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[Review] Mountain Hardwear Crag Wagon 45L

Kalem and I have spent the last two years running around with our climbing gear shoved into a backpack meant more for weekend getaways than for racks of cams and (stinky) climbing shoes. It was full of wasted space and didn’t offer the best solution for storing our gear properly in the van. After a little bit of research we picked up this Mountain Hardwear Crag Wagon 45 Backpack.

First things first, this bag feels a lot bigger than a 45L, as it is organized well. Our old climbing bag had a 35L capacity, and while this bag is only 10L larger, it feels like it fits twice as much. Two weekends ago we climbed a multi-pitch outside of Moab and Kalem packed in two standard racks of trad gear, aid ladders, climbing shoes, harness, a rope, an extra layer, water, and snacks. Our 35L pack didn’t fit much more than our climbing shoes, harnesses, and sport climbing gear. The 45L Crag Wagon carries as much gear as we would need for both of us to take on any day climb. For a single someone looking to do more single-pitch stuff, I’d recommend the Crag Wagon 35L pack.

Some of the features that allow the space to be used efficiently are a full U-zip that opens up the front panel of the bag, a quick access guide book pocket, and a large front pocket for easy access to all the essentials (snacks, keys, phone). A compression wing located just inside the U-zip allow you to cinch everything tight and squeeze just that much more space out of the Crag Wagon.

The bag itself is made of a heavy canvas fabric with a kevlar base. Mountain Hardwear explained that the fabric was inspired by old hemp and cotton military packs and I find the feel of the fabric and the colorways to be extra rad. It has the most amazing feel and finish, accentuated by the rad colorways. The canvas is three-layer, with a waterproof film backing to keep your gear dry if you happen to get caught out in the elements. The kevlar base is flat, which allows the bag to stand up on it’s own.

You can open the flap on top (which compresses down the bag and provides an optional external rope carry option), undue the skirt on top with the two fast release grab handles, fold over the skirt collar to load and unload haul-bag style as the bag is stood up.

Located right under the skirt are two gear loops that allow easy access to belay devices and quickdraws, or whatever else you choose to rack up inside the bag. The bag comes with a removable rope tarp, which keeps your rope clean while using and untangled while stored in the pack. It is also compressable.

The pack has sturdy, adjustable shoulder straps padded with dual density foam and a removable padded hip belt. It also has a removable aluminum frame that adds even more support. The two thick webbing handles also function as haul points and make it easier to pick up the pack when it is loaded with heavy gear.

We were excited to recieve this bag and had high expectations for it. The Crag Wagon was built to make getting toand getting up the wall easy, and it does just that, and makes you look really, really cool. Every time we‘ve gone climbing with it people have asked us about the bag- the Crag Wagon is a refreshing departure in design from many other similar climbing packs, somehow looking like it’s both 10 years behind and 10 years ahead of its time.

Priced at $230, it is an investment bag. We feel that with this bag, you get what you pay for.

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