Climbing is a gear-intensive sport. The Mountain Hardwear Station 40 has built-in panels, clip points, and daisy chains to keep it all organized at the crag.
Mountain Hardwear will release a new MultiPitch line of climbing packs in February. The largest of these is a crag pack dubbed the MP Station 40. We have been rigorously testing a pre-production sample.
The Mountain Hardwear Splitter Station 40 Pack promises rock climbers a robust, well-carrying, and organized option to ferry and easily access gear at the crags. Mountain Hardwear borrowed design elements from big wall haul bags and added features applicable to sport and trad climbing.
The pack will arrive at retailers in February 2018 with a $180 price tag. It comes in S/M and M/L sizing. Our M/L sample has a verified weight of 3 pounds, 11 ounces.
I have been testing the Splitter Station 40 Pack over two months at climbing areas in Central Texas, New Mexico, and Nevada, as both a guide and on personal climbing days. Loads were typical for single-day sport and trad climbing. Terrain ranged from deserts to alpine.
In short: Mountain Hardwear built the Splitter Station 40 Pack as a tough and easy-to-load crag pack. It provides ample organization and accessibility for climbing gear, adding to the efficiency and enjoyment of days at the cliff.
Haul Bag Design with Thoughtful Additions
The Splitter Station 40 Pack boasts 840d ballistic nylon construction with 600d TPU front paneling for abrasion resistance. It has a shape similar to haul bags. Padding and lining on the bottom section increase durability and help the pack stand up on its own to ease loading.
The top is open, just like haul bags, with an extendable collar and drawstring closure; a tethered cap can be deployed from a small zippered compartment on the front panel to shield contents from rain. The plastic frame sheet with a metal stay, coupled with contoured and densely padded shoulder and hip belts, direct the load to the lower body. On route, climbers can quickly tuck the shoulder straps and hip belt behind the back panel padding to facilitate snag-free hauling.
Mountain Hardwear outfitted the Splitter Station 40 Pack with a multitude of features aimed at keeping rock climbing gear tidy and at the ready. The front panel has a large, vertically-zipped pocket (with zipper garage) for items often accessed while on the go. The same panel has an almost equally-sized interior mesh zipped pocket.
A generous rope tarp is tethered to the bottom interior of the pack and is easily removed. There are gear clipping points aplenty: an interior full-width gear loop at the top of the back panel, two exterior daisy chains running the full length of the front panel, and daisy chains on the hip belt.
The Splitter Station 40 Pack in Use
Although the Splitter Station 40 Pack has a large triangular panel opening, I preferred packing it as a top loader, haul bag-style. The pack stands up on its own, and the large cylindrical shape lends itself well to dropping gear in and compressing it from the top.
The suspension system was effective for loads typical of single-day sport or trad climbing; not once did I feel any shortcomings in stability, comfort, or load transfer. The pack lacks compression straps, but the 40L capacity was appropriate for one-day outings, and compacting the load from the top during packing worked well.
Overstuffing is possible due to the top extension sleeve and rope-carrying strap, which also cinches the top of the pack closed when partially full.
At the cliff, I would unzip the front TPU panel completely and lay the pack flat, which allowed access to all the gear without digging around. This front panel permitted prioritizing the location of weight over the order of gear use, which produced a more comfortable and stable carry.
Tidy Gear Access
Leaving the pack wide open at the base of the routes made donning, accessing, and switching gear easy and tidy. The interior gear loop kept often-used devices at hand and always visible. The rope tarp was just the right size for a full-length cord and left some space to sit or stand while swapping shoes.
Webbing handles in the corners of the tarp retained rope ends and made moving to nearby routes a grab-and-go affair. All the exterior daisy chains came in handy; a place to clip random gear was always available. When it was time to leave the cliff, sore fingers appreciated the long zipper pulls with vinyl tubing.
The Verdict: Mountain Hardwear Splitter Station 40 Pack
The capable, comfortable suspension system and overall durability of the Splitter Station 40 Pack make it a worthy pack to get gear to the cliff. The ease of packing, accessibility to gear, hauling ability, and organizational prowess make it a crag pack that can positively add to climbing experiences.