Patagonia’s Ascensionist 35L is a great pack for those looking to go light and fast. It doubles well as a hiking pack, comfortably carrying a days worth of supplies on the trail. However, where it really shines is during alpine excursions. Patagonia squeezed an impressive list of features into such a light package (the Ascensionist weighs in at a hair over two pounds). There are no superfluous features and many of the straps serve double duty depending on the user’s needs.


The Ascensionist is very simple top loading pack. Unlike traditional top loading packs the lid is pulled over the top of the pack when you cinch it closed. One of many smart design feature from Patagonia with this pack. The lid also has a vertically oriented zippered pocket. Having the zipper oriented this way helps keep the contents inside when opening in a vertical environment. Another cool feature Patagonia included is a built in rainfly. When not needed the rainfly sits inside the pack out of the way.

Ascenionist Pack Review 2

The waist belt is removable or you can just remove the gear loops, leaving just the webbing straps. One can easily carry two mountaineering ice axes, technical ice tools, or even skis (you just need to route a ski strap through the daisy chain running down the middle of the pack)! The frame is removable, which is great for when you need to fit it into a larger pack or duffle for travel. A water bladder can fit in with the frame too (the tubing will be awkwardly routed out the front of the pack though). The compression straps feature elastic loops to keep the straps out of the way. The straps double as a load stabilizer and also secure the ice axe shafts to the pack. I was easily able to fit a trad rack, rope, shoes, helmet, jacket and food into the Ascensionist with room to spare.

What to look out for

While rock climbing in Joshua Tree I encountered two problems with the pack. The first occurred when I lowered the Ascensionist to the ground rather than rappel with it through a tight chimney on my back. During the lower it was ripped in several spots. I counted two big holes and several small rips and scuffs. I was able to patch the big holes just be careful if you plan on taking this pack rock climbing. The second issue I encountered was with the waist belt. It does not stay tight under heavy loads. The waist belt came loose when I attached a few cams and carabiners to the gear loops while rock climbing.

Ascensionist Pack Review 3


  •  Removable waist belt
  •  Simple and light design
  •  Dual ice axe carry
  •  Removable back support
  •  Carries large loads comfortably – including skis!


  • Fabric durability
  • Waist belt loosens under heavy load

Final Thoughts

As a day hiking pack the Ascensionist will not disappoint. The pack reminded me of a blowfish, with the straps loosened up all the way I could cram quite a bit of gear inside. For short day hikes in pleasant weather the pack compresses tightly to securely hold the smallest loads. Where the pack really shines though is on more technical adventures. With an impressive list of features the Ascensionist is a streamlined rucksack perfectly suited for alpine and mountaineering excursions. In a pinch it could even serve double duty as a ski mountaineering pack.

For a great breakdown of the Patagonia Ascensionist’s features check out Patagonia’s video hosted by none other than Steve House.

Tech Specs
Manufacturer: Patagonia
Date available: Currently available
MSRP: $149.00
Listed Weight: 30oz
Actual Weight: 33oz
Materials: 210-denier nylon semi-dull double-ripstop and 400-denier nylon ripstop

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