Weight: 580 grams (20 ounces)
Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” This has long been my philosophy when it comes to climbing packs. And after testing the new Cierzo 35, I knew that the designers at Arc’teryx had taken Saint-Exupery’s advice too.
I recently wore out my lightweight daypack and was looking for another alpine bag for day-tripping on long rock routes. With its clean lines, state-of-the-art fabrics and classic top-loading design, the Cierzo looked like just the sack for me.
I dragged this pack around the Alaska Range and the North Cascades all summer, and it served me well both as a primary daypack and as a summit pack thrown into the mothership on longer trips. Unlike many other lightweight packs, the Cierzo had enough room for my gear, enough suspension for comfort and enough durability to outlast a few seasons.
The Cierzo is an ideal size. At its max extension, the bag is supposed to cram 40 liters–great for carrying a full day’s gear without bursting the seams or having to strap the rope on the outside. Fanatical packers could surely pull off an overnight with it, too.
While stripped down, the Cierzo has the exterior essentials: two ice axe loops and compression straps to lash snow pickets. On the climb, thanks to the removable compression straps, the pack compresses down well and is barely noticeable on your back. And the top lid is perfectly sized for carrying small day-trip essentials, sealed away by a waterproof zipper.
Much like the time-honored Serratus Genie, the Cierzo folds into its own top lid for carrying in a larger pack. For years, alpinists favored these one-pound packs as their primary daypacks for light and fast single-day climbs. Even when loaded with up to 25 pounds of gear on approaches, I felt the lightweight suspension was more than adequate to carry the load.
When using it as a dedicated daypack, though, I thought it needed a little more padding on the back, so I modified the pack slightly, replacing the thin, removable foam back pad with a slightly thicker and stiffer one. This allowed me to dump a rack of cams into the pack without worry of coming home with bruised ribs or a knot in my back.
The suspension is the definition of minimalism. Shoulder straps are nominally padded nylon, and the hipbelt is nothing more than 1.5 inch webbing. This negligible waist strap does an adequate job of keeping the pack in place and rides just above a harness, to allow easy access to gear loops while climbing.
The pack is made of three different high-tech and lightweight fabrics, each with a slightly different weave. Most of the pack material is also coated with silicone, making it impressively water repellant. While the toughest fabric is intelligently integrated at high-wear areas, the big downside to this type of lightweight pack is its durability. So far, the Cierzo has impressed me; it’s held up very well–no holes and only minor abrasion–though I don’t expect it to last through more than a few seasons of hard use. Along those lines, this pack would not fare well if hauled up anything other than the occasional short section of stone.
These limitations aside, the Cierzo 35 is an excellent lightweight daypack. Until I wear this pack out, I don’t see myself using anything else for single-day trips. When it does wear out, I’ll be checking to see what Arc’teryx is up to next.
Pros: Light weight; clean design; perfect size for day trips; clean fitting top lid; appropriate suspension for a day pack; rides above a harness; works great as a summit pack.
Cons: Not super durable; foam back pad a bit thin for daily use.