Macpac Ascent Classic
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With an extra 15 litres of capacity than the Pursuit classic, the Ascent is ideal when you have to pack bulky down clothing on Himalayan expeditions. The base pockets combine with side straps to carry skis and stakes on ski mountaineering excursions.
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Macpac Ascent Classic Reviews
Reviewed by William Smith (York) on 2005-12-13:
General comments: My Macpac ascent is probably my favourite piece of kit. I've used it for all sorts of activities and it is rugged as hell (it still looks pretty much new).
One the really great features of this bag is its flexibility. By adjusting the lid and all the compression straps you can reduce it down to something just over a large day sack (admittedly this would be overkill). On the other hand, extend the lid to its maximum, release all the straps and pack your weight down the bottom and you've got something approaching an expedition size pack. For this reason, I've used mine for everything from wild camping expeditions and back packing in Thailand to overnight walking trips and multi-day Alpine ascents.
The material macpac use is absolutely bombproof. In particular, the base of the bag is made from a combination of Kevlar thread and cordura - I doubt if you could even get a knife through it! This means you can stand the bag on any old surface without worrying about ripping it. The upper part of the bag is made from macpac's Aztec fabric which is waterproof, although I'm not sure I'd leave my bag outside in the rain. The stitching is solid and shows no signs of coming away anywhere.
Clearly this bag is aimed at Alpine use, so its profile is made with ease of movement and haulability in mind. This means it has only one external pocket (on the top). This is made up for with all the external gear attachments: ski holders, ice axe loops, crampon webbing, gear loops on the harness and attachments for straps on the top (if you wanted to mount your tent outside the bag for example). The main pocket flairs towards the bottom, which means you have to think about your packing carefully. Try and get the bulky, heavy items to the bottom. If well packed, the bag feels incredibly stable on your back.
The harness is excellent. Almost limitless adjustments and when well fitted you can really feel the transfer of weight to your hips. All the clips and connectors feel sturdy and I am yet to break anything on it.
As far as I am concerned, this is a near flawless bag with a huge range of potential uses.
Pros: Macpac construction
Indestructible materials (kevlar base in particular)
External gear attachments
Adjustable lid and compression straps give enormous flexibility
Cons: Lack of external pockets
Not a lot really...
Reviewed by Daniel winter (Bangor) on 2006-01-14:
General comments: If you want a bag that is super tough you can't go wrong with Macpac. I've used this bag on numerous trips for almost 5 years and it's still going strong. The Macpac ascent classic is the most durable bag I've owned. The bottom part of the bag if made from a layer of kevlar - the same thing used for bullet proof vests .
The bag is a simple design 65L + 15L design that's great for alpine climbing due to its small width but just as well placed for multiday camping trips thanks to its overfill top. The top of the bag has a large pockets for all your small bits and pieces and a clip for your keys . The waistbelt also has gear loops making it great for climbing.
The bag comes in a couple of different back sizes. The back system has lots of adjustment so that it can snugly fit your back. The straps on the side of the pack allow you to reduce the size if you use it on a day hike and dont want al the extra space this make sit even more versatile .
The front of the bag has ice axe/walking pole loops and an elastic cord to stow your things in a hurry .
Pros: Simple and rugged design . Very comfortable.
Cons: Lack of smaller stow pockets.
Reviewed by Mark R (York) on 2006-08-01:
General comments: I bought the Macpac Ascent Classic because I wanted a pack that could be used for carrying large loads that would be stable enough for scrambling and climbing. I also wanted a pack that had some size adjustment for smaller and larger loads. The Macpac Ascent appears to fulfil these needs. The single compartment pack is made from very tough material and has an incredibly comfortable back system. A number of back sizes are available, but that additional back length adjustment is available. The hip belt and shoulder straps are well padded and have a great deal of adjustment options so weight can e redistributed a little during a long day, whilst maintaining great stability. On the exterior of the pack, there are two ice axe loops, side compression straps with wand pockets, gear loops on the hip belt and a bungee cord/net section. The lid has a large lid and a clever height adjustment, so the main compartment of the pack can be lengthened to increase volume. I find the pack very comfortable for backpacking loads and I managed to get all my gear in for a solo backpacking trip without needing to use all the main compartment volume. Because of the slim shape of the pack, even with a big load I had enough arm movement to climb up scrambling routes without feeling inhibited. The only slight niggle with the back system is that it holds the pack close to your back, so air circulation is limited, resulting in a very hot back! I am happy to accept this, considering that this is because the back system is nice and simple with little to break or go wrong.
Reviewed by David B (Aberdeen) on 2006-10-23:
General comments: What a rucsac! Perhaps the best evidence of this rucsac's amazing design and construction can be seen by the numerous high class climbers who have chosen to use it in the harsh and exacting environments around the world! The fabric is very nearly waterproof, and is exceptionally robust, whilst the features present are well thought out, well constructed and of the highest quality, even down to the tough buckles. Similarly, the heavy gauge zip still slides smoothly after several years of use.
Weighing in at 2kg when empty, it certainly doesn't offer the best weight to volume ratio, but sometimes light isn't always right. You do however get a robust 'load lugger' which can take the abuse from the world's worst baggage handlers, sharpest undergrowth and roughest stones with very little damage. On top of this, even when loaded, the harness system is efficient (if basic) and climbs well. The sac also compresses down to around 35l if you pop the lid inside the main body and tighten all the straps.
Pros: Bombproof construction, materials and accessories, a great rucsac for transporting the kitchen sink to basecamp (whereever that might be) and not too bad to climb with either. The gear loops are quite handy if you want to keep the waist belt on but still access bits and bobs. The little hooks on the front bungee make accessing crampons etc really quick and efficient. The 15l expansion works really well too.
Cons: I would have prefered the quick release side compression buckles (as the 50l Pursuit has) rather than buckles, as it just makes life a little easier when stashing axes, skis or roll mats. The Ascent XPD might be a slightly better choice if you envisage lots of technical climbing as it can be stripped down to bare bones, although it is slightly more expensive.
Reviewed by V Jassal (Newcastle upon Tyne) on 2009-05-16:
General comments: I have had the Ascent Classic for a few years now and it has gone with me on pretty much every expedition. The design is simple and works exceptionally well, hence why it has hardly changed. The pack is ideal for a few days away in the hills but it has also travelled with me around Africa, climbing in the Alps to festivals. It is a slim and clean design which makes maneouvrability relatively easy. It is a literally bombproof bag with a kevlar base which stands up to being thrown around and being thrashed around the hills. I use a hydration pack clipped onto the side of pack as there is no hydration pocket. I find that although limited in pockets, the large top one is ample for the things I need quickly. The shoulder straps are pretty hard and narrow so if carrying for a few days you know about it! The gear loops are not only good for climbing but also for clipping things like maps onto. The 'floating lid' is good for varying sizes of loads so is good for shorter trips and expeditions.
Pros: Pretty much indestructible, good design, gear loops are good.
Cons: Narrow straps, not a lot of pockets.