For 2012, Gregory updated their classic Alpinisto pack, adding little details that any alpine or ice climber will greatly appreciate. The company sent me a new Alpinisto to put through the paces, so I took it with me on my recent ice climbing adventures in the Canadian Rockies.
The Alpinisto comes in both a 35L and 50L size. I find the 35L pack to be perfect for any day long ice climbing adventure. I can fit all my extra clothes for the day, snacks, thermos, harness, helmet, fulll ice rack, camera, sunglasses, phone, crampons, and ice tools, with a 70 meter rope secured over the top of the pack under the lid (or even inside the pack if I did not bring many extra clothes or am not carrying an ice rack).
The new ice tool attachment system is very convenient, with tabs that are easy to pop through the hole in the head of your tools and a fabric sleeve to keep the picks in place. Velcro cuffs secure your tool shafts to the pack. A little stiff and hard to close at first, the cuffs seem to loosen over time. I would actually prefer simple bungee cords to hold the tool shafts in place but perhaps the cuffs are seen as more robust.
One of the best new features of the 2012 Alpinisto redesign is the crampon pouch on the front of the pack. As the pouch is lined with TPU for protection, you don't need to bring an extra bag to stow your crampons (I still do). I would love to see the crampon pouch slightly bigger, as it was difficult to fully stow my crampons both in and out of the extra bag. When not is use, you can velcro shut the crampon pouch to further streamline your pack.
The lid of the Alpinisto is removable on the 50L version but not on the 35L version. I appreciate the lid for extra storage as well as to cinch down over your rope. A roomy zipper pocket on both the inside and outside of the lid offer easy access storage for electronics, snacks, sunglasses, headlamp, and an extra pair of gloves. The inside zipper pocket even has a key holder so you know where your car keys are at the end of the day.
A full side access zipper lets you easily get at your down jacket or shell that you inevitably stuffed at the bottom of your pack that morning. The included bivy pad is nice to sit on during a break, sleep on if you are going fast and light alpine, or even removed if not required.
The Fusion Flex system system makes the Alpinisto extremely comfortable to carry, even with a full load. I never once felt weighted down, even on longer approaches. The frame sheet and back stay can be removed if you really want to drop some weight but you might sacrifice a little carrying comfort.
The height of the sternum straps is easily adjustable, a very beneficial feature for us women. Just be careful you don't lose the sternum strap parts, as they are not permanently connected to the shoulder straps.
Bottom Line: If you are in the market for a new alpine or ice climbing pack next season, put the Gregory Alpinisto on your list. Versatile and relatively lightweight, the Alpinisto can hold all of your climbing gear in one secure, tidy package. No junk shows here.
The Gregory Alpinisto comes in a 35L ($199) and 50L ($229) size, available for Fall 2012.