Review – The North Face Route Rocket

It feels a lot like multipitch season.

But to be honest, this is probably any time but winter as I am a big softy and don’t like being cold, especially not for long periods of time locked into going to the top and still looking at a few pitches to go all numb and sooky.

There are some unique dilemmas that come with climbing multiple pitches and mostly this is about carrying stuff. No matter if that is what you need to survive because you’re going all gnar-gnar or you just want to make sure that you have all your comforts because you’re just romping around for the day.

For all but the sadistic, climbing with a pack can range anywhere from an uncomfortable incumbrance to a right royal pain the arse. The back of helmet chocks against the top of your pack, you shimmy to try to right it on your back after it slips sidewards, you get wedged in chimneys and as the terrain gets steep the unfamiliar weight distribution sucks at you threatening to catapult you into a backflip. No matter what you do a pack is going to impact your climbing which is why there is value in getting a pack that performs well.

All smiles up on a ledge above the canopy with food and clothes and water and shoes all jammed into the Route Rocket/

All smiles up on a ledge above the canopy with food and clothes and water and shoes all jammed into the Route Rocket/

What that means is not (route) rocket science. It’s got to have enough capacity to carry all the stuff you need, it’s got to be light in itself, it’s got to be sturdy and it’s got to carry a load well. Bonus points if it looks good and has a cool name.

And according to these criteria The North Face Route Rocket shapes up pretty well.

At 16L it can gobble up water, snacky-cakes, shoes (because walking off the top in climbing shoes is the pits), some extra layers, a phone and other random tidbits that you need. It has enough little pockets and lashes and do-hickeys to keep things organised, including a hydration sleeve because being thirsty sucks.

It’s surprisingly light, clocking in at under 500g and is manufactured out of highly scratch-resistant and durable Carbon-coated Shredstop™ fabric. That’s a pretty powerful trademark I reckon, stopping the shred, can’t be shredded. To the touch it feels very sturdy, almost as if it is something born out of the NASA labs.

Seconding with the pack is fun!Seconding with the pack is fun! Put more stuff in it!

We run around one of the best multipitch cliffs in Victoria – Rosea – with the pack stuffed full and lashed to us and it was comfortable and carried the load well on both of us even though I am about 50 times bigger than my GF. We even tried to upset it a little by tying some shoes to the outside but it was still okay even with those annoying dangling bits. If the proof is in the carrying it was proved

The one I got is red (great) and it is called the Route Rocket (also great!). And if that is not enough apparently Peter Croft had a hand in designing it, Peter Croft!

You might be the sort of hardcore, anti-gearist who wears K-mart tracky dacks and Converse Chuck Taylors to the crag and can sling a Coles greenbag over their shoulder and gleefully head up pitch after pitch and then get benighted and laugh and do squats till dawn. That ain’t me. I’ll take my multipitch pack made with purpose. And whilst the Route Rocket might not have exactly given me thrusters it didn’t weigh me down like a solar anchor. It’s a good multipitch pack and if you need one you should definitely try it out.

Some vitals;

  • Carbon-coated Shredstop™ fabric is highly scratch-resistant and durable (we like Shredstop!!)
  • Reinforced haul points so there is no breaky-break halfway up the cliff
  • Exterior daisy chain to lash on extra gear for the kitchen-sinkers out there
  • Top lid pocket design prevents contents from falling out of the bag when accessed (this sounds a bit mumbo-jumboy but it actually makes sense when you are using it)
  • Tuckable shoulder straps and hipbelt for no-drag hauling up the rock – not sure about this, maybe it would be useful in some circumstances. Dunno?
  • Hydration sleeve so you can drink without opening it up
  • Designed in collaboration with Peter Croft, Heidi Wirtz, Sam Elias and other climbing athletes (LEGENDS!)

Get the Route Rocket here.

Simon Madden

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