CiloGear WorkSack 30 Liter Pack: Alpine Climbing Perfection?


Update: CiloGear’s 30L WorkSack has recently been updated with the VX21 fabric on the front panel and the lower side panels (see pack design difference and fabric above). The change makes the pack carry a bit better and is much more durable for a very small increase in weight.

A good alpine climbing pack needs to do many things well. Often, the qualities we demand are directly at odds with each other. The pack must be bombproof, yet ultralight. It must be simple, yet extremely versatile. It has to be of the highest quality, but not cost too much. CiloGear has done an exceptional job balancing these considerations in the design and construction of their WorkSack line of packs. The WorkSack 30 Liter pack has been a pleasure to use so far, and I have no doubt that it will continue to perform well for years to come.

First, the CiloGear pack just looks and feels like a high quality piece of gear. It instantly instills confidence. Its craftsmanship is excellent, being constructed of only the highest quality materials. There are even dyneema versions of the WorkSacks for those that demand the absolute best!

The pack is thoughtfully designed and very capable. Its modular design lets you strip the lid, hip belt, back pad, and straps to save weight and bulk. The stripped down 30L pack weighs in at only 1 pound—half that of most similar packs. That’s an extra half quart of water or a 30 degree sleeping bag! It holds ice tools securely, regardless of whether you’re carrying alpine axes or mixed climbing tools. It has 2 haul points, front and back, an internal compression strap and a small zippered pocket inside the main body for smaller items. It has a removable foam pad as the suspension system and carries well. At 30 liters, it is sized perfectly for day trips or even multi-day adventures if you are careful about what you DON’T bring.

The most obvious and unique feature of the CiloGear pack is the modular strap system. There is a plethora of small D-shaped rings and slide lock buckles scattered around the outside of the pack. Inside the pack lid you’ll find a variety of straps – different colors, lengths and designs. Combine the two and you find that the number of strap configurations on the WorkSacks are virtually endless, allowing you to customize the design based on your needs for the day. While at first the strap system is a bit intimidating, you’ll soon learn to love it. Once you are familiar with it, changing things up only takes a few seconds. I recommend checking out CiloGear’s YouTube account for some great tutorials to get started.

Need more reasons to buy a CiloGear pack? How about the fact that they are made at a small factory in Portland, OR? You’ll deal with CiloGear directly when you order a pack. This eliminates the middle man and is better for both you and CiloGear financially. I’m sold. There’s no doubt that this pack will be traveling with me to Alaska this spring, the Tetons this summer, and the Cascades this fall. I’m even saving my pennies for a super-swanky dyneema model next…

CiloGear does partner with the finest local retailers and is looking forward to opening an account with a Northeast dealer before their beards grow to the length purported for those of Methuselah or Rip Van Winkle. Local shops that support the community are an essential part of the climbing world.

Where to find it: – $169.00

Silas Rossi is a climber and IFMGA mountain guide based in New Paltz, NY. You can contact him at or by going to


  • skalka says:

    A note to bigger people: I am 6’0, 190lbs, and this pack was way too small for me in terms of fit, it binds around my neck in a way that is completely untenable for climbing and adjustability is low due to minimalist design. I had to barter it away which was painful because it is a beautiful piece of equipment.

  • Bang says:

    have you tried the 30:30 version? I think they made that pack specifically for taller people

  • skalka says:

    As I understand it, the 30:30 is designed to be an all-in-one overnight and summit pack, i.e. you enlarge it for overnight gear and then compress it down to “30 size” for climbing. It is not specifically designed for larger people. I spoke to the Cilogear owner on the phone for a while about this issue, and it appears my only real option is to custom order.

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