Review by: j_ung, 2005-05-02
[b]Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this equipment provided it free of charge to RC.com and RC.com then provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his or her review. This company does not currently advertise on RC.com.[/b]
“Do you have the pack?” I called from atop the first pitch of Crimson Chrysalis.
“Yes, I have the pack,” replied Wendy (punkin). I had talked the route up to her since I climbed it with a buddy years ago. Who wouldn’t like 1000 feet of big holds and easy climbing? Wendy and I looked forward to climbing it together for a long time, but the wind was picking up, making it a little hard to communicate.
“Slack?” I asked, confused.
“Okay… jeez. Do you have the pack?”
We were up long before dawn and hiking from SR 159, and thankfully, we were first on the route. But as the wind whipped harder and clouds began to move in, I wondered if we were the early bird or the Dodo.
Throughout the morning the weather grew steadily worse, with wind gusting hard enough to surprise us when we were off balance. We donned a hat each atop pitch two, then a layer atop pitch four and again atop pitch seven. Time again we went into the pack, a Mammut Face 22 (liters), looking for clothing, food, water… anything to stave off the cold and wind. Time and again the pack came through with just what we needed.
We left the ground with two extra jackets and a hat apiece, plus a bladder of water and a handful of energy bars. Try fitting all that in a Bullet. The Face’s spacious 22 liters is perfect for short alpine routes, the likes of which we unexpectedly found ourselves smack in the middle. All day the Face performed like a stripper with new boobs. And by nightfall, we stuffed so many compliments in its garter, if the Face had a face it would have blushed.
Though the Face has a handful of thoughtful features – bomber ice axe loops, a hydration pouch built for two bladders and a handy outer pocket – its best feature, by far, is its shape. Its low profile kept the load close to my body, and double side compression straps further shrunk its shape. Surprisingly – pleasantly so – the Face screwed with my center of gravity far less than many of its peers have done, some of which make me look like Quasimodo and climb about as gracefully.
Mammut still hasn’t solved the problem of the pack’s waist belt getting in the way of a climbing harness, and the gear loops they thoughtfully added are set a little far back on my relatively normal 32-inch waist. If you’re thinner, you may not have that problem. Wider? Fuggettaboutit. Wendy adapted to the interference by bringing the belt under her harness gear loops and clipping the buckle closed beneath her belay loop; problem solved.
The Face comes with Mammut’s revolutionary Y-frame for support, but it’s completely unnecessary on a pack of this size. The one they shipped me had the frame removed and I suggest you do the same with yours. The reward is a pack that has no trouble moving with you when you climb, instead of fighting you every inch of the way.
I like the Face 22 a lot for the simple reason that I don’t have to change the way I climb substantially while wearing it. Don’t underestimate the value of that. But Mammut overshot the mark when it tried to get fancy on some of its features, such as the sternum strap, which tends to detach completely from the shoulder straps at the most inopportune times. Unfortunately, if the sternum strap pops off while climbing, the pack gets floppy and negates its own best qualities. It’s easy to replace… but you need two hands.
The database doesn’t allow half biners. If it did the Face would get a solid 3.5; it’s definitely above average. The sternum strap makes me round down to three, however. So close to perfection…