Paul’s Osprey Zealot 45 Pack Review explores a new climbing specific pack for transporting kit to your local crag or climbing wall. We were very excited to give this one a try and we hope you find the information below useful.
Osprey have their range of Mutant climbing focussed rucksacks and I have been delighted to use every pack in that range over recent years. I always saw a gap in the range being a pack designed for rock climbers hauling equipment to their local crag. The needs of this context are quite different to Alpine climbing or expedition use where you would typically be carrying the pack all the time.
For crag climbers you need to get get your gear to the base of the route. After that it will usually stay there until you move on to your next route.
Well maybe the Osprey team were reading my thoughts (probably not!), but they have now produced the Zealot range of climbing packs and accessories. There is a chalk bag, chalk bucket, a 30 litre pack and the Zealot 45 reviewed here. Please read on to find out more.
The Zealot 45 looks, on first inspection, very simple. It resembles a climbers haul bag or the kind of rope bags we use to haul group kit around. But that simplicity, while welcome, hides some clever technology and well thought out user friendly features.
Fabrics & Carry System
The 45 is built from very durable 840 denier recycled ballistic nylon. This has a PFC/PFAS free durable water repellant (DWR) coating. The fabric is Bluesign approved. The back panel comprises an EVA moulded panel with HDPE frame sheet. The harness combines contoured and padded shoulder straps with an EVA foam padded hip belt. There is also a sternum strap with whistle.
At the front of the Zealot there are padded protective side walls with compression straps to cinch the load in or lower the pack volume if only partly filled. The lid also combines a simple drawcord with a tuck away flap cover. This cover will ensure contents stay in the right place, but also serve for rope carrying duties if needed. Beefy grab handles help for quick moves between routes and external clip points offer the option to attach items easily.
The pack is specifically designed around the needs of cragging climbers. Loading can be done via the top opening or via the clam shell side zipper. The Zealot is also rigid enough to stand upright when loaded.
Pockets & Storage
There is a mesh zipped pocket under the front flap. This can be opened from outside or easily accessed when the front clamshell zipper is undone. There is a small zipped pocket on the hip belt and another organiser pocket on the side. This pocket features internal organisation for items like a phone.
The Zealot 45 also comes with a rope tarp. This can certainly be used for rope carrying and organisation, but will also serve for crag side organisation. It also features rope end tie off loops.
The pack comes in a grey/green colour called Rocky Brook Green and is available in Small/Medium or Medium/Large sizes. Pack dimensions are 61cms high, 37 cms wide and 29 cms depth. The Zealot 45 weighs 1.8 kgs and costs £165.
Of all the packs we own, it is cragging packs that get by far the most use. We live on the doorstep of premier UK single pitch climbing and so days and evenings on the Peak District gritstone and limestone crags is what we do above everything else. Similarly, we regularly visit the multi-pitch crags of Snowdonia, the Lake District and Scotland.
Some of the approaches are only a few minutes and sometimes it takes quite a while to get to venues. Either way, there is usually lots to carry and the needs are similar. With all this in mind, how does the Zealot 45 stack up?
Of course, you can use just about any pack to haul your climbing equipment to a crag, but there are definitely benefits to having something specifically designed for the job. Over the years we have tried many makes and models designed for cragging with varying degrees of success. Does the Zealot hit the spot?
So, for this Osprey Zealot 45 Pack Review it is probably easiest to consider it in relation to a typical cragging day. You will need to have certain things with you and some items, while not being needed during the climb, you will want protected and yet easily accessible.
At home you will load up you pack. Having a pack with enough structure to stand upright is optimum and the durable construction and padded sides and base of the Zealot 45 easily allow this. If loading from upright you will want a wide opening that stays open. Again, the tuck away flap cover and simple draw cord opening make this easy.
So, with the pack stood up and open, you can easily throw in your rack, harness, shoes, spare clothes, some food and maybe a rope. We have found a rope will easily fit in a pack of 45 litre capacity, but you do have the option for external rope carry if needed. Similarly, for some venues you might need more than one rope or to have access to an abseil or static rope.
You will also be likely to have various smaller items. This could be anything from shoe cleaning cloths and finger tape to sunglasses and suncream. After that, you will probably have your keys, guidebook, phone and other small items.
