Mountain Hardwear Splitter Backpack
It’s no secret that Kyle has a bag fetish. The more pockets, straps and high tech material the bag has the more he wants it. When the Splitter came out we had already found ourselves dissatisfied with a number of rope bags we’ve used. Prior to the Splitter we had a Mamut rope bag with attached tarp that we would cram our 60 meter rope into and single strap to sling over our shoulder. We originally got this bag because it had the largest tarp, but that turned out to be less important when you have to lug your rope over one shoulder. Anything with two straps would be preferable to the Mamut. The rest of our gear was shoved in no particular order into a daypack and all of our hardware was clipped to an extra sling (if we remembered to organize it). Needless to say it was a bit of a mess.
Enter the Splitter. The top of the bag has four sturdy gear loops which make organization easy even for the laziest climber. The bag gets its name from the fact that it zips open fully splitting front and back to lie flat giving you easy access to all of your gear. The bag has several storage pockets. We use one of them for both of our harnesses and another for the ridiculous amount of extra webbing we carry. The inside mesh pocket is perfect for carrying snacks, pocket knife, first aid kit, etc. and the easy access outside pocket holds the guidebook for the approach. To top is hydration bladder compatible although there is no actual slot for the mouthpiece to slide through and the internal pocket is barely long enough to fit a 2 liter bladder. The detachable tarp is a nice feature and while not huge is big enough.
When we are out for a day climbing we usually cram the whole rack, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 harnesses and one helmet in the Splitter and carry the rope and the other helmet in a separate bag. This is partially to split the weight between us and partially because getting the rope in the Splitter with all our other gear is an exercise in packing prowess. For travel we cram it all in. All it takes is a very well flaked rope and a little finagling. We still have to carry one helmet in another bag.
The actual backpack part of the splitter has thick padding on the straps, waist belt and an adjustable sternum strap. The thick foam padding keeps the bag comfortable even with a very heavy load. The back of the bag is molded with a curve and air vents but it could use a nice mesh back to really let the air flow. The bag is made of very durable material; it looks suitable as a haul bag though we haven’t yet tested this. It also has several eleastic gear loops on the outside that are great for strapping shoes and helmets to. As a bonus one of the buckles doubles as a bottle opener.
After a few months of daily abuse in Ton Sai the Splitter is still performing admirably with no signs of wear. The bag is relatively expensive but its convenience and durability made it a worthwhile purchase for us. The fact that we can fit our entire rack, save for one helmet, makes it ideal for traveling. You have to do a little bit of schlepping but it still weights in just under 23 kilos, the limit for checked baggage on most airlines.
Aside from the poorly designed hydration pocket we don’t have any complaints about this bag. If you’re in the market for a new day pack seriously consider testing one out. You won’t be disappointed.
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