Petzl Bug Pack Review (and Colonial Knife Giveaway)

The Petzl Bug pack is a solid choice for a small climbing pack designed for short to moderate length multi-pitch rock climbs. While a little on the heavier side (1lb 2.5oz) when compared to other styles in this category it’s clear Petzl has used the extra weight to build in some durability and well thought out features. Let’s break it down:


Petzl Bug Review- photo from


At 18 liters (1,100 cubic inches) this pack falls in to the same category of small tech packs like the Black Diamond Bullet16 L (976 cu in), 1 lb 2 oz., and the super light Patagonia Linked Pack, 16 L (976 cu in), 16.5 oz. It is 2 liters larger than these comparable packs and I found this extra room enough to easily store this load out:

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody (my review here)

Patagonia Technical Sunshade Hoody (my review here)

AMK Ultralight First Aid Kit .9 (modified a bit)

Five Ten Rogue Lace-up Climbing Shoes (my comfy moderate trad shoe, review coming)

Nalgene Everyday Wide-Mouth Water Bottle, 1L

Lunch, Petzl Zipka Headlamp, Colonial Ameba Knife, Ben’s DEET

My “Cathedral Rack” (Basically a set of nuts, smaller tri-cams, set of Black Diamond X4’s and C4’s from .3 to size 2). 8 alpine draws, 2 quick-draws, 2 cordelette’s, 2 double length slings, couple prussiks, 5 lockers, Gigi and belay device.

Petzl Bug Review

Using every inch of 1,100 cubic inches

The pack does appear and pack noticeably bigger than the narrower profiled Black Diamond Bullet, mainly due to the extra 2 liters & slightly wider shape.


With closed cell foam padding in the back and the contoured shoulder straps this pack carries the light loads it is intended for quite comfortably. By design it rides very high on the back to not interfere with the harness. The waist-belt can fold away though I usually opt for just clipping it around of the outside front of the pack when it’s time to harness up.

Petzl Bug Review

Petzl Bug Review- photo from


Rope attachment

Packs under 20L typically can not fit the climbing rope inside so an attachment system for carrying the rope on the outside is important. While some current reviewers and online retailers suggest attaching the rope to the bottom that is outdated info. The carrying system is designed to carry the rope more comfortably over the top of the pack with an adjustable top strap and two side compression straps to ensure a solid attachment. While different styles of coiling can work I’ve found the “single strand butterfly” coil sits best when attaching ropes to the top of packs.


There are some design choices here that while adding a couple ounces of weight have also added some nice convenience. The most noticeable (and questionable in my opinion), is the open wide external pocket on the back of the pack. This pack is intended to store a guidebook or route topo for quick access. It’s quite big, basically the full size of the padded back, and has no method to secure any contents in it. The thought of my guidebook slipping out on a steep Gunks route or a few pitches up Cannon has me questioning whether I would every find a use for this feature, and because the zippered pocket on the front of the pack is very generously sized I opted to keep my guidebook there.

Petzl Bug Review

Petzl Bug Review

There is an interior pocket that can accommodate my 100 ounce CamelBak Hydration Bladder with hydration port and a smaller mesh pocket with key clip.

Petzl Bug Review

Petzl Bug Review- photo from

Carrying a 70-100 oz. bladder costs quite a bit of storage space for my rack so if I was hitting up a bigger objective (Cannon) with this pack on a hot day I’d opt to rack up at the car and take the extra water. If my climb required a longer approach than Cannon (Huntington/Katahdin) I’d opt for a larger pack that could carry both 100oz. and my full rack with ease, like the Ortovox Trad 25 backpack that I reviewed last month here.

Rounding out the features (and another distinct difference between the other same-class packs I mentioned at the beginning of the review) is the addition of the daisy loops down the front of the pack giving the climber a convenient place to clip some gear that didn’t make it into the pack while “de-racking” after that epic send.

Petzl Bug Review

Petzl Bug Review- the author testing the pack on Cathedral Ledge, photo by Sue B.


A sternum strap buckle whistle has become a standard for me on all of my climbing and back-country skiing packs. This “10 Essential” may not be needed often but when it is I like having it within arms reach at all times, and this would be an easy thing to add in the the next Bug’s development. I’d also like more info on the pack material as details are a bit vague “very durable: bottom and sides lined with high-tenacity fabric”. While I’m not concerned with the lack of brand name recognition here (and during my 2 month test period the pack handled abrasive situations quite well) it makes it hard to objectively compare when this denier/technology is omitted)


When it comes to backpacks Petzl’s line is mostly focused on packs designed for caving /canyoning (descending) rather than climbing (ascending) with this pack being the only pack they’ve designed with the climber in mind. Despite this being the only offering from Petzl in this niche the Bug holds up well against companies with a larger focus on producing climbing specific packs. With a competitive price point and unique features in this class of packs it is definitely worth your consideration!

If you’re thinking of picking one up you can order through Amazon here. Doing so helps support this blog!

Did you like this review? Have you tried this pack? What’s your favorite climbing pack? Interested in the coiling video mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win a “Tat Cutter Neck Knife” from Colonial Knives. Drawing 7/28/16 Winner notified 7/29/16 and announced here. CONGRATS TAYLOR FOR WINNING THE CONTEST!


Colonial Knife Company Tat Cutter Neck Knife

See you in the mountains,


Disclaimer: This pack was provided to demo for the purpose of this review and has been returned to Petzl. This post contains affiliate links.



About David Lottmann

David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries). After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service. When David isn't out guiding he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing, trying to cook something new once a week and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle, son Alex, and daughter Madalena.
This entry was posted in Backpack Reviews, Gear Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Petzl Bug Pack Review (and Colonial Knife Giveaway)

  1. Adam says:

    I really like the patagonia linked 16. with some creative packing i can pack harness, rack, rope, helmet, sandals and 1.5 liters.

    i thought you were going to give away the backpack but i guess a tatcutter knife thingy is cool too


    • David Lottmann says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’m hoping to try the Patagonia Linked 16 in the near future as well! Good point on the title, I’ll update that now so it doesn’t look so “bait & switch”. Thanks again!


  2. Taylor Boyd says:

    I’m a cheapskate, so is getting a climbing specific backpack worth it?

    Seems really nice though!


    • David Lottmann says:

      Thanks for the comment Taylor! I would say it depends on how much climbing you do vrs. casual hiking. If you do, or plan to do, a fair amount of multi-pitch rock climbing a pack designed for that end use will definitely increase your comfort. If you only rock climb occasionally no need to throw down for a sport specific type pack. A regular school backpack will work when it comes down to it!


      • David Lottmann says:

        Hey Taylor your name was randomly selected out of a hat so you’ve won the Colonial Tat Cutter Knife! Message me your mailing address so I can get it out to you!


  3. Joe Doe says:

    Is there any chance you get hands on a DMM Zentih? Would like to see how it compares…


    • David Lottmann says:

      Hmmm, maybe. I just looked them up and it looks like a pack I would like to review so I’ll reach out to them!


  4. Thom Crum says:

    I have one of the older versions. It is a great pack, although it has durability issues ( quite a few holes after a year on sandstone). Great review.


  5. Luca says:

    I have one of the older versions as well and I love it! It’s pretty much go to bag on any shorter length day trip. I also think it looks quite stylish! Holds up great and I like to use my gear! The only complaint I have is that when it is packed full sometimes it doesn’t sit very nicely on my back..


  6. Pingback: Rock Climbing Summer So Far… | North East Alpine Start

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