally my lifeline. It has also handled 3days-3weeks being in a different country at a time. Commuted to work on bicycle. Shorter motorcycle trips, Its been through Snowshoeing,Ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing(downhill and cross country trips), 1day hiking to 3day Backpacking/climbing trips, Several multi pitch climbs, 70+ half to full day sport climbing days. I used it for 3 semesters of school. Sailing, fly fishing, Ive used it for free diving/spear fishing as well, Holding spearguns, diveweights, wetsuits, Ive used the dasychains to strap it to four wheelers, canoes, etc... The point being the pack will handle your creative mind. It now has one hole on the closing system, but its still going strong. It is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade from the older 45L version which I had but never really Used for a couple years before this one.

February 14, 2020

Great backcountry ski pack, could use a couple of changes

Used this for two weeks of backcountry skiing in BC. Really liked its light weight and setup. Downsides:I could only remove the "removable" hip-belt by undoing the stitching on the ends of the hip-belt, and, more importantly, the material used against my back is a real snow and ice attractor. I'd like to see a less attracting materia... Read Morel used there.

November 9, 2019


The items came quickly

September 6, 2019

Good Pack

Overall it's a pretty solid pack with the right amount of minimalistic design that can be expected from an alpine/climbing pack. One thing to consider is that the closure method on the top is not ideal. When using the lid to secure anything from a rope to extra layers, the metal hook used to attach to the lid does not retain sufficient tension... Read More on the webbing to which is mounted. The webbing slides right through the hook, which only lets you tighten the lid to ... less than snug ... before it slips.

August 20, 2019

Great Simple and functional pack

Have only taken this on one climbing trip so far, but will again. It’s simple, and holds everything I need for a day of climbing - harness, double rack, 2.5 liters of water, wind layer, shoes, rope. It Feels like it will stand up to some rock-based abuse. Time will tell. I’d like the tiny internal pocket to be one inch taller, or wider.

August 12, 2019

Ascensionist Pack 40L

Great for minimal-gear camping. Makes you take only what you really need. Not many attachments on the outside. Seems to be designed for climbing, might be adaptable to snow sports. Lightweight and efficient. Nice and simple.

August 10, 2019

Design flaws

The pack is possible one of the worst designed packs I have ever used. Starting out with the top closing, it is almost impossible to load a rope on without securing in four other places because of the new “drawstring pull cord” which closes it and subsequently pushes the rope off of the pack . Another design flaw with the top was that the webbing w... Read Morehich fastened the top close would just become undone all of the time. The old 45l versions were really good but this version was over developed without climbers in mind and therefore wasn’t the right pack for me.

Response from Patagonia
August 15, 2019

We are very sorry to hear about the disappointment in this pack. We appreciate the feedback and hope we can continue to improve upon things. Please feel free to [send]( this pack back to us. We'd be glad to assist you if you have any [questions](

August 8, 2019

Great fast and light mountaineering pack

Wonderful lightweight pack that feels great when jammed with gear. Only complaint is the waiststrap-clip snapped on a subzero summit push. Tied the waste strap and continued without issue. Local shop replaced the clip when I got back.

Response from Patagonia
August 11, 2019

Sorry to hear that the buckle snapped on you but glad to hear that a local shop helped out. If it ever happens again feel free to reach out to us and we can help get you a replacement buckle.

May 9, 2019

Good, but could be better

I try to keep my outdoor pursuits down to a manageable number of 2 or 3 different sports and yet I still find that I need multiple styles of the same item for specific applications. The Ascentionist is a great quiver of one for climbing, skiing, and light backpacking/trail running objectives. It is sleek, simple, and packs everything I need (almost... Read More). This being said, it is a great design that could be improved by a couple of tweaks. The first, is that the strap that holds down the brain comes loose and has fallen out several times. Perhaps it is a defect, but it certainly is frustrating when going to close the bag and realizing that the strap has fallen off the pack while on a chairlift. Next, I am roughly 5’9 and 155 pounds and opted for the S/M based on the sizing chart and it feels too small on my back. The straps rub uncomfortably on the backs of my shoulders with heavier loads and the waist strap rides high on my stomach. Lastly, it would be awesome if the brain had an expandable stuff-sack top similar to the BD Speed pack. It’d be nice to be able to cram a couple of extra items inside when your mission requires an extra overnight or two with the addition of a small amount of extra fabric. All in all, great pack, will likely swap out the S/M for the larger size and maybe find a way to girth hitch the strap.