The smaller item storage is perfectly designed. Guidebooks and lots of small items can go into the mesh front pocket. The side zipped pocket is then ideal for your phone and wallet. Then, when you pull your pack on at the car and need somewhere for your keys, they can be popped into the zipped hip belt pocket. This is also a great place for small items like lip salve or suncream. The Zealot 45 will have you perfectly organised for every crag visit.
If you do have more kit to carry the rope carry system is really simple to use. The lid is stored out of the way and then can be brought into play in an instant. It also holds the rope really securely. If you have less to carry and the Zealot isn’t full that isn’t a problem either. The padded side walls can be pulled in to compress the volume. They also secure the contents while offering good protection to the contents. These side walls can also secure a clipstick easily if you are a sport venue. If you have even more to carry, you have some external attachment points that can be brought into play. Again, all really well thought out.
Once at the crag, you can still use the top load feature to access what you need. Alternatively, the pack can be laid on its back and the clamshell zip opened. Now you have perfect easy access to find what you need. This is like opening a suitcase because you can get to items regardless of whether they were at the top or bottom of the pack. This option is a treat, but definitely suits venues with a dry and clean ground surface. If you use this option on wet or muddy ground and you will pay the price when you put the pack on as the harness will be mucky.
The rope tarp is also great for crag organisation and I really like that Osprey have provided one. Like tarps in general, it can be used for rope storage if you are packing your rope inside the Zealot. It is also ideal if you are carrying your rope from route to route once at the crag or want to protect it from muddy, wet or gritty ground.
A tarp also serves for loads of other things. It makes a great picnic blanket just as it is ideal for swapping into your rock shoes to keep them clean. If you aren’t storing your rope in the pack then the tarp is easy to fold and pack away. This is a really great addition by Osprey and several crag packs I have used don’t come with a tarp as standard.
Alongside the loading and organisation, a good crag pack needs to be comfortable when hauling heavy loads. All that crag kit certainly adds up in weight and especially if you throw extra ropes into the mix. Many crag approaches might not be too long, but you may sometimes be wearing the pack for a considerable time and on challenging terrain.
I have found the Zealot to be really comfortable. The combination of the stiff and yet well padded EVA moulded back panel and HDPE framesheet offer back support. They also ensure all the spiky hardware in the pack can’t poke into your back. Then, the sculpted and EVA padded shoulder straps and well shaped and supportive hip belt works superbly.
The system allows heavy loads to be carried comfortably, but I have also been impressed with how stable the load is. This is important on crag approaches that might require some scrambly ground to be negotiated. On this terrain it could be a significant safety consideration if you are thrown off balance. It also just makes it more enjoyable and pleasant to carry a heavy load if the pack is well locked in.
A crag pack gets a hard life. It has to carry heavy loads. Then, the heavy loads often involve cams, nut keys and a host of abrasive metal wear that are hard on fabrics. It is also likely to be dragged over rocks, dumped on stony or muddy ground and generally challenged. Osprey have this covered. The use of 840 denier ballistic nylon and Osprey’s construction standards will ensure this is a trusted companion on many years of adventures.
Osprey have an industry leading sustainability ethos. We wrote some information about their sustainable future here. On that note, it is great that the Zealot is made from Bluesign approved fabrics. Bluesign is an industry standard that is worth knowing about. Details are available here. Well done to Osprey for being an industry leader.
I hope my Osprey Zealot 45 Pack review has made it clear how impressed I am with this product. It is everything a cragging climber or wall climber would wish for. It has intelligently thought out features, high levels of durability and carrying comfort. I genuinely struggle to think how this pack could be improved.
You could use lots of packs for crag visits, but there are lots of benefits to a dedicated and purpose designed option. If you want to go that way, you will have every base covered with the Zealot 45. Full details are available on the Osprey website here. There is also a useful video about the Zealot series. Please have a watch below.
Besides this Osprey Zealot 45 review, we have a number of other Osprey pack reviews available on the reviews section of our blog. Examples include our recent review of the Mutant Nimsdai 90 pack here. Please also check out our Nanofly 20 pack review here. We also wrote about Osprey ambassador Nims here.