Size: Custom 20–23”
(also offered in Regular 18–21” and Small 14–16”)
Volume: 49 Liters / 3,000 cu. in. (Regular);
42 Liters / 2,600 cu. in. (Small)
Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz. / 1.47 kg (Regular)
- Quick-release removable/extendible lid
- Seperate underlid pocket for small items
- Daisy chain haul loops
- Padded hipbelt with gear loops sized to work as holsters
- Ski slots
- Universal ice tool attachment system
- Fixed quick-release crampon straps
- Removable 23″x24″x 3/8″ foam backpad
- 14″ overfill extension sleeve
- Internal hydration pocket with hose exit port (bladder not included)
Pioneered by icons like Ray Jardine, the now ubiquitous “light is right” ideology has been espoused by nearly every gear manufacturer in the game. These days, it seems that if we’re going to do anything more strenuous than carry an item from our homes to our cars, that item better be as light as humanly possible. To that end, parading out low product weights—or creating product names that include the words “helium,” “zero,” or “nano”—will certainly sell a lot of gear, but often without acknowledging what’s sacrificed to achieve these weight savings. Packs are no different, and it leaves me suspicious.
My most recent search for a pack began innocently enough when I realized I needed a mid-sized pack for longer climbing trips or shorter backpacking trips. This pack would have to span uses that included day trips in the winter and two-night trips in the summer.
Because I planned on using this pack for climbing-related pursuits, either at the crag or in the alpine, I began my search looking for mid-sized packs that were (1) durable enough to be trailed beneath me in a chimney or, heaven forbid, hauled through a few pitches and (2) light enough that I could still bite off more ambitious objectives. But these two criteria only further highlighted my suspicions of ultralight gear: durability/functionality and lightweight virtues are almost always diametrically opposed, and it is often hard to tell exactly how much abuse something can withstand until it’s broken.
I was surprised to hear many climbers get around this problem by simply not making durability a priority. I’ve been told many times by owners of various packs that “durability isn’t an issue as long as you don’t put your rack in on the bottom.” Sorry, but treating gear like it’s made of glass doesn’t work for me. After all, well-conceived pieces of gear are the ones I think about (and worry about) the least.
Enter Cold Cold World. I was introduced to Cold Cold World while discussing climbing packs with a small army of climbers over a one-year period. I got scattered recommendations from most of the mainstays (Gregory, Arc’teryx, Lowe, Black Diamond, etc.), but I kept hearing glowing opinions of packs made by two small companies: Cold Cold World (based in Jackson, New Hampshire) and CiloGear (out of Portland, Oregon).
Both are small, independently run companies with the narrow focus of making packs for alpine-related pursuits. Interestingly enough, each company builds packs by hand, to order. Consequently, there is no storefront to visit, and their gear is not retailed at major outlets. This create a potential problem for those who like to try on a pack before buying it, though one can order the pack, try it on, and return it if it fits poorly.
(For the record, CCW’s return policy states they will take back unused packs so long as extensive customization has not been done. Neither Cold Cold World nor CiloGear suffer too badly from this “try before you buy” limitation, thanks to their sterling reputations and word-of-mouth recommendations.)
Without really knowing which to go for, I finally decided on the Chernobyl (Cold Cold World’s mid-range pack) over the comparably sized CiloGear worksack, based on the arbitrary personal preference that the Chernobyl was just over 4 liters larger (roughly 49 liters versus 45).
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