Rab Ascendor 28L Mountain Pack Review


Paul’s Rab Ascendor 28L Mountain Pack Review explores a climbing and mountaineering focussed pack suited to day missions or shorter fast and light ascents.  Please do read on to find out more.


The Rab Ascendor 28L is part of a new range of packs focussed on vertical adventures.  This is the lower volume pack.  There is also a 35/40 litre and 45/50 litre version available.

I have used this size of pack a lot in the past as it hits a sweet spot for many adventures. 28 litres offers a capacity that will hold a days climbing equipment (especially if the rope is carried outside).   It also works really well for UK based scrambling and could even work for stripped down winter adventures.  I have also chosen this capacity for fast and light style two day Alpine adventures.  It also works just as well for hillwalking.  A quiver killer option for many situations.

With all that in mind I was really keen to test this pack.  Here is my Rab Ascendor 28L Mountain Pack review.  I hope you find it useful.



The Ascendor 28L is built for the tough life of hard ascents. It is made from mostly of 210 denier ripstop nylon with a water resistant coating.  Rab have then added 420 denier nylon reinforcements in key areas.  The 210 denier fabric features 35% recycled content and the 420 denier fabric is 50% recycled.  The heavier weight fabric is used around the sides and base with the lighter fabric everywhere else.


The pack is a top loader.  The main opening is via a clamshell shaped chunky zip allowing quick and wide access for easy loading.  The lid houses a large zipped exterior pocket.  Under the lid is another smaller zipped pocket with interior key clip.

The top opens to a large single compartment with a hydration pocket on the inside of the back panel. The pack is compatible with up to a 3 litre hydration bladder.  The pack doesn’t come with a hydration system but I have tried it with both a Camelbak and Osprey Hydraulics.  It worked flawlessly with these and I think it should work with pretty much any model.


TRI-FLEX Carry System

The pack features Rab’s TRI-FLEX carry system.  This is designed to sit close to your back to enable complete freedom of movement when carrying heavy loads.  It combines a lightweight frame sheet with a snow shedding back panel. 

The harness combines sculpted padded shoulder straps with a simple unpadded waist belt.  Each shoulder strap includes a load tensioner designed to pull the pack closely into the shoulders.  There is also a sternum strap incorporating an emergency whistle.  

Carrying Options

Careful consideration has been given to the varied equipment carrying requirements needed by climbers, mountaineers and ski mountaineers. There are twin ice axe attachments featuring Rab’s Headlocker system and a pick retaining sleeve.  There are upper and lower side compression straps and reinforced ski slots allowing A-frame carry.  The front panel includes further daisy chain attachment options and there is a rear rope strap carrying system.

Other Features

At 900 grams the Ascendor 28L is a lightweight pack, but Rab have also focussed on making as many features as possible removable.  The spring steel frame and internal HDPE sheet can be stripped out.  Similarly, the waistbelt, sternum strap and even the ice axe leash attachments can be removed.  It is a clever modular design.

The pack is available in a single fixed back length of 19 inches (48 centimetres).  Two colours are offered.  There is Orion Blue and the orangey red Firecracker colour tested.  The Ascendor 28L retails for £100.  


In Use

Climbing Pack Design Principles

For climbing and other mountaineering activities I have long been a big fan of simple top loading packs with stripped down features.  You need a pack capable of carrying your equipment into the base of the climbing.  Then, once your climbing equipment is taken out, you want a rucksack that will be comfortable and streamlined while on the route.  You may also need to carry skis or to attach other items on the outside of the pack.  Alongside all that, you want the pack to be easy to manage en-route and for gear organisation to be simple.  It is a big set of requirements.  

With all that in mind, the Ascendor 28L is a perfect pack.  The simple opening and storage options combine perfectly with the exterior carrying systems.  It has pockets to aid organisation and yet nothing superfluous.  It is also a pleasure to climb in (as much as any pack is a pleasure to climb in!).  

Harness System

The harness system makes it comfortable to carry the pack loaded with gear.  You can also strip it down quickly and easily when preferred.  For example, I often walk in to climbs wearing the waist belt and then take it off for the climb itself.  It has all been well designed for efficiency and simplicity.