May 8, 2019

Ascensions pack 40L

Love this pack, it’s perfect for a couple days on the trail. Was a little disappointed there was no sleeve for a hydration bag but no big deal. The Camelback would take up space inside so I strapped it on the outside. Fits me really well.

April 2, 2019

Excellent pack for fast alpine missions.

This pack was given to me by the guides company I work for in Utah. I use for ice climbing and alpine one-day guiding trips. It is light, fits perfect, is adjustable and comfortable. It accommodates my ice tools very well and I can carry skis too. If I pack well it adjusts to my back with ease, but given its softness you have to spend a little more... Read More time making sure it is properly done or it won't feel good. I like its simplicity. Without long multiple straps I always know what I need when I am loading it. Most of all I like its light design and practicality.

March 29, 2019


I like the simplicity of this pack. I'm 5'6 and the S/M fits fine. I used for several multi-day carryover guiding trips in NZ and it worked well for loads up to about 40lb/15kg. Maybe a bit more - stove, tools, picket, 1st aid, rescue tarp, rope, harness, small rack, helmet, sleeping bag etc. I slept on it and it was comfy enough. The lid... Read More, like many other reviewers stated, is a little tricky to get used to and coverage is not good if you overfill the pack but it's workable. I just use a plastic bag liner to keep stuff dry in the pack. The only drawback was that the strap for the closure system sometimes falls off (I lost one off another pack) and the sewing on the straps. Otherwise this pack is a total go to for both rock and alpine 1-4 day trips.

October 11, 2018

Traded in old model asensionist: thoughts on the new

Alright. I was skeptical. I had and loved my old model Ascentionist 45L and it went everywhere with me. When the frame broke, I was really, really bummed. But this pack is holding up to everything we’re putting it through. The changes as I understand them: durability of material, downsizing 5L, changing the ice tool attachments, changing the fram... Read Moree and frame slot, making the chest clip adjustable, slight changes to waist belt, removing the rain cover, changes to the main closure mechanisms, and adding a cheese pocket. Durability 10/10: good change! The material was prone to snagging under as much abuse as I put it through. My pack had multiple holes in it, both in the main part and the bottom. They have reinforced the bottom with foam on the new ones and the new material seems to be a much higher denier fabric. It probably costs some weight, though I think the pack is still lighter than the original. Downsizing 5L: This I was super skeptical of. I already was hard pressed to fit all my stuff into my old pack. They’re definitely slim packs. But let’s put it this way. I’ve been able to carry probably 50+ pounds of gear in this pack. My partner and I packed eight days of food, ice gear, glacier gear, and rock gear, into 2 40L packs (mine the Ascensionist, his another pack that I think is slightly bigger). Mine personally had: tent fly and poles, sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping pad, half our food, 4 oz fuel canister, harness, all my layers/clothes, inflatable sleeping pad, some miscellaneous toiletries, and a helmet inside the pack AND a rope, a snow picket, a MSR fuel bottle, a pair of steel crampons, a foam sleeping pad, and a pair of mountaineering boots on the outside. So you have to be a bit careful of how you pack and may end up packing more than you want to on the outside, but space can be finagled. Ice tool attachments: this is a net neutral for me. I don’t mind them, but it’s much harder to remove your tool when the packs on your back. They probably removed some weight here though. The key to the pick straps is to secure the pick before you secure the shaft, otherwise they’re not quite flexible enough. I do like that the shaft velcro is removable, but I would just lose them. But if you don’t need them you can just remove them. Frame and Frame slot 10/10: great job. The old packs frame was seriously flawed. This probably not only saves weight, but it makes for a great bivy sleeping pad (not actually kidding, it insulates well). I haven’t removed it yet, but it definitely won’t have the same problems as the old pack did with the frame slot just ripping. Chest clip adjustability 10/10: good job. I point blank couldn’t move mine on my last pack so it was just really awkwardly placed on my chest (ladies you feel me here…). Good job. It’s now actually adjustable. Waist belt: from what I can tell, the differences are the little foam things slide on the actual straps and the gear loops are not covered in the little plastic things. I like both changes. It’s nice to be able to a) adjust the padding to cover your hip bones exactly and b) be able to move the gear loops to where you want them. When I’m ice/glacier climbing I’ve been actually racking on the gear loops and it’s been great. I can adjust them to fit over and around my cliperdoodles (otherwise known as ice clippers) and I can easily get our light ice racks onto them. I also like the lack of the plastic. It might hurt durability a bit, but I can imagine it’ll be less bulky when I don’t need the loops. Rain cover: one of my only down sides. I really liked the rain cover when I was over-filling the pack. To be fair, while cragging I never used it. But the point of this pack is to be an alpinist’s friend. And when I was playing alpinist I really liked the rain cover. I’ve compensated with packing my tarp or rain fly on top to play the same part. But it’d be nice to just have as it had a little cinch. Closing mechanisms: Alright this is petty. The old pack closure was on the pack itself, the new has the closure on the hood. It’s just taking some getting used to to pull on the right thing. Not actually a problem but irritating and a seemingly useless change. The cord often gets caught on ice axes/other stuff on the pack and can be irritating. What is an actual problem is the main strap. I would often lift my packed pack by that strap. If you pull on the new one, it doesn’t actually stay cinched, which I find really irritating. It should stay closed until you pull on the buckle itself. Cheese pocket: Ok its not actually a cheese pocket. But it’s a small, zippered pocked on the inside of the pack near the top. It’s a convenience when the packs not super full and incidentally fits a half pound block of cheese really nicely. It’s a nice little addition. GENERAL PACK THOUGHTS This pack is an incredibly versatile piece of gear. It expands to fit our shit for eight days of hard climbing and then cinches up pretty small when I’m just putting a set of quick draws and some shoes in it. I really like the addition of the daisy chains on the front of the pack. I can loop cord through that and cinch things down on it. Don’t be discouraged by the hood. I was really skeptical about the hood at first. Albeit it doesn’t fit as much as a traditional hood will. But for what I’m assuming is weight savings reasons its nice. When it’s not full, it cinches down really nicely and does clip around a rope if you want it to. Comfort wise this pack’s great. Pack it well, and it’ll carry very comfortably. Again, I think our packs were 50+ pounds and I had relatively little issues. The only downside is the torso length is long for me and the frame extends a bit too far up from the shoulders to be comfortable all day climbing. But that is less the pack and more of a me thing I believe. Overall, I’m really happy with my new pack. I never thought it’d live up to the old ascensionist (I thought I was going to be super disappointed with the new one) but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Superb pack for everything from cragging to week long glacier expeditions.

