Climbing backpack vs hiking backpack

Climbing backpack vs hiking backpack

Climbing backpack vs hiking backpack- Climbing and hiking are two of the most loved outdoor activities and somehow share similarities. There are many similarities between both the activities. Both require specific gear, and things when you are out on the steep surface. While some things may look similar to people but in actual are different from each other.

People get most confused in backpacks required for both activities. Because of some similarities, some people think they are the same but in reality, they are not.

So, if you are one who has this confusion then don’t worry today I will tell you everything about both the backpacks. There are differences that I came to know after using both backpacks.

I have also taken help from the web to get deep information on this topic. So, let’s begin with a Climbing backpack vs Hiking backpack.

Climbing backpack vs hiking backpack

Climbing backpacks are usually known as crag packs, which are designed for climbers to carry climbing gear, ropes, shoes, quickdraws, water, etc to certain locations. While hiking backpacks are known as backpacks for hiking that are designed to carry the clothes, food, and minimal gear with you on a hike


Climbing backpacks come with more than one handles to make passing easy while climbing. The same is not true in hiking backpacks as you don’t have to pass them during hiking. 


Moreover, the material used in making the climbing backpacks is Dyneema, ripstop nylon, tarpaulin, or Cordura.

The material is strong enough to take the craging or pointy contact with trees, rocks, and branches.

While this is also true in hiking, but the probability of this happening is more during climbing where you always have limited space.

However, the material used in hiking backpacks is nylon which is also the best material to protect you from rain or hash contacts. 

Types of backpacks

Both climbing and hiking category features the different types of backpacks.

In climbing backpacks, you get rope packs, an Alpine or mountaineering bag, haul bags, and an extended version of alpine bags.

Similarly, in hiking backpacks, you get three different types of backpacks- frameless backpacks, internal frame backpacks, and external frame backpacks.

  • Rope bag 
  • Alpine bag   
  • Haul bag
  • Extended version of Alpine

Types of hiking backpacks

  • Frameless backpacks
  • Internal frame backpacks
  • External frame backpacks

The alpine bag discussed above is the lightweight version that can only go up to 30l. These are only designed to catty the important or essential items for climbing. They also have fewer features than crag packs. The accessibility of this backpack is also lower than the crag pack. And lastly, they are not comfortable as crags.

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Opening of the climbing backpack is made easy so that climbers can easily unpack or pack things.

The same is not true with hiking backpacks. In hiking backpacks, packing and unpacking take time and effort. It also consumes a lot of time.

Accessibility And comfortability

This is the main difference between both backpacks. This difference is also due to design.

Climbing backpacks are more accessible than hiking backpacks but are less comfortable than hiking backpacks.

Hiking backpacks are designed in a way to provide comfort for long trips, to increase comfort, more padding and material is used on shoulder straps and hip belts.

Feature difference

Haul loops 

loops are available on the outside of the climbing backpack, so that you can hang rope or any other geat to it for fast accessibility or if you don’t have enough space inside. The loops are made of fabric or webbing.

Panel loading

As explained above the panel on the top which is also the opening allows the zip to open completely and let the backpack fold out. This makes the packing and unpacking of gear so easy.

Built-in gear

This is not present in all climbing backpacks, but you will find a climbing backpack that has built-in gear structures like – rope tarps, helmet pockets, etc.

You will find no such built-in features in a hiking backpack.

These all are absent from the hiking bag. But you get different features that make hiking backpacks suitable for day or multi-day trips.

Back panel

The back panel is made to prevent sweat against your back. They all have air channels which give you air ventilation.

The air ventilation is not so good in climbing backpacks

Extra pockets and attachment hooks

You will find a lot of pockets outside the hiking backpacks today like- pockets at straps, sides, or on the hip Belt.

This is provided to store the gear, snacks, or water so that you don’t have to put down your backpack again and again while you are hiking.

Similarly, you will find an attachment to attach tent or sleeping pads to the backpack and increase the space inside.

Hydration bladder

In modern hiking backpacks, you will find a water bladder pocket or sleeve outside the backpack.  In some backpacks, you may get this feature inside the backpack

Similarities between both the backpacks


Both hiking backpacks and climbing backpacks come in different sizes for different purposes.

Usually, climbing backpacks come in 35l or 40 l but you will find other sizes also. Similarly, in hiking backpacks, you get different sizes from 14 l to up to 70 l.

Other than that there are a lot of similarities like you get straps and waist belts in both, that give you weight balance.

Moreover, the material is also tough in both backpacks even though in reality material used is different in both the backpacks.

Do you need a climbing backpack or hiking backpack if you have another backpack? 

Well, It depends and choosing either one of them for different activities will not make a huge difference.

I would suggest you, to not waste your money on a climbing backpack if you already have a hiking backpack.

A hiking backpack can do the job for you as well, if not the same as a climbing bag. If you are just a newbie in climbing then the type of backpack doesn’t make that much difference.

Similarly, if you have a climbing backpack then you don’t have to buy a hiking backpack.

A climbing bag can also provide you with enough space for your multi-day or day pack hike.

Conclusion- The big difference you will feel between both climbing backpacks and hiking backpacks is the accessibility and comfort difference. Where a climbing backpack is superior in accessibility but lacks in Comfortability, a hiking backpack is superior in providing comfort than accessibility.