Mammut updates the Neon Gear 45L (MSRP $160) regularly and we have been testing the most recent updates of their avant-garde looking crag pack for a few months at both local crags and destination climbing areas.
The sleek pack may appear minimalist on the outer surface, but the pack has plenty of organizational prowess on the inside. The top-loading design combined with zippered back panel access eases both loading and gearing up for the day. Although the internal volume is sufficient, the limited ability to carry gear on the outside makes the Neon 45L best suited for sport climbing.
Pack design and structure
The Mammut Neon Gear 45L combines the packability of a top loader and the access of a panel loader; a double pull, zippered lid secures the top opening, while the padded back panel opens via another dual slider zipper.
The pack is smaller in all dimensions at the bottom than at the top, following the general shape of the body. The internal volume at the top is quite a lot bigger than at the bottom, which tapers in all directions.
The Neon Gear 45L has a 5mm aluminum U frame and the 3D EVA padded back panel has channels for air circulation. The padded hip belt has a gear loop on each side and is removable, and the contoured shoulder straps have load lifters, a sternum strap, and clipping points.
The complete lack of pockets on the outside of the pack other than a top lid pocket of the 420d ripstop nylon pack gives the Neon Gear 45L a sleek and minimalistic look. Four clipping points, a grab handle on the front and a haul loop on the back break the monolithic look, but just barely. The bottom is lined with 840d ballistic nylon to enhance durability.
Brightly colored ripstop nylon lines the interior of the Neon 45L. The organizational features on the interior of the pack belie the spartan exterior. There are two zipped mesh pockets on the interior surface of the back panel, and two gear loops at the top of the main body. There is also a zipped mesh pocket on the inside of the top lid.
The outer top lid pocket has a buckled strap on the inside designed to secure a rope and Mammut includes a rope tarp.
The Neon Gear 45L is only available in one size; the back length is 19 inches. The verified weight is 2 pounds, 15 ounces (with the rope tarp).
The Mammut Neon Gear 45L at the crag
I found loading the Neon Gear 45L from the top and then accessing gear through the back panel extremely efficient. The funnel shape of the pack made compressing the rope and other gear from the top almost automatic, but the tapered bottom didn’t allow the pack to stand on its own.
The pack’s back length fit me well, and the pack carried very well with loads of up to thirty pounds. The compacting action when loading from the top kept the contents from shifting and the pack always felt like a solid unit when approaching, even while boulder hopping. I felt the hip belt was padded appropriately for a sport climbing load, and the gear loops proved handy when moving between sectors or climbing out of an area for the day.
A full-length rope, twelve quickdraws, harness, shoes, chalk bag, two liters of water and a day’s worth of snacks and other crag essentials fit in the Neon 45L. I could clip small, light items on the outer clipping points (like a pair of shoes to dry out between sectors). My stick clip stuffed into the main body, with the top sticking out between the two upper lid zipper pulls. I didn’t find the buckled strap for a rope useful; it was oriented and positioned incorrectly to carry a rope in what I consider a secure or comfortable fashion, and the top pocket would have to remain open.
At the base of the route, plunking the pack down and opening the back panel made gearing up a hassle-free “window shopping” affair; no digging through the pack to unbury the next needed item. And the bright internal lining made smaller items stand out in the shade.
The internal gear loops were super handy; all items outside of quickdraws that would need to go on my harness lived a tangle and loss-free existence there. Not only did I always know where my belay device, personal anchor system, belay gloves, and similar items were, it also made visually checking for critical, expensive, but smaller gear quick and easy before leaving an area.
The internal mesh pockets were on the flat side; the largest one could house a pair of rock shoes, but nothing bulkier. These pockets kept all smaller items organized, but I felt a looser profile would create a logical place to store a harness to keep it from getting tangled in other gear and allow it to dry. I also prefer that at least one small internal pocket not be made of mesh to keep chalk from contaminating the rest of the pack’s internals.
The included 36” square rope tarp was on the small side; I could manage a 35m rope but it was troublesome to stack a full-length cord. The tarp had a circumferential drawcord that worked well to pack or move for a 35m rope between adjacent routes. I preferred bringing a rope bag when using full-length ropes but still packed the Mammut tarp for shoeing up or racking gear.
The Mammut Neon Gear 45L packs and carries well and the back panel access makes getting geared up a pleasant affair. The modern, minimalist look should please the modern-day sport climber.
The lack of an effective way of securing a rope on the pack’s exterior places limitations on carrying larger racks of trad climbing gear on the inside of the pack. The lack of external pockets makes longer approaches less convenient as there is no quick way to access water, snacks, or guide books.
But for sport climbing, the Mammut Neon Gear 45L shines. And again, the modern aesthetic is a crowd-pleaser. More than a few times, the pack’s good looks drew attention and praise. Yes, we sport climbers might care a bit about how we and our gear look.