September 11, 2017

It all makes perfect sense

The Ascensionist 40L is just the right size for fishing gear including waders and boots,lunch,and a rain jacket. The flap closure system is brilliant. The pack has plenty of room,is light and comfortable,and long enough for my longer-than-normal torso. Thanks again Patagonia for another innovative product!

August 9, 2017

Nice pack,several annoying flaws

This is a high quality,light-weight pack but it contains several minor and easily-avoided production flaws,which should have been caught with the most casual field testing,which detract from making this a really great product. The Good ' the fabric is lightweight and seems bomber; the foam-reinforced bottom is sweet; the foam back panel and ... Read Moreshoulder straps are nice and stiff,feel advanced/modern,and provide decent support (especially when compared to the garage-tech feel of several competing alpinist packs); the daisy chains and modern ax attachments are good; and the two pockets are much appreciated,as are the hydration system port and built-in side compression straps (boo to the competing packs that have 'designed out' these nice-to-have features). The pack carries a load as well as can be expected for a light weight pack and is relatively comfortable up to about 35 lbs. The O.K - The unique snorkel-jacket-hood style top loading closing style takes a little getting used to. It is easier to load a rack into compared to a more typical extension collar and faster to close and open,but has a much smaller expansion capacity compared to a top loading pack with an extension collar and floating lid. If really maxing this pack out,the pack's contents will essentially be open the elements. The removal pods on the hip belt are appreciated for heavy loads compared to just the completely unpadded 2-inch webbing belt. The Bad ' The top lid is secured/compressed by a webbing strap that can be moved between a lower and higher webbing loop on the back of the pack. This strap is 'secured' into this loop via a small metal bar. Under load on the trail this metal bar often pops out of this loop and the user experiences an annoying feeling as the pack abruptly 'opens' and you need to stop to reattach. (This point was mentioned in a previous review). I fixed this by adding a loop of cord to girth hitch this strap (like on BD packs) but making the bar a few millimeters longer or the opening a few mms narrower would have eliminated this. (By comparison,this same bar attachment is used on the Patagonia Linked 16 pack for the sternum and is so secure it takes 20 minutes,3 hands,pliers,and the precision of a surgeon to remove). Out of the box mod 1. Opening or closing the top collar is done by cinching the cord through a cam lock or loosening the cam lock by pulling on another cord which is the exact small color cord. So there is a mini rat's nest of cords that the user has to look closely at to determine which cord to pull to do what. I replaced the opening cord with one of a different color to speed and simplify things. Out of the box mod 2. There is a tiny internal pocket inside the body of the pack (similar to Cilo gear packs) that would be great for stashing a phone or wallet out of the way except this pocket is way too small to hold even a tiny phone. Why go through the time and expense on adding a pocket if you can only hold lip balm in it? On the much smaller (but way more dialed and awesome) Linked 16 pack there is a similar pocket which is a much better,larger size. Having my gear repair shop replacing this with a larger internal pocket will probably be mod 3. I am 5'10' and 165 lbs and went with the L/XL size (I typically can use S/M packs or L/XL packs) which feels right to me in the length department (the S/M felt way too short). However,the padded portion of the shoulder straps feel much too small and don't come as low under my pecs as they should for comfort,and there is barely 2' of webbing to spare on the shoulder straps. For a big,barrel-chested dude,the L/XL is going to feel like a child's pack.

