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Bihn Bags for Rock Climbers

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    Bihn Bags for Rock Climbers

    After searching the forums and not immediately finding any threads directly related to bags and rock climbing (my sport of choice) I decided to start one exploring how climbers use TB bags. Please add your own climbing-related photos/experiences/packing solutions!


    Like so many, I originally pooh-poohed the Shop Bags as glorified grocery bags, but decided to try one out after seeing them repeatedly lauded on the TB Essentials thread. I immediately fell down the slippery slope, ended up getting several more, and now use them every single day.

    One of the main things I use them for is to haul my stuff to and from my friendly local climbing gym. (The nearest quality outdoor climbing is about a 5 hour drive away from me, so I do most of my climbing here.) The simplicity of the LSB makes it the perfect gym bag for me. I don't have to fuss around with proper packing or unpacking strategies; I just haul the bag from car to gym and I'm ready to unload, suit up, and get on the wall in just a couple of minutes.

    Here's my typical gym-day load-out:
    • Harness bag containing: Harness, belay carabiner, GriGri, ATC
    • Chalk
    • Chalk bag + brush
    • 3DOC containing: Sharpie, spoon (for refilling chalk sock), band-aids, lip balm, energy bars, liquid chalk, climbing tape, elbow strap (for stupid elbow tendinitis)
    • Climbing shoes
    • Klean Kanteen

    And here is how it all packs into a LSB (canyon):

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    I usually throw a fleece on top to wear when not on the wall. The Small Shop Bag tucked into the side pocket is for hauling my and my climbing partner's gear (fleeces, water bottles, belay devices, chalk) around the gym, so that it's not in an inconvenient pile that gets in the way of other climbers.

    More to come when I once again feel the burning need to procrastinate.
    EDC: Side Kick/Medium Cafe Bag | WORK: Daylight Briefcase/Synik 22 | GYM: Truck | TRAVEL: Synik 22/Smart Alec/Aeronaut 30

    I feel like procrastinating some more...


    I took my Smart Alec on a climbing trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky this fall, but sadly neglected to get any good photos of it on location. Here it is off to the side, along with my trusty aforementioned LSB and my climbing partners' various packs.

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    I brought the LSB along as cragging involves repeatedly relocating short distances from one area of rock to another, and I figured it would be easier to dump gear into the LSB and move it around than to have to repack and unpack the SA each time. This proved to be more or less a good strategy, but more on that later.

    I've reconstructed my packing list from that particular trip:
    • Large Shop Bag
    • Water bottle
    • Helmet
    • Shoes
    • Harness + belay devices
    • Chalk bag
    • Sweater
    • Packable rain jacket
    • Rope tarp
    • Various carabiners & slings
    • 3DOC with liquid chalk, tape, headlamp, band-aids, lip balm
    • Stick clip attachment
    • Snack bars
    • Extendable painter's pole for stick clipping

    Not pictured: guidebook, phone

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    The LSB and its contents were unceremonious jammed into the SA. The sweater went on top of that. The carabiners, slings, and 3DOC got one side pocket, while the packable rain jacket got the other. The snacks and headlamp went into the Upper Modular Pocket, and the painter's pole was snugged into the bungees on the front.

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    As it happened, I ended up forgetting to bring the painter's pole, so I didn't get to test how it worked in the bungees. I suspect using gatekeeper straps would be more secure.

    The SA was very comfortable on the the steep 20min hike in to the crag. I don't recall even being aware of it, but that might be because I was more focused on not getting lost.

    The pluses and minuses of the SA at the crag mirror my experience with the bag in non-climbing situations. On the plus side, its cavernous interior swallows a surprising amount of inconveniently-shaped items. On the minus side, it has a tendency to collapse in on itself when the bulk of its contents are removed.

    The SA also isn't very convenient to operate out of on the go, which is why I was glad to have the LSB along to serve as an "in action" receptacle. Of course, the downside with using the LSB like that is that everything was pretty much dumped in willy-nilly and had to be sorted through periodically, although that didn't take much time. I will note that the SA/LSB combo was definitely more convenient than an REI Flash Pack I had taken on a previous outing.

    Here's another shot where you can just about spot my SA/LSB in the corner of the frame. (Sorry, I'm relatively new to the TB forums and don't have the "TAKE A PICTURE OF MY BAG" instinct fully ingrained yet.)

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    I should note that I wasn't responsible for transporting the rope, the quickdraws, or the first aid kit (one of the many benefits of having well-equipped climbing partners ). When I acquire my own rope, I might experiment with fastening it to the front of the SA using the gatekeeper straps, but I suspect it will be too bulky/heavy and will unbalance the pack. If I become regularly responsible for transporting a rope to the crag, I'll most likely have to invest in a purpose-built crag pack that can handle both a rope and gear.

    Further thoughts on Bihn bags as crag packs to come, when the procrastination urge next strikes...
    EDC: Side Kick/Medium Cafe Bag | WORK: Daylight Briefcase/Synik 22 | GYM: Truck | TRAVEL: Synik 22/Smart Alec/Aeronaut 30


      For sport climbing, I can see this working. For trad climbing (closest area to me is the Gunks), I don't think the SA would work...the lack of daisy chains, lack of a good way to hold a rope, and, most importantly, not big enough to hold the gear you need (cams, etc).

      If you're going with other people who have gear, though, and depending where you are, the SA could work.

      For me, lack of daisy chains is the most critical...when you're starting point is up on some rocks or in a tight spot, you want all your gear (shoes, water bottle) clipped to your pack, to make sure nothing rolls away. I guess you could use the buckle straps and clip gear to them...


        Yeah, this is definitely a fairly casual sport-climbing set-up. I haven't gotten into trad or even multi-pitch (....yet). The SA as packed above could still fit at least a half dozen quickdraws, probably more if I attached the helmet to the outside of the pack. As I generally climb with people who have ropes, it more or less fits my purposes for the moment, but I can see myself outgrowing it soon.

        The modular pocket attachment loops are too tight to clip anything larger than a non-load-bearing keychain biner to them, but if you rig the gatekeeper straps they can kind of serve as rails to clip gear to. Still not as convenient as daisy chains, for sure, as everything slouches towards the center of the strap. So far the crags I've been to (at the New and the Red) are pretty accessible with space to spread gear out a bit without it escaping, so it's been less of an issue with me.

        Do you have a favorite climbing pack?
        EDC: Side Kick/Medium Cafe Bag | WORK: Daylight Briefcase/Synik 22 | GYM: Truck | TRAVEL: Synik 22/Smart Alec/Aeronaut 30


          I don't. Last time I went climbing (I used to climb a lot, not so much anymore...), I used my BD Covert pack, which was terrible. It's a winter pack, and no daisy chains, just too small.

          Back in the day, when I did climb, I used a Dana Designs Bomb Pack. (Don't have it anymore...) Have my eye on a Mystery Ranch Scree pack for my next trip out.