For the past ten years I have carried a Osprey Talon 44L pack on most of our adventures. The Talon is just large enough to use on overnight trips and yet the pack can be compressed when carrying smaller loads. The pack is lightweight and so tends to suffer from the effects of use. I guess that is sort of a trade off, but after wearing holes in two Talon packs, I was ready to try something new.
In the spring of 2014, Patagonia came out with a new line of packs, the Ascensionist. I read about the pack and wanted to see one. REI was supposed to carry it, but every store we visited, the pack was out of stock. Finally, we visited a Patagonia store.
The Patagonia store had the pack on the wall and with the assistance of an over jealous clerk, I tried it on. The clerk owned an Ascensionist and was a wealth of knowledge on all the bells and whistles the new pack had to offer. I would have been sold on it that moment, but the pack did not seem to fit just right. The clerk said that Patagonia only made the pack in one size but that one size just didn't fit me. The clerk continued his pitch and even though I was not completely satisfied, I left the store with the pack. I was hoping to adjust the pack for a better fit and if not, I was told that I could return it.
Not far from the store I looked at the sales receipt and saw that I had purchased an Ascensionist 's'. Huh. What could that 's' mean? Well normally 's' would be the abbreviation for small. I looked for a place to pull off the road and we began trying to find out more about the pack. After a bit of browsing we found that the pack did come in two sizes a 's' and a 'l'. We returned to the store and not only did the company make two sizes of the pack but the store even stocked both sizes. We left the second time with the correct size. Of course the store clerk was embarrassed, but he was a good guy about it all.
With the purchasing calamity, I was afraid that the pack might be jinxed, but so far it is a dang good pack.
A few Ascensionist notes ...
The chest compression straps, waist belt, and frame (a rectangular insert) are removable. To me this is important because I never use a chest compression and hardly ever use a waist belt.
The pack has a main compartment and a small pocket lid. The Talon had the same configuration, but he Talon also had a zipper to access the bottom of the pack. I have had to pack a bit more carefully.
The pack will hold a Bear Vault (the smaller one - BV450).
One of the main pack features is the ability to close the pack with one hand, even in gloves. Opening and closing the pack is great, but this is also a dislike. The pack does not have a floating lid and it is difficult to pack a jacket or rope under the lid.
Being fair on the 'one hand opening and closing', the system is so different than any other pack I have carried that I have had to re-learn how to pack the pack. I like the system better now after having quite a few days getting used to it.
The pack has a great ice axe holder. It also functions well storing trekking poles.
Missing from the pack is a hydration system (or means for carrying one). After many trials and errors, I have a water bottle carrier that is doing well.
Proud owner trying to figure out how to pack the Ascensionist
After weighing the likes and dislikes the biggest 'like' won - the Ascensionist seems to fit perfectly on my back and so it carries well.
Happy Ascensionist trails