May 15, 2017

Very versatile pack

I love my new Ascensionist! It's super light,has great features without being over-designed,and is all around very versatile. I needed a pack that would be small enough for single day climbs but big enough for weekend adventures,and this pack is awesome for both. It was quite snug for a 3-day backcountry ski trip that also required ax,crampons... Read More,avy gear,and the rest of the essentials,but with a little creativity I was able to make it work. It would be too small for anything longer than a long weekend,but for 1-3 day climbs it's spot on. I'm a little envious of my friends who have the older 45L because a little extra volume goes a long way,but for a 40L this really is a perfect pack.

May 5, 2017

Light and versatile

After reading the reviews of the previous iteration of the Ascensionist, I was convinced that this could be a great pack for a 6 six day hut to hut ski trip I was planning. The one complaint I was concerned about was the tear and abrasion resistance when carrying skis, but with the updated fabric I was confident that this would be less of an issue.... Read More After a week of abuse in the Alps as well as a few more shorter excursions the pack has been excellent except for one irritating detail. First the pros. The fabric has indeed held up well to ski edges so no complaints there. Comparing to a smaller Ascensionist from a few years back, the fabric does seem a bit heavier, but much more durable. The size was adequate for six days of ski touring hut to hut, but can also be cinched down to be comfortable carrying much smaller loads as well. The daisy chains and compression straps work great for attaching skis, ice axes, and other items as necessary. Personally, I really like the opening to the main pack. It's different, but works well. The shoulder straps are thin but comfortable and work well with the belt and thin backplate even with a full pack and skis attached. One of my favorite details is the daisy chain and small internal pocket. These make it easy to get to small items on the inside. I through my multitool in the pocket with a couple energy bars, and hang my water bottles off the daisy chains to make them quickly accessible. All in all a light and versatile pack that will handle many different activities in the mountains or elsewhere. The only real negative, is that the straps/ladder locks don't have sufficient hold. This was a bit irritating initially, so on the shoulder straps I finally just tied knots to prevent them from slipping. This shouldn't be necessary though and I'm surprised Patagonia missed this. The ladder locks are sewn in so can't easily be replaced, but there are other ways to fix this. I still rate this pack highly, but knock off a star for this. I thought I might miss a dedicated shovel pocket and I see that Patagonia might be coming out with a winter version of this pack next season. However, this pack is probably more versatile without the added ski specific features. Conclusion. This pack worked great for multi day ski touring/mountaineering as well as a shorter day trips. As the snow melts I'm sure this will be my go to pack for climbing and hiking as well. This would probably also work great for lightweight backpacking. Fix the ladder locks and I'd rate this pack five star+.

February 26, 2017

Great pack, strange strap system

So I've owned 3 of these packs now, (1 every year now in the Rockies for the pst 3 years) this year I was super stoked with the new refinements made on the Ascentist. The ice axe holders are fantastic, the padding on the bad is burly yet light. Just the overall feel of the bag is great in the back country on missions or at the crag approach cl... Read Moreimbing. but why, with the middle MAIN strap that holds the whole bag together, is it so loose? The strap is only held into the bag by a small hole that the strap feeds through and is held by a small metal flange that is only a 1/4 inch wider then the hole. I've already had the bag open up twice by itself hiking, and to be honest if I lose the strap Itself because this awkward design, I most definitely will be returning the bag for a refund. I have been thinking of sewing it shut because I do really enjoy this bag. My girlfriend has the 30L and she thinks my strap was manufactured larger, and could be a defect. Anyway 3 stars from me! 4 stars if it didn't have the strap issue. Thanks Patagonia for being awesome

January 29, 2017

Very light yet strong

I bought this a week ago and I am suprised how much I can pack into it. Its very comfortable.

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