CGR takes the Mountain Harwear Hueco 20 for a multi pitch test ride.
Straight to the point. This rugged rock-climbing pack focuses on function so it won’t get in your way on a multi-pitch climb.
Why would you purchase a specialist pack for multi pitch climbing? Well there are plenty of benefits: you can pack that lightweight belay jacket and gloves; you can take a little extra food and a drink and you can take a couple of pairs of shoes for the descent (even for multiple abs shoes will be more comfortable at the end of a long day out). So we’ve established that having a pack on whilst climbing multi pitch routes can be beneficial let’s look at the Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20 to see if that fits the bill.
Firstly I would like to say that the Hueco 20 is more versatile than just a multi pitch pack, I’ve used it for sport climbing days at Malham Cove, hiking in the Lake District and general urban living and it’s done a great job, it is a nice, well designed pack.
The Hueco is made from burly 400D nylon with a very abrasion resistant Hypalon type insert which Mountain Hardwear call Hardwear Tarp. This is cleverly placed at the front so that the pack has protection for thrutchy chimney climbing and hauling. The seams are folded sewn folded over and covered in nylon piping and although the Hueco is not waterproof it shed off a light shower very easily.
The lid was easy to open and access the contents, the inside consisted of a security pocket that was big enough to for my phone, wallet and it also had a handy keyclip. There was also a hydration bladder pocket for those who like to use them, the tube could be fed through the same opening that the rope strap came through. I’m not a hydration bladder fan though so I found it very useful for stowing maps, guidebooks and other flat items in. There was also a loop for clipping items to using biners (such as abseil tat, a knife, etc), this had a plastic tube cover so acts like a gear loop on your harness. There was also plenty of room for all sorts of kit as I’ve described above. There was also a very well designed stowable rope strap which fed through just behind the lid via a Velcro opening, it adjusted enough to securely strap a 60m rope to the top of the pack.
The shoulder straps were very comfortable and I have used the Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20 for quite long hiking days and it was very comfortable. They were easy to adjust, had two taped tabs on for clipping stuff onto (or attaching my watch to as when I’m working I always like to keep one eye on the time). They also had elasticated loops for securing a hydration hose and a good, easy to adjust sternum strap which had a whistle clip.
The Hueco 20 also had front and rear grab handles that were very handy, especially when attaching the pack to my harness when doing chimney or thrutch manoeuvres and it’s time to take the pack off and having dangling under me. Or general hauling (sometimes, when it’s windy it’s handy to haul the pack up when your second has stashed everything away and you want a belay jacket). The pack also has two large, zipped, side pockets for stowing all sorts of items such as energy bars, gloves, small guidebooks, camera, etc. The pockets expanded internally into the pack so I needed to remember to pack the pockets first then the main body.
The Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20 has a nice tapered shape that made it really nice to climb with (which, after all is the most important thing for a climbing pack). It really was good, it rode high on my back so didn’t interfere with my harness. Once I got going I hardly noticed I had it on and it has quickly become my first choice for a work pack (I often have to carry a first aid kit and other items when I’m working on my MIA assessment).
I haven’t used the pack in winter yet but I can already see the advantages, it’s quite flexible so will stow inside my main pack. Why not, I hear you say, use it for your main climbing pack? Well the pack is only a 20L pack so try as I may I couldn’t fit everything in and this is one area I felt the Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20 could have been improved – I would have liked to have seen some small tabs sewn into the front of the pack so that I could lash extra items to it with elasticated cord. I would also liked to have seen some thought to securing a climbing helmet to the pack. That said, if these are important to you then the larger Hueco 35 might be an option.
So, in conclusion the Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20 is a great pack for multi pitch climbing, scrambling, hiking and general urban commuting. It’s comfortable, big enough to stow plenty of kit for a big route and is well made. There are some slight improvements that could be made to make the pack more versatile but these really are minor and shouldn’t detract from what is a nice day pack.
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