ProView – Wild Country Stamina Gear Bag
It is safe to say that life is pretty uncertain and complex right now, and so for me, the appeal of simplicity and confidence has never been higher. At this point, I’m looking for any way that I can streamline things and create predictability, even when climbing. So, when I realized that’s what the Wild Country Stamina backpack offered – simple form and dependable function – I was sold.
Wild Country Stamina Gear Bag
Product Description: Our stylish, large-capacity pack with plenty of space for all your gear.
Offer price: MSRP: $99.95
The Stamina is a well thought out product that far exceeds the basic utility of a cragging pack. It’s minimal and well-chosen features incorporate about all one would want to go cragging — and nothing more (except for those silly compression-less straps)! Its also quite surprising you can get this level of design at this price point, and when compared to many packs in the same category (like the inferior Black Diamond Crag 35) it’s very good value!
- Roll top
- Side zip
- Minimal design
- Compression straps not super useful
As a rock climber of 20 years, and a professional guide of 10 years, I’ve carried a number of backpacks to the crag. Interestingly, you can go crag with pretty much any odd bag/pack/duffle — the bar is pretty low. It just needs to have a big enough capacity to carry your stuff, and that’s about it. But, a little thought into adding a few luxuries, and removing a lot of extraneous features, goes a long way to exceeding the minimum threshold. After a good season of cragging across Washington in famous locations such as Index and Leavenworth, and a few weeks of weekend missions around Colorado in venues such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Eldorado State Park, I can confidently say this pack combo far exceeds the bare minimum of “just some bag”.
The first thing I noticed on the Stamina backpack is the roll-top closure. This is a huge selling point to me and takes me back to my favorite pack of all time — a now out of production version of the Black Diamond Speed Pack which had a roll-top closure after removing the brain. Since that pack, I have been a zealot of two things: Backpacks don’t need “brains” (I do the thinking in these relationships) and roll-top closures are the perfect balance between simplicity, durability, and function. Zippers get stuck and fail. Cinch cords never really close. And brains just get in the way and tend to create a weird weight balance. The problem is that you just don’t see a lot of packs coming out with roll-top closures in the climbing market – which makes the Stamina a rarity and really stand out in my mind. Good job Wild Country.
The next notable design choice on the stamina that becomes immediately obvious is the compartment design. The Stamina consists of one large main compartment, which is probably about 40 liters, and two small zipper closed pockets on the outside panel. The main compartment is plenty of room for a good-sized rack, a rope, food, water, and a helmet. If you pack a little heavier than I do, you can always put the rope on the outside and secure it with the rope strap. The main compartment is also easily accessed via the full-length side zipper, so no longer do you have to remove your whole rack to get to your buried apple core that you packed away a few weeks ago while cragging and is now adding to the “vibe” of your sprinter van. The outside zipper pockets are well sized. The upper of which is perfect for phone, keys, sunscreen, and the lower of which is perfectly sized for a guide book. No more jumping on the first route you come to just because the effort of digging out your guide book is too great.
The pack also has enough padding (adequate for a 40 liter), and the typical waist and sternum straps which make it carry about like any other minimal 40-liter climbing pack on the market.
Room for Improvement
The horizontal “compression” straps seem ill-suited to the task since they don’t span the sides of the pack and they ultimately just seem in the way and go unused. I think I’ll probably just modify mine by removing them. My other critical feedback for this pack is the color scheme is a bit odd. Forest green and bright orange say something other than rock climbing in the North American market, but hey, maybe it’s a hit in the European market.
The durability seems reasonable though I opted not to haul it up Thin Red Line on the Liberty Bell’s East Face a few weeks ago and instead opted to haul my friends Arcteryx Alpha FL 45 which is a bit more of a known quantity. Time will tell, though the Stamina’s fabric feels durable.
Finally, Wild Country includes a handy and packable tarp with the pack. This, combined with the packs voluminous capacity, means a separate rope bag is all but unnecessary unless you’re just looking for an excuse to get your partner to carry the rope.
The Final Word
In summary, the Stamina is a well thought out product that far exceeds the basic utility of a cragging pack. It’s minimal and well-chosen features incorporate about all one would want to go cragging — and nothing more (except for those silly compression-less straps)! Its also quite surprising you can get this level of design at this price point, and when compared to many packs in the same category (like the inferior Black Diamond Crag 35) it’s very good value!
Though he usually tries to coax his partner into doing the heavy lifting for him, Brent has carried heavy backpacks around crags for over 20 years. His constant pursuit of “trimming down the rack” still hasn’t seemed to reduce the weight of his pack by much, but that’s probably just because he keeps replacing the saved weight with new and exciting crag snacks. When he’s not critiquing the nuances of gear or climbing, he is probably skiing, guiding climbing or skiing, or pulling hand-pressed shots of home roasted espresso.