A neat and compact sport climbing pack that unzips completely flat for maximum organisation.
It’s tricky to get a climbing pack just right, there is always some sort of compromise to be designed in. But as climbing begins to specialise into its separate disciplines (I know climbers who only climb indoors and are not interested in outdoor climbing at all) a space can be created for specialist kit – if it’s done right.
The Mammut Neon Smart is just that sort of item, it’s a pack that has been designed for sport and indoor climbers. It’s well designed and its main feature is that it unzips to fold out completely flat. The capacity is 35L so it’s not the biggest of packs but it is plenty big enough to get a complete set of 15 quick draws, a couple of screwgates, a belay device, a harness, chalkbag and a pair of shoes and a 50m rope in it. On top of that there is room for a lightweight jacket and gloves, hat, some food and a small flask. That filled it up which would be fine for a trip to the climbing wall (gym) or sport climbing at the crag.
The Neon Smart is jam packed full of features for helping you organise your climbing kit. There are four internal mesh pockets and a pocket for storing climbing shoes. The smaller mesh pockets are great for skin repair kit, chalkbag etc. There is an internal zipped security pocket big enough for your wallet and phone, watch and any other amount of smaller items you want stowed away. As well as the internal pocket there is a large external zipped pocket which has a key clip cleverly placed at the front to make it accessible. This pocket is ideal for guidebooks, hat and gloves and energy bars (or your butties maybe). It’s plenty big enough to keep an iPad in there. There are three gear loops for storing quickdraws on, these worked fine for up to 15 quickdraws but any more and they started to make the pack quite bulky. Finally there is a large zipped pocket on the lid which holds the rope strap. This is plenty big enough for belay glasses, shades and even more of bits and bobs that are essential for a day at the crag or for training at the gym. The problem with this pocket is when the rope strap is deployed to hold a rope the lid doesn’t zip back up and therefore compromises the security.
The Mammut Neon Smart feels quite compact for a 35L pack, it is a comfortable carry and the shoulder straps are comfy, the load can be adjusted with the top tensioning straps. It is important to keep all your kit in the pockets as it will fall out when the pack is unzipped flat – which is a feature I really liked (it worked best on flat surfaces though as I had trouble with sloping ground and kit sliding out). It is quick enough to pop it back together again and it can act a top loading pack by just partially unzipping it. It also has two grab handles on the top to help transport the pack between routes. These were a little small though and if they were made a little bigger it would make carrying the pack easier when loaded. But to be honest it is a minor point and I had no problem zipping the pack up to carry between routes or sectors and opening it out again when needed.
The carry is comfortable and there is a foam stiffener with some air flow channels but if you are carrying the Neon Smart for an extended approach your back will be sweaty when you arrive at the crag. There is also a sternum strap to help transfer the load across your shoulders. The Neon Smart is compact enough to climb with if you are planning some multi pitch adventures and the two grab handles would work well to attach the pack to a belay. There is no hydration system so if you use a bladder you will have to revert back to a bottle. There is also no waist strap so if you are intending to lug loads over distance you will have to think very carefully how you pack it. But that isn’t what the Mammut Neon Smart pack is about – the Neon Smart is about being organised, keeping everything together and swift movement between routes or crag sectors. It also about being cool too – the pack looks great and hasn’t failed to attract attention at the crag when I’ve used it.
The Mammut Neon Smart comes with a rope tarp and an attachment strap in the top lid. You would get a 35m rope plus kit for a climbing wall session into the pack and I got a 50m rope into it but I wasn’t using a belay jacket that day. The attachment strap worked well enough as long as the pack was full so the top could be flat (which is how the pack is designed), otherwise the rope had a tendency to slide down the pack. I happily used a 60m rope and as long as the pack was reasonably full it worked fine. The tarp is kept in one of the internal pockets and has two drawstrings to pull it together for transporting the rope between routes – it also has two large grab handles for carrying. A nice feature although it is a little on the small side and a 70/80m rope would be spilling over when the tarp is flat.
On the whole the Mammut Neon Smart is a well designed pack that is suited to indoor training and sport climbing trips. I like the way it unzips to be totally flat and it even has a small foot wipe to help clean climbing shoes before climbing. The internal mesh pockets are great for storing the myriad items of kit you need for an enjoyable day out and it is comfortable enough for carrying up the hideous slog to Ceuese.
The Mammut Neon Smart comes in three colour options – Black, Blue and a Gold/Brown.
SRP £109 and is available direct from Mammut and specialist retailers.