The TRI-FLEX back system is the key to this load carrying comfort.  The back panel is padded and yet firm.  This is important as the firmness of the panel is integral to load distribution.  A stiff back panel is also important when your pack is loaded with sharper objects that might poke into your back.  On all counts the TRI-FLEX system works really well.  The addition of a snow shedding fabric is a great addition for any snowy mountaineering or skiing missions.     

The shoulder straps combine a sculpted shape with supportive padding to cope with heavier loads and they work exactly as expected.  The simple unpadded and removable waist belt is ideal for a mid size climbing pack.  It all works really well.

Having a fixed back length means there isn’t much adjustment.  I found it works perfectly for my 5’8″ height but you may want to check it will work for you if a lot taller or shorter.  The shoulder stabilisation straps add some adjustability by allowing the shoulder strap height to be adjusted up or down slightly, but the range is fairly minimal.  These straps do really help to pull the load into the body though and are a great addition for those reasons too.



Rab have given careful thought to another key feature of a climbing pack. These type of packs need to be durable.  They might be hauled up a route or dragged across rock.  They will be dumped on rocky ground with spiky metal things inside that can be rubbed against the fabric.  Strapping crampons, axes or skis on the side add additional durability challenges.  Basically, they get a very hard life and the construction needs to be up to the job.

Rab have used beefy materials overall with 420 denier reinforcements in key wear areas.  They have further reinforced areas like the ski attachment points.  They have used burly zips for the main closure and the use of a solid back panel will add longevity.  The construction of this pack is all designed for durability and reliability. 

So far my test pack has been used for many cragging days,  on some trips to Snowdonia and for long routes in Spain.  It hasn’t been tested in every situation yet, but it has easily shrugged off everything I’ve thrown at it so far.  In fact, it hasn’t even flinched and I feel confident to say it is well up the job. This is a key consideration for my Rab Ascendor 28L Mountain Pack Review and the rucksack performs superbly.

Other Features

It is really useful to have interior organisation pockets in a climbing pack.  There are always those smaller items like sunglasses, lip balm and a host of other items that need a home.  The combination of a pocket under the lid and another small organisation pocket work perfectly.  

Exterior carrying options are also well considered.  The ski carrying options and exterior daisy chain attachments will work well.  Crucially, however, Rab have made it so that the side compression straps can be stripped off if needed.  This saves weight and also makes for a completely uncluttered pack.  It is also easy to attach ropes to the outside.  On my recent climbing trip in Spain we secured an 80 metre single rope without any problem.  You do need to ensure nothing breakable is stored in the lid pocket, but that aside it all works perfectly and has been clearly designed with mountain sports in mind.  

900 grams for a climbing and mountaineering pack is an excellent weight and the ability to strip it back further is perfect.  Some packs have so many additional features that add extra weight when you don’t need them.  Less is often more.



My Rab Ascendor 28L Mountain Pack Review reveals a really well designed climbing pack suited to varied vertical adventures.  It has clearly been designed by people who know what is needed in a climbing rucksack and I’m sure the feedback from Rab athletes has also fed into the design.

Nowadays many mountain goers are dipping into lots of different branches of vertical sports and so having items of equipment that will serve the different requirements works best.  This is a mid sized pack that will happily fulfil that role.

Mountain sports are also hard on equipment. The Ascendor has clearly been constructed to balance durability against weight and I think Rab have found that sweet spot perfectly.  This pack should last you for many years of adventures without issue.  

Finally, the use of pack fabrics with a high recycled content is also to be applauded.  Rab are leading the industry in sustainable practice and this is another example.  Having packs made from as much recycled fabric content as possible combined with items that work for lots of jobs and will last well is the best way to minimise our impact.  The Ascendor ticks all these boxes superbly.  Full details on the Ascendor 28L can be found on the Rab website here.    

We have reviewed a wide range of Rab products.  Please have a look at our Rab Latok Summit Bivvy Review here and our Mythic 600 Sleeping Bag review here.  We have also tested a variety of their clothing products.  This includes their Kinetic 2.0 Jacket here and Cubit Stretch Down Hoody here.