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Review: Climbing with the Patagonia Nine Trails 14L Backpack

Designed as a mountain biking pack, the Patagonia Nine Trails 14L has become my new favorite for multi-pitch climbing.

By: Kristi Teplitz + Save to a List

I have been on the hunt for a new climbing pack after my previous one got pretty destroyed during a rock fall I was in last year. My friends make fun of me for always carrying a bag on any climb over three pitches long. Whether it's the ease of adjusting layers as needed, having snacks on me, or knowing I'll have enough water for me and my partner if we unexpectedly end up on the climb for longer than we want, I feel safer carrying a pack with me. And in the case of the rock fall, my pack saved my life. So you never know.

For climbing, I like to have a low-profile, durable pack that I don't always have to drag behind me for stemmy or awkward moves, and one that is small and light enough that when I do have to drag it, it's not as much of a pain in the butt. I like to be able to carry a solid amount of water, snacks, a headlamp, layers, and maybe a camera, but that's it. I want a pack that forces me to think when I pack so I don't carry unnecessary items that are more on the "want" side of the scale rather than the "need" side. 

I also want a pack that has a light frame that breathes well. I sweat when I climb and there's nothing worse than having the wind kick up while being exposed on a climb and having your back be super wet. I get chilled down easily so I'm super sensitive to this. 

And then there are the pockets. I want to be able to easily access my phone, layer or food without futzing around too much while at an exposed anchor. 

Note the size difference between the Nine Trail 14L and the Mammut Neon Smart 35L (see full review here), which was designed for sport climbing and cragging rather than multi-pitch routes.

The Patagonia Nine Trails 14L is a perfect climbing pack for day use. It is small, it has a super light frame and it can hold a 2L water bladder easily. The large pocket is great for holding my emergency provisions, the small, zipped, exterior pocket fits snacks and my phone nicely, and the exterior stretch pocket is great for quickly stashing a layer. The material is more durable than I expected it to be - mine has already taken some serious abuse and besides being dirty, the bag is in great condition. 

The Nine Trails 14L has everything I want in a multi-pitch climbing pack and nothing more. I also used the Nine Trails 14L for mountain biking in Ventura, California earlier this year and it performed really well. I'm excited to give it a lot more use in the years to come. And bonus - I love the bright teal color!

Photos courtesy of Liam McNally